Guinness OKs Philly’s Soul Train Dance record

Posted: December 12, 2012

Word arrived by mail Monday that Philadelphia did indeed set a new Soul Train Dance world record.

Writer Sheila Simmons, the principal organizer, got a congratulatory letter Guinness World Records along with the official certificate, which declares:

"The largest Soul Train Dance consisted of 291 participants and was achieved by the Philadelphia Soul Train Line Dancers in Philadelphia, Pa., USA, on 13 February 2012."

The previous record - which lingered, but not for long, on the Guinness website this morning - was set by 211 dancers in November 2011 at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, Calif.

Obviously, Philly smashed that record.

"We wanted to make sure that it would hold for a while," said Simmons, who lives in East Falls.

Philly's successful attempt was inspired by the Feb. 1 death of Don Cornelius, producer of the popular Soul Train TV show and its longtime host, from 1971 to 1993.

Even the likes of Mayor Nutter, Rep. Bob Brady and other public officials took part as 298 people attempted fancy footwork at the bottom of the Art Museum steps.

Seven people got disqualified for various reasons, like not fully finishing the dance, Simmons explained. A half-dozen volunteer stewards used to tickets and clickers and strictly followed the rules to ensure the mark would be legit.

"It took a long time" - from 4 p.m. to about 6:40 - because "the next couple can't start dancing down the line until the previous couple gets all the way to the end," Simmons said.

She and fellow organizers, including prominent radio personalities Mannwell and Dyana Williams, plan to present the certificate to Nutter, with hopes of it being prominently displayed.

"Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection is a grand music mecca," said Williams, cohost of Soulful Sunday on WNRB (100.3 FM) Radio One. "It's also the birthplace of the Soul Train theme, written by the legendary duo of Gamble and Huff."


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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