Dance Instructor Waltzing Toward Ballroom Record

Times Staff Writer

Failure is the one thing Scott Michaels has not prepared for, and that is the reason he fully intends to break the world record for continuous ballroom dancing.

By 2 p.m. Sunday, Michaels had waltzed and cha-chaed for 52 hours but was still almost 70 hours short of the established world record of 120 1/2 hours. He was swaying to Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" at the time.

But the verse that says "I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps" could have easily been altered to "I want to dance in a studio that never sleeps."

Scores of people have been coming in nightly to watch or dance, sipping the free champagne. During the day, the crowd usually thins down to a small--but strong--group of supporters.

Still on His Feet

Dancing with various partners, including students at the studio, Michaels, 31, of Huntington Beach began his record-breaking quest at 10 a.m. Friday. He will surpass the record at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday--if he's still on his feet.

The instructor, who has taught the last two years at Dance Masters Studio at 12104 Beach Blvd. in Stanton, is trying to raise money for the AIDS Prepare Program, a privately run agency based in Garden Grove that provides education and research into Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

AIDS is a disease that cripples the body's ability to combat infections and common ailments. No cure has been found. Homosexual men, intravenous drug users and hemophiliacs are the groups most prone to contract the disease.

Five other instructors at the studio are participating in the "Dance for Life" event, but only Michaels is shooting for the record.

"He's doing great. The other couples are here for support. He's the one really going for the record," said studio owner Bob Pyrah.

Michaels said that when he and the other dance instructors planned the fund-raising event for AIDS, he figured the record was considerably less than 120 1/2 hours.

"I thought it was about 72 hours, which would have been no problem. But then I called Guinness in London and found out what it was. I said, 'oh, no,' but I had to go for it," Michaels said as he swayed to a gentle tune.

Pyrah said more than $1,000 had been raised by Sunday, but he expected more pledges to come in before Michaels finally stops dancing. Contributions can simply be pledged or dancers can pay for hour-long dance sessions with Michaels or one of the other five instructors.

Accumulating Time

Under the rules, Michaels can rest for five minutes after every hour. However, he usually goes six or seven hours without a break to accumulate more time to rest when he does stop. By Sunday he had managed 70 minutes of cat naps. He has also learned to brush his teeth while dancing.

Coasting into the halfway mark Sunday afternoon, Michaels did not seem much affected by the long hours. His sneaker-clad feet were still lively. His eyes were clear and only a stubble of beard suggested he had been up for more than two days.

"This is not all that hard when you prepare well," he said, leading a student in the fox trot.

Michaels said he conferred with his doctor before setting out to break the record. He has resorted to eating pasta and oatmeal and has loaded up on vitamins and minerals.

His "support team" monitors his every move. They tell him when to rest, when to eat, even when to relieve himself in the restroom.

"If I waited to eat when I was hungry, I'd be done for. I have to listen to everything they tell me. It was planned that way," Michaels said.

"In fact, every possible thing was planned for. The only contingency I did not plan for was not making it. And when I make it, I'll be looking forward to a long, hot bath."

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