TAMPA — David Benjamin Frye dressed classy with a pin-striped fedora and arrived three hours early to get a space in the front row.
The Gibsonton 6-year-old waited patiently for South Korean rapper and YouTube sensation Psy to take the stage in front of the former Steve & Barry's store at University Mall on Fowler Avenue. David loved Psy's Gangnam Style video and the imaginary horse dance that took over the world this fall.
"I like to do the dance," he said.
His mother, 49-year-old Dorinda Frye, said her son manages the steps despite his cerebral palsy. She made sure he had room to boogie as they waited.
More than 2,800 people packed into the corridor between shops to witness the performance. Several of the storefronts were unoccupied, but two shops — Nail 1st nail salon and Star Image Shots photo studio— had to close as the crowd swelled.
Psy was scheduled to perform at WFLZ-FM 93.3's Jingle Ball concert today but had to cancel because of an invitation to the White House.
"He was really upset about that and wanted to do something," said Keily Potter, a spokeswoman for University Mall. His performance coincided with a giveaway of Jingle Ball tickets.
Ismaray Llanes, 17, and Kiara Velez, 17, both of Tampa and Gaither High School students, tried for Jingle Ball tickets but stayed for Psy. "I want to do the dance and to see people dancing," Velez said.
The teens braved sweltering heat created by the crowd as the time for Psy's performance neared. There appeared to be no fallout from recent news that Psy performed a seemingly anti-American rap at a 2004 benefit.
As of Saturday night, Gangnam Style had 912 million views on YouTube and recently became the most liked video on the site with 5.7 million tiny thumbs up.
Jewel Goretti, 45, of Westchase was one of many South Koreans there. She just moved to the United States six months ago. "I knew him from Korea, but I never thought I would see a Korean artist in Tampa," she said.
A DJ blared top-40 hits as fans started to get restless. "We want Psy!" they chanted. Vanni Le, 16, a King High School student from Tampa, was lucky enough to get one of 50 wristbands from the WFLZ-FM tent 93.3. Those fans got to meet Psy briefly after the show and take photos. Her homemade sign read, "Psy It's my birthday!" She's only heard the one song, but she's a big fan. "It's the dance," she said.
Lights on the stage dimmed at 5 p.m., 30 minutes late. Psy came out in his signature tuxedo and shades. He said his thank-yous and tore into his hit.
Suddenly, the music stopped.
The confused crowd paused mid gallup. Psy said he couldn't hear them singing the lyrics, which are almost entirely in Korean. Fans, including 6-year-old David, pledged to do better.
The DJ restarted the track and they were off to the races again. Four minutes later, it was over.
"Thank you for supporting me, Tampa Bay," Psy said. "Keep supporting me."
David was all smiles as he and his mother turned to leave.
"Me and Psy have the same sunglasses," he beamed.