You should be dancin’. Yeah!
That’s what my editor, Marilyn, told me (in so many words) when the Reunions schedule was announced and we saw that the Class of ’87, rocking a disco theme for its 35th reunion, was planning to beat the Guinness World Record for the largest Hustle dance. As a serious journalist, I don’t like to make myself part of a story, but it was time to put on my my my my my boogie shoes and, on Reunions Friday, venture down to Class of 1952 Stadium — although for our purposes, let’s call it Studio ’52.
If you march in the first half of the P-rade, you’re old enough to recall that “The Hustle” was a big hit for Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony in 1975, though the Hustle has since come to stand for any type of disco dancing. The Hustle world record of 444 people was set in Farmington, New Mexico, in 2012, but the Class of ’87 was serious about breaking it. Why?
“We wanted to do something fun,” says Ned Elton ’87. “And since this is Princeton, what’s more fun than breaking a world record?”
To make sure we knew what we were doing, Elton’s niece, Maddie Rodrigue, who dances with the Rockettes, was there to lead us, joined by two of her friends. While many of the hustlers sported the sparkly class costume, ’87ers were hardly the only ones on the dance floor — er, turf. There was Pat, a Class of ’59 spouse. There was Roo, a black Labrador retriever. There was me. President Eisgruber ’83 was supposed to be there; he had been invited to address the competition in lieu of speaking at ’87’s class dinner. They planned to dub him “Eis-groover.”
Reunions may have been early this year, but dancing in 90-plus-degree heat with thunderheads lowering, it certainly felt like summer. Throw in the music, and it felt like Donna Summer, too. The popcorn beat of “The Hustle” started early, to give everyone time to practice, but at 3:02, warning sirens went off and our phones blew up with notifications that lightning strikes had been reported in the area. Jim Lanzi, a University police officer, delivered the bad news, fine payback since he had just been inducted as an honorary ’87 class member.
Rather than risk a disco inferno — or do the electric slide — everyone decided that the safer course was stayin’ alive and hustled on out of there in search of shelter. I will survive — but so, unfortunately, will the world record. The class counted 353 of us but more were flowing in, so we had a shot.
Still, ’87, don’t leave me this way. At least the organizers have vowed to try again, since there ain’t no stopping us now. After all, polyester probably wasn’t invented on the first try, either.
“While the world record would have been a cherry on the top,” says Kathryn Moran ’87, “the true objective was to manifest the spirit of Reunions and bring together ’87 and other classes to celebrate our shared experiences.”
Because that’s the way (uh huh, uh huh) they like it.
From left: Neville Fernandes ’87, Annie Lee ’87, and Dave Marotta ’87 do the Hustle.