Some do it quick, with a clap at the end. Others do it down low, swiveling their hips, nice and easy. Either way, at 7:30 p.m. sharp Sunday, it'll be "Come on, baby! Let's do the twist.'' During the Fourth of July celebration at Largo Central Park, the community is invited to join forces to break into Guinness World Records for having the largest number of people twisting in one place. The city of Largo hopes to break the record of 1,691, which was set on April 30, 2004, in England. Typically, the Fourth of July celebration at Largo Central Park draws more than 20,000 people, so event organizers believe breaking the record is within reach.
"Last year, you could barely find a place to sit in the grass, it was so crowded. There's no doubt we can do this,'' said Rob Mondora, the city of Largo's artistic supervisor who helped with the event's concept.
Why the twist? Why now? Why here?
Because the twist and the city of Largo have something in common. The city's Recreation, Parks and Arts department is turning 50 this year. And, it was also 50 years ago, July 1960, when Chubby Checker released his version of Hank Ballard's song The Twist.
But there's more.
"The twist itself actually started in the Tampa Bay area,'' said Jack Harris, the voice behind the morning show on WFLA-AM 970.
"I learned about the twist starting in Tampa a few years back when a friend showed me liner notes from one of Ballard's albums,'' said Harris, who will be the emcee for the event.
The story goes that Ballard was visiting the Central Avenue district of Tampa around 1957. At the time, the area, near where I-4 is now, was the hub of the African-American community.
"Ballard was in Tampa, and he watched some kids dancing outside of a club. He asked them what they were doing, and they said they were doing the twist. He watched them awhile, and then went inside and started writing the song,'' Harris said.
There's also another local tie-in to the celebration.
"We've got Joey Dee living here,'' Mondora said.
Dee, who followed up Checker's hit with his 1962 song Peppermint Twist, lives in Clearwater. Joey Dee and the Starliters are the headliners for the program.
"Even though it'll be about 100 degrees, we are looking forward to taking the stage in Largo,'' Dee said in a phone interview from New Jersey, where he is on tour. "And as usual, Joey Dee will be wearing his suit and tie, no matter how hot it is.''
When the city-appointed official timekeeper gives the nod, Harris, along with Dee and his band, will start the crowd twisting. The dance must be performed for five minutes, nonstop.
Charla Lucas, events coordinator for the city, has been communicating with Guinness World Records making sure the attempt will be deemed valid.
"The Guinness Book of World Records has many guidelines that must be followed to break a world record,'' she said. "It's a lot of work for five minutes, but it's history in the making."
For those concerned whether they need to do the exact dance steps for Guinness requirements, don't despair.
"The Guinness guidelines for the dance itself says it has to be performed in the traditional manner, and we'll have Tutterow dancers providing instruction after people register,'' Lucas said of the city dance troupe.
Harris, who has been heard over Tampa Bay airwaves for 40 years, is eager to see the record set.
When asked what he expects to see Sunday, he replied, "A lot of elbows and butts. This is going to be great.''