Adults on the block

Dayton Urban Ballroomers’ Party in the Park

By Tim Smith

Photo: R&B singer Carmichael Musiclover beckons to Brian and Monica Sanders at Party in the Park; photo: Kenny Wilkinson

In this season of festivals, block parties, and neighborhood barbecues, one event is sure to stand out. The Dayton Urban Ballroom Group (aka Dayton Urban Ballroomers) is holding their second annual Party in the Park Aug. 20 in Triangle Park.

“We really wanted to do something for the dance community at large, in appreciation for the support we’ve received,” co-founder Tenia Foster says. “But in doing so, we realized our community is really searching for a safe place for ‘adults’ to have fun in a relaxing environment.  Our event helps provide that space. We want to add to the Dayton landscape of things to look forward to each year.”

The Dayton Urban Ballroom Group started seven years ago by Foster and Deborah Hassell. Their goal is simple: surround yourself with positive people, positive energy, and wonderful dancing, and you have the backdrop for wonderful life experiences. As with many organizations, it was born out of a mutual interest.

“Several years ago, Deborah and I were learning the dance under the instruction of Ken Hicks,” Foster says. “His job transferred him out of state and we loved the dance so much, we wanted to keep it going. So, Deb and I started our own class. We’re an instructional organization, so we don’t have formal members.  However, our current student roster is roughly 50.”

The instruction their students receive is in what is called Detroit Style ballroom dancing. You may be asking yourself what differentiates Detroit Style from traditional ballroom dancing.

“Detroit Style ballroom is a combination of the Foxtrot and Cha Cha,” Foster explains. “The dance is actually very similar to traditional ballroom dancing.  We have some students who start with a traditional ballroom background and find that the moves are very much the same. The most significant difference is that we dance to adult contemporary R&B and smooth jazz music.”

Dance classes are held every Tuesday from 6–8 p.m. at the Northwest Recreation Center, at a cost of $3 per person. The group wants to spread the elegance and joy of Detroit Style ballroom dancing, promote physical activity through dance and give back to the community. They’ve worked hard to make good on that last pledge.

“Several of our events have been held to raise funds for the Sickle Cell organization, donate toys for children during the holidays, and organize events that allow for dance and fellowship for mature adults,” Foster says, noting one fundraiser that was particularly memorable. “I would say our third annual Onyx and Ice Ball for Sickle Cell. It was a weekend event held at the Crown Plaza. We had dancers from Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago. We had a ball and raised over $2,000 for our cause.”

According to Foster, last year’s inaugural Party in the Park was successful enough for them to stage an encore.

“Last year, we had about 125 people,” she says. “We hope to double it this year. The response was overwhelmingly positive. People really had a good time and were quick to ask us if we would do it again…so here we are.”

Attendees at this year’s Party in the Park can expect a full slate of events with an emphasis on good old-fashioned camaraderie and fellowship.

“We have two national performing artists, R&B artist Fel Davis from Chicago and Dayton’s own jazz artist, Robert Sanae,” she says. “In addition, we have two great deejays from Detroit who are known for their music. There will be a lot of dancing, including ballroom dancing, and Chicago Stepping. We have dancers from all over the state who join us. And last but not least, delicious food. We provide the meat and we ask our attendees to provide a side dish. Our dance community has some fantastic cooks.”

“The event is a celebration of dance, but more importantly, our Dayton family of good people who simply like to tap their feet to good music, play games, cards, and laugh. We will also have a dunk tank and prizes,” she says.

During the event, they will be selling tickets for their upcoming Glamorous Candlelight Ball in December. A common thread throughout the DUBG’s mission is that it’s aimed at what they politely call mature adults, a theme that is prevalent with Party in the Park.

“It’s our way of creating a day of fun for adults,” she says. “We jokingly say, ‘Parents, grandparents, leave the children at home. This day is for you… grown folk’s fun!’ We want people to have the experience of meeting new people, trying something new, and minimally, a day spent in your lawn chair with good music and good food.”

The Dayton Urban Ballroomers Party in the Park will be held Saturday, Aug. 20 at Triangle Park, 2500 Ridge Ave. in Dayton. The party lasts from 2–8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. A variety of meats and beverages will be provided, but guests are asked to bring a side dish. For more information, please call 937.404.1072 or visit daytonurbanballroomers.com.

 

Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at TimSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com

 

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Tim Smith
Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at TimSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com

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