“That Guy on Cooper Street”


Lorelai Hofer, Photo and Multimedia Editor

  As cars rush down the bustling Cooper Street, one man takes the time to savor life by doing exactly what the classic 60s song instructs – dancing in the street. 

   Jaylan Ford, a 19-year-old from the Arlington-Forest Hill area, started dancing on the side of Cooper Street five years ago and continues to spread joy to drivers of Arlington today.

  As a 14-year-old, who was new to the area and just starting high school, Ford started simply strolling up and down Cooper Street, since it was close to his jobs and home. 

 “Right before I started my first year of high school, I really just did it,” Ford said. “I wouldn’t dance or anything, but I would just walk. Then when I was 16 and I was starting my sophomore year, that’s when the dancing came along.”

  Drivers of Arlington were initially bewildered by Ford’s sudden outburst of dancing. Yet they found his energy humorous and a tad bizarre.

  “I saw him for the first time in April coming home from a haircut when there was really bad traffic in Arlington,” junior Delaney Costello said. “There he was waving at people and absolutely having the time of his life. It was refreshing to see someone having so much fun and making other people happy.”

  Ford’s mother, Alena Moore, had a similar response to her son’s sudden interest in dancing as did the rest of the community. 

  “I laughed at first because I couldn’t believe how fast his head was moving,” Moore said. “But then I loved seeing him every day.”

  Ford’s unique perspective on life started to broaden out to the public, who soon developed his same excitement for life.

  “I thought that he had a happy spirit who transmits his positivity through his dancing,” sophomore Citaly Vargas said.

  Through gushing rain or sweltering hot summer days, Ford said he works to make the community more optimistic and confident, through his dancing.

   “It makes me want to bring other people out of their shells,” Ford said. “They will tell me, ‘I’m so scared of being judged. I don’t want people to think I’m this or that. Just go out there. That’s the reason I’m out there. I want people out of their shells. I want people to feel.”

   Ford’s work to compel his neighbors too, as one of his favorite artists Taylor Swift sang, feel “happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way” has definitely succeeded.  

  “Whenever I see him, I automatically feel better, because he puts a smile on my face,” junior Abby Erskine said. “He reminds me that despite what’s going on, I can still have fun and enjoy myself.”

  Ford’s modest task of simply getting from one place to another has brought an extensive impact on students’ lives. His positivity and smile have turned students’ most inferior days into a tremendous one. 

  “He’s waved at me a couple of times when passing him which is a little boost of serotonin in my day,” sophomore Sebastian Rodriguez said. “I feel like he’s just very friendly and always moving, so he interacts with a lot of people in the area.”

   Ford’s encouragement has not gone unreciprocated. He has discerned the rewards of increased courage and poise in his life. 

   “It has helped me be appreciative,” Ford said. “I’ve experienced a lot of stuff in the street, but it has really helped me be confident in myself.”

  As the world experienced the catastrophic effects of Covid, Ford used his dancing to continue to stay entertained through the quarantine. 

  “I told my mom I was going outside and if I get Covid, oh well,” Ford said. “I went outside and everyone said, ‘Look there’s Jaylan! He’s outside!’ I have fun. I enjoy myself.”

  Ford’s eagerness to enjoy life lessened the devastating blow of being in the solitude of quarantine for many students.

  “He just let me know that someone cared and was making an effort to connect to the Texas population during this rough time,” junior Marin McCullough said. “Jaylan is my guardian angel.”

  Ford’s dedication to doing what he is fond of ultimately contributed to students feeling connected to society during an extremely isolated time. 

  “Seeing Jaylan did help me feel connected to people again just because it was something we as a community could all talk about,” Erskine said. “Also seeing everyone engage with him helped me feel more connected to people.”

  Through being a person everyone could communicate about on social media and to their peers, Ford became a way for the community to connect.

  “He’s not someone you drive past and forget,” junior Katherine Wabbersen said. “I remember always saying, ‘the Cooper Street guy,’ and everyone always knew who I was talking about. He gave all of Arlington a really good sense of community.”

  Ford said he plans to continue his dancing until he’s 30 or 40 years old, though he does face the perpetual danger of speeding cars threatening to pummel him as he attempts to cross the street. 

  “I would say I’ve almost been hit about 20 times,” said Ford. “Once when the light was red, this one car tried to turn and make a u-turn while I’m trying to get over. I almost got hit by the car. If I got hit, I would be getting my butt back up.”

  On top of bringing jubilation to Cooper Street, Ford is extremely engrossed in multiple different jobs. He also advertises for these companies while he is out jamming. 

   “I advertise for Smokeshop, McDonald’s, my two jobs at the Parks Mall, Eye Care, Powersports, a shirt company, and Evolve Credit Repair,” said Ford. “Your boy is everywhere.”

  What may have started as minuscule steps to achieve the goal of getting to work slowly evolved into empowered frolicking that would impact many students and ultimately the whole community.  

  “He makes me aspire to have the energy and positivity he has and shares with everyone else,” Wabbersen said.


Jaylan’s Playlist


  • Soulja Boy
  • Gucci Mane
  • Two Chainz
  • Waka Flocka Flames
  • 21 Savage
  • Drake (Certified Lover Boy)
  • Rick Ross
  • Lil Wayne
  • Taylor Swift – “I like to listen to Taylor Swift when I’m outside. If nobody knew that, they’re going to know now!” 



  • Jaundice by Lil Wayne and Rick Ross
  • Enzo by 21 Savage and Gucci Mane
  • Hard in da Paint by Waka Flocka Flame
  • Way 2 Sexy by Drake 
  • ME! by Taylor Swift

Photo by Lorelai Hofer