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Itís always ladiesí night at Highland Square dance party

3/24/2011 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Local event part of national effort

Participants at Akron’s Dance Dance Party Party event March 18 are shown having a good time.
Photo: Kathleen Folkerth
HIGHLAND SQUARE — The rules of Akron’s Dance Dance Party Party (DDPP) are simple: No boys. No booze. No judgments.

The two- or three-times monthly gathering of ladies, started locally by North Hill resident Juniper Sage, is a chance to dance without the distractions of the nightclub scene.

“At a certain age, you feel uncomfortable in a bar situation or it has no appeal to you,” Sage said. “I think women like to dance and are encouraged to dance as young people. When it’s kind of taken away from you by opportunity or level of comfort, then this is the perfect thing.”

DDPP is open to girls and women of any age. Dance sessions take place at Martell School of Dance, 788 W. Market St. in Highland Square, on the first, third and fifth Fridays of the month from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Akron’s group is part of a national effort that started in New York City five years ago. Today, the Chicago DDPP group oversees the concept for the many groups that have sprung up around the country.

Sage said she and a friend had joked a few years ago about the need for a place where they could just dance for the fun of it. Shortly after the friend moved to Chicago, she told Sage she had found exactly what they were looking for in DDPP.

“I thought, we clearly need to do this in Akron because it’s such a good idea,” she said.

Working with the headquarters, Sage was able to set up the group and get a website. She also had to find a location for the parties. As co-owner with her husband of Square Records in Akron, she immediately thought of Martell School of Dance, located down the block from their business. The owner agreed to rent the space for a low price for the Friday night events.

The first Akron DDPP took place in February 2009 and was attended by eight women, which Sage was thrilled to see.

“Any time you can convince seven people to dance around in a room and be silly, that’s a good thing,” she said.

Since then, attendance has been as high as 25, with most dance events attracting about a dozen women, Sage said.

What makes the group unique is that a range of ages attends, she added.

“We have mothers and daughters that come,” Sage said, noting that her own mother often attends. “I also encourage women to bring their young daughters. To me, it’s ridiculous to ask someone to get a babysitter for just an hour. The little ones get a kick out of it. I don’t want to isolate women who have young children who can’t come.”

The music is provided by those who attend or guest disc jockeys who submit a playlist on an MP3 player, Sage said. After someone attends a couple of times, they can ask to create a playlist for an upcoming party. All the playlists are posted on the Akron DDPP’s website, so those making playlists know what songs have already been used. Sage said they like to have new songs at each party.

In past playlists, songs have ranged from Broadway tunes to pop or hip-hop hits. The March 4 DDPP included music by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, ABBA, Nicki Minaj and a dozen other artists.

Sage said dancers are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes. And it’s not unusual for dancers to kick off their shoes, she added.

After more than two years, Sage’s interest in DDPP hasn’t waned.

“I love it so much,” she said. “I start looking forward to it the minute one is over. It becomes part of your life and you really look forward to it. I know I’m not the only one.”

One of the Akron DDPP regulars is Joanna Wilson, of Cuyahoga Falls, who loved the event so much that she is now coordinating it with Sage.

“I love it,” Wilson said. “I wouldn’t call myself a dance person. I certainly have no dance education, but that’s part of what attracts me. I’m always looking for new experiences. This is just come-as-you-are — anybody can do it.”

To celebrate spring, Akron DDPP is planning the Funky Fresh Spring Fling for its April 1 party. Admission is $2, as it is for all DDPP events, but for this party attendees may bring one friend for free.

Sage said the event will feature an intense set list crafted by a Chicago DJ especially for the Akron party that features hip-hop music from the early 1990s.

“It will make you want to move your feet like you did when you first watched ‘Beverly Hills 90210,’” she said.

For more information, call Sage at 330-289-9248 or e-mail ddppakron@gmail.com. The website is ddppakron.word press.com.

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