Looking for a great way to get families physically active at your library without offering structured sports programs? How about a fun way to combine physical literacy with verbal and music literacy? It's time for you to host a Family Dance Party!
While I work at a public library, this program can also be offered in a school library during lunch as a way to get kids active indoors on a rainy day, or in an academic library for students to get some stress relief during exams, or even to get to know one another at the beginning of the semester. Adapt it as you see fit; the only goal is to have fun!
Ebony Scott, our summer reading club coordinator, was tasked with creating this program, and she did a great job. Here are the steps involved:
Pick a date, time and location
We had our dance party on a Saturday afternoon in July. We held it in our multipurpose activity room. If you don’t have such a space you could hold it in the children’s department or even outside using a portable stereo system.
Spread the word
We used our event calendar and made a Facebook event to promote the party, along with word of mouth. Ebony made sure to have conversations with our Summer Reading Club members and their families.
Ebony purchased a bunch of balloons, and they were blown up and left on the floor to be played with. She also rented a dance light from a local music store that could be set to pulsate colors. This light was propped up and projected onto a wall. She used a laptop and a set of computer speakers to have the music loud enough for the room.
And of course ... the music!
Ebony tried to pick music that would appeal to a wide age group. The staff had a great time coming up with ideas for the music and practicing our dance moves at the circulation desk. The following is the list played during the event.
We organized the songs on a private YouTube playlist. View our full playlist. 
The event was only scheduled to run 30 minutes, but we prepared a full hour of music. That way if any songs weren’t jiving with the crowd we could skip them and not lose time. Ebony did end up skipping through songs that seemed to be running long or to reenergize the group. She still ended up playing music for close to an hour because everyone was having so much fun they didn’t want to leave.
Our dance party
We had a younger group, five children ranging in ages from 3 to 6, and Ebony found that the songs from movies were the most popular. Everyone LOVED dancing along to "Everything Is Awesome!!!" and "I Like to Move It." "What Does the Fox Say" was also a massive hit. Ebony blew bubbles with a bubble wand for the kids, which everyone enjoyed. In the future a bubble machine might be a fun addition. Near the end of the event library staff also passed out Freezies  to each child.
While we didn’t have a huge turnout, it might have had something to do with the time of year. A lot of people are out of town on the weekends in the summer.
In the future we plan to have more Family Dance Parties, maybe with themes where patrons could dress up or where we have some funny dance-offs. In fact, we had so much fun that we are holding an Afterschool Dance Party each Tuesday for six weeks this fall.
Special thanks to Ebony Scott for running the program and helping me write this post.