by Jen Boggs
What is the Dance Mile? Well, it’s right there in the name. You dance— for one mile. You also laugh, sweat, and have the most fun on a public street that you’ll probably ever have.
When I first heard about Dance Mile in 2014, I was intrigued by the concept. And then I was hooked and have been back every year since. As it turns out, that first Dance Mile in Portland was the first Dance Mile ever. Since then, the now-annual event has launched in Colorado Springs, Boston, and Minneapolis.
I had a chance to talk to Brian Sandberg, Dance Mile’s Director of Sponsorship and Development, and pick his brain about the “one-mile, high-energy dance parade through downtown Portland.”
Describe Dance Mile for someone who’s never done it.
We literally put a DJ with a sound system on a flatbed truck and get folks dancing down the street behind it. It’s a fun, family-friendly event with a huge focus on fitness. What we’ve found is that if you do it once you want to come back and do it again. [Accurate – Jen] What’s unique about The Dance Mile is that because you’re dancing with a large group of people in a packed space, unlike a 5K or a triathalon, you’re making eye contact with other people. You have permission to be silly!
It’s more than fitness?
Absolutely! It’s an opportunity to connect with other people who are there to have fun and move their bodies. People tell us all the time how much they love that social connection in a public space.
Is there anything new at this year’s Dance Mile?
We’ve expanded the program to include more fitness activities in the lead up to the actual Dance Mile. Lincoln Park in Portland has a great lawn for yoga, Zumba warm-ups, dance performances, and a kids’ area. This year we’ll also have a Wellness Expo to showcase holistic practitioners, fitness studios, and other wellness vendors. Of course, it all culminates with the Dance Mile.
How hard is it to coordinate this crazy thing?
This is the fifth year, so we’ve worked out a lot of the kinks. Portland’s a nice market for it because of the location, and the city is so easy to work with. We have to close down some streets and the Portland Police Department has always been great. Plus, there’s always been an enthusiastic response from the fitness and wellness community.
How does Girls on the Run fit in?
Girls on the Run is our non-profit partner this year and in 2019. They’ll receive a percentage of our ticket sales, plus people have a chance to donate more when they purchase tickets. We’re partnering with GOTR because they have a similar mission to ours: to get people moving. They also have a similar style of family, fun, and bright colors!
Anything else you want people to know about Dance Mile?
I would encourage people to TRY it. It’s really transformative. We need more of those public displays of joy in Portland and across the country. Dance it out!
The Dance Mile is on Saturday, July 14th at Lincoln Park in downtown Portland.
4:00 – 6:00 pm Registration, Block Party & Wellness Expo
6:00 pm Professional Dance Acts & ZUMBA Warm Up
6:30 – 7:30 pm – The Portland Dance Mile
Children under 5 are free, ages 5-12 $12, over 12 $34.00. Tickets are available on Facebook or you can buy them at the event.
I’ll be there (for the fifth consecutive year) with my daughter (her fourth Dance Mile). I hope you’ll join us, whatever your age, gender, or “danceability.” As Brian said, “something powerful happens when you dance down the street with 500 of your neighbors.”