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This dance series is another reason to love Seattle parks

Want a new reason to love Seattle’s parks? There’s going to be free dancing in ‘em all this summer — no partner or experience necessary.

Dancing Til Dusk is a super fun event series that’s bringing the dance floor and all kinds of dance lessons to Freeway, Westlake, Occidental, and Hing Hay parks every week through August.

One of the fun folks behind Dancing Til Dusk is coordinator and dance instructor Lilli Ann Carey, who helps teach alongside her daughter, Claire. She’s been working with the program since 2007, when the Freeway Park Association, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and former mayor Greg Nickels launched it to activate urban parks.

“It’s really being involved in a social community — that means a safe space, an opportunity to learn, to use your body and and try something that most people are quite intimidated by,” Lilli Ann told us. “The space that’s created is quite magical.”

We caught up with Lilli Ann to learn what she loves most about dancing in Seattle.

How did you first fall in love with dance?

When I was a teenager, I always liked basic shake-your-tush dancing, but … it wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I went to a party and I danced with somebody who knew how to swing dance. And I was like, ‘I want to learn how to do that.’

Seattle has a pretty active dance community. What do you love most about it?

When people start to learn to dance, we seem to think of it as “I’m going to learn how to do a waltz for my wedding and that’s it.” But when somebody learns to waltz or swing, they start going to dances, then they meet a few people, and then one day they walk onto the dance floor and they know 50 people. You’re suddenly a part of a community.

Dancing in public can feel kinda…awkward. What advice would you give to someone nervous about learning to dance for the first time?

Show up. Once you get there, the entire space is set up to make someone who’s brand new [feel] welcome. You can see there’s a lot of people who’ve never danced before, so you realize suddenly that you’re not alone. There’s a whole lot of people around who you who are in the same shoes as you are.

There’s also a lot of people there that do know what it’s like to be brand new and understand that they can make it better for you.

Swinging in Occidental Park. (📸: Lilli Ann Carey)

Where are your favorite dance floors in Seattle?

What’s your favorite park to dance in?

I like them all! Westlake Park for the wide, expansive open spaces. Freeway Park for the intimate setting, fountains, garden, and beautiful atmosphere. Occidental Park because of the beautiful vine-covered bricks. [I’m excited about] Hing Hay Park because it’ll bring people there who’ve never been.

Planning to pull on your dancing shoes? Dancing Til Dusk kicks off on Tuesday, July 10 with “swinging jazz” at Hing Hay Park in Chinatown-International District. If you go, be sure to tag #theevergrey in your pics and videos.