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Tuesday, July 03 2012

Centennial Park Big Band Dances every Saturday

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parkdanceEvery Saturday night through August, Centennial Park holds their Free Summer Big Band Concert Series mixed with dancing, free dance instructions, and happy people picnicing under the moonlight. This year, Metro Parks celebrates its 29th annual summer of Big Band Dances. The event premiered with the opening of Riverfront Park in 1983, and over the years the popular dances have moved to Centennial Park's Event Shelter, on the north end by the locomotive and the jet plane. Through August 24, the free music and dancing will include weekly amateur swing dance contests, and free ballroom dance lessons twice during the evening.


The live music begins at 7:30pm and continues until 10:00pm featuring a different band every weekend. The dance lessons are offered by Dance World before the music from 7:00 to 7:30 and during intermission from 8:30 to 8:50. Each week a different dance style is emphasised, although all the bands are primarily swing oriented. The Centennial Café will have food and beverages for sale. People of all ages are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs or quilts to sit on the lawn. Parking is available along Park Plaza and in the Park. Presented by Metro Parks, the dances are sponsored by the Tennessee Arts Commission, radio station WAMB, Dance World, Arts in the Parks, and the Musician's Union Trust Funds.


One reporter offered this view of a typical Saturday night. "These dances are family affairs, bringing in a whole menagerie of different people. There were kids, teenagers, octogenarians, and everything in between. The dance floor was filled with two-left-footed college students and experienced dancers that needed no lessons, elderly couples that clearly still got it and a few couples that maybe one day would, and kids that just clasped hands and swung around and children that put the rest of us to shame.

People got really into the theme of the night and there were women in full-skirted dresses fit for dancing, and men with button-down shirts and bowties, fit for a leading man. In general, people were really friendly and helpful and many attended just to sit in lawn chairs around the dance floor, chat with friends, and watch the dancers. Several families had planned-ahead and had picnics and footballs to entertain their kids while some of the adults learned to polka. There was a snow-cone stand with a decent line of customers all night, licking their lips and discussing flavor options."

More information at 615-862-8400,

This year's lineup:

June 1 - The Moonlighters

June 8 - Rory Partin & His All-Star Big Band

June 15 - The Paul Ross Orchestra

June 22 - Radio Daze

June 29 - The J. Bradley Big Band

July 13 - The Jazz Alliance

July 20 - Debbi Bailes and her Band

July 27 - 5 Points Swing

Aug 3 - The Bill Sleeter Band

Aug 10 - The Merchants of Cool

Aug 17 - The Jerry Vinett Big Band

Aug 24 - The Moonlighters

Last modified on Sunday, 25 August 2013 10:21

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