Country singer Walker Hayes reacts to Gulfarium TikTok video featuring song 'Fancy Like'

Savannah Evanoff
Northwest Florida Daily News
Bryan Martin, the animal management director at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, made a TikTok video featuring the sea lion Ada dancing to country singer Walker Hayes' song "Fancy Like."

OKALOOSA ISLAND — Bryan Martin knows how to keep up with the trends.

When the animal management director at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park saw a dance trend spreading on TikTok featuring country singer Walker Hayes’ song “Fancy Like,” he decided to partake — with his own twist on it, of course. Martin (aka @sealionbryan) posted a video dancing to the lyrics of the song with a trained sea lion named Ada on Sunday.

“I love the Gulfarium, and I love working with the animals,” Martin said. “We do dancing segments, and the sea lion show presentation that we have is an educational presentation, but we show people how the sea lions move. They're so intelligent and they're just so wonderful to work with and as ambassadors for their species. It brings joy to people. It magically fit together.”

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Within six hours of posting it, Hayes and his family posted a reaction video to Martin's video on his own TikTok. Since then, the original video has received more than 5 million plays, and the reaction video has received more than 1 million plays.

“#duet with sealionbryan might seal the deal as my favorite one yet,” Hayes said in the caption.

Martin sees why the song is trending. It’s such a fun song.

“You're always looking for something that just screams your summer jam, and it just has that feel,” he said. “It talks about just dating and life being kinda — you're going to Applebee's — and it's the simple things in life that are meaningful.”

That message especially resonates with Martin after his partner died three years ago.

“I really want people to remember that it's the little things that are important and you don't always have to have super crazy fancy stuff to have a wonderful life,” he said. “It’s a fun song, but it spoke to me from that perspective, too, which a lot of people don't have that perspective. It brought me a lot of joy.”

Ada has made multiple appearances on Martin’s TikTok. He taught the adult sea lion the dance moves in only 5 minutes, he said.

“Something that's really, really important to me is for everyone to know that having a sea lion, who is amazingly trained, even though I'm the one in the video, it is a team of people and effort and dedication over years and years and years to have an animal be at the level that she’s at,” Martin said. “She's incredible.”

Bryan Martin, the animal management director at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, trained the sea lion Ada to dance to Walker Hayes' song "Fancy Like" for a TikTok video.

He hopes it will show how wonderful the Gulfarium is.

“People can see just how much we love and care for the animals and that we’re creative with what we do,” Martin said. “Our main goal is to take excellent care of them and then be able to educate people when they come through. This just really put Gulfarium out there for the wonderful place that it is for the animals and also for those of us that work there.”

Martin was excited Hayes reacted to the video.

“He has his whole family jump into his TikToks and does the dance, and you can just see that it's a tight-knit thing; he's a family guy and they're all involved. There's just a lot of joy with that song, and so many people are just sharing it and loving it. It just makes everybody happy. I think that's really what the world needs right now.”

Songwriter Shane Stevens co-wrote Walker Hayes' song "Fancy Like." He's gotten a kick out of Bryan Martin and sea lion Ada's TikTok video of Ada dancing to the song.

The video not only caught the attention of the “Fancy Like” performer, but also the song's co-writer, Shane Stevens.

"I watched this video of this sea lion dancing to ‘Fancy Like,’" Stevens said. "The joy of it has been so much fun. When you’re a songwriter, if you’re not on stage performing your songs, unless you go to a concert you don’t get to experience or feel what the feeling of it is or how it affects people. TikTok, Instagram and social media have been so instrumental in spreading so much joy. We all know social media can wreck people, but with this particular song, it has been so exciting to see.”

Martin shares Stevens' feeling about social media.

“The way now that TikTok and Instagram have allowed us to do reels to music and just really have fun with life is connecting people in different ways,” Martin said. “I never thought that I would get a chance to interact with any of them, let alone have them thank me and jump back and do a video like that. It's amazing recognition. Everybody is somebody that you can end up connecting with.”