Dancers line up
12-hour jive fest raises donations for Homeboy Industries and In the City. | Chak Hee Lo/THE CHIMES
Biola Line Dancing saddled up to support the first ever Biolathon, a day-long massive fundraiser for inner-city rescue organizations.
Over the process of several months, a team of students with a mission in mind and inspiration in sight started a project which would grow to be a 12-hour-long dance marathon held on the Biola campus in the production center.
Biola Line Dancing is one club the team contacted to participate and raise funds for the cause — providing for Homeboy Industries and In the City, two missions organizations in gang-infested areas who provide for the needs of the community in different ways. The club took up the challenge without hesitation.
“Right from the start we’ve been on board and tried to help out as much as possible, giving people information, answering questions. We’re really looking forward to it. We got a good plan, I think. We’re excited to teach anyone who hasn’t ever line danced before,” said Kelsie Thompson, sophomore history major and vice president of Biola Line Dancing, during preparation for the event.
The club prepared three dances to teach the crowd who attended the Biolathon, which the club officers practiced at their weekly meeting. Line dancing follows one pattern of steps, often changing the direction of the dancer throughout the course of the song. Any one pattern can follow any song as long as it carries the same general beat the pattern requires.
“I’ve always enjoyed being able to dance, especially even where… dancing doesn’t have to be as shown as [it is] in some of the more raunchy movies. It gets to be something we can worship God through, and I think it’s way cool that we’re putting on a Biola-sanctioned event for that very reason,” said Nathan Folsom, sophomore political science major and president of Biola Line Dancing.
The sun rises on a cool Saturday morning, dew sticking to leaves and a soft drizzle painting the sidewalk as dancers make the trek to the production center: the space designated for the 12-hour danceathon.
Though the event began at 12 p.m., teams were registering and stretching long before then to prepare for the rigorous day of dancing which awaited them. Biola Line Dancing made their arrival, stocked with several pairs of clothes for dancing and exercising, and endurance to carry them through the day.
“It’s cool to see just the fun atmosphere that they’re trying to create here. It’s been nice being able to talk to so many people and see other students who are turning out to participate,” Thompson said. “I think, for me, just mentally preparing in terms of remembering why we’re here and just focusing on the fun and the things that have interested us here. I think [Folsom and I] tried to get good sleep and there’s not much else you can do.”
The schedule set out for the day placed Biola Line Dancing late in the day — their hour and a half of instruction was at 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. In order for the club to register for the marathon, they made a pledge to raise money for the two charities through finding support from their club members and other connections.
“I got plenty of sleep and rested up. Plus, did a little bit of stretching, only a little bit, this morning,” Folsom said. “It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. It looks like we’ve got a lot of people here ready to have a good time. 12 hours seems a bit long, I’ll probably have to re-energize a couple times. We’ll see what we can do.”
Though they were personally selected and requested to join by the Biolathon leaders, BLD took their responsibility seriously and fundraised within their club through friends and family.
Five hours in, sweat drips to the floor, dancers take stretching and water breaks more and more frequently, the day continues to pass slowly. However, the hours fly by for Thompson, who finishes teaching the lesson with a satisfied smile.
“We had a really fun time, it was something new for most people. A lot haven’t gone line dancing before,” Thompson said. “I think the hours are going by faster than you think they would. I’m sure the rest of the night will go by pretty fast. I’m sure we’ll be good and tired. I think a lot of us are at that point now.”
On the contrary, many participants in the event either took breaks or wandered the production center, possibly restless from waiting during dance lesson interludes and gaps between scheduled instruction. Participants were encouraged to attend sessions which interested them, which meant many did not go to every one.
“It went really well. People were a little hesitant at first, and then as soon as we started moving, they caught on pretty quick,” Folsom said. “It was a pretty good turnout — it was more than I was expecting.”
Folsom explained how the club anticipated roughly six new participants to actually come out and dance, but the turnout of 12 dancers pleasantly surprised him. The three dances the two leaders taught were “Slappin’ Leather,” “Rock Me” and the “Cowboy Cha Cha.” Each went to the songs Footloose, Wagon Wheel and I Just Want to Dance with You, respectively. While the cha-cha proved to be the most challenging, mostly because it is a couples dance, participants caught on quicker than both Folsom and Thompson expected.
The night winds down, yet energy is high. APEX, the victors of this year’s Mock Rock, teach their final lesson to the whole crowd: both representatives of participating clubs and unaffiliated teams. A 10-minute countdown begins on the projector screen as music blares, the foundation of the room trembling as the excitement in the room grows to an inexhaustible level. The first ever Biolathon is coming to an end.
The numbers stop and seven people file onto the small stage in the corner of Studio A. They hold white cardboard, upon which is written digits, organized to convey how much money the event raised for their two charities. With Thompson and Folsom in the crowd, the leaders of the Biolathon announce the earnings: $1,424.48 — a number no one in the room anticipated, and another celebratory dance party promptly began shortly after.
The dancers, exhausted from the 12 hour stint of movement and energetic social interaction, trudge home, their bags empty of snacks and their bodies shaking from the strain of a dance-driven ministry fundraiser.
“What a day — there was so much that went on, and anybody who didn’t come really missed out on hanging out with people and really having fun for a good cause. I really hope this event has more success in the future and more people will learn about it and get involved. It was fun and I’m looking forward to seeing how it improves.” Thompson said.
After changing out of her line dancing cowboy hat and leather boots, Thompson donned neon accessories and tennis shoes for a final glow-in-the-dark dance-off to complete the night prior to the fundraising announcement. Similarly, Folsom stowed his cowboy hat for the final dance instruction from APEX.
“The leaders seemed super stoked, and us as participants, I think all of us would say — at least tomorrow morning — that we all had a great time. Right now we’re all pretty tired,” Folsom said.
Though the event proved a worthy cause and a mutually beneficial way to meet new people through dancing, Biola Line Dancing admits the event had some downsides: primarily, the lack of people who actually attended.
“I don’t know how much networking they did, but I would say do even more. We got the turnout we did because of their amount of networking. But, I still think they could be better, and it could be bigger,” Folsom said, remaining impressed at the amount of people who showed up for the conclusion.
In the same vein, Thompson suggested the Biolathon leaders focus heavily on promoting the event with more clarity next year. If they had not approached her personally to ask for their participation, says Thompson, she would likely never know what the event was meant to be.
“In this last week, just talking to people about it, they still had no idea what it was. So that’s hard to get people to sign up when they really don’t understand. We’ve gone through it, we know how to help explain it to people,” Thompson said. “That’s just kind of how it is with the first time for anything. Just getting the word out there and letting people know this is something doable and workable into a schedule.”
Though the day was long and the mission completed, Biola Line Dancing ensured their participation in next year’s Biolathon, having had such a fulfilling day.