FAMILY FRIDAYS: Youth-Led Community Dance Party

By Megan Flød Johnson, Program Specialist

 

UPDATED 11:30 07/10/2020

Young People are leaders in this socially-distanced community event for all ages and abilities!

a young girl bends over laughing while holding a jump rope in a street.
A social distanced dance party in San Fransisco. Photo credit: Lea Suzuki.
Social Distanced Dance Party in Detroit, Michigan
Social Distanced Dance Party in Detroit, MI. Photo credit: Luwana Mcvay-Conway.

ORGANIZE YOUR COMMUNITY AROUND JOY

Hey there YOUNG ARTIST!  We see you out there perfecting your Tik Tok dance moves!  Bring those skills to your neighborhood by planning a socially-distanced LIVE Neighborhood Dance Party.  Put on your best mask, and let’s get started.  Adults in your world can support you but you are in charge. Are you ready to lead and make a difference in your community? Let’s plan your NDP (Neighborhood Dance Party)!

Note to Grown-ups: This guide is designed for youth leaders ages 10-18 and their friends to organize and lead a neighborhood dance party for all ages. The social conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic leave us yearning for social and emotional connections. Young people feel the effects in a myriad of ways. They “may struggle with significant adjustments to their routines (e.g., schools and child care closures, social distancing, home confinement), which may interfere with their sense of structure, predictability, and security.” Taking control through planning an event can help. Read more about supporting your child’s well-being here.

WHAT’S NEEDED?

 Time: plan your event 2-3 weeks in advance. Requires about 4-6 hours of organizing by youth leaders.

People Power: 2 or more young people who want to unite their neighborhoods in a joyful, interactive event. 

Materials: A SPEAKER, a device to play music (phone, tablet, computer), a way to market your event (flyers, chalk, social media event page).

ASSEMBLE YOUR NDP PLANNING TEAM

You down with NDP? (that’s Neighborhood Dance Party). Gather young people you know in the neighborhood. Get in touch via text, email, phone or by knocking on doors (from a safe distance). Get people together for a planning session at a specific place and time. Expand your planning circle by telling everyone to invite another young person you may not know from the neighborhood. The more the merrier. Remind your group to wear masks to the planning meeting!

HOW DO I RUN A PLANNING MEETING?

Gather your planning group in a socially distanced circle so everybody can hear and see everybody else. Introduce yourself and why you want to organize a dance party. Let others introduce themselves along with one interesting fact that others may not know.

Get down to business:

Propose a date for the dance party.

Propose a time. Try to find a 2-hour timeframe for event so people in your neighborhood can stop-by at any point.

Decide WHERE the dance party takes place. It could be in a:

Alleyway or parking lot?

Front yards or driveways?

Courtyard or boulevard?

*Think about gathering places that are accessible to all bodies and abilities so folks can participate even from indoors (through windows).

Dance changes you. From physical and mental health to a boost in emotional and social well-being, moving your body to the sound of music can transform your life.

CHECKLIST: IS EVERYTHING GETTING DONE?

Before your planning meeting ends, make sure everyone knows what they’re doing.

Spread the word: Market your Event

Create invites, flyers or chalk messages in your neighborhood.

Include info about the date, time & place.
What about: A Social media campaign, guerrilla chalk marketing in unexpected places (yes to steps or poles or walls),  Post-its on peoples’ front doors, or yard signs!

How will we spread the word?:

We’ll market our NDP by this date:

Who’s going to do this:

A pink hand-written flyer on a yellow door

MUSIC

Find or borrow a Bluetooth speaker.

Create a starter playlist- Use a free music app like SPOTIFY to create your own playlist.
Share with the planning committee to add new favorites.
Make sure you have lots of different types of music: show tunes, disco, country (line-dancing is welcome), kids bop (hello, baby shark), classical, hip-hop.

 

AND, GO! Get started on your tasks for the NDP (neighborhood dance party)!

Teens in masks rehearse a choreographed dance on a lawn
Photo Credit: Emily Villano.

EVENT DAY

The day of the NDP is here! Arrive early with your planning team and have music popping as folks arrive. As the event leader, wave (from a safe distance) and introduce yourself to neighbors you don’t know.

Create a welcoming vibe (safely, from a distance of course):

Wave and introduce yourself to neighbors you don’t know.

Share the mic- encourage others to share their favorite songs and playlists!

Thank folks for stopping by!

CONGRATULATIONS

You did it! You successfully brought your neighborhood together and shone as the bright youth leader you are! Share photos and videos of your event with SteppingStone Theatre and we will celebrate you and joy you brought to your community.

THE BENEFITS OF DANCE

Did you know there are a crazy amount of mental, physical and social benefits of moving your body to music? Here’s a few important ones:

Improves cardiovascular health

Improves balance and strength

 Gentle on your body

 Boosts cognitive performance

Movement is creative expression!

 Challenges your brain

 Is inclusiveOne of the greatest things about dance is that anyone can participate. All bodies and abilities can move together, even if its an isolated movement of the hand, or shifting weight while seated in a chair, dance is for everyone!

It’s a social activity

Helps boost your mood

Plus, it helps us LET LOOSE-  this “letting loose” that helps improve your mental and emotional health by reducing stress, decreasing the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and boosting your self-esteem.  Couldn’t we all use this right now?  

(Benefits of Dance adapted from “8 Benefits of Dance” by Sara Lindberg on Heathline.com. Full article found here.)

DANCE PARTY INSPO!

Check out what social distancing dance parties look like around the U.S. and Canada!

In Detroit, MI

In San Jose, CA

In Toronto, Canada

In Raleigh, NC

In Lexington, KY

Look for a follow-up post on Youth-Led Dance Parties that will include a downloadable guide and infographic coming soon!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are available via email M-F, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the following: