By Barb Brouwer
“There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them,” observed late author Vicki Baum.
It is a notion shared by many in the Shuswap and one that an enthusiastic and committed group is keen to share.
Members of the Celebrate Shuswap Society are dedicated to bringing great entertainment to the Shuswap through a series of dances and concerts at Song Sparrow Hall.
“We’re modelling it after the Vernon Jazz Club, which hosts events once a month with very large, live bands, and not just jazz,” said board member Jim Cooperman, who is responsible for booking the entertainment. “Now that we have our own wonderful hall, we’re trying to replicate that scenario.”
The debut dance party takes place at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, and features The Legendary Lake Monsters, a dynamic and entertaining horn-driven 10-piece party/dance band. They play both original and covers from R&B, soul to salsa to swing, with a healthy dose of pop and rock from the 1960s to present.
“If people don’t want to dance, they can sit and listen and enjoy,” said Cooperman. “They’ll fill the stage and will play three sets.”
On Oct. 15, the society will host a benefit dance for the Okanagan Rail Trail with a band from Nelson.
The Hillties are a six-piece funk/reggae/hip-hop/jam band, whose infectious dance floor “Funkathons” are always a hit.
The society would like to hold one or two dances per month and members are contemplating hosting speakers at another venue.
Cooperman is joined on the board by seven other inaugural directors, including Kelly Moores, Sylvia Lindgren, Kristine Wickner, Patti Thurston, Joanne Vivian, Rod Shumacher and Cole Robillard.
Thurston, executive director of the Shuswap Family Resource Centre, is delighted to be part of a group that is intent on providing opportunities for people to connect and have fun.
“I’m excited to be part of something good that is outside of our daily lives,” she says. “It’s all about positive vibrations.”
The Celebrate Shuswap Society is a membership based organization. A one-time $25 donation earns a lifetime membership and a $5 discount on tickets, said Cooperman, noting directors donated to help get the society up and running, and several “patrons” have donated $100 each to help cover the costs of a website and hosting the first dance party.
The member discount will always be $5, but ticket prices will be dependent on the cost of hosting each event.
Cooperman said in the 1970s, there were several venues where dances were held in Salmon Arm, and that a group of music lovers constructed the log building at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds as a youth centre and place to hold coffee houses.
Concerts and dances were also held in the early days of the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society, he said.
“Then they started Roots and Blues and couldn’t do both, so there’s been some concerts since then, but basically there’s a need for dancing opportunities. In 2012 we put together a little group at Canoe Hall and had a few dances, and when Song Sparrow Hall opened, Ted Crouch and I came up with the idea to host music events at the hall.”
COVID put an end to those plans, just as it did for many other events.
“Thanks to Clea (Roddick) and Craig (Newnes), we have a wonderful venue and encourage anyone who wants live music to join us and maybe help us,” he added. “We think it’s gonna fly, that the community will embrace the idea of having opportunities to enjoy live music and to dance.”
For more information and to watch for other events go online to celebrate shuswap.ca.
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