Good, Old-Fashioned Fun at Albany’s Community Dances and Shindig!

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Albany Shindig dancers
Photo courtesy www.homespun.biz

Albany’s Monthly Shindig!

There is a monthly shindig happening in Albany that you won’t want to miss! Sponsored by DanceFlurry Organization and supported by Honest Weight, the Albany Shindig! is a monthly mini-concert and community dance hybrid. The next Shindig! is set for February 24 at 405 Quail St. in Albany. The series was created to offer Capital Region residents an opportunity to gather and socialize, listen and dance to great music, and focus on simple traditional dances that can include all ages of participants, including singles, couples, families, teens, people with disabilities and the elderly. Please join us! Below we summarize additional information about the history of community dance, and other community dance opportunities in Albany.

The History of Community Dance

Albany Shindig dancers
Photo courtesy www.homespun.biz

“Community Dance” was a popular activity from the mid-18th century through the mid-20th century throughout the United States. There are many types of Community Dance and music events you might recognize, including square dances, hootenannies, and hoedowns. The idea of Community Dance is to get a group of people together with some musicians and a “caller” to teach and lead some easy dances, and dance with a group of friends – and strangers who often become friends. It’s a grassroots activity in which the emphasis is on building community rather than necessarily focusing on becoming experts at the types of dance offered. Examples of Community Dance can be viewed online.

Community Dances in Albany

The Honest Weight Food Co-op (HWFC) has a long history of involvement with Community Dances. Back in the mid-1980s, HWFC sponsored an annual event which I organized for Members called Co-op House Party, held at the former St Patrick’s Church on Central Avenue. The evening included an amazing potluck, storytelling, puppet show, and a simple contra dance. The average attendance was 150 to 200 people!

Albany Shindig dancers
Photo courtesy www.homespun.biz

Because of the popularity of Community Dance in Albany, I helped found DanceFlurry Organization (DFO), a local, non-profit organization committed to supporting traditional music and dance from diverse cultures; creating community by encouraging social interaction; presenting dance as a healthy, educational, creative, and fun experience; and developing the talents of local musicians, dancers, and instructors. Since 1988, DFO has presented the popular Flurry Festival, and supported many smaller music and dance venues throughout the greater Capital Region.

By the mid-1990s, DFO and HWFC co-sponsored a monthly family dance geared to parents, grandparents and young children, held at the Westminster Presbyterian Church on Chestnut Street. Along with this dance, we had storytelling, sing-alongs, and of course an amazing potluck. A monthly family dance still occurs, on a smaller scale now.

The Albany Shindig!

Albany Shindig dancers
Photo courtesy www.homespun.biz

In 2015, the DanceFlurry Organization created its newest event, a monthly mini-concert and community dance hybrid called Albany Shindig! This is another event supported by HWFC, who provides yummy snacks every month! The series was created to offer Capital Region residents an opportunity to gather and socialize, listen and dance to great music, and focus on simple traditional dances. All ages and types of participants are welcome, including singles, couples, families, teens, people with disabilities and the elderly. The DFO sponsors the Albany Shindig! as part of its well-rounded, community-based programming. The next Shindig is on Friday, February 24 from 7-9:30PM at the First Congregational Church, 405 Quail St., Albany, NY. Additional Shindigs will be held on March 17 and April 21.

DFO designed the Albany Shindig series to evoke a feeling of good old-fashioned fun. I believe it is the most important project DFO has embarked upon since creating the Dance Flurry Festival in 1988. We are so connected digitally today that we can easily end up feeling isolated. There’s a need for people to reconnect face-to-face, and in an environment that allows for all ages, all outlooks on life, and all levels of dance experience.

For further information about Community Dance opportunities in the Albany area, e-mail or call Paul Rosenberg at: paul AT homespun.biz or 518.482.9255. You can also learn more about DFO at www.danceflurry.org.

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Paul Rosenberg has been a member of Honest Weight since 1980. He served on the Board in 1982 and has done a variety of jobs, such as bookkeeping and, for a short time, served as head of the Finance Committee. He has worked on many aspects of the Coop Scoop (collating, bill collecting, proofreading, and writing all kinds of articles, including being one of the restaurant reviewers known as the “Veggie Gourmet”); he has organized events and, in the last 20+ years, he's been keeping the Co-op bulletin boards and literature racks up-to-date and somewhat organized. He is a full-time dance caller for school programs, community celebrations, and private parties, and organizes numerous dance events.