Go outside and dance!

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Ahh, summer. Get your fill of sunshine and beach time, BBQs and campfires, and (best of all) outdoor dancing. Perhaps you are lucky enough to live somewhere with year-round warm weather but for those of us who have to cope with long, harsh, blustery winters, summer is definitely a saving grace.

We can still dance outside in the winter, but it’s not the same… Photo credit: Alix Apperley Photography

Once the temperature starts to rise, invitations pop up for swing in the park, bachata beach party, salsa by the lake, etc. Many dance communities offer outdoor social dance events and in this humble writer’s opinion, these are the best summer gems. Here are a few reasons why you should attend and/or host as many outdoor socials as you possibly can:

  1. The new faces- Typically, social dance events are filled with friendly, welcoming people but if you aren’t invited or you don’t seek out dance opportunities, it is unlikely you will encounter them on your own. Outdoor events provide an open atmosphere which is enjoyable for people of all ages and abilities. Often, passersby will hear the music and come check out an event they wouldn’t have known about if it had been held indoors. Hosting an event in a public, outdoor venue allows for newcomers to be introduced to the dance scene, even if they just happen to be walking by. These positive interactions will contribute to the growth of your dance community.
  2. The fresh air- I have been to a number of indoor events this summer and although they were fun, they all had one thing in common: no air conditioning! One small, oscillating fan is not enough to provide relief from the heat. Although it’s hot outside as well, the open air is much more comfortable than a stuffy room. In addition, there is something so beautiful about dancing outdoors–the scenery and gentle breeze make for a memorable experience.
  3. The limited time- Here in Saskatchewan and in many other locations around the world, the summer season is very short and therefore precious. Why not take advantage of the window of opportunity to spend more time outside? As soon as spring hits, I start counting down the days for the first salsa event at City Square Plaza in Regina (shout out to the Regina Salseros for running this awesome event every week in the summer). Although the season is brief, you can make the most of it through dance.

If you are heading to an outdoor social in your community, be sure to come prepared. Most of these events do not have a dance floor, so you’ll be dancing on grass, sand, pavement, cobblestone, or the wood panels of a gazebo or dock. Leave your fancy shoes at home; instead, wear footwear in which you know you can dance comfortably. I recommend wearing runners, canvas shoes, or sandals with secure straps. I would also suggest bringing a handheld fan, bottle of water, and an ice pack just in case the wind isn’t quite enough to keep you cool. Some dance companies sell water at their events, so be sure to support the community that supports you.

I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all of the dance companies and individuals who provide outdoor social dance opportunities. It takes a lot of work to organize these events–just setting up the music and speakers can be difficult–and your hard work does not go unnoticed. Feel free to comment below with information regarding outdoor social dancing in your community. Get out there and enjoy those summer nights while they last!

3 Comments

  • David Sander says:

    Luckily in two weeks we will be holding a dance outside in Pittsburgh! One group of communities has formed a park with a large Pavilion that is covered from rain and has an execelant tropical hardwood floor. This is obviously an acceptable place but there are other locations with reasonable surfaces that ca be used. Polished or smooth concrete or stone is not too bad to dance on. Smaller temporary surfaces can be 4’x8′ plywood panels placed securely together. I’ve wondered about using saw dust or even spreading sand to make a hard surface more danceable.
    One of our organizers regularly holds dances on city over looks and riverside areas which are well attended for their scenic nature!
    So keep looking for community or university and school locations that can allow dancing outside. I’ve actually had the luck to go dancing twice in the rain this year at major Latin band events! I came wearing wash and dry clothes and met some delightful wash and dry social dancers too!

  • Emma T says:

    I think these would be great, but there’s not much opportunity for outdoors dancing in the UK round where I am. There used to be a boat social dance down the River in London, but otherwise it’s largely limited to outside dancing on the decking at weekender events, flashmobs or busking.

  • Abbey Plotkin says:

    I am very lucky to live in NYC where we have the most amazing outdoor Salsa events all summer long, often with live bands with some of the greatest musicians in the world. Yes, it’s hot and sweaty but that’s part of what makes it so much fun. And often horrible surfaces, but again, there’s just something magical about dancing outside with all kinds of people and fantastic music. If you’ve never been to NYC, summer is the BEST!!!

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