No Sleep: Nigerian DJ crushes world record for round-the-clock DJ set

Late last month, a Nigerian DJ locked himself in the booth at a cafe in Lagos, aiming to beat one heck of a world record.

For 10 days (239 total hours), DJ Obi, a hip-hop lover who works for Nigerian rap imprint Syndik8 Records, played music without sleep, breaking the record for longest non-stop DJ set. Obi’s time bested the 2014 record of 200 hours, set in Dublin, Ireland by a Polish DJ named Norbert Selmaj.

In order to qualify for the Guinness World Record, the Nigerian DJ had to have someone dancing at all times, and he wasn’t allowed to play the same song twice within four hours of it hitting listeners’ ears. He did get some respite, in the form of a five-minute break every hour, and Obi also was allowed to receive medical attention, massages, and vitamins daily.

According to an interview with BBC News, Obi claims he began hallucinating after four or five days without rest, battling sleep deprivation with two-second naps while standing up. The Nigerian DJ says that it was thoughts of his deceased father that kept him going.

In the end, Obi’s quest was widely supported by the community in Lagos, and it was their help that drove the DJ to finish so far in front of the previous record.

“People came to support,” says the DJ in a short video interview, “Schools came by with their students, and mind you, this is in Nigeria, where people think partying is irresponsible.”

It’s hard to imagine that anyone will approach DJ Obi’s record anytime soon, given that the record for no sleep (without DJing) is 264.4 hours, or 11 days and 24 minutes. And going that long without sleep is risky business; A Chinese man who attempted to watch every game during 2012’s Euro cup passed away after 11 days without sleep.

At least in Obi’s case, he lives to spin another day.

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