Wednesday, 21 November 2018
BREAKING NEWS

Friends mourn loss of Tao Gao, dancer, philosopher and Columbia’s ‘unique weirdo’

Friends mourn loss of Tao Gao, dancer, philosopher and Columbia’s ‘unique weirdo’
29 Aug
7:24

Even when answering the phone, Tao Gao sounded like the outlandish, exuberant person he was, Greg Hilton remembers.

“He’d say ‘What’s up G,’ in just this really loud and excited voice,” Hilton says. “That energy and excitement he had for life for is memorable.”

A well-known person in Columbia’s social scene, Gao’s moxie for living is being remembered by his friends as they received the news of his passing. On Sunday, his body was found in a pond in Irmo. An autopsy is pending but the Lexington County said no foul play was suspected. He was 42 years old.

Gao was a dancer and a philosopher, his friends say — a regular at clubs and bars in town, where you might find him showing up everyone on the floor while also spreading positivity to those who’d join him at a table.

“He loved life, lived large, and was not one to accept limits,” said Gao’s former wife, Rachel Parker Varner.

Gao’s inte