BRATTLEBORO -- "Think of all you're losing ... by constantly refusing ... to dance with me."
So begins Jerome Kern's song "I Won't Dance," made famous by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and others.
Those words might also be the pitch Building a Better Brattleboro and the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce are making to you for a new event, "Take a Chance and Dance," which happens July 20-22 in downtown Brattleboro.
In a trial run for what could turn into a full-fledged dance festival next year, downtown Brattleboro will be alive with the sounds of music and the sight of many styles of dance this Friday through Sunday.
The live performances and dancing in the streets are part of a week of downtown promotions which also include the traditional weekend summer sidewalk sales and an all-week free raffle for shoppers with a $1,000 shopping spree as grand prize. The events are being coordinated by Building a Better Brattleboro and sponsored the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce.
The idea, of course, is to bring people downtown and give a boost to the business community. The bigger idea is for everyone to just have fun and dance.
"People love to dance. ... Everyone has music on the street, could we do something different and have dance," explained Donna Simons, proprietor of A Candle in the Night and BaBB board member who helped spearhead the event. When she reached out to local dancers and aficionados, the
"I am so blown away by how many dance people we have in Brattleboro. ... I would call Brattleboro the most creative community. The creativity is just oozing out."
Put together in a whirlwind month, "Take a Chance and Dance" is designed to help Brattleboro put its best feet forward.
"It illustrates what Brattleboro is all about," said Andrea Livermore, executive director of BaBB of this fun, free-spirited and funky event. "It's a way to feature part of Brattleboro's personality."
The schedule includes dance performances and exhibitions as well as several opportunities for public participation. Among these are a ballroom dance at The Church, and a dance at the American Legion featuring rock and roll, country and western and waltz tunes.
There is also an outdoor "ballroom tea dance" in Pliny Park Saturday from 4 to 5:30 p.m., and public contra dances at the River Garden Saturday at 2 p.m. and at The Church Sunday evening. Admission charges apply to some of these events.
Organizers expect dance to break out at other times, as people get swept up in the spirit. "We are encouraging people to dance, spontaneously, in groups, in stores where ever the spirit moves them," said Livermore.
And that means you. Don't be like the person " Won't Dance" refers to, losing out by constantly refusing to dance.
Besides, it'll be good for you to throw caution to the wind and just dance.
"My belief has always been that movement is for everyone," said Brenda Siegel, choreographer, dancer and owner/operator of Flow Yoga and Dance Center. "Often times, it's the people who think they're the most awkward who pick things up the most naturally. It's really a release for a lot of people. ... Once you let go, it just feels amazing. It's kind of an indescribable feeling."
So throw some comfy shoes on your two left feet and just do it.
It didn't take much for Siegel to jump on board after Simons approached her. Siegel had been thinking Brattleboro was ripe for a dance festival anyway.
"I've always wanted to do something like this, something like Wanderlust, but for dance," Siegel said.
Organizers all hope this year serves a pilot for a larger festival next year. In the meantime, there's plenty of fun to be had this year.
And bargains to be found.
Livermore said downtown merchants really bought into the idea of "Take a Chance and Dance." Some three dozen are taking part in the event, and it really brought out the creative spirit in them. For example, Sam's Outdoor Outfitters has decided to do a hula hooping event on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Keep a hula hoop spinning long enough and you could win a Sam's gift certificate.
Many visitors will be rewarded by dance aficionados who will roam the streets with gift certificates good at participating downtown stores, Simons said.
The "take a chance" part refers to a free raffle that will be held via participating stores and restaurants. Shoppers can fill out raffle tickets in those stores to be entered to win a $1,000 downtown shopping spree. The winner can spend his or her $1,000 at any of the participating stores -- all in one place, or spread over a number of retail locations.
Participating retailers will also have in-store raffles for prizes from their stores. All entries will then be combined for the grand drawing to take place on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Pliny Park. Shoppers need not be present to win any prize.
The raffle promotion began Monday, and entries are being accepted at participating stores up until that store's drawing. Times of drawings can be found at www.brattleboro.com/ shopanddance.
For a full and current schedule of raffle drawings and dance events, visit www.brattleboro.com/shopanddance. For regular updates Like "Downtown Brattleboro" on Facebook.
Scheduled music and dance performances include:
* Belly dancing exhibitions throughout downtown performed by by Flow Yoga and Dance Programs staff and students, Friday and Saturday.
* "Shall we Dance" -- Brattleboro Ballroom will host a Foxtrot lesson from 7 to 8 p.m. at The Church, with dancing to follow from 8-10 p.m. ($8 individual, $15 couple)
* 6 to 9 p.m.: Sunny Lowdown will perform in Pliny Park as part of the Pliny Park Summer Concert Series.
* American Legion Post 5 at 32 Linden St. will host a Friday evening dance with a live band, Weathered Roads, playing rock ‘n roll, country & western as well as waltz tunes. Wood-fired pizza by Tristan Toleno and Rigani. $5 cover, or $10 for cover with pizza.
* Snaz, the newest in young, local music will be performing on Flat Street during the evening.
* Friday evening, dance at Metropolis Wine Bar on Elliot Street to the sounds of the Draa Hobbs Trio.
* Friday evening at the Rocky Top Tavern on Main Street, music and dancing with Orange Television.
* Belly dancing exhibitions throughout downtown performed by Flow Yoga and Dance Programs staff and students.
* Break Dance exhibitions performed by Flow Yoga Breakdance Camp, up and down Main and Elliot Streets starting at 10 a.m.
* Rachelle Ackerman will lead children in International Folk Dancing at 11 a.m. in Pliny Park followed by fun and simple dancing for adults.
* Rupa Cousins will lead half-hour sessions in Paneurthymy, a Bulgarian dance that is about healing the self, the community and all beings, in front of the Co-op at noon and again at 3 p.m.
* Kiera Lewis will perform a Tribal Modern Dance in a number of locations during the day.
* There will be Hula Hooping at Sam's on Flat Street at 2:30 p.m. Try your skill and win a gift certificate!
* Contra dancing in the River Garden from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Watch for updates on FaceBook.
* Guerilla tango dancers will be on the sidewalks on Saturday afternoon.
* "Shall we Dance" -- Brattleboro Ballroom will host a ballroom tea dance Saturday from 4-5:30 p.m. in Pliny Park.
* 1 p.m.: the drawing for the grand prize of the $1,000 shopping spree, at Pliny Park.
* 1 to 3 p.m.: dance music in Pliny Park featuring Jamie Kent and the Options -- a trio with a strong "folk meets funk" influence. In the past year they have toured extensively across the US, playing more than 200 shows throughout 40 states.
* 7:15 p.m.: Contra Dancing at the Church with Rick Mohr calling. All dances taught, Admission is $10 ($7 students/seniors/low income).