Pittsburgh will always be the city of champions, but if all goes well on June 20, it will have a new distinction: Guinness World Record holder.
On Friday, members of the Greater Pittsburgh Dignity & Respect Council, in cooperation with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s JazzLive International Festival and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, will attempt to break the world record for people line dancing.
The attempt is an outgrowth of the council’s Take A Healthy Step initiative to combine exercise and fun to promote a healthier lifestyle.
“We are always looking for ways to engage the community in practicing the 30 Tips of Dignity & Respect,” said council member and DHS Manager for Events and Donations Ondréa Burton. “Tip 28 is Take a Healthy Step, suggesting people to do something good for their health and encourage friends to join them. What better way to incorporate both fun and fitness than a giant line dance!”
Participants will gather at Penn Avenue and Ninth Street at 7 p.m. to perform the “D&R Hustle” choreographed by the Dancing DJ Roland Ford especially for the event. Those who want to join the record-breaking attempt can attend the final live rehearsal session June 18 at the Schenley Park Activities Building at 7:30 p.m., or by practicing along with the instructional video which is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv6wTNzzkVE&list=UUbt_wkv_afdZ29DFJBnCkkQ
“I doubt we’ll actually break the record because we’d need more than 17,000 people for that, but I’m hoping we have thousands because it’s a great way to exercise and have fun—and anybody can do this,” said Ford. “We’ll run through it a few times before the actual event to warm up. It’s going to be great.”
Though his dance is called the D&R Hustle, Ford said they will not be using the 1970s disco standard for music.
“No, this is an original song by a group of students from several Pittsburgh schools that were part of Emmai Alaquiva’s Hip-Hop on L.O.C.K. program,” said Ford. “They created the music.”
The Trust’s Director of Jazz Programming and Vice President for Education and Community Engagement Janis Burley Wilson said the attempt will be a splendid addition to the JazzLive festival.
“We’re looking forward to the excitement the Line Dancing event will bring to this year’s Festival,” she said.
Equally excited is UPMC Chief Diversity Officer Candi Castleberry-Singleton, who helped launch the Dignity and Respect campaign at UPMC in 2010.
“I’m really excited about it because it’s not just about the 30 tips, but connecting people to them, and dancing does that across all gender and age brackets,” she said. “So of course, I’ll be down there dancing. I don’t know if I’ll be any good, but with thousands of people there, I can hide if I have to.”
Since its originally start at UPMC, the Dignity and Respect Council grown into its own community organization. It is designed to bring individuals, community leaders, community organizations, educational institutions, businesses, and corporations together to embrace diversity, embody compassion, and demonstrate mutual respect.
Each year the council honors individuals who embody those qualities as Dignity and Respect Champions of Pittsburgh. For more information contact the council at dignityandrespect.org/greaterpittsburgh
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