When the world shut down in March 2020, Kingfield resident Nan Marie Zosel knew she couldn’t just stay home. So she headed out to the corner of 40th and Nicollet and began to dance.
She was joined by others, and they’ve continued to gather every Friday night. Currently, chance2dance is at the southwest corner of Bde Mka Ska Boulevard and Lake Street from 4-5 p.m.
“We love the sunset view and fresh energy. In heat, and sleet, on frigid, sub zero days, in the rain, and the soft spring sunshine. COVID-19 restrictions have eased, and yet we find we can’t abandon the life giving practice of dancing in the streets,” said Zosel.
What inspired the dance group?
Zosel: Since March of 2020, I’ve been dancing at the intersection of 40th and Nicollet, each week, usually for an hour or so. When the pandemic hit, I headed out. If there was a contagious disease to contend with, I figured I would be needing fresh air, sunshine, and MOVEMENT. The gyms were closed, the clubs were closed, and my living room was too small. People said “We just have to hunker down.” I said, “I do not hunker.” Gradually I began inviting friends, family, and neighbors to join me in a practice many folks describe as “Silent Disco” although we are dancing to our own individual soundtracks. The corner of 40th and Nicollet is oddly spacious, and allowed us to maintain the safe distances recommended by the CDC.
Most of us use ear buds and phones. One regular attendee struggled with an old iPod. He was a bit older than me, so I said, “I bet you have a boombox in your basement.” He said, “How did you know?” “Just guessing.” We began to realize that the presence of the boom box or speakers made the practice more accessible to small children and folks without phones or streaming services. Live music is encouraged, as well. We’ve had a saxophonist and bagpipes. Some of us sing along to our playlists, others add percussion, using construction markers, or tambourines and maracas.
We usually gather Fridays 4-5 p.m. November-March and 5-6 p.m. April-October due to daylight savings time. Recently we’ve been gathering at the southwest corner of Bde Mka Ska Blvd. and Lake St.
Who is involved and how has your group shifted and changed?
Zosel: I send a weekly update via email to about 45 “regulars.” We chat back and forth about time adjustments. We also confer about location changes and “pop-ups” (gatherings in addition to our usual Friday events.). We average 10-12 dancers each Friday, and have had up 30 at times. I think of myself as “ringleader” supported and inspired by amazing fellow dancers.
We provide a space for dancing for folks who prefer not to be around drinking, and it’s FREE - no gym membership needed. We do want our gatherings to be accessible to all. We have translated some of our signage and invites into Somali and Spanish, and hope to do more of this.
What feedback do you receive?
Zosel: It’s overwhelmingly positive. People wave, honk, wiggle their shoulders as they drive by. Not everyone is called to participate, but most folks love that we are part of the community.
What do you hope others receive from this?
Zosel: Our invitation to move and groove on the corner always includes the exhortation to “feel your feelings.” If you come upon us you will see joy and quiet contemplation, fierce strength and vulnerable sadness. Some dance in the shade, nearly hidden from view. Others wave and smile, trying to catch the eyes of passing motorists, bikers and pedestrians.
As a lifelong resident of Minneapolis I hope that our energy can witness to the fact that Minneapolis is a place where people can play safely.
How does it benefit you?
Zosel: I’m pretty healthy and happy and credit the weekly dancing. And I am so grateful to the fellow dancers who join me, and to the folks who wave and honk. It helps me feel connected to this beloved community. I also get to feel that I am part of the Hebrew exhortation “Tikkun Olam” or “repair the world.” We all have a way to be with the world, and this is my way.
How does this build community?
Zosel: We have participated in many community events, Art Shanties, Open Streets, a bridge opening, and “pole dancing” at election sites to encourage voting. In November 2020, when election results were confirmed, well over 100 neighbors spontaneously gathered at the humble corner of 40th and Nicollet, to wave flags, dance, and celebrate.
I’m grateful to “Don’t You Feel It Too,” Minnesota Dancers Collective, Kingfield Neighborhood Association and Dance Church Minneapolis for their support and inspiration.
For more, email email@example.com, and check them out on Instagram at chance2dancemn.
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