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Could line dancing bring down Thwing?

Steven Mazurek

Issue date: 12/5/08 Section: News
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While Thwing is in relatively good shape for an older building, there are concerns about the consequences of large amounts of simultaneous movement. Hence, line dancing is no longer permitted on the main ballroom floor, and similar activities are being reviewed for safety concerns.
Media Credit: James Cash
While Thwing is in relatively good shape for an older building, there are concerns about the consequences of large amounts of simultaneous movement. Hence, line dancing is no longer permitted on the main ballroom floor, and similar activities are being reviewed for safety concerns.

Students reserving the Thwing ballroom for events will find themselves faced with a surprising question: "Do you plan to do any line dancing?" Even more surprising is that if they answer "yes," they will need to schedule their event elsewhere.

The rule comes down from Casey Medley, the director for administration and operation at Thwing, based on a structural engineer's recommendation. The new rule was implemented after a student approached Medley to tell her how well a dance in the ballroom had gone.

"She was so excited," Medley said. "She said, 'Casey we had such a great time! Everybody was dancing all over the ballroom and there were so many of us there that the floor was shaking. I could feel it just bouncing.'"

Medley relayed the news to the Department of Facilities Services, where project manager Tom Bondra opened an investigation into the stability of the Thwing ballroom.

The staff had good reason to be concerned. High-profile floor collapses have grabbed headlines from around the world.

The Versailles wedding hall collapse is likely the most infamous of them. On May 24, 2001, this wedding hall in Jerusalem collapsed during a wedding, killing 23 and injuring around 250, according to a CNN report. On the day of the disaster, cable news networks and Internet sites played amateur videos from the hall, showing dancing revelers disappearing through the floor.

Afterward, public outrage fueled investigations, which resulted in the arrests of the hall owners. Investigators discovered that the hall's owners had removed a retaining wall on the dance floor. When the floor sagged as a result, the owners smoothed over the sag with additional building materials, exacerbating the problem. Also jailed was the proprietor of the method used in the hall's construction, called the "'Pal-Kal' method, which uses less support than accepted construction methods," according to the International Herald Tribune.
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