Bathed in colorful lights, a small army of girls, accompanied by their fathers and other male relatives, generated a palpable energy that thrummed along with high-volume music and excited chatter during the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District’s fifth annual Daddy Daughter Dance.
The event, held Feb. 9 at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center, continues to grow in popularity. The reason for that was summed up concisely by young participants as they identified their favorite part of the dance: getting to spend time with their dads.
The organizers do not enforce that the attendees only be father-daughter duos or trios, though, and open the event to grandfathers, step-dads, uncles, and other important adult figures with whom the girls share a meaningful relationship.
“It’s just a really special evening of bonding,” recreation program manager Grace Lee said, adding, “The main focus is to make the girls feel special.”
The success in accomplishing that goal was evident as the young participants twirled, leapt, and glided across the dance floor, laughing and talking with their guardians and friends as DJ Bruce Smith presented an eclectic array of pop music, oldies, and Disney songs. The event, sponsored by TLC Federal Credit Union and Lum’s Auto Center, also featured face-painting, drawings with prizes, a photo booth, dessert, and a candy buffet provided by Bruce’s Candy Kitchen.
Although the Daddy Daughter Dance is a highly anticipated event for many families in the community, others were only introduced to it this year.
Robert Spurgeon, whose family has been in the area about three years, said he was not aware of the event until his daughters, 9-year-old Lilyan and 7-year-old Isabella, received notices at school that they brought home — along with excitement.
“They’ve talked about it every second since they got the flyer,” he said.
A new addition
During the evening, a group of father-daughter duos danced a routine they had learned earlier that day at a special dance class put on for members of Encore Dance Studio. Instructors from the studio also attended the inaugural Mother Son Dance, held Feb. 8, to teach a few dance moves.
Because of the popularity of the Daddy Daughter Dance, many community members requested the recreation district add a parallel event for moms and their sons.
“We’ve been talking to different moms in the community and it seemed they were excited about the idea,” Lee said. “We decided to go ahead with it and try it out.”
As a pilot program, the event received a positive response, reportedly drawing a packed house every bit as energetic as the crowd that attended the Daddy Daughter Dance. Both events were formatted similarly, incorporating not only dancing and refreshments but also other activities to keep attendees busy, including an airplane-making contest, a scavenger hunt, and dance contests.
The organizers’ intention, Lee said, is to make the events not only fun and exciting, but also an avenue for parents and other guardians to focus on and nurture their relationships with their children.
“You can see at the dance the energy and if the kids are interested,” she said. “If the kids are having fun, the (adults) are having fun, as well.”