By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
The Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge on Saturday, February 1, smashed it own Guinness World Record for the largest Charleston dance on the planet.
More than 300 dancers clad in 1920s era garb gathered in Leura Mall in the Blue Mountains to perform the Charleston, a dance deemed a little bit naughty in the age of flappers and gangsters.
Last year the Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge set a new Guinness World Record with 276 dancers.
This year, the target was 300.
Under glorious blue skies, an overwhelming 319 people registered to take part in the official record attempt to high kick last year’s record including Blue Mountains State MP Roza Sage, Macquarie Federal MP Louise Markus, festival patron and TV presenter Claudia Chan Shaw and festival ambassador Charlotte Smith (owner of the Darnell Collection of International Vintage Couture).
Festival producer Sandy Luxford said: “I’m thrilled, of course. While we would have retained the world record title regardless, it is extremely satisfying to have set a new record – and we like being told we are `officially amazing’ by Guinness World Records.
“What has made the Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge such a success is that it is fun, costs virtually nothing and really is for the whole community.
“You don’t have to be a professional dancer or wear expensive vintage clothes to be part of the challenge. You just need to have a go for five minutes.
“We have people here of all shapes and sizes, young and old, male and female and of all demographics.
“It has been a fantastically fun equaliser.’’
While the record attempt must now be verified by Guinness World Records in England, Ms Luxford said she was “quietly confident’’ it would be confirmed.
“In any case, we still hold the title from last year.’’
BMLOT chairman Randall Walker congratulated all involved in the challenge including Leura Village Association and welcomed the addition of the Long Lunch in Leura Mall as a major festival event.
“The 1920s era is all about living for the moment and having fun and that is what we hope you take away from this.
“But the festival has only just begun, and is a great opportunity to treat yourself to a short break and fully immerse yourself in the Roaring 20s Festival and its many activities and events.’’
Welcoming the crowd, Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill thanked the many visitors to the Blue Mountains for “giving us the tonic we need’’ after recent hardship and injecting financial and emotional energy into the local economy, especially the tourism industry.
He urged locals and visitors to become ambassadors for the area, share their positive experiences with family and friends and encourage others to visit the Blue Mountains.
The annual public dance challenge officially kicked off the Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism (BMLOT) popular Roaring 20s Festival and all that Jazz!, at various venues throughout the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region until February 23.
Money raised on the day will be donated to the Rural Fire Service.
The festival celebrates the golden era of opulence, architecture and jazz music with events throughout the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region throughout February including the Highlands, Steam & Vintage Fair at Oberon; Glamour & Gowns Ball at Lithgow; Grand Afternoon Tea at The Paragon; and 1920s Ragtime and Radio Plays at the Mountain Heritage Hotel.
Go to www.roaring20s.com.au to book events or details about accommodation packages during the festival.