Utah man who suffered hardships now makes his living dancing through life

Posted at 11:11 AM, Dec 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-29 13:11:24-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Do you ever notice those advertisers who stand on a corner, holding a sign for a business? It's not an easy job, especially when most people just pass you by.

But one employee in the Salt Lake valley has made a living off making sure you stop.

We all have days where we don`t want to get up and go to work, but Randy Gragg has a different attitude on the job.

By the time he leaves work, his only hope is to head home happier than when he started. Cars may stop for the red lights at his intersection, but they also slow due to his dance moves.

“I put a little hip hop into it,” Gragg said.” It’s more like a jazz dance."

Gragg said he enjoys the way his exuberance can brighten other people’s days.

“Most people seem to like what I do,” he said. “And they smile a lot and wave.”

Every Thursday, he stands on this corner with a sign and some headphones.

“Michael Jackson and Janet are my favorite ones to dance to,” he said.

With a classic playing in his head, Gragg said he has no problem dancing to the beat of a different drummer.

“You gotta keep the energy up, get people excited,” he said.

He gets paid about $12 an hour to do this for Dickey’s BBQ, along with six other companies in the valley--who together provide a full time career for Gragg.

“I’ve had as much as almost a dozen at one time,” he said.

Some of those who pass Gragg spoke about his dancing.

“He doesn’t care what people think about what he’s doing because he’s just having a great time,” Brian Foster said.

But things haven’t always been smooth for Gragg.

“I was getting turned down left and right, no one was giving me jobs; I got turned down like 30 times,” he said.

Six years ago, a divorce, a recession and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder left Gragg feeling like he had next to nothing.

“I had no car, no money, no home,” he said of that time.

He said that void nearly ruined him.

“I had a nervous breakdown, because I hadn’t been unemployed for 20 years,” he said.

Gragg said music helped him get out of that bad spot.

“It’s what God made me,” Gragg said. “It’s how he made me. I think he’s smiling down on what I do, and I think that’s the main point.”

Gragg said since he enjoys his job, he won’t spend a single day working. He said he hopes to one day start his own business, hiring dancers to do what he does around the Salt Lake valley.