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Bringing community dances back to Star Valley

Dancing at the fairgrounds during the Star Valley Dances Valentines dance in February. (Image provided by Star Valley Dances.)

◆ Dances appeal to all ages. Visitors join from Utah and Idaho.

Cassie Hunsaker started a new hobby when she went to college. Now that she is back, she wants to share it with the community.

When Cassie and her friends started school at the University of Wyoming, they took up swing dancing. Eventually they went out swing dancing once, or sometimes more, a week.

When COVID-19 pushed their classes from in-person to online, they came back home to Star Valley, but they missed having a place to go. “Basically it started because we were bored and there was nothing going on.”

Their first dance was in December. Rather than open it up to the community, they made it invitation-only for family and friends, but it went well enough that they felt ready to open their doors to the public, “we just thought it would be fun to get other people here involved.”

They have held dances in February and April since then. The first hour of each dance is set aside for teaching. For five dollars, anyone can learn the skills to hold their own on the dance floor.

The dances have attracted people outside of Star Valley. Cassie has met people who were visiting from Logan, Cokeville, and cities in Idaho. She has also seen the dances appeal to all ages, “We’ve had families with kids come, we’ve had high-schoolers come, we’ve had people from the older generations, and they just thought it was so great that we were doing it again because they used to do it and it was cool that we were trying to introduce it back into our valley.”

Star Valley has a history of community dances that they are trying to build on, “We’ve heard stories about the dancehall that used to be on Cottonwood Lake, and things like that just sounded so cool, and all the community dances they used to have throughout the valley and surrounding communities. And so we thought it would be fun to try to draw that back.”

Cassie and her friends think that the appeal has not faded over time, “I think it’s just a way that everyone can come together. It’s cheap, it’s fun, you meet new people, you can talk to everyone, it’s just such a perfect opportunity to get together and have fun.”

They plan on having a dance once a month into the future, but that could increase based on turnout, “if we get a big turnout there is potential that we could try to do it more often because it would be worth doing more, but for now that’s our goal, just the once a month to see how things go.”

Cassie and her friends are grateful for the community response, and they are eager to see turnout increase, “It makes us feel good when we see new people at our dances, to know that the word is getting spread and to see people liking our idea.”

Each dance is in the exhibit building of the Lincoln County Fairgrounds. The next dance is scheduled for May 22. For more information on upcoming dances, follow “Star Valley Dances” on Instagram and Facebook. “Invite your friends, spread the word, and come out and join us on May 22.”