News: Join Free to Dance Ben - at The Scoop

Friday 7 October 2011

Ben Hammond with Karen Hardy at The Scoop, More London.

Teacher Ben Hammond has been breaking dancing his way through records this year – all in aid of Learn Burma, the charity he has set up to support education projects in Burma. He became the first person to dance the London Marathon ( in 8 hours 50 minutes, 34,692nd to cross the finishing line). In July he danced 72 hours non stop through Glastonbury and WOMAD – which is about half of the length of his next record breaking attempt, when he’ll be dancing non stop through Tue 11 – Sun 16 October, at The Scoop, More London SE1 2DB in a massive silent disco, supported by – he hopes – a cast of thousands.

So do you have to be a good dancer to join in? “Absolutely not,” says Ben. “ I’m certainly not a dancer, I’m an ordinary teacher, I don’t teach dance. I’m so bad, if I can do it, literally anyone can. It’s all about doing something with a whole load of people. It’s not about sitting there and watching, it’s about taking part”. A whole range of London dance organisations will be on hand to lead different sessions. “We’ve got something for everyone, from a clubber who is a little bit different can dance to the Ministry of Sound, Club de Fromage, to Propaganda’s indie night; if you’re a serious dancer you might come down to the Living the Dream’s dance and show off your moves; you might come to cha cha and foxtrot with Karen Hardy from Strictly Come Dancing; if you’re in it for social dancing, you might come to Salsa or Swing Patrol, if you’re into it for fitness reasons you might want to come down to Gymbox sessions, which take you through different types of workouts, or Zumba, and if you’re a toddler bring your parents down to the diddy dance session.. Essentially there’s something for everyone – and you want to dance yourself free then you come down and dance to the music you love.”

Ben says his biggest challenge will be staying awake. Under Guinness World Record rules he’s allowed 20 minutes off every four hours, when he might grab afew minutes sleep. He’s also – understandably – nervous. “We’ve got an amazing line up and I’m worried I’m going to get carried away on day one dancing to Just Dance on the big screen a few hours into the record when I should be conserving my energy. And ultimately it’s all to raise awareness of what’s happening in Burma and to get people to do something symbolic. I’m trying to take the pressure off by saying “it doesn’t matter if you break the record” but I know in myself I really want to. And I know it will be hard. I remember back to Glastonbury – the blisters all over my feet and all pain in my knees and my hips and back, and that was half what I’ve got to do this time.”
__This week Ben won the support of Ricky Gervais – creator of one of the UK’s best known dancers – David Brent (of The Office fame) – who has been seen wearing his limited edition Free to Dance t shirt.

Find out how to join Ben Hammond in his record breaking attempt & Silent Disco:

Ben Hammond Q&A
Photo: Ben Hammond with Karen Hardy
Interview: thanks to Dave Barros

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