Langley’s Second Street Plaza may be hard to recognize this weekend.
Hundreds of people dancing in the street has that kind of effect.
The plaza is transforming from the city’s most eccentric road into a bustling concert venue for the second annual Langley Street Dance this Saturday, July 8. The free event is from 7-10 p.m. in front of Callahan’s Firehouse and features live entertainment, food, a beer garden and, of course, dancing.
Local bands Krash Zen and Western Heroes are booked to provide tunes ranging from classic rock to R&B, and funk to reggae. Useless Bay Coffee Company, South Whidbey Commons and brand-new business Anthes Ferments are staying open late to provide food, while Useless Bay Coffee will also offer beer and wine just a few feet away from the plaza.
With news of Choochokam Music and Arts Festival’s cancellation for the second year in a row, organizers say the street dance has taken on a new level of importance. Street dances and musicians were a staple of Choochokam events in the past, but Langley Street Dance organizers believe it can step in as replacement. The event is organized by the Langley Arts Commission, Langley Main Street Association and the city of Langley.
“This is like bringing back the Langley tradition,” Lorinda Kay, program director of the Langley Main Street Association said. “I’m very excited that the city and the arts commission decided to bring this back and do it every year.”
Kay said last year’s event was received positively and that this Saturday’s dance should have a similar vibe. She said businesses staying open late will create a festival feeling.
Callahan McVay, a member of the Langley Arts Commission and chairman of the Second Street Dance subcommittee, said he’s looking forward to carrying on a 43-year tradition of street dances in Langley. He said people are disappointed with Choochokam’s cancellation, but are banding together to make the street dance a positive night for all.
“It’s a real sense of camaraderie for the community, not just Langley but South Whidbey as a whole,” McVay said.
Mayor Tim Callison said the city decided to get involved because it “could feel the physic ache that fell over a great number of townspeople when they heard that Choochokam was being cancelled.”
“Most stated that the thing they would miss the most was the street dance,” Callison said.
The popularity of street dances on South Whidbey is evident in the summer. Goosefoot recently hosted the first outdoor Bayview Corner Street Dance of the summer on June 28 at the Bayview Cash Store. It drew close to 100 people to the concert, while Langley Street Dance performers Krash Zen were also the headliners for the event. The Bayview street dances will be held every other Wednesday until Aug. 23. The next performance is from 6-8 p.m. on July 12 at the cash store.
McVay said Langley’s street dance is not disruptive to the city’s economic development like Choochokam was because it does not rely on vendors to provide food and drinks. He says the location of the event, as well as the surrounding businesses, are a perfect combination.
“Langley has everything anyone would want at that time, day and night,” McVay said. “We don’t have to bring in vendors and disrupt economic development. We have it all in house and we have a couple bands that are hyper local.”
McVay said the bands were selected in a call-to-artist format and that local bands were given preference. Langley artist Mo Jerome also won a poster design contest sponsored by the arts commission and received a $250 prize.
Record reporter Kyle Jensen contributed to this story.