Health Writer Eva Gizowska heads to Dance Beats at Wembley Stadium to see celebrities Kimberly Wyatt and Aston Merrygold lead a record-breaking dance marathon for charity…

Kimberly Wyatt and Aston Merrygold lead the Dancing Marathon

I arrive at Wembley Stadium to the sound of Earth Wind & Fire’s Boogie Wonderland. It’s obvious that everyone’s in full-on dance mode.  I’m here to catch the finale of the Dance Beats Marathon, a 25-hour extravaganza, led by celebrities Kimberly Wyatt of The Pussycat Dolls and Aston Merrygold of JLS.  The aim is to break the Guinness World Record for the longest dance marathon relay for charity.

Dancing For Change 

The Dance Beats campaign was launched in June by Tesco to raise money for:  Cancer Research UK, The British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK.  Almost every family and every community in the UK is affected by one of these health conditions. Latest figures show that 1 in 2 people born (after 1960) will be diagnosed with cancer; 460 people a day die as a result of heart and circulatory disease and someone is diagnosed with diabetes every two minutes.  

Every 24 hours in the UK, there are:
  • 990 new diagnoses of cancer
  • 4100 new diagnoses of heart and circulatory disease
  • 700 new diagnoses of diabetes

A National Effort

Aston Merrygold snaps a selfie with fans

Today’s dance marathon is part of a weekend of dance events taking place in thousands of Tesco stores nationwide.  Dancing at the stadium began at 8am on 19th July.  So far nearly 5000 people, including celebrities, members of the public and Tesco employees (including those who have been personally affected by cancer, heart disease or diabetes) have taken part. 

People have from travelled from all over the UK to join in.  The idea is to keep the dancing going for over 25 hours (to break the record).  There are families, groups of teens, people of all ages, and an equal number of men and women.  Most of them are wearing the signature turquoise Dance Beats T-Shirt. 

For those who are feeling more adventurous, there’s a Dress Up area with cosmetics to try, make-up artists, wigs, fuschia dance tutus, leg warmers, headbands and other fun, dance-themed accessories.  One man is wearing what looks like a Hawaiian grass skirt (his own!) and there are quite a few women sporting kaleidoscope wigs.

There’s also a Silent Disco area, where you can brush up on your dance moves (shown on screens) before hitting the main dance floor.  If you fancy a bite or a rest in between dancing, there’s a Quiet Area with comfy booths where you can enjoy a selection of foods and drinks.

But it’s the main dance area where all the action is.  There are easily a few hundred people gyrating and strutting their stuff on the two dance floors. Everyone’s having a ball, shimmying on down to dance favourites: ‘Umbrella’ by Rihanna, ‘Havana’ by Camila Cabello, ‘Kiss’ by Prince, and ‘Pull Up To the Bumper’ by Grace Jones. 

The DJ is blasting out everything from pop and indie to house and hip hop, in hour-long sets.  The celebrity dancers have been taking it in turns to lead the dancing.  Right now, it’s Oti Mabusi, from Strictly Come Dancing, guiding the crowd through their paces.  There’s a glitterball baton that’s being passed round between groups like a relay race, to keep up the dance continuum. Yesterday, singer Una Healey and British Olympic Hockey Hero, Sam Quek were amongst the famous faces dancing.

Beating The Record

The dancers celebrate their victory

At 9.03 am, there’s a massive cheer as the existing dance marathon record of 25 hours and 2 minutes is passed.  Kimberly Wyatt and Aston Merrygold take to the stage: ‘Being involved in a world record is amazing,’ says Aston, ‘but, even more amazing is seeing people travel from all over the country and unite on the dance floor in aid of such important causes.  We’re here today dancing for all those people. Together we can make a real difference and beat cancer, beat heart disease and fight diabetes.’

Kimberly added: ‘The Dance Beats dance floor is a wonderful thing – full of energy, excitement and a million different dance styles. It doesn’t matter how people have moved around the dance floor this weekend – crucially, they’ve kept moving and moved this campaign to a fantastic finale. The hours have flown by!’

A Personal Connection

Kimberly Wyatt dances alongside others for her lost loved ones

Later on, I catch up with Kimberly in the Quiet Area, where she explains that the Dance Beats cause is closer to her heart than people may realise.  ‘I have an auntie who’s had breast cancer twice, and luckily she won,’ she says.  ‘My brother’s father had brain cancer, but unfortunately, he didn’t make it.  My uncle had throat cancer.  One of my dance partners had testicular cancer, and I’ve got a friend who’s got terminal cancer.  The amount of people getting cancer right now is unreal.  So, today has been really special. Dance Beats is about bringing people together and really encouraging them to do it, because it’s for such a great cause.’

To support the ongoing Dance Beats campaign visit:
Check out Dance Beats ambassador Oti Mabuse’s Dance Challenge and have a go at performing the signature Dance Beats move.  For every dance move you upload, Tesco will donate £10 to the Dance Beats campaign up to a maximum of £100,000.
Text to donate: Text DANCE to 70507 to give £5 (16+ only)