Donations down for Dane Dances

Group doesn't want to turn down volume on free events

Dane Dances, a non-profit community dance party, is hoping for more financial support so it doesn’t have to turn down the volume on the free Friday night events.

The group is in its 13th year of bringing people together on the Monona Terrace rooftop. However, it’s not easy to keep the grooving going when donations are down.

Mandy Meloy brought her entire family to Dane Dances for some free Friday night fun.

“Look at the weather, look at the people, look at the view,” Meloy said. “I mean, what a great event, having free music in downtown. You just don’t get better.”

This season’s director Tierra Terrell is the youngest board member and wants to see the young adult crowd frequent Dane Dances more often. For Terrell, the event is about showcasing diversity. She says there’s something about good music and dancing that brings people of all ages and backgrounds together.

“It really gets everyone loosened up, and everybody’s just having fun, mingling, talking, and you really see the unity. It’s really great,” Terrell said.

All of the free fun comes at a price for the Dane Dances board. The organization doesn’t ask the thousands of people who come out to the events to pay admission. With that, the board relies on donations to be able to pay the entertainment and keep the dancing free for everyone.

“We still have an obligation to make sure we keep all nights free,” Dane Dances president Alphonso Cooper said, “and to make sure that all of the bands and the Monona Terrace and everybody gets paid.”

Terrell added, “We know it’s $10,000 per night, and there are five nights this year because there are five nights in August, so we’re just trying to reach that.”

People are already coming out in big numbers this summer. Dane Dances brought out 5,200 people on their first Friday event in 2012 and average about 4,000 a night. Board members hope with so many coming out, more people will show their support with contributions and keep the dancing alive.

“It’s a great city, and it’s great community, and a great county to be a part of,” Cooper explained. “We believe in the people of Dane County, that the business and the people themselves will support what we’re trying to do, and each year, they manage to support us.”

If you would like to give to Dane Dances, go to The organization started a new program this year called, “Friends of Dane Dances,” to encourage donors.