A community square dance will take over Vashon town on Saturday

Music and dancing will fill the streets of downtown Vashon on Saturday, when the Big Square Street Dance takes center stage.

The late afternoon and evening will include three bands, square dancing and swing dancing, while Island businesses stay open late and restaurants have the opportunity to offer outdoor cafes.

The event, a program of the Vashon Maury Island Chamber of Commerce sponsored by several Island businesses, is the brainchild of Islander Gib Dammann, who thought Islanders would enjoy and support such an event.

“It is an excuse for the community to come out and have fun,” he said. “The idea is to throw a free event on probably one of the last weekends that’s dry and have an end-of-summer party.”

Dammann grew up in Charlottesville, Va., a city, he said, that has one of the few successful pedestrian malls in the United States and is home to a variety of street dances and concerts, which benefit the residents of the community and its businesses.

The benefit to businesses is key to Vashon’s event, according to Debi Richards, the executive director of the chamber of commerce.

“I really want the community to know this is more than just a good time,” she said.

As summer ends and fall visitors head home, Richards said that it’s particularly important for Islanders to support their local businesses. Local dollars in the off-season, she added, are critical.

“A dollar spent at a locally owned store is usually spent six to 15 times before it leaves the community,” Richards said. “From $1, you create $5 to $14 in value within that community.”

A lot of thought has gone into the planning of this event, Richards added.

“Each new thing we do is an experiment, and we need to be careful because what we are experimenting with is the profitability of these businesses,” she said.

Dammann is enthusiastic about the gathering, having served as an organizer and band member in Rotary’s CiderFest square dances in recent years.

Festivities will begin at 4 p.m. when Island band Poultry in Motion with caller Eddie Harry will provide the music and instructions for two hours of square dancing. Harry, considered the premier caller in the Northwest, has visited Vashon three times to call square dances, Dammann noted. He will teach novices the basics of the dances and take things slow for a bit so that all people can take part.

Once the square dancing is complete, The Magpies will play folk and cowboy tunes, and then at 7 p.m. Vashon’s Portage Fill Big Band will offer two hours of big band music for evening dancing in the street. 

The stage will be a flatbed truck in front of Movie Magic, Dammann noted, and the main highway will be closed from Bank Road to Movie Magic from 3 to 10 p.m. 

While the event is free, Dammann said donations to pay the musicians will be accepted.

And while some square dancing events draw people festively dressed for the occasion, Dammann said there is no need for special attire, but added, “If you feel like it’s a bobby socks event, then go ahead.”



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