A style of 1950s line dance once loved in the West but now neglected as an anachronism has won Cambodia its first Guinness World Record.
Almost 1,000 young Cambodians danced The Madison, a novelty 1950s line dance popularised by the musical Hairspray, in Phnom Penh earlier this year in an attempt to win the title.
Now, the Guinness World Record judges have confirmed that the five-minute dance, which took place in April, did break the world record for the largest number of Madison dancers to perform at one time.
While The Madison is now nearly unknown in the United States where it originated, the dance has become wildly popular in Cambodia and is a favourite at Khmer New Year gatherings and wedding celebrations.
A total of 929 people donned red and blue baseball caps for the attempt in Wat Botom Park, a popular spot for aerobics, more than double the number of the last record.
France set the previous world record when 429 people performed the dance routine, which involves repeatedly moving from the left to the right.
This year’s attempt was organised by Loy9, a mass media campaign managed by BBC Media Action, as part of their first TV series finale.
The initiative supports TV and radio shows made and presented by young Cambodians.
BBC Media Action, who focus on working with the majority youth population in Cambodia, where two out of three people are under 30-years-old, received the official certificate from Guinness World Records yesterday.
Lim Seangheng, a senior producer at Loy9, said: “When we saw the number of young Cambodians who came to join in that day, we knew that we had more than enough dancers to beat the old record.
“It was a fantastic way to end the first TV series and we are thrilled that the judges have awarded us the official world record.”
Elena Tischenko, country director of United Nations Development Programme Cambodia (UNDP), said setting this record was a landmark achievement for young people in shaping Cambodia’s future.
“I am very pleased to hear the new Loy9 now officially holds the Guinness world record,” she said.
“UNDP believes in the importance of young people having information and actively participating in building the future of Cambodia. Loy9 creates entertaining and opportunities for young people to get involved with and The Madison dance is a good example of that.”
Vy Yaro, one of Loy9’s young TV presenters, agreed.
“It is really fantastic for Cambodia to now hold the top spot for a dance,” she said. “Now people all around the world can know what young people can achieve when we work together."
To contact the reporter on this story: Chhim Sreyneang at [email protected]