As the clock ticked past 7 p.m., timid groups of adults ventured toward the closed-off chunk of Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, while rambunctious youngsters charged eagerly towards it with their parents.
As the time ticked further on, young adults – the summer college students and working professional sort – gathered with friends, dancing in circles together to Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” Clouds threatened rain, but the sky quickly cleared, dusting dancers with a light sprinkle and cool breeze.
These dancers were only a few of several thousand residents, visitors and passers-by that boogied down on the makeshift dance floor for the 14th annual Cambridge Dance Party on Friday night.
Ini Tomeu, Cambridge’s public information officer, said the phones rang all day in her office with people asking if the dance party would still happen.
“When I told them it was, the majority of them would say, ‘Awesome!’” Tomeu said. “I think people have been cooped up inside because of the weather for the past few days, and they want to go out no matter what.”
Dance Party planner Mary Ellen Carvello said that she started strategizing and organizing for the event three or four months in advance, but that 14 years was enough to iron the kinks out.
“The community absolutely loves it,” she said. “It’s an easy event to plan and the people love to dance.”
The event hosted a multiple-speaker sound system, DJ tent, themed light show of fire and inferno (of the disco variety, perhaps?), and multiple spotlights guiding people to Central Square.
With the DJ spinning oldies like “Dancing in the Street” early in the evening, break-dancer John Lang wooed the crowd with his robot routine and gravity-defying floor moves.
“I taught myself to dance,” Lang said. “I do it with a whole bunch of people around Massachusetts. This event is good, no one’s afraid to come inside [the dance circle] and start dancing.”
Clad in white aviators and an unbuttoned plaid shirt, Sheldon Kane – who also goes by DJ SK3 – popped into the break-dancing circle to challenge Lang.
“I’ve been involved in the Boston nightlife DJ-ing, so I learn a bunch of sick dance moves by observing other people. I see people inventing and reinventing the whole medium, like this guy here,” Kane said, gesturing to Lang.
Neighborhood dog walkers, outdoor runners and area visitors wore perplexed but pleasant expressions, some joining the festivities by tapping their foot or wiggling as they walked by.
Dorchester resident Omnia Fadel Elsaid said she was walking around, visiting Cambridge when she heard loud music in the distance.
“I didn’t know this could happen – everyone’s dancing,” she said. “In Dorchester, we have a large parade, but a dance thing… we don’t have this.”
Rose Wine held her daughter Xela’s hand as they danced to The Beatles, picking up their pace as the tempo increased.
“I love to dance, and she’s a great dancer,” Wine said, nudging Xela. “I love the oldies and the Beatles, but she’s waiting for Rihanna.”
Wine, a Cambridge resident, said she was glad the weather held out.
“We went last year when it was sunny and warm,” she said. “We had been looking forward to it.”
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