*Dyana Williams is considered radio royalty by fans of her radio show on 100.3 WRNB in Philadelphia, and colleagues and industry insiders a like after 40 years in the game. Our Lee Bailey had the chance to catch up with Williams so she could give him the run down on her role in setting up a Guinness World Record Soul Train line.
“About three years ago I went to (PD/ Program Director) Elroy Smith and said “I want to do the world’s largest Soul Train line” and we had a bunch of meetings but we really couldn’t pull it off that year. Budgets and a bunch of things, said Williams.
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“Last year I approached the city. They do a big event called ‘Welcome to America’, they do it every year,” she explained. “It’s huge, like a 12 day event, hundreds of thousands of people. A really big event. We piggybacked on their event, and did a last minute call out to people saying we’re doing a line dance. We had about 3,500 people come out. We knew we could get people out, and we knew we could get them out fast. However, when Don Cornelius died and I got the news, I called Elroy and said ‘Let’s do it now and let’s go for the Guinness World Record. We know the logistics of what to do.”
Sounds like that that would have been an incredibly soulful record to be a part of, however Ms. Williams tells EURweb.com that it wasn’t officially a record. That’s when it was back to the drawing board.
“Last year we did it, but since the rules for Guinness are so strict, we couldn’t pull it together. So, we just did the event last year without a Guinness submission. We decided this year we could go for a record,” she explained.
“A local group was getting together and deciding they wanted to go for the record. They approached us to promote the event. So, we put it together as a collaboration. Sheila Simmons, whose listed in the press release as the organizer, is one of the primary organizers. She submitted everything to Guinness, and we just got the notice (last week) that Philadelphia holds the world record.”
So just how many people are enough people to break a Guinness record? Not as many as one may have thought. However, while numbers don’t lie, positive emotions and intangibles can’t be measured by them. So you be the judge.
“Two hundred ninety one people. You have to remember that a couple has to go all the way down to the end before the next couple starts. We started in daylight, it was dark when we finished. The original record was 211 people. We wanted to go further so that we (could) be sure. On January 2, we will present to (Mayor) Michael Nutter and the city of Philadelphia an official certificate. (He) gave us everything we needed so we counted the Mayor and the city as our primary sponsors.”
Thus, the city of brotherly love (and sisterly affection as Ms. Williams likes to say) was added to the Guinness Book of World Records for taking part in the Soul Train line to end all Soul Train lines. Though this endeavor was a success, Dyana tells our Lee Bailey that she and the City of Philadelphia will continue defending their record year after year, just like a true champ should. Now, if only some of those pro sports teams in Philly could get that memo.
“We demonstrated that thousands of people could come together on a winter day for a worthy legacy, and that was remembering Don Cornelius,” said Wiliams. “We didn’t have videos or BET. We only had radio and Don Cornelius for the longest time. We had Caucasian people, Asian people, Latino people, people in wheelchairs. We intend to defend this record annually. This belongs to Philadelphia.”