Street dances help kick start summer on Whidbey
— Created June 8, 2022 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Ah, yes. Summer on Whidbey Island. One sure way to know it has arrived is when the Bayview Corner Summer Street Dances in Langley begin – and sure enough, summer starts Wednesday, June 15 when the Nathanial Talbot Trio kicks off the annual series. From 6 to 8 p.m., rain or shine, the space outside the Bayview Cash Store will come alive with music, dancing, food, friends and fun.
The street dance series, which is free to attend and is sponsored by Goosefoot, welcomes back a full summer of local and regional performers, with performances every two weeks through Aug. 24. Organizers said it feels great to bring the community back together.
“The fun, connections, conversations, and bonds that happen at the street dances are really like nothing else and it’s wonderful to share that with everyone,” said Sami Postma, events and education coordinator at Goosefoot. “Last summer, we saw people crying and hugging because they often only see each other at our street dances each year, and it had been so long. It’s moments like that which drive us to put these on each year.”
For those who have never attended a Bayview Corner Street Dance, it’s pretty easy. There is no cost to attend, although tips for the bands are appreciated. Parking is available in the Whidbey Telecom overflow lot or Bayview Hall.
“Come early if you want to snag a table, but there’s lots of open space, chairs, and some picnic tables and grassy areas just out of sight but still within hearing distance to the bands,” Postma said. “Folks are welcome to bring their own picnic dinners, or snag takeout from Whidbey Doughnuts or the Taproom. Come, listen to the music, dance with the crowds, whatever you like! Drinks are available for sale at the Goosefoot tent in the parking lot. Anyone who buys drinks from the Taproom or Whidbey Doughnuts must stay within those businesses, and no outside drinks are allowed, but we strive hard for this to be open and welcoming to all, no matter your background.”
The street dances started more than 12 years ago as a way to bring people to Bayview Corner and showcase all it has to offer. It was an easy way to spend time with friends and hang out, according to Postma.
“They’ve absolutely ballooned since the days of being able to fit the band and the dancers inside the Cash Store, but they’re still the same at heart: a warm, welcoming, fun, funky place to spend time and get to know your community,” she said. “Some of our bands, like Rubatano Marimba, have been with us since the early days as well. I think people are drawn to them because they’re open to everyone, absolutely no pretension, just pure fun with your neighbors.”
All are welcome, and the street dances draw people who are visiting Whidbey, of course, but at their core, the dances are a fun event for local residents.
“It’s in the middle of the week. It’s a draw for those who live here. And we are a community of artists,” Postma said. “We have so much talent and skill and diversity here. It’s vital to support local in all aspects to keep Whidbey what we love.”
Postma said there is nothing quite like the energetic atmosphere at one of the street dances, which makes them a favorite part of her job.
“Everyone’s having fun,” she said. “Everyone’s happy to be there and make new friends. You can just jump into the middle of the crowd and start dancing with folks without having to come with people you knew already. The weather was kind to us last year, but even in 2019 when PETE got rained out, we decided instead to tent up the parking lot and folks loved it. They took off their shoes, shook out their hair, and got to dancing even when it drizzled. The passion and energy carries the event forward no matter what, and after the years of isolation, people are excited to connect once more.”
Postma said that without trying to sound cliché, there really is something for everyone at a Bayview Corner Summer Street Dance.
“If you look at a crowd of street dance attendees, it’s about the most diverse you can get on Whidbey,” she said. “From babies to folks who may need a walker to get around but can still use it to shake it, all races, all economic backgrounds, a huge diversity of music, everything. It’s one of the few places you can come that doesn’t ask you anything more than to be yourself, to be kind to those around you, and to have fun. And the bands truly are so skilled and specially chosen for their ability to get the crowds moving.”
Find more information at goosefoot.org, or just head to Bayview Corner Wednesday, June 15 to check it out in person.
“This isn’t a fundraiser, it’s not a sales opportunity, it’s genuinely just a fun place for community,” Postma said. “And the community always has room for more.”