On a breezy June evening, the music of Donna Summer filled Copley Square Thursday, where hundreds boogied under a disco ball at a dance party honoring the Dorchester native and five-time Grammy winner.
Hits like “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls” spun by DJ Vince 1 drew a mixed crowd for “A Celebration of Summer: The Donna Summer Disco Party,” an event planned by the city and Summer’s family members.
After a long year of being stuck indoors for long stretches due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds welcomed the chance to ditch masks and dance the night away.
“It’s great! I love the little kids all dressed up,” said Tamela Morrin of Dorchester, who was attending the 3-hour party for the first time. “It feels good not to have a mask on, being around people, not stuck up in the house.”
Unlike previous years, the party did away with its usual roller-skating rink due to space constraints. Still, under the disco ball, revelers partied to honor Summer, who died in 2012 at age 62.
Children enjoyed ice cream and other treats from concession stands and a food truck nearby. At one point, everyone busted out dance moves to the “Electric Slide.”
Summer’s nephew, O’Mega Red, plans the event with the city and said it is about preserving her legacy. The party was not held the last two years, he said.
Seeing the large turnout upon its return, he said shows, “her music touched a lot of people, and they come out no matter what ... It’s a family event, so we’re all here to have fun and respect each other.”
Acting Mayor Kim Janey said, “I wanted to make sure that we get our dances in, that we hear this amazing music, and that we celebrate, and that we are joyful with each other because that is what this summer is about.”
Wearing skates and a mini disco ball , Bob Naftalsaid he rolls in every year the party has been held.
“It’s a great celebration. Donna’s from here. We roller-skate in Dorchester where she grew up, so it’s just a lot of fun,” he said.
Naftal, from Burlington, said he does not mind drawing a few laughs and the nickname “Disco Bob” for his attire and skates.
“People look at me. I don’t care if they’re laughing at me or laughing with me as long as they’re laughing and smiling,” he added.
Christian Young, 43, said he has attended multiple times before, and this time, brought his two daughters, Amiyah, 6, and Lilyana, 5.
Although Young prefers it with the roller skating rink, he said the party has “absolutely” lived up to his expectation.
“It’s great to be back out in public,” he said.
Tiffani Ciccone, 41, of Milford also said she missed rollerskating but still found the dancing fun. Thursday was her third time attending the party. After a year cooped up inside, “you appreciate it way more,” she added.
Adam Sennott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.