Last season, the Celebrity Series of Boston got more than 100 locals of all ages strutting their stuff in Copley Square Park with “Le Grand Continental.” This season, they head to the Rose Kennedy Greenway with a five-day festival inviting folks to join in the fun of dancing to live music. Celebrity Series says “Let’s Dance Boston” will be the largest free outdoor dance and music party Boston has ever seen.

For Celebrity Series executive director Gary Dunning, it’s not just about dance and music, but about community engagement. He likens it to old-fashioned dances in a town square. “It’s a good way to participate collectively and realize you’re not alone,” he says. “It invites Boston audiences to participate instead of just observe.”


Dance Complex director Peter DiMuro, who helped connect Celebrity Series with dance teachers and will emcee most of the events, says, “I think its pretty damn amazing. He has this vision that arts should be for everybody, and if people aren’t coming in to see it, [Celebrity Series] is going to go out to them.”

Activities will take place on a 60-foot-by-60-foot dance floor on the lawn of Greenway’s Wharf District Parks, at Atlantic Avenue and High Street. Each night features a different dance style, starting at 6 p.m. with 45 minutes of instruction followed by 90 minutes of open dancing to live music. Wednesday night features a Latin groove with Eguie Castrillo & His Orchestra, Roomful of Blues taps into swing music of the 1940s and ’50s on Thursday, the Loser’s Lounge brings on disco hustle on Friday, and Saturday night is a salsa party with New York-based Orquesta SCC. Sunday afternoon, starting at 3 p.m., harks back to the swing of the Roaring Twenties and ’30s with Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks.

Dunning envisions three kinds of participants: social-dancing enthusiasts who want to show their moves, people who want to learn a new dance form, and those turning out to watch and listen to the music.


DiMuro is most excited about the opportunity for people to dance to live music — “Like a wedding, but without all the drama,” he says with a laugh. “Dancing is a great way to offset all the negativity with something that uplifts our spirit.”

For Dunning, a sense of connection is key. “I envision a Boston where the performing arts are a lifelong shared, valued experience, seen as essential for a rich fulfilled cultural life,” he says. “Anyone can be an artist. Maybe not a world-class artist, but everyone can participate and get value from it and enjoy it.”

Let’s Dance Boston

Presented by Celebrity Series of Boston. At Rose Kennedy Greenway (Atlantic Ave. and High St.), Sept. 16-20. Free. 617-482-2595, www.celebrityseries.org

Karen Campbell can be reached at karencampbell4@rcn.com.