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Hundreds help launch world record bid with silent disco

Posted on March 7, 2011

Two hundred revellers took to the streets of London yesterday for a silent disco to help publicly launch Free to Dance, a fund- and awareness-raising campaign for new charity LearnBurma.

Charity founder, Ben Hammond, organised the event to galvanise support for Free to Dance, an initiative that will see him attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest ever continuous dance (125 hours) in October at the Scoop at More London, London’s iconic amphitheatre overlooking Tower Bridge. 

The “Freemob” kicked off at the London Eye, where hundreds of dancers of all ages and abilities gathered from 1:30pm, dressed in eye-catching yellow and black. At 2pm, the dancers put their headphones on and joined in the countdown to an explosion of energy and excitement, and the beginning of a two-hour mobile dancing marathon that culminated at Trafalgar Square, converging at St Paul’s and Covent Garden en route. 

As the procession moved through the capital, it attracted attention at every turn. Traffic was held up and, as crowds gathered to join in at St Paul’s and Covent Garden, many bystanders put their headphones on and joined in.

Brought together from far and wide, the throng of people included schoolchildren, older dancers, students and members of dance groups. But, for the most part, this was a crowd of ordinary people like Ben, who wouldn’t usually dream of dancing in the street, let alone through central London. 

Emily Dodd, a student from west London, said afterwards: “It was so much fun! I danced enough to last a year, and we’re spreading the message all the way home!” 

The “Freemob”, as it was called, was the first in a series of public events hosted by Free to Dance in the build-up to the world record attempt, and Ben was delighted with the turnout and the enthusiasm on display. 

“We really had no idea how many people would come. It was something of an experiment for us, so we’re delighted everyone has shown up and had such a fantastic time. Now we know that people really are Free to Dance, we’re looking forward to expanding on this and really building momentum.” 

The next event is on April 17, when Ben will become the first person ever to dance the London Marathon, joined at the end for a silent disco with everyone who loves to dance. Then his training regime will step up a gear, and he’ll be dancing throughout Glastonbury Festival and from John O’Groat’s to Land’s End in August. The world record attempt in October aims to raise awareness and £150,000 for LearnBurma through sponsorship and fundraising by dance groups who will join Ben on stage.

Photograph: “Freemob” at St Paul’s © James Gourley

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Now acting editor of Discover Britain magazine, she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success.

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