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Dancing Under the Stars swings into Niwot


Courtesy photo

For more than 35 years the community has enjoyed participating in Dancing Under the Stars. As of July 19, the event will be taking place for six Friday nights in Niwot at Cottonwood Square Shopping Center.

Niwot may be known for honoring its namesake with a great deal of left-handed this and left-handed that, but beginning Friday, July 19, even those among us with two left feet will be celebrating when they join in on the joyfulness of community dancing. You’ve heard of “Dancing in the Streets”, “Dancing with the Stars,” and “Dancing in the Moonlight”, and now...there’s “Dancing Under the Stars Niwot.”

Event organizers, Catherine McHale and Tom Masterson want people to come on their own or with kids, with grandparents, with friends or perhaps bring a partner who may or may not be dance-inclined. It’s free and everyone is welcome – no partner required.

The event was first born in the summer of 1982 - the vision of Masterson, a University of Colorado Boulder math and physics professor who has a love for dancing and bringing people together from every walk of life.

Initially, the dance party took place on the terrace of the Memorial Center on the CU campus. Later it moved to the plaza next to the Dushanbe Teahouse in Boulder. Hundreds came weekly to boogie down, do the Lindy Hop, the waltz, the rhumba and the polka.

The city of Boulder put impediments in place this year, so Masterson reached out on Facebook asking for help to reestablish the event elsewhere, somewhere on privately owned property. The post caught McHale’s attention, putting the wheels in motion to be sure the community continues to have the opportunity to participate in the tradition. The new venue will be the parking lot of the Cottonwood Square Shopping Center at the corner of Niwot Road and 79th Street.

McHale, herself a “keen salsa dancer”, said one of her favorite summer activities has been joining in the weekly event, so she approached Tony Santelli, the Niwot Business Association president and owner of the Niwot Tavern, with the idea of bringing the much-loved event to Niwot, and he was in agreement.

Alex Chlebek and his mother, Maria Biernat, owners of the shopping center, were more than happy to host the event, saying they were pleased to be able to provide a home for the community activity.

“Maria used to dance up to three times a week, so she liked the idea. As far as me, I don't dance - I have two Niwot feet,” Chlebek joked, but he also said they’ll both be there to join in.

McHale said Niwot offers more facilities than the previous location, because of the number of nearby retail stores and restaurants. Hopes are that people make Friday dance nights into an evening out that includes dining and shopping.

Masterson’s Facebook post described the event as “an immensely popular program that has gained international recognition. It is a premier multi-cultural, ethnically diverse event- free to all - that reaches out to all ages across all social and economic barriers.”

Over the years, DUTS has featured a smorgasbord of 50 ethnic dance styles, but this year the repertoire will be pared down. Alternating between salsa dancing one week and swing the next, attendees will be given a lesson for the first 45 minutes, followed by dancing until 9:30 or 10 p.m.

Masterson, owner of the Danceophile studio and director of Postoley Dance Ensemble, has been able to put on the event over the years with the help of lots of great dance teachers, some of whom have come to Colorado from places around the world.

Two adept professional instructors and groups in the area, “the best” according to Masterson, will be presenting salsa and swing at Niwot’s DUTS. Joseph Snowhawk brings his expertise in salsa and Krister Shalm will impart his highly honed skills in swing.

Masterson said he began dancing at 4 years old and has traveled the globe to learn various dance styles. He recently went to Cuba to learn that specific form of salsa. DUTS is an effort to celebrate cultural diversity and to be open to everyone regardless of how they arrived here.

The event will be held in the parking lot in front of the Niwot Tavern, Winot Coffee, and ShopGirl Boutique. Restaurants and stores will be open, some later than usual, to add to the party atmosphere and show off the town a bit.

“I’m really hoping this will be the start of an event that can repeat year after year,” McHale said and she mentioned the possibility of extending it to Fridays all summer long.

Thanks to sponsors, the Cottonwood Square Shopping Center, Niwot Tavern, and Catherine McHale Strategic Marketing (and perhaps others to come), it’s a free event. But donations will be very welcome to help offset the cost of the music disc jockey, dance instructors, and marketing efforts. Organizers are also looking for a few volunteers to help with weekly setup of the dance floor and audio system.

Plan to attend Fridays at 7p.m., on July 19, 26, Aug. 2, 9, 16 and 23. Salsa will be featured on July 19, Aug. 2 and Aug. 16. Swing will be featured on July 26, Aug. 9 and Aug. 23.

To learn more about the event or to volunteer, visit Dancing Under the Stars Niwot on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/dancingunderthestarsniwot/ or Niwot.com/dancing or contact Catherine McHale at mchale@itcloud.com.


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