Dane Dances will kick off its 23rd season on Friday, Aug. 5, at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center rooftop with salsa band Latin Pride Orquesta at 6 p.m. and Eddie Butts Band at 8 p.m.
“Dane Dances is a great community event and a chance to come together and enjoy great music and enjoy each other’s company,” longtime Dane Dances Board of Directors President Al Cooper tells Madison365.
Dane Dances has an exciting musical line-up for August. The following weekend, Friday, Aug. 12, will feature veteran bands BBI and VO5. “For the third week, Aug. 19, we’re having an all Latin night this year. That’s something we haven’t done in the past,” Cooper says. “The featured musicians will be Orchestra Salsoul del Mad and Luisito Rosario.”
A full list of weekly Dane Dances entertainment can be found below.
New this year, Dane Dances will be celebrating the contributions of those great community members and Dane Dances supporters whom Cooper says, “have left us much too soon.”
“I lost my vice president [John Patrick Conway] this year, a few months ago, and I started thinking about the people that were connected with Dane Dances and what they brought to the table and that we build on and stand on their shoulders for what they left us,” Cooper says. “I thought we should recognize the people that left us too soon starting with DJ Laurie. She was a pillar of Dane Dances.”
Laurie Burnstein Mlatawou, aka “DJ Laurie,” was the DJ for Dane Dances for many years, keeping the dance floor hopping with salsa and line dancing.
“She typified the magic of Dane Dances,” Cooper says. “The way she DJ’ed and commanded the dance floor for the people all the time with the music she played – from salsa to a lot of line dance music. People were always excited to be out on the dance floor when she would DJ.”
Another person Cooper had in mind with the new theme this year is the late William (Bill) Patterson, a founding board member for Dane Dances who enjoyed photographing the events, taking thousands of photos.
“Bill Patterson was one of the most active volunteers you could have in your organization. He literally was on every committee. He was there to help whenever you needed somebody to do something from taking photographs at the event to planning the event. He helped with everything,” Cooper remembers. “You didn’t have to ask Bill to do stuff. He helped out when he saw the need and he was always willing to fill in if somebody needed somebody to do something. So he was one of those extraordinary volunteers.”
Conway was the vice president of Dane Dances Board for many years, stage manager and chair of the band committee.
“I called John the peacekeeper in the organization,” Cooper says. “He always found the positive spin on what was going on and always tried to have everybody work together and be collective in what we do.”
Cooper mentioned that Dane Dances would be also be a chance to remember some of the great Madison community members we’ve lost in the last few months including Gaddi Ben Dan and Wayne Strong.
Dane Dances is one of Madison’s most diverse summertime events that annually brings together people of all ages, races, and ethnicities. New to Dane Dances this year will be family dance time from 5:30-6 p.m.
“In the past we’ve had DJs who play all adult music. Children would have to dance with their parents to their music,” Cooper says. “This year we’re going to try to put some music out there geared towards kids — things they’ve heard on TV and in cartoons. The kids will have some recognizable music to dance to.
“That’s some of the feedback that we’ve had over the years — well, the children are running around. So we’re finding ways to engage the kids.”
Food will be available from various area restaurants at Dane Dances including Kipps Kitchen, Lake Vista Cafe, La Taguara, and Lemongrass.
Cooper says that Dane Dances volunteers will continue to take protocols for COVID-19 and follow the Dane County/City of Madison health department and CDC guidelines. He says the outdoor Dane Dances setting helps a lot.
“That’s one of the advantages of being outside and being on the the rooftop which is elevated and there’s always a nice breeze across the top. So that helped to keep the air circulating,” Cooper says. “People are encouraged to follow COVID health and safety protocols. Last year we wore masks most of the time, especially when we were in close contact with people.
“One thing I’d like to add is that we always need donations and are always looking for volunteers,” he adds.
To volunteer for Dane Dances, click here.