Thursday, September 1, 2011 3:20 AM

Dancing (yep) on the Big Abe

He asked. The Navy said yes. Thus was born on a brisk Sunday morning -- the dance -- on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln.

I don't know where this ranks in the money-making, merry-making of Internet celebrity "Dancing Matt"  Harding -- he's danced all over the world ( -- but it was one of the most marvelously jarring and surreal experiences I've witnessed.

A scant few hours back, tens of millions of dollars of aircraft and hundreds of sailors and pilots were hurtling around the deck. Even with earplugs a few decks below, sleep was hard to come by with catalpult launchings and cable stringings.

Then, save for one F-18, all the jets had gone. And, dozens of volunteer sailors were getting a few dress-rehearsal instructions from Harding who created a dance riffing off the hand signals used to communicate with pilots in the explosion of takeoffs and landings.

Beyond the backdrop of military gray, gray sky and sea, shirt colors told the duties of the men and women "dancers": purple (aviation fuel specialist), red (ordnance), yellow (catapult/arresting gear) and blue (plane handlers).

During the final video shoot -- all of about 40 seconds -- helicopters were landing on another section of the flight deck. One occupant -- in full flight suit, head gear and all -- strode past this pleasant diversion from shipboard frenzy and boredom.  Wish I knew what was going through his mind.

There's a lot of routine and repetition aboard a carrier; they can be corrosive. You have to give the Navy credit, both in its commitment to social media and intense awareness of the youthfulness of its workforce.

Dancing on the Big Abe was a heckuva way to break the monotony, earn a headline or two and create a new episode in theater of the absurd.

(Below is a photo of Harding leading a rehearsal and a link to a brief video of the dance. This is the fifth and final in a series of blogs about my 22-hour August embarkation on the Lincoln in the Pacific 100 miles off San Diego.)