BY all estimates, Cambodia is set to make global dance history, after about 1,100 young people from around the Kingdom joined the “Loy 9 Challenge” on Saturday to break the Guinness World Record for Largest Madison Dance.
It was drizzling when the dance began on the lawn in front of Wat Botom in Phnom Penh, but despite the rain, the event, organised by Loy 9, a weekly, youth-oriented program aired on CNT-TV, surpassed the goal of bringing together 1,000 dancers to beat the previous record of 459 people, set last year in France.
Nov Pouleakhena, 21, a student at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, already knew how to do the Madison.
She had heard about the challenge on Facebook and came with friends.
“I wanted to join the dance because it’s to break the world record. We’ve never broken such a world record before.
“Second, the Madison doesn’t belong to Cambodia but it is well known in Cambodia. When we dance to this music, it makes us happy,” she said.
The popular line-dancing style requires good co-ordination among dancers.
But not everybody who joined on Saturday was as familiar with the dance as Nov Pouleakhena.
Song Savy, 20, a student at Mekong University, learned how to dance Madison for the first time from a trainer five minutes before the challenge officially began.
“I really like Loy 9. The show encourages us to be involved. When I heard about the dance, I really wanted to join,” Song Savy said.
Chan Phearun, 23, an arts teacher at the non-profit organisation Hagar, gave those new to the dance some quick training.
With only an hour to train beginners before the 4pm start, Chan Phearun split hundreds of novices into smaller groups to teach basic steps.
Madison has several styles, but she taught the classical one to avoid confusion.
“Fifty per cent of the participants already knew how to dance the Madison,” Chan Phearun said. “We trained those who didn’t know how to do the dance by counting steps. They learned very quickly,”
Loy 9 project director Colin Spurway was worried the rain would discourage participants, but by 4pm more people than expected had arrived.
“We look like we have more people than we need to set the new record,” he said as the event took off.
The “Loy 9 Challenge” must be reviewed and certified as a new world record by a Guinness committee in London before it is officially announced as such.
Independent observers were present during the event, as is required by Guinness World Record guidelines, and Spurway will submit the event for consideration this week.
He expects to learn next week whether young Cambodians have officially danced the French out of the record books.
To contact the reporter on this story: Roth Meas at [email protected]