In “Outliers: The Story of Success,” best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell claims that roughly 10,000 hours of practice is required to become an expert or professional in a certain field. Gladwell understood that practice wasn’t the sole requirement for expertise in a subject, as he explained in the New Yorker, though it was certainly a defining factor.
Soon-to-be married Wojtek and Karolina Gawel may not have reached the 10,000-hour threshold when they prepared for their impending wedding dance routine, but the practice surely paid off. After all, they weren’t looking to become professionals, they simply wanted to treat their guests to a nice surprise. The video of the Polish couple’s performance, uploaded in October of 2010, has more than 8 million views.
The three-and-a-half-minute clip receives rave reviews online, even now, five years later. In response to one YouTube viewer, Karolina claims that she and Wojtek had no prior dancing experience, hoping to wow wedding guests with their new moves. They reportedly practiced for nine months in a cramped, rented room, using YouTube videos as their guides. “If you just believe, you can do it — you really can do it,” she says in the YouTube comment.
Wojtek and Karolina’s dance routine is set to Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing,” perhaps the most iconic song to come out of the swing era. Goodman and his band members recorded the track in 1937, according to Last.fm, and it has not lost its prominence.
The dance begins slowly, with Wojtek and his wife each showing off a quick move before joining together. The encircling crowd claps along to the beat as the newlyweds swing, twirl and jump around the dance floor. The couple receives booming applause at the end as Wojtek, with Karolina in his arms, bows to the many guests.
While wedding guests customarily bring a little something for the bride and groom, the bride and groom do not as often have a gift for the guests. Wojtek and Karolina wanted to provide something for all the people that had come out to show their love and support. The couple clearly put plenty of time and effort into the idea, as evidenced by the 36 weeks of preparation.
In Gladwell’s eyes, Karolina and Wojtek may not be experts in the field of dance; they would have needed several thousand more hours of practice. But for them and their guests, the dance was everything they could’ve hoped for. “Thank you all for your kind words,” Karolina said in a YouTube comment three years after the fact, “It really makes our days when we’re down.”
Today, Karolina and her husband own and operate a landscape architecture business based in Poland.