A unique opportunity is about to be handed to teenagers and adults who harbor a love for dancing, history and community-wide celebrations.
The Lip Dub Fort Smith Guinness World Record street dance attempt will be held from 8-9 a.m. May 28 in and near the 400 block of Garrison Avenue and will serve as "the perfect" way to help commemorate the Fort Smith Bicentennial and the 2018 Old Fort Days Rodeo, said Brad Randall, executive director for the event's organizing group, Lip Dub Fort Smith.
"This is to promote our city and all of the positivity we have throughout our community," he said. "We found out that the Guinness World Record for the largest street dance was set in 2015 by PMT Dance Studio, who performed their street dance live on NBC's Today Show in New York — the current world record is 253 dancers.
"We know that the street dance has to be a pre-planned routine and it has to be for five continuous minutes," Randall added. "We decided that we could do it."
Fort Smith's world record attempt is recommended for participants 12 and older, he said. Participants can be of any skill level, from first-timers to dance experts, Randall said.
"You don't have to be in peak physical shape or a professional dancer, so we are encouraging everyone to come and participate," he said. "Guinness will only be looking to disqualify people who aren't doing the routine. If you are texting on your phone or you are talking and not dancing during the event, then you will be disqualified. We can make mistakes with the routine but if someone isn't engaged, then they will be disqualified."
Dancers are asked to wear "family friendly" attire and will be dancing to a variety of music that will pay tribute to the city of Fort Smith and more, Randall said.
"The music actually is a mash-up of seven songs that are both unique to Fort Smith and modern," he said. "Without giving everything away, we can say that there's a little bit of old music, a little bit of new and, of course, some Elvis Presley, since we are an Elvis town.
"There will be continuous beats of music for five minutes," Randall added. "The music is specifically made for this world record street dance."
Western Arkansas Ballet Co. has choreographed the dance routine, which includes steps and moves that can be performed by "anyone," he said. A complete video of the routine can be seen on the Fort Smith Street Dance 2018 200th YouTube Channel.
"The choreography might be a little intimidating at first, but the hardest part is just getting a couple of moves down," Randall said. "A couple of those moves are recycled throughout the routine.
"And we want to re-emphasize that the dancing doesn't have to be perfect," he added. "We will only be disqualified by Guinness if we aren't trying."
Two "witnesses" and some judges will be part of the street dance experience, Randall said.
"One witness is Lindsay Scott, a Fort Smith native who is a Guinness World Record holder for the fastest time putting on and taking off a scuba wet suit," he said. "Lindsay lives in Fayetteville, and she and the other witnesses and judges will be acting as representatives from Guinness for this event."
The event will feature two "attempts" — one to vie for the Guinness World Record and a second attempt to record a "viral video" of the dance, Randall said.
"We will have a drone in the air over some of the buildings on Garrison Avenue filming the event in its entirety," he said. "We plan to use that video for years to come to promote Fort Smith and celebrate all of the positive things this community has to offer."
The street dance attempt will precede the Old Fort Days Rodeo Parade, which will begin at 10 a.m. along Garrison Ave.; the Old Fort Days Rodeo is happening now through June 2 at Kay Rodgers Park, 4400 Midland Blvd.
"We will have barricades up and the road blocked off for the dance," Randall said. "And after becoming the newest Guinness World Record winners, we hope to help lead the rodeo parade right after the police and fire personnel."
Those wishing to participate can register at fortsmithlipdub.eventbrite.com. Registration will end Monday.
"We are having three practice sessions from 2-3:30 p.m. Sunday and May 26-27 at the Fort Smith Riverfront Amphitheater, 121 Riverfront Drive," Randall said. "People can sign up on the EventBrite page, and that way Guinness can certify our numbers."
A subcommittee of the Fort Smith Mayor's Bicentennial Committee, Lip Dub Fort Smith was formed as a nonprofit specifically for the world record street dance attempt, Randall said.
"We are very excited about this because we have had so much interest in this and so much support from the community," he said. "We have about 12 people on our leadership team who have poured out their hearts, time and money into making this a successful event."
One of those leadership team members, Denise Messamore, said she is "thrilled" by what she sees and hears from others when discussing the street dance.
"I love the fact that the community is coming together for this event — all ages, nationalities and cultures," she said. "That is what makes Fort Smith so great.
"And music and dance have no boundaries," Messamore added. "We are knocking it out of the park."
"There is potential for us to double the current world record," he said. "And that is so exciting."