Halloween dance provides night of varied art styles

Instructors at society say they welcome dancers of all experience levels

HALLE LONG, Evergreen reporter

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The Palouse Dance Society hosted its Halloween Ball Tuesday night at the 1912 Center in Moscow and offered people the opportunity to enjoy a spooky night filled with costumes, music and dance. Though the instructors taught a tango class at the beginning of the event, attendees of all different backgrounds, ages and experience levels enjoyed an array of songs and dance styles.

Everyone was welcome at the event, said Morgan Douglas, a director of the Palouse Dance Society and instructor of several dance styles.

“[The dances are] always no experience, no partner necessary,” Douglas said.

Jasper Wallen, another director of the Palouse Dance Society who teaches mainly ballroom dance, said they welcomed beginners at the dance.

“Like you’ve learned which foot is your left and which is your right, and now we’re going to teach you to dance with them,” Wallen said.

From 7 to 8 p.m., Wallen held an American tango class. About every third song was tango after that. The rest included a smattering of ballroom, Latin, West Coast Swing and other styles.

“Even though we’re doing 33.333 percent of tango, you’ll have different kinds of music,” Douglas said. “We tend to find more modern music that fits the criteria.”

Unlike a lot of other social dances, the dance society tries to include more contemporary pieces, Wallen said.

“People don’t realize that Ellie Goulding has a lot of really great rumba dances,” he said.

There was also an American tango choreography performed at the dance. Throughout the month prior, group members met and practiced the choreography. The group can take on more people if anyone is interested in being a part of future performances, Wallen said.

Costumes were encouraged but not required. The society welcomed anything from casual to formal wear, he said.

“It’s perfectly acceptable for someone to show up in jeans and a T-shirt or dress up for a night out — maybe wear a nice dress shirt and a tie,” Wallen said.

The dances proved a good place to meet new people, Douglas said.

“The culture of the environment isn’t just focused on, you know, meat market,” Douglas said. “It’s on positive interactions that last a song and are respectful and then you go on.”

One unique aspect of the ball was the absence of drugs or alcohol, he said.

“All of our events are all-ages, drug and alcohol and aerial-free,” Douglas said. “It’s a safe and sober place to meet people.”

Douglas said few people say no to a dance where the atmosphere is generally inclusive and social. While he said he encouraged saying no if someone is asked but doesn’t want to dance, he discouraged saying yes to another person during the same song.

If anyone was making someone uncomfortable at the dance, Douglas said, the three directors prioritized the safety and comfort of the dancers.

Something uncommon about the Palouse Dance Society is the breadth of dances they cover, Douglas said. The society provides people the opportunity to try a variety of dance styles, he said, including Latin, ballroom, rumba, West Coast Swing and Bachata.

The society is also a state nonprofit though it is working to become federally recognized, he said. Douglas said the nonprofit status allowed the society to subsidize the pricing for lessons and events. The profit they earn allows them to bring in professional instructors to teach classes.

“The concept of dancing with another human being is one of the all-around best things I think we can do in life,” Douglas said.