By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
The Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge has finally been officially confirmed by Guinness World Records as the world’s “Largest Charleston dance’’.
Held in Leura Mall on February 2 as part of the Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism (BMLOT) annual Roaring 20s Festival and all that Jazz!, more than 280 costumed people took part in the challenge, with 276 making the official count.
Participants travelled from as far afield as the NSW Far North Coast, Queensland and even New York dressed in 1920s gear eager to high kick the previous record set at the Vintage Swing Festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in April 2008 with 250 dancers.
After months of anticipation and submitting a copious amount of written, photographic and film evidence of the attempt, the official confirmation was received from Guinness Book of World Records in England by BMLOT on Thursday [July 11].
The official letter reads: “We are delighted to confirm that you have successfully achieved a new Guinness World Records title for `Largest Charleston dance’. We would like to congratulate you on your record-breaking achievement. You are OFFICIALLY AMAZING.’’
Festival director Sandy Luxford said: “While I was very confident that we had set a new world record this year, it’s always a relief when the official announcement is made.
“Let’s see if we can break our own record in 2014.’’
The record was broken during the second attempt, after the first attempt fell shy of the target by about 70 people in 2012.
There were many nervous moments when a severe storm blew through the Blue Mountains the night before this year’s attempt, followed by consistent rain throughout the Saturday morning until almost Charleston Challenge time.
“But hundreds of people turned up at the last minute,’’ Ms Luxford said.
Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Randall Walker congratulated all involved, particularly the Charleston Challenge participants, Ms Luxford, festival founder Kate Faithorn, ambassador and vintage clothing collection owner Charlotte Smith and Leura Village Association.
“We have many world firsts in the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region – a World Heritage Area with the oldest tree (the Wollemi pines), the oldest and largest cave system open to the public at Jenolan Caves, the longest ongoing connection of indigenous people to country, the steepest railway at Scenic World, and now for a bit of fun and culture a Guinness World Record.’’
The event has traditionally launched the official regional tourism organisation’s Roaring 20s Festival and all that Jazz, which will again be held at various venues throughout the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region throughout February 2014.
The 2014 Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge will be held on Saturday, February 1.
The popular festival pays homage to the decade when the region cut loose in an endless round of hedonism – sumptuous architecture, costume balls and high teas, saucy clothing, outrageous (for the time) dancing and jazz music.
Go to http://www.roaring20s.com.au for more information about the Roaring 20s Festival and all that Jazz.