Thursday, July 20

Students find ways to outrun fatigue as Dance Marathon paces through night


Dance Marathon participants try to take the weight off their feet as they dance and stand for pediatric AIDS. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Dance Marathon participants try to take the weight off their feet as they dance and stand for pediatric AIDS. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)


This post was updated April 9 at 11:25 a.m.

Exhausted dancers looked for ways to relieve their aching feet as Dance Marathon entered the early hours of Sunday morning.

Dance Marathon volunteers started dancing at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and will continue dancing until Sunday 1:30 p.m. – a full 26 hours. Many dancers, complaining of sore feet and fatigue, took breaks near the marathon’s halfway mark, trying to find ways to stay awake and keep up with their dancing.

Peyton Beatrice, the executive director of marketing for the Pediatric AIDS Coalition at UCLA who has participated in the event four years in a row, said dancers must stay on their feet but those who stop dancing are not penalized by staff running the event. She added that PAC staff members encourage those that fall asleep or sit down to get back up on their feet.

Most marathoners did their best to honor the rules of the dance marathon, but some found it difficult to continue dancing the entire time.

Clara Nguyen, a first-year pre-human biology and society student, crouched on the floor and stretched out her legs while using FaceTime on her phone with her boyfriend. Nguyen said she felt pumped up in the early hours of Dance Marathon, but became more tired as the event neared its 15th hour.

Nguyen added she was participating because she is interested in AIDS research. She also said her sister participated in Dance Marathon when she was attending UCLA five years ago.

She said she wanted to keep fighting to stay awake to prove to her family she could do it too.

Dancers also figured out they could sleep without breaking the rule of staying on their feet by leaning against tables.

Vivian Wong, a third-year biology student, tried to catch some sleep by lying on a table in the outer concourse of Pauley Pavilion with her feet firm on the ground. She added she found stretching and trying to distract herself helpful in minimizing her pain.

Ryan Leong, a second-year biology student who was also trying to sleep near the same area, said he wedged himself into a corner near the gift shop to sleep while staying on his feet.

Janice Chen, a second-year psychology student, said she took a 10-minute nap that felt like an hour. She added she had spent three hours straight dancing, but later resorted to taking breaks in between.

“There was a resurgence of the last moralers, but I’m feeling the hours piling on now,” Chen said.

Moralers, student volunteers whose goal is to motivate dancers throughout the night, helped energize people in three-hour shifts.

Sarah Callahan, a fourth-year biology student who has volunteered as a moraler for the past three years, said it was nice to have a rest, but said she thought it was much harder for participants to keep dancing.

“I could not imagine (their pain),” she said. “I have so much respect for them.”

Tyler Schaefer, a fourth-year civil engineering student, who was taking a break and walking around Pauley Pavilion during his shift, said he believed in Dance Marathon’s cause and that even with fatigue, the event and its message are still important to UCLA students.

After the pain of dancing for hours started kicking in, Layla Bina, a third-year psychology student, used a tennis ball to massage her feet. Massage therapists were available for dancers but left at midnight, about an hour before.

Though the experience has been difficult, she said she thinks the costumes and changes in themes throughout the marathon were refreshing and helped her stay awake.

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