South Carolina's Legendary Icon Dog West
So you want to know about the Dog Huh? The Dancing Man you say? That Bandana Man? Well... I got you covered.
Johnnie "Dog" West is a 66 year old Cayce resident which was born in Kingstree South Carolina. Many know him from driving past him or watching him dance while wearing his signature outfit which consists of short jean shorts, high white socks, and a cut off tank top, an outfit that he has worn consistently since the late 80s.
He walks a minimum of 10 miles a day, even after going through Triple Bypass Heart surgery in fall of 2015. The Dog, just doesn't stop.
Known by many names such as; Bandana Man, Dancing Man, Goldilocks, Big Dog West, Dancing Dog, Undertaker, Running Man, just to name a few, West has propelled himself to local celebrity status by his outfit and dancing, or as he says "Simply just being Dog West, Ain't nobody out here like me."
Dog and I spent some time hanging out together at his favorite hangout spot Calvin's Barber Shop in Cayce and I asked him a few questions that I know everyone wants the answer to.
Me: Dog, the outfit. Where did you get the idea from?
Dog: I was just sitting at home bored one day, and I was looking in the mirror. I just started cutting, cutting on my pants, cutting on my shirt and then it just happened. I liked the way it looked.
Me: Just like that man?
Dog: Just like that (laughs)
Me: What about those bandanas, I know you don't really sport them anymore but how many of them doggone bandanas do you even have.
Dog: 500, I got about 500 bandanas.
Me: While we're on your outfit, your socks be whiter than Christmas. I can't even keep ankle socks that white.
Dog: I have a lot of pairs of those socks. $5.49. They sell them right up there at that sports store round the corner.
Me: You're in better shape than I am. I'm about to turn 30. I know you walk a ton but what about your diet. What do you eat? What's your favorite thing to eat.
Dog: My favorite place to go to is McDonalds
Me: Dog. What? McDonalds? Really?
Dog: (Laughs) Yea, I don't get much from there, just apple pies.
Me: Mannnn. I was about to say.
Dog: I eat a lot of fruit, pineapple, pineapple is my favorite. I got some over there right now (points at bike). Fruit, Wheat Bread, Oatmeal. That keeps me going. Pineapple all day tho.
Me: How do you feel about watermelon?
Me: Choose your words wisely. If you got a problem with Watermelon, we got a problem. That's my favorite.
Dog: Laughs, We don't have no problem man, I don't have a problem with Watermelon.
(We laugh together)
Me: Outside of walking, what does The Dog do in his free time?
Dog: I love to work, Rake Yards, what ever I can. I don't beg, I make it happen. You see some of these young guys out here, they come to me and ask me for some spare change. I can't help them. If I can do it they can. Spare Change? Spare Job. If you want some Spare Change you need to get a Spare Job. (laughs) Spare Change, Spare Job. I worked at the Truck Stop for 16 years and at the Moving Company for 15 years. I did it all. When they gave me days off I called in to see if I could come in to work. I love to work, time off, I don't need no time off. I don't run out of energy.
Me: You have a ton of names that people call you. Bandana Man, Dancing Man, Goldilocks, Big Dog West, Dancing Dog, Running Man, I know you've heard them. Which one is your favorite?
Dog: I'm the Undertaker. You see what's tatted on my arm? That's what I am. I don't remember the last time anyone called me by my real name.
Me: You be showing out with those dance moves man, I don't even think I can keep up. (as I pop and lock) How did you get started dancing?
Dog: I started dancing when I was 14 or so. Back in the day Cayce used to have these little concerts and parties that you could go to and every time I would go I would tell myself that I would go up and dance, then I wouldn't One day I just started dancing and I have been dancing every since. I don't copy any dance styles I just do my own thing. Ain't nobody out here like me. Everyone is afraid to be themselves. Every neighborhood has talent in it, but people are just afraid to use it.
Me: It ain't easy being different in this world Dog, even as a photographer I have had plenty of people tell me I couldn't make a career out of it, or that I needed to do or be something different.
Dog: I guess they are wrong now right? (We bump fists)
Me: Everyone loves you, when I posted a picture of you the other day it was shared more than 1000 times and everyone had a good memory of you to share. What is your favorite part about walking around and what do you hate the most about it.
Dog: I love walking Columbia, I get so much love. As soon as I cross the bridge, people just give me money. People want to take pictures with me, of me. Especially the college students. I used to freak the police officers out back when I wore big chains, but now they just throw their hands up and speak.
Me: Yea man, everyone loves you. You're a celebrity. So is there even anything you don't like?
Dog: Cayce used to be fun, used to be so much talent, community. Before the guns, before the drugs, before the gangs, people used to have fun with each other. It's not the same. That's why I stay to myself. I don't talk to many people.
Me: I know you are a spiritual man, you do a lot of community outreach, and sing on the Men's choir. How would you liked to be remembered by all of us when your time comes?
Dog: I want people to say that I kept on and I completed my course with the Lord. I kept on.
Me: My man.
Me: What is your advice to everyone out there in the world?
Dog: Never give up on your dream, just keep pushing. Don't let anyone ever make you give up on your dream. I didn't give up on my dream and I just stayed me. Just do what you want to do and don't give up on your dream.