Irmo, SC (WLTX) -- Friends are remembering the life of 42-year-old Tao Gao.
The Irmo man's body was found in a pond Sunday, just two days after friends say he went missing.
Investigators say he drowned, and they do not suspect foul play.
After conversations with close friends of Gao, News 19 learned his zest for life is almost as memorable as his dance moves.
"A lot of people have a hole in their heart right now," said Gao's former business partner, David West.
Friends tell us Gao moved to the Midlands from China when he was 15. He's a graduate of Dreher High School, along with his good friend, Donna Reed, who graduated a few years after him.
"He was such a joyful person," said Reed. "He's funny, spontaneous, a terrible driver, great with quick jokes and always making you laugh...If you were in the room with him, you'd be smiling."
Reed says Gao would bring people together, hosting what's called a Hot Pot.
"That's one of my favorite memories, a night when I got to meet two of my closest friends," said Reed. "He'd just have everyone bring something and we'd all drop it into the pot and see what it makes. Then we'd eat!"
Gao was a regular at Art Bar in downtown Columbia, where he was known to dance all night.
"He liked a lot of techno-sort of music, but he could really dance to anything. Guy's just got moves!" said Reed. "He could dance all night long. I certainly couldn't keep up."
"Just dancing with complete abandon for hours at a time, taking a break every now and then to quench his thirst," recalled West, who first met Gao at Art Bar.
Years ago, West started a web development company with Gao called Live to Create Interactive.
"He was a big part of my life for a long time," said West. "We worked together, we spent the whole day together, we saw each other at our best and our worst and had lots of laughs."
After hearing the news about his close friend, West was in disbelief. He says the two planned to hang out just last week.
"[I was in] shock," said West. "Your brain doesn't really process it. It doesn't feel real at first."
Private Investigator, Henry Dukes, found Gao in a pond inside the Carmel Commons subdivision in Irmo around 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
During interviews with family and friends, Duke learned Gao would frequent the pond to meditate.
"As silly and fun as he was, he also had a serious, philosophical side," said West. "He really liked to ponder the greater meanings in life."
Friday night, friends are hosting a memorial for Tao at the Art Bar in downtown Columbia. It starts at 7 p.m.