City Dance Party Celebrates Another Year

City Dance Party Celebrates Another Year

The annual Cambridge city dance party was open to the public and attracted a diverse crowd from many neighboring areas.

What is now the annual Cambridge dance party was first held in 1996 to celebrate the city’s 150th birthday. Over 20 years later, the event is as popular as ever, but the meaning, like the city itself, has evolved.

This year’s dance took place on a night that epitomized summer. Hanging in the mid 80s, with air that rested thick on the shoulders and slowed the pace of the city sidewalks. At 6 pm, a section of Mass ave stretching in front of the city hall was already closed and music was playing from speakers stacked on the lawn across the street.

Young families made up most of the attendees with picnic blankets dotting the grass. At this point, only one person was brave enough to open up and start moving to the music. This woman, who told me that, tonight, her name was Transformation, was moving fluidly around the lawn but stopped to talk with me between songs. I asked what she was here for and she replied, “Just participation in a positive, non-harming way that will spread connection. Because, that’s what we need more than anything.”

Next, I spoke with Lucille, a woman who was enjoying the music and activity from a sidewalk bench. She attended the event last year and enjoyed it so much that she decided to return. Lucille was raised in Roxbury and now lives in Atlanta. She tells me that she is just here to have fun and that the event is one of the things she looks forward to now when she comes home to visit family. “I love watching and I love dancing, but when I get tired I sit down, That’s why I came early so I can have a seat.”

By 7, the crowd was filling out and diversifying with groups of teens and couples trickling in to mingle among families and elderly. At this point, I had the chance to chat with the first and only Cambridge resident I would connect with that night, Chris. He sat on the curb in front of the town hall with a cane and two Target bags. Chris had never been to the dance party before but was attracted by the signage advertising the event. While he is not dancing tonight, he tells me he is enjoying himself which is one of the best parts of the event: it is accessible to just about everybody.

Nobody I spoke with at the dance party was familiar with the history of the event and most were not even residents of Cambridge. Perhaps, while the event was born as a celebration of Cambridge, it has become something a bit more far reaching: a celebration of interconnected communities and an appreciation of summer, freedom, and the kind of movement that is so often lost among the routines of daily life.