Update: As of 3 p.m. CST, fans had donated more than $60,000 in response to the video.
For five years now, Demi Adejuyigbe has turned September 21 into an internet holiday full of joy and whimsy, soundtracked by Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1978 hit “September.” The song, a celebration of nostalgia that opens with the line, “Do you remember / the twenty-first night of September?” first prompted Adejuyigbe to make a video in 2016. That first video—posted on September 21, of course—showed the Dallas-raised University of Texas at Austin grad dancing exuberantly while wearing a T-shirt with the date on the front and the words “That’s today” on the back, and it was immediately a viral sensation.
Since then, Adejuyigbe’s observation of the date has grown in scope and scale with each passing year. (In 2018, the video included a full children’s choir!) The series has grown into a fundraiser for various causes Adejuyigbe supports, and with the 2020 edition—which raises money for Street Watch LA, the Selah Neighborhood Homeless Association, the Blackroots Alliance, the Trans United Fund, and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum—he’s set his most ambitious goal yet: to raise $50,000 for those organizations from fans and supporters who want to remember the 21st of September.
The 2020 video features no choirs or backup dancers. The pandemic makes those things an impractical way to celebrate, but Adejuyigbe’s creativity is on full display in a socially distant manner, with surprises and visual twists. They somehow transform what should be a stale gimmick after you’ve seen it once—it’s a guy, dancing to a song that was released fourteen years before he was born—to become one of the more inventive things on the internet each year. (This year—the airplane!)
Of course, five years of finding a new way to pull off the same basic gag is a lot, and Adejuyigbe acknowledges that in a direct-to-camera address at the end of the video. “Well gang, we did it,” he says, “Five years, five September videos. That’s such a nice round number, and a perfect place to stop.” There is only so much space for party decorations, and only so much time a person can spend looking like a goof on the internet, after all—but Adejuyigbe’s “perfect place to stop” is a bit of a fake-out, just like the box truck made up to look like his bedroom. Rather, he announces, he’ll keep going if the video manages to hit that $50,000 goal via donations at Sept21st.com.
holy shit the link is down because too many of you are going to it. that's awesome. i mean, not entirely, because, you know, it's down, but the reason is great. holy cow. this rules. again, not entirely, because, you know, but
— demi adejuyigbe (@electrolemon) September 21, 2020
So far, the crowdfunding campaign is off to a good start, with nearly $20,000 in donations in the first hour after the video went live—and so much interest that heavy traffic crashed the link to the website. Fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money to the sort of small-scale orgs that Adejuyigbe chose to support this year, but it’s also not a huge number in internet crowdfunding terms: you can raise ten times that amount just for reopening a hair salon during a pandemic. With that in mind, we can expect to see Adejuyigbe dancing around in a T-shirt with the words “Sept 21” on it again in 2021—though every other detail will probably be yet another delightful surprise.