Oakland Comes Together to Break Record for Largest Soul Train

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 8 years old.

On a recent sun-drenched morning in Oakland, dancers of all shapes, sizes and ages gathered to help the city make it into the record books.

Still high from the Golden State Warriors' first NBA championship in 40 years, the city prepared for its next title: the Guinness World Record for "Largest Soul Train Line." In order to beat Philadelphia, where the last officially certified record was set in 2012, Oakland needed at least 300 dancers at deFremery Park to shake their stuff on the "Oak Train."

Many who arrived June 20, 2015, dressed in wild, colorful outfits that reflected the origin of the Soul Train line, a staple of the television show created by former TV news reporter Don Cornelius that ran from 1971 to 2006. Not only did Soul Train offer a national stage for soul artists like Curtis Mayfield, Barbara Mason and Joe Tex, the show also exposed teenagers around the country to the latest, smoothest dance moves.

In fact, a few featured dancers from the show came to the park and were treated like royalty, including Jeffrey McCrimon, a software developer from Brentwood who danced on the show from 1987–1994.


"I try to get out once in a while and show the youngsters I still have it, and learn a few new moves since my days back on the 'Train,'" said McCrimon.

The line itself grew to roughly the size of a football field, and it took each duo several minutes to dance down the entire line.  After dancing for nearly four hours in the bright sun to R&B and hip-hop hits, the dedicated dancers went from high kicks and booty-shaking to shoulder-shrugging and zombie-like walking in place.

But the line came alive again when Oakland City Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney came on stage to announce that, indeed, they had set a new record with 337 dancers. The participants cheered, the music cranked up, and the crowd kept on dancing.

- Kevin L. Jones