Participants from across metro Des Moines gathered at the Water Works Park Amphitheater on Saturday to try to break the Guinness World Record for Largest Wobble Dance Group.
Upbeat music and laughter rolled through the windy day in Iowa as attendees lined up to get a wristband, button and t-shirt before heading to the dance floor.
The Isiserettes Drill and Drum Corps, a Des Moines-area dance group, led the crowd in practice rounds of the Wobble ahead of the official record attempt at 1 p.m. Moines Mayor Frank Cownie and Fire Chief John TeKippe.
With just under 300 attendees, the band failed to break Wobble’s current world record of 2,241 attendees dancing at Cincinnati, Ohio’s Washington Park in 2014.
I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa, the organization that hosts the Iowa African American Festival each year during Black History Month, hosted the record attempt. Although short of the record, the group’s executive director, Betty Andrews, considered the event a success.
“We wanted to break the record, but we knew it was impossible with the numbers,” Andrews said. “But we had a great turnout. Not only was I happy, but what really made me feel good was when everyone got up and started dancing. Working together, dancing together and moving together, that was the goal.”
Tanisha Butts, who has volunteered with her husband Terrance Butts at IMMAWII since 2000, said bringing the community together is one of the organization’s main goals.
“Des Moines is growing and I love seeing us do a lot of things as a community,” Tanisha Butts said. “It was great to see everyone coming out to support the community today. That’s one of our main goals, to make everything we do a community driven event.”
IMMAWII will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year by hosting the first in-person I’ll Make Me a World festival since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of activities have become bigger and bigger, and [Andrews is] involving more people than we’ve ever had before, and that makes it better,” Terrance Butts said. “With COVID going on, we still had a lot of activity, which was great, but now that we’re being able to get together and come together again is really nice.”
Andrews has been with the organization since its inception, first as a volunteer, then as president before becoming chief executive. During this time, she has seen the organization and its I’ll Make Me a World festival grow considerably,
“It brought awareness to African-American history,” Andrews said. “[The festival] just allowed the community to hang out, so over the years we’ve really grown. We started very small, expecting around 100 people, and ended up with 300 that first year. Now our festival has several thousand people attending.”
Andrews hopes to continue building a sense of community through IMMAWII events in the years to come.
“These are events that bring the living into our lives,” Andrews said. “That’s the point of this project, that connections matter. That’s where the value is, it’s being able to connect and learn something new.”
Grace Altenhofen is a reporting intern for the Des Moines Register. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gracealtenhofen.