Dancers break world record for longest dance party

By KRISTEN GELINEAU, Associated Press Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) - Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" played bright and early Thursday 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.
"I'm relieved that it's over and exhilarated that we broke the record," said Dick Hurwitz of Chardon, the oldest of the dancers who made 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 swing dance instruction company based in Cleveland.
Participants (many pictured, above) were permitted 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 Cleveland dance marathon with a little training.
The Washington, D.C., resident woke up one day last week, ran four miles and then stood for twelve straight hours -- including during dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant.
"The waitress was hysterical," Rich recalled with a laugh, while swaying back and forth on the dance floor in the lobby of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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, who they know from their teaching trips around the United States and Canada. The dancers are from a host of cities including Los Angeles, New York City, Dallas, Seattle, Boston and Toronto.
Unfortunately for Klempner, despite his training, painfully swollen knees forced him to bow out Tuesday night -- the first casualty of the event.
As the digital clock on the DJ platform hit 30 hours, the crowd gave up a cheer.
"Seattle is in the house!" cried a bleary-eyed but grinning Jen Holland, known in the Seattle swing community as "Hep Jen."
Jan Hurwitz, a physical education teacher, wanted to prove something to her three children and to herself. "Would you call that a mid-life crisis?" she said.
Most dancers brought several pairs of shoes to change when one pair got too sweaty or hot.
Up on the platform behind the DJ, weary dancers relaxed their feet in a foot bath, grabbed a snack or lay on air mattresses.
Lying with her feet propped up, Lauren Edwards, 22, of Peachtree City, Ga., said Tuesday her sore toes wouldn't stop her.
"I'm going to keep going until somebody tells me to get off the dance floor," Edwards said.
Some played card games from the dance floor, spreading the cards on the DJ platform and breaking away every so often to twirl around. Others read books and ate while swaying.
Into their second day of dancing, many admitted they were getting a little slaphappy. Several had taken to whacking each other with foam pool toys during the night to stay awake.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)