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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Finding fusion

Participants dance during Boulevard Beats: the Pop up Fusion Dance Experience at Boulevard Park, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. // Photo courtesy of Jonathan Williams
Participants dance during Boulevard Beats: the Pop up Fusion Dance Experience at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Washington, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. // Photo courtesy of Jonathan Williams

On Wednesday nights, one can hear a mix of alt pop, blues and contemporary electronica music echoing across Boulevard Park. The crowded covered stage is surrounded with college students, local community members and Seattle commuters all partner dancing in a style called Fusion.

Every Wednesday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., people gather for Boulevard Beats: the Pop up Fusion Dance Experience.

Fusion dance is a contemporary American partner style of dance.  It is generally improvised with a lead-follow approach.

The event is co-hosted by Alissa French and Giancarlo Gacad. Fusion Dance events were hosted by the Bellingham Dance Company on North State Street, but the venue is temporarily closed while the dance company searches for a new location. The company is still open despite the transition and they have relocated most of their lessons and events downtown to the Majestic.

“I could point to anyone on that stage, tell you a time where they took aside a person to teach them or [volunteered to DJ] or somehow went above and beyond for someone else in the community.”

Alissa French

In the meantime, French and Gacad bought a portable dance floor so they can continue to host outdoor events. Attendance is free, but there is a suggested donation at Boulevard Beats to help maintain the floor and pay DJs.

“This community is so cool;  there is so much glue,” French said. “I could point to anyone on that stage, tell you a time where they took aside a person to teach them or [volunteered to DJ] or somehow went above and beyond for someone else in the community.”

Participants dance during Boulevard Beats: the Pop up Fusion Dance Experience at Boulevard Park, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. // Photo courtesy of Jonathan Williams
Participants dance during Boulevard Beats: the Pop up Fusion Dance Experience at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Washington, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. // Photo courtesy of Jonathan Williams

Mary Simler Evans is the founder and owner or the Bellingham Dance Company. She describes the dance company as a place where people of all ages can go to learn to dance. The company holds social events and lessons for ballroom, swing, salsa, blues, fusion and many others styles.

“We teach social and cultural dancing, so we focus on anything with a partner,” Simler Evans said.

Simler Evans is in the process of looking for a bigger space to open up a social dance club with a wine bar.

“[We want] a place to dance seven nights a week with a big enough dance floor to be able to have bands, with a wine bar but separated so we can still do all ages,” Simler Evans said.

Simler Evans and her coworkers have a business plan put together and are currently looking for investors to open a new space to put her plans in motion.

French has created a website where people can see when and where social dance events are happening in the community.

“Even if State Street and Bellingham Dance Company doesn’t necessarily open right away… someone will take the initiative and start something up,” French said.

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