Attempting World Records: the Big Dance in Edinburgh by Sarah Barclay

Sarah is a Junior majoring in Photojournalism.  Her study abroad program this summer takes her to Edinburgh, Scotland for six weeks. 

On Sunday, July 1st, our group had a ‘free day’. Basically, as a bunch of photojournalists, a free day means we can go shoot whatever we want, as long as we’re shooting. So my three flat-mates and I, after spending most of the day pathetically lounging in our Edinburgh flat doing laundry/sleeping, went down the road to the Grassmarket where a world record was being attempted. The record the citizens were trying to break was having the most people doing the tea dance. The current (or maybe now previous?) record was made in Glasgow with 300 couples doing the dance.

Even just as photographers, the four of us had a great time. The music was all big band – so all brassy and jazzy. A lot of people were in period dress, with 50s hairstyles or 40s old-time military uniforms, while others were just in the modern clothes that our generations normally wear. And there were people young and old all over the place. Even a woman in a wheelchair came to dance!


The area was a little fenced in, but that didn’t matter to the people. While only the folk within the fence counted for the record, people just walking by on the street would break out in dance. Some even stayed to watch for the full two-hour celebration. My photographer friends and I stood as close to the fence as we could, and some couples posed or purposely cheesed during their dance for the cameras.

But probably the best part of the whole experience was just the fact that, along with everyone dancing, people were just so nice! A few dancers even tried to sneak my three friends and I in so we could shoot.


There was one man named Peter (pictured above!) was a complete card. He had so much fun and danced with everyone in sight, including a little kids and a woman who couldn’t have been less than eighty. At the end of the day, when he and his wife were on their way out, he made a point to come back over to my fellow shooters and I and say goodbye.


Another old couple was so engrossed with each other and having so much fun, also pictured above. When I went up to Brian and Lissa Smith to talk to them for caption information they both just laughed and began a conversation about my work. I talked to them for about twenty minutes, with them doing that cute old married couple banter the entire time. Lissa and I even were able to talk style a little bit, as her entire 40s-inspired outfit, and Brian’s, was bought at a local thrift store.

But along with all the fun people we were lucky enough to meet, it was just amazing to see all the talent in this tiny little part of Edinburgh. And maybe even be part of a little history! While I haven’t heard the official count yet, the MC announced at one point that about 670 people registered to attend. They only needed 614 to break the record, but they still have to count up if everyone came. Not to mention the weather was perfect, as we were granted a very rare sunny Sunday afternoon for the event. Did I mention the whole thing happened at the base of a castle?!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s