Dane Dances returns to beautiful Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center Rooftop for its Sweet Sixteen season bringing together all ages, neighborhoods, and backgrounds for a free live music and dancing every Friday in August.
Dane Dances is a nonprofit community organization conceived in 1999 by Madisonians who wanted to break down ethnic and racial divides and allow people the space to have fun and enjoy themselves outside of the social issues surrounding the community.
“We don’t get involved in political, social issues. We just get together for good music and dance,” says Dane Dances Board of Directors President Alphonso Cooper.
Dane Dances provides a safe haven for Madisonians and others who visit for great company. This year, Dane Dances celebrates public school students, educators, and the community. Cooper hopes new relationships with the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) and Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) will allow the program to expand its reach.
“The goal is to be able to spread to surrounding schools,” Cooper tells Madison365.
Celebrating the schools and students will hopefully get parents involved, he explained. Both the MMSD and BBBS will be able to market themselves at the event forming a unique partnership.
Cooper believes the series has allowed families and individuals to enjoy each other’s company while honoring the rich community they share. He stated that during Dane Dances 16-year run, it has brought in over 5,000 people.
“It’s open to everyone,” he said.
The dance series began in 2000 when New York native and environmental consultant Peter Anderson wondered if dance could uplift the Madison community like it did for the residents of his housing cooperative. Cooper referred to the local troubles in race relations prior to Dane Dances.
“In 1994, the [City of Madison] Equal Opportunities Commission found that Madison police officers stopped African Americans in traffic more often than Euro-Americans, and African Americans could not have as many businesses with alcohol licensing as Euro-Americans,” publicity committee chair Diane Michalski Turner wrote in a press release.
For Anderson, dancing in his neighborhood came out of joy and celebration after the residents of his housing cooperative paid off their mortgage. He aspired to bring those neighborly interactions into Dane County.
“If we learn to dance together, we can learn to work together,” Cooper said.
Dane Dances opens its doors to anyone in Madison incorporating genres and styles across cultures. On several nights, various forms of music such as R&B, merengue, bachata, funk, salsa, and many more.
“We have three diverse bands we are going to be introducing with new sounds,” Cooper said.
The Dane Dances line-up for the next 3 weeks is set and is as follows:
• Friday, Aug. 14 will feature Charanga Agoza (Charanga, Son, Rumba, & Salsa) and the Eddie Butts Band (Funk, Pop, R&B & Jazz)
• Friday, Aug. 21 will feature Christopher Project (R&B, Jazz Groove) and VO5 (Funk & Disco)
• Friday, Aug. 28 Megan Bobo & The Lux (Funk, Soul, Groove) and Grupo Candela (Salsa Dura, Merengue, Bachata & Rumba)
“The view is spectacular. The music is excellent,” Cooper said. “You bring out the best social crowd Madison has to offer.”
He elaborated how diverse of a crowd Dane Dances! tends to bring. This year’s food vendors include Cuco’s Mexican, Kipps Kitchen, Lake Vista Café, and La Taguara.
The official details of time and location, alongside the lineup of guest performers for the event are available online at https://www.danedances.org/. Admission for the event is free.