At 6’7″, John Drury naturally attracts attention, but his height isn’t his claim to fame. His infectious dance challenges under the moniker “The Dancing Trucker,” accompanied by energetic, seminal hip-hop classics like Chubb Rock’s 1990 hit, “Treat ‘Em Right,” built his ever-growing viral following. Part of Drury’s likability is because he doesn’t look like the average social media influencer, let alone the average dancer. But he can move.
Before traveling across the country as “The Dancing Trucker,” being a spokesman for Progressive Insurance, and doing a commercial for The Good Feet Store (he wears their shoes to ease plantar fasciitis discomfort), Drury started off dancing in front of the Butler County Courthouse every Sunday.
Baggy denim shorts, bright socks and sneakers, and black sleeveless T-shirts are usually his look of choice. His shirts double as advertisements printed with his taglines like “Dancing for Smiles” and “Tik Tok Famous” in white block lettering. Drury is aware that his clean-shaven head and neck tattoos might get him mistaken as a biker rather than a guy who’s racked up millions of views.
“I went viral for the first time [in September 2019] and ever since, it’s no big deal for me to get a million views on a video anymore,” Drury says. “I used to think that was fantastic, like, ‘Wow, I finally made it; I got a million views,’ but it just happens all the time now. So many celebrities take notice, like Mike Epps, Shaquille O’Neal, and Steve Harvey.”
Listening in the background, his wife reminds him to mention Janet Jackson.
“Oh yeah, Janet Jackson posted my video on her Instagram page!” he adds. “When you see yourself on Janet Jackson’s Instagram, you kinda feel good about that.”
Earlier this month, Drury appeared on Harvey’s social media talk show, STEVE on Watch, to share his story of why he’s a “dancing trucker,” and it began with his journey to lose weight. After years of truck driving and developing unhealthy eating habits, he lost 100 pounds in 2012 and became a certified Zumba dance fitness instructor. As a teen, the Western Hills High School graduate grew up immersed in ’80s hip-hop culture breakdancing with neighborhood friends. Understandably, it was a dream come true for him to perform to “Treat ’Em Right” on STEVE and have Chubb Rock sneak up and surprise him while he danced.
During Drury’s darkest times, dancing became a sanctuary. Three years after losing a fourth of his weight, his mother was killed on her way to church by a drunk driver. Within three months, he lost his home to a fire.
“I did gain some weight because my life was falling apart,” Drury shares. “It had nothing to do with me. I wasn’t doing anything wrong; and all this bad crap was happening to me. I turned to food again, and I’ve gained probably about 40 pounds, but I keep an eye on it. I dance, I try to do the best I can as far as keeping the weight off or maintaining where I’m at now. People say I look good at 340 pounds.”
Whether it’s one of his TikToks tagged in hundreds of “duet” dance challenges or Drury out shaking his groove thing at a busy intersection, his mission is to spread moments of joy to anyone watching. He remembers a time when he was dancing in Trenton wearing headphones when a woman told him his dancing gave her hope and prevented her from suicide.
“I’ve been dancing on street corners for the past four years, going from dance fitness, which is physical health, to dancing for smiles, which is mental health,” Drury explains. “I’m a mental health advocate and I truly believe in trying to help people smile, make people feel better, and maybe get people to come out of their depression, even if it’s for a few seconds.”
A tool Drury suggests for feeling less overwhelmed is “filling your cup with positive things.”
“I do a lot of manifestation,” he adds. “I speak what I want to happen, and it happens, and it’s basically the law of attraction. That’s why I’m where I am today.”