There are not many events in Madison that are as diverse as Dane Dances, which kicks off its 18th season tonight on the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center Rooftop.

“I think Dane Dances is probably the most diverse event in Madison,” Dane Dances Board of Directors President Alphonso Cooper tells Madison365. “We put a lot of effort in trying to recruit all of the neighborhoods in the community and all sectors of the community and invite them out and engaged.”

Dane Dances is getting set to kick off its 18th season tonight at the beautiful Monona Terrace Rooftop for its 18th season. Tonight’s Dane Dances will feature DJ Pain 1, Orquesta SalSoul Del Mad, and Kinfolk. The event will be hosted by Michael Johnson, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County and Jennifer Kliese from WKOW-TV.


Dane Dances is a nonprofit community organization conceived in 1999 out of the recommendations of the Mayor’s Taskforce on Race Relations 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. Cooper has been involved with Dane Dances for the past 12 years serving as the chair for the last 6 years.

“Dane Dances is a community concert series that is designed to get people dancing on the rooftop of Monona Terrace. Through the music and socialization, Dane Dances is also designed to help improve race relations,” Cooper says. “Through those interactions, people will have a greater respect for each other.”

Dane Dances is powered by an amazing army of volunteers from the community.

“We could always use volunteers. We’re pretty set right now, but we could always use more,” Cooper says. “We run 100 percent on volunteers and we always need volunteers to step up. We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great volunteers over the years.”

Primitive Culture

Also performing at Dane Dances this August will be Primitive Culture and BBI on August 11, Grupo Candela and The Voices on August 18 and Charanga Agoza and VO5 on August 25.

“You can’t really get the music anywhere else that you get at Dane Dances and you for sure can’t get the view. It’s an exceptional view between Lake Monona and the Capitol in downtown Madison.”

“Every year, we keep trying to bring in new bands that people haven’t seen. And we adjust the lineups and the pairings of the band which helps bring a different flavor and feels to the events,” Cooper says. “This year, we have three Latin bands and a couple of new bands. It’s a new mix of music. It’s fun just to watch some of the bands grow and develop over the years.”

Cooper says that he expects about 5,000 people to come through a night. “That’s people coming and going throughout the night,” says Cooper, noting the rooftop capacity is about 3,000 people. “The traffic moves pretty well and it’s a big space. People come and go. Madison is a busy city and people have a lot of options to choose from.
It’s fun and family-friendly event so everything we do you wouldn’t be embarrassed for your child to hear or see what is going on. We always try to do something special for the children. Dane Dances is free. There are no tickets needed. Just come as you are.”

Starting tonight, Dane Dances will be bringing people together of all ages, neighborhoods, and backgrounds for free live music and dancing every Friday in August. There will also be food available from restaurants like Cuco’s Mexican Restaurant, Lake Vista Cafe and La Taguara.

“I love most about Dane Dances is seeing people just have fun and enjoying the space and enjoying the music and enjoying the interaction with each other,” Cooper says. “We have great ethnic foods at this event, too, and it’s often an opportunity for people to try something new and taste food from different parts of the world.”