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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, April 19, 2014

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In Arts & Entertainment

The Soul Train Dance line record set last year in Philly.

Soul Train dance line still going strong


Let's see:

High heel shoes for both men and women?

Check.

Bell bottom pants?

Check.

A handy pik to comb out that flowing Afro?

OK, you're ready for the record-breaking "Groove Line 2013" at Potawatomi Bingo and Casino, 1721 W. Canal St. during which the casino will hold attempt to set a world record for the longest "Soul Train Dance Line" Thursday at 1 p.m.

According to Potawatomi spokesperson Crystal McNeal, the Soul Train line event came out of discussions by the company's Black History Month Committee about ways to celebrate African-American achievements during February.

McNeal said the event was originally intended as an event for the casino's 2,600 employees as a morale building exercise but that became problematic.

"There wouldn't be anybody left to work," she said. So the event was opened to the public, where a big crowd of local folk who grew up watching the iconic soul music TV program created by the legendary host Don Cornelius are expected to take part.

Soul Train was one of the longest running syndicated shows in television history; Cornelius, who died after committing suicide last year, was widely credited for bringing black America's music to a wider audience.

Usually broadcast on Saturday morning in many markets, Soul Train was part of the fabric of urban black community's that faithfully watched the show to imitate the fashions and learn the dances.

Each week, the Soul Train line was featured during the show as dancers moved down the line to show off dynamic dance moves. At house parties across the nation during that time, lots of regular folks who never would get to dance on Soul Train created their own makeshift versions in basements or back yards.

Yes; in my younger days, I danced down more than a Soul Train line at parties or clubs.

McNeal owned up to her own experience, too.

"Everybody did it, it didn't matter who you were. That's why we decided to do it at the casino. It's a fun, multi-cultural event. We're hoping for a good turnout."

In recent months, there have been several Soul Train Dance Lines held in various cities - it's a category on YouTube - in attempts to set a world record. The last big event was in Philadelphia in an outdoor setting. Given the crowds that usually turn out, it's surprising to learn the Guinness World Record for the longest Soul Train Dance is reportedly only 291 people.

Sounds kind of small to me. But McNeal said anybody who wanted to show up for the Potawatomi attempt should come at 11 a.m. to register at the Expo Center in the casino's SkyWalk Park area.

The only requirement is that participants must be at least 21 years old. McNeal also encouraged dancers to come in their best Soul Train attire from the various decades the show was on the air.

You don't even have to know how to dance to take part although if you're a Soul Train fan, you probably know it's best to have a couple of moves, at least.

After all, when it comes to Soul Train you wouldn't want to embarrass yourself on the hippest trip in America, would you?


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