Saw this gravestone in Lakewood Cemetary, did the math, and wondered how this person could have danced for over 3 months straight. Below is an explanation off the internets.
Marathon dancing is a dance activity originating in the mid-1300s that became very trendy in the 1920s and 30s. Many out of work people competed in the contests in order to achieve fame or win monetary prizes. The craze started in 1923, when a 32-year old American woman named Alma Cummings danced for 27 hours without stopping. She broke the previous British record and wore out six different partners while she was at it. Dancers defied protests and restrictions in striving to break previously set records, propelled by the excitement of competition, the possibility of brief fame, and cheered on by family and friends. Local dance studios all over the country, such as McMillan’s Dancing Academy in Houston, held marathons. After 1923, marathons began to change shape. Sports and entertainment promoters realized that good money could be made from commercializing and standardizing the contests. Rules often demanded that couples register and stay together, stating that if one partner dropped out, the other had to leave too. They regulated rest periods: fifteen minutes for every hour of dancing, often in separate quarters for men and women, during which they could sleep, change clothes, or have a massage (which contestants themselves paid for). Though healthier for the dancers than the earlier non-stop contests, these rest periods allowed the marathons to continue for days, weeks, and even months. To break the monotony of constant dancing for spectators, promoters added distractions, usually performances both by contestants and by guest artists. They invited professional dancers and teachers to enter the contest, often paying them to participate. During the Depression, marathons reflected the status of America at the time. A heavily staged form of forced labor, marathons relied on the amount of time spectators and contestants, out of work victims of the Depression, had on their hands. Dance marathon participants went great lenghts of endurance for rather small winnings considering the time spent.According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the record for the longest dance marathon lasted 5,152 hours. It was held at the Merry Garden Ballroom in Chicago, Illinois, and the winning couple of Mike Ritof and Edith Boudreaux won $2,000 in a contest that ran from August 29, 1930, to April 1, 1931. It was reported that dance marathons were directly and indirectly responsible for numerous deaths, although no figures on the amount were reported. Nevertheless, in 1933 the Governor of New York signed a bill that limited dancing to 8 hours. A few states earlier had outright banned marathon dancing after the 1923 death of Homer Moorehouse, who collapsed after dancing for 87 straight hours nonstop.