Dancing daily on the Town Square for smiles.
// By Melissa Thomasma
If you drove past Jackson’s Town Square sometime during the past year, there’s a good chance you saw Tim McLaurin. Brandishing a sign that says, “Honk if My Dance Moves Make Your Day” McLaurin, who has Down syndrome, stationed himself on the southwest corner of the square, the busiest (and the one on which the town’s webcam is focused) on March 31, 2020 and started dancing. “That’s my favorite corner to dance because it’s the corner with the most people and cars,” he says. Wearing black Bose wireless earphones so only he could hear the music, he danced every single day—rain, shine, or snow. And he’s still dancing. Though the exact performance time varies from day to day, McLaurin spends at least half an hour a day showing off his moves.
McLaurin’s dancing started because of Covid-19. Like many, the 35-year-old felt the pain of isolation and fear that accompanied the pandemic shutdowns. But, instead of letting the sadness swamp him, he set out to create joy—for himself and the community he loves. “Jackson to me is special because of the beauty, the place we live in. I just think it’s the best, this community,” he says. “I think everyone loves to dance. They love that I put smiles on their faces. Someone needs to do something, I thought. And I was like, I can do something big and something awesome for Jackson. I can put smiles all over.”
McLaurin’s dancing quickly became A Thing, earning accolades from visitors, locals, and even celebrities. One of his biggest fans is a local and a celebrity: the bassist and founding member of glam rock band Mötley Crüe, Nikki Sixx. “I wish more people could find the joy in life that Tim exudes,” Sixx says. “He does so much for us all to enjoy!” Sixx first caught wind of McLaurin’s project when the dancer was profiled in the Jackson Hole News&Guide. Sixx wasted no time connecting with McLaurin on Instagram.
Before Sixx was a fan of McLaurin—the two have since become friends—McLaurin was a fan of Mötley Crüe. His favorite songs to dance to include “Kickstart My Heart,” the band’s classic glam metal anthem released in 1989, and “Girls, Girls, Girls,” the title track from Mötley Crüe’s fourth album. Since befriending Sixx, McLaurin has added the song “Maybe It’s Time,” a collaborative piece from Sixx’s latest musical endeavor, the band SIXX A.M., to his dance playlist. Some days McLaurin likes to mix it up, adding in some Brooks & Dunn or other rock songs. “I do different ones sometimes, but every song from Mötley Crüe is a good song to dance to because it has a really good beat,” he says.
Whatever happens with the pandemic this winter, McLaurin has no intention of stopping his dancing, and the joy it brings others. “People say, ‘Wow! Tim, thank you for what you’re doing out there. Thank you for doing that for us,’” he says. “Even when it’s wintertime, if it’s a blizzard, I’m going to be out there dancing.”
If you see McLaurin on the Square dancing, don’t be afraid to honk your appreciation. “I love it. I love all the love, and all the support on the Town Square,” he says. “I just feel like every time when I see all the Instagram comments, I want to cry my eyes out.”
McLaurin’s online persona, Jackson’s Biggest Rockstar, was inspired by the dawn of his dancing project. “I was at my house and I was thinking about dancing, and I thought, ‘My name is Tim McLaurin, but I decided to have a new name for dancing. I just felt like, you know what? This is who I am!” And with that, @jackson_biggestrockstar was born.
He now has over 3,000 enthusiastic followers (from places as far-flung as Brazil, Australia, and Norway), and has racked up more than one celebrity shout-out.
Here’s what Instagram has to say about Jackson’s Biggest Rock Star:
@wjdb71 Dude… I found you because of @nikkisixxpixx and it’s made me a better person. Keep it up and just dance!!! We need more people like you.
@dcollins1211 Thank you so much for being a bright light, a shining star, a true super nova during a dark and uncertain time!!!
@clairejaneroberts We need more amazing people in the world like you! You are amazing! Thank you for making my day!
@paulaj_c I needed this today Oh boy, you put the biggest smile on my face!!
@quixote38 The world needs more of this!
Follow McLaurin on Instagram @jackson_biggestrockstar
McLaurin has been an employee at Vertical Harvest (verticalharvestfarms.com) since 2018. He works at the groundbreaking urban hydroponic greenhouse on the south side of a downtown parking structure, helping with the cultivation of microgreens and tomatoes, washing bins, and assisting with delivering the greenhouse’s produce to local restaurants. But McLaurin doesn’t just work at Vertical Harvest, he also enjoys its produce. Here are his three favorites and why he likes them:
1. I like the tomatoes a lot. They are sweet and lots of the chefs like to use them, too.
2. The lettuce is really good in salads.
3. Microgreens are small. There are different kinds, but I like all of them.
Vertical Harvest produce is available at the on-site market (155 W. Simpson Ave.) and also at Pearl Street Market, Whole Foods, Aspens Market and Deli, and Bodega in Teton Village. During non-Covid-19 times, you can take tours of the facility and learn about its supremely innovative hydroponic systems that are now being replicated across the country. If a tour isn’t an option, look for local documentary filmmaker Jennifer Tennican’s film about Vertical Harvest, Hearts of Glass, on your local PBS station. The documentary, which follows the first 15 months of the greenhouse, is being broadcast on PBS stations across the U.S.heartsofglassfilm.com