From basketball to baseball, ‘Dancing Guy’ will never ‘turn down’

Ryan Redding

After the 4th inning came to a close at Georgia Southern University’s opening baseball game against Middle Tennessee, the grounds crew took the field per usual and the fans proceeded to check their phones or get some concession.

Suddenly, Lil’ Jon’s “Turn Down For What” started blasting through J.I. Clements Stadium’s speakers. Confused spectators looked up to see a man in front of second base dancing like he was in Lil’ Jon’s music video. Before long, everyone was dancing along in their seats and when the song had ended, the mystery man was awarded a cheerful round of applause.

If you have went to any home basketball game within the past three years, chances are, you have seen similar moves to the same song by some one sitting courtside. This man is Mark “The Dancing Guy” Garno and he is the husband of GS professor Melissa Garno.

Mr. Garno graduated from the University at Albany in New York but moved to Statesboro in 1995. Since moving here he has fallen in love with Georgia Southern University. There has not been a home basketball game in the past three seasons that Garno has not “turned up” to “Turn Down For What.”

On Friday, he pulled a Michael Jordan and expanded his skills from the basketball court to the baseball diamond. Coincidentally, this event took place on Michael Jordan’s birthday.

Garno’s dancing during basketball games originally began due to his wired-up nature. He explained the origins of his now infamous moves.

“So sitting watching basketball, I get pumped up during the game and all of a sudden, it was the first year we had the courtside seats and there was a little room next to the seat, and ‘Turn Down For What [started playing],’ and because I was so pumped up and hyper, I started dancing. Well I turned around and saw the students all excited and cheering me on, so that became a tradition. And that’s how it all got started,” Garno said. “I had never heard [the song] before; I am 63 years old. I just had to dance. The thing was, later that week I got on the computer and pulled up the video for turn down for what and watched it and saw that one of the lead character was gyrating to the music, so I kind of fashioned my turn down for what dance move to the video.”

Due to his size, Garno never played football in high school, but he did play baseball and basketball and therefore has developed a passion for the two sports. This, however, was not the reason Garno, who thought he was just coming to watch a ball game, busted his moves in front of the crowd. It was actually the popularity of his dance moves that garnered a special request from the Athletic Marketing Team.

“Well that was a first tonight, you saw a first tonight. The fellas asked me before the game and I was sitting in my seat, would I be willing to dance to turn down for what. And I said if you guys get permission so I don’t get arrested or something. So they made a couple phone calls and got it cleared so I said sure, anything to pump up the students,” Garno said.

Although his moves are very popular with the students in basketball and now baseball, football is still a work in progress.

“It was funny, my wife and I went on a trip with the football team to see Ole Miss and coach Summers, he pulled me aside and started laughing and said ‘Garnes, if you start dancing on my sidelines I’m gonna knock you out!’ I said coach, don’t worry,” Garno said.

Garno has no plans of stopping his dancing any time soon. He began to recall the events that made him feel his dance moves are worth it. But he also feels that most students are unaware of what a privilege they have to watch Georgia Southern Athletics.

“It is fun, to see the kids get up and start yelling. That to me is really what it is all about. What is neat too is the guys on the basketball team. Before the season started each year, they saw me and they asked, you’re gonna keep dancing right? And I say, oh yeah guys I’m gonna keep dancing. The kids have got to realize what they got here. I mean this isn’t Division III, this isn’t NAIA, this is major NCA Division I sports,” Garno said.

Although he feels passionate about using his dance moves to make the students have more fun, Garno had to admit the truth.

“Let’s face the facts, I enjoy it too,” he said.

To read more about “The Dancing Guy,” click here.