Drew Gamble earned the right to sleep right through Thanksgiving, or at least a good chunk of it, when he officially broke an unofficial dance-machine record by almost 90 minutes early Wednesday, then headed home after almost 37 ½ hours of dancing to raise funds for a worthy cause.
His parents and friends cheered and applauded at 6:23 a.m. when Gamble, a 17-year-old Mountain View High student, finally called it quits, nearly a day after his schoolmate and partner, Chris Machado, 16 failed to hit the right steps and was disqualified from their joint record-setting effort.
“We were leery at 5:30 (Wednesday night) whether he was going to continue, but he plugged on,” said Carol Sholes of the Space Balls Arcade at the Bend River Mall, where the event began Monday at 5 p.m.
Tired legs? Well, yeah, sure – numb, in fact. But sleep was Gamble’s real enemy as he surpassed the 24-hour mark on what supporters said already was a world record at that point.
Spirits were high Monday evening as Gamble and Machado kicked off their record attempt on Konami’s “Dance Dance Revolution Extreme” machine, located at the Space Balls Arcade at Bend River Mall.
But around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, 17 ½ hours into the effort, Machado unfortunately was talked by some in the crowd to try a faster-tempo song, and couldn’t keep his fleet feet hitting the right lit arrows in sequence, matching the video monitor’s characters on the small, disco-like dance floor.
“He should not have listened to the prodding of the crowd,” said arcade owner Dan Chase. But once Machado headed home – presumably to catch up on sleep – other teens stepped in to do some dancing and cheer Gamble on, with some yawns included.
And so, Gamble soldiered on by himself, sticking to the slower-tempo songs, for the slow and steady win the race. Asked at midday Tuesday the toughest part, he said, “Now it’s staying awake. At first, it was the pain in my legs.”
Mom Becky Gamble was on hand to help (with some liniment for the legs) and cheer on their son, as was husband Richard, when one or the other isn’t downtown running their store, Ozstralia.
Unlike the famous dance marathons of the Depression era, when just standing upright was the whole goal, the youths were tested on their coordination, as well as their stamina.
Guinness Book of World Records criteria allow just one 15-minute break every eight hours and only 30 seconds between songs to take a break. There also must be two adult witnesses throughout the event.
Apparently, two Washington state teens who used the combination video game-dance machine for 36 hours straight didn’t follow all those rules, so theirs was an unofficial record, begging to be broken.
“He (Drew) is setting a world record as we speak. As long as we follow all the criteria, it will be a record,” Chase said Tuesday evening, but he noted that it won’t go in the Guinness book unless the record stands until the next printing.
Proceeds help home for pregnant teens
There was a variety of helpful nourisment on hand beside the video game console: Water, GatorAde, pretzels, rice crackers – as well as a jar of something called “Sore No More.”
When the longer breaks come, “there’s a beehive to the john,” said Chase, a board member with Grandma’s House, a faith-based nonprofit home and outreach ministry for homeless or abused teens who are pregnant. People signed up to pledge a certain amount for each hour the record try continues, and there was a jar at the counter for others to give to the program.
“We’re not doing as well as I hoped” in the fund-raising effort, Chase said around noon Tuesday as the halfway mark neared. They were still tallying the pledge sheets Wednesday.
Some friends vowed to stick it out for as long as Gamble lasted. “I’ve been here the whole time,” said Brian Lawler, 15, who nevertheless was going at quite a faster tempo than his marathoning dance partner.
If nothing else, the video game variation can keep participants in shape. Machado has lost about 90 pounds since he began using the dance machine regularly, and both have very low heart rates.
“I think it’s just fantastic they are doing it,” said family friend Patricia Facey.
So does Drew’s mom: “I think it’s a good thing that he’s doing. Me and his dad have always told him, `Reach for the stars.’”
The teen, a snowboarder, skipped Mt. Bachelor’s opening day, so he wouldn’t get hurt and miss the marathon-record opportunity. Becky Gamble said her son has been a regular on the machine, riding his bike from home.
“It’s something for kids to do who aren’t into teen sports,” she said. “His heart rate is 51 (beats per minute). You and I could only hope for a heart rate that low.”
What else does he do, for fun? “He’s a computer wizard, and he’s been an artist,” his mom said.
At their 9 a.m. break, the teens said they were pretty much numb from the waist down, she added.
“Other teens are stepping up to the plate, to help keep him going and support him,” she said, about halfway through his effort. “A couple of marathoners and triathletes who we don’t even know stopped in earlier to offer their support.”