Dancers celebrate record-setting party

Friday, August 1, 2003

— Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" played early in the morning at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, marking what 41 marathon dancers hope is a new record for the longest dance party.

It will be a few weeks before the Guinness Book of World Records confirms whether the record was broken, event spokesman Peter Collins said Thursday.

"We wait for evidence to come in for it, and if it fits -- which I think it probably would -- they'd be looking at getting the new record," said Kate White, press officer for Guinness in London.

"I'm relieved that it's over and exhilarated that we broke the record," said Dick Hurwitz, the oldest dancer to make it to the end. "I'm 58 years old and I'm not sore a bit."

Hurwitz and others started dancing at 5:10 a.m. Tuesday and reached 51 hours -- one hour past the 1999 record of 50 hours -- at 8:10 a.m. Thursday.

"It was rough this morning and people were hurting, but everyone was determined," said Valerie Salstrom, co-owner of Get Hep Swing, a dance instruction company based in Cleveland.

Dancers were allowed to take 10-minute breaks every hour for food, trips to the bathroom and short naps. They also could stop moving between songs for up to 30 seconds but otherwise had to at least be shifting their weight while on the dance floor.

Guinness' current mark for longest dance party was set in November 1999 by 56 participants in an event sponsored by MTV India.

Ben Rich, 26, got ready for the dance marathon with a little training. Rich, who lives in Washington, D.C., ran four miles one day and then stood for 12 straight hours -- including during dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant.

"The waitress was hysterical," Rich recalled with a laugh.

The dancers originally had planned to dance for 81 hours, but they cleared the floor Thursday morning after 52 hours and three minutes, organizers said. The 81-hour goal was in recognition of the 81st anniversary of their sponsor, St. Joseph Aspirin's 81 milligram aspirin tablet.

Salstrom and fellow instructor Marty Klempner helped recruit the dancers, whom they met during teaching trips throughout the United States and Canada. Unfortunately for Klempner, painfully swollen knees forced him to bow out Tuesday night -- the first casualty of the event.

Salstrom said she and Klempner had to catch a plane to Los Angeles after the contest.

"We're going to a swing workshop weekend," Salstrom said. "We start dancing tonight."