Anni Gordon

Anni Gordon plays the fiddle at an all-ages Moab Pride dance party last summer. [Photo courtesy of Marcy Till]

You don’t have to go to a bar or drink alcohol to be able to enjoy a night out dancing to music. 

Moab Pride is hosting a dance party for people of all ages on Friday, July 26, at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center from 6 to 8 p.m. 

“It’s our ‘summer skies’ dance party,” Moab Pride organizer Steph Hamborsky said. “We planned it for late July, just before school starts with the youth in mind.”

Weather permitting, the dance party will be held outside on the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC) patio. 

“We had an amazing turnout at the last event,” Hamborsky said. “We had lots of families. It’s sober, substance-free, it’s family friendly. It’s super inclusive. That’s our goal.”

The patio will be decorated with colorful rainbow pride flags and there will be information available about Moab Pride, a nonprofit that advocates for the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer (LGBTQ) population. 

It’s the second year that the quarterly community dances have been happening at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC).

Moab Pride organizes a Pride Festival in September each year. Titled “Exist, Resist, Persist: Celebrating 50 years of Stonewall,” this year’s Moab Pride Festival will happen on September 27 and 28.

The dance party at the MARC on July 26 will include an open mic where attendees are welcome to perform. There’s always food at the dance parties, typically pizza and other light snacks, plus sparkling water, Hamborsky said. 

“Open mic runs the gamut,” Moab Pride organizer Marcy Till said. “We’ve had karaoke, spontaneous performances by musicians, people reading poetry.”

Till said the focus of the event is on participating by people of all ages.

“It’s an invitation to the youth of Moab to come out for something fun, safe and supervised,” Till said. “We’re providing a safe place for teens to get together. One of the complaints you hear downtown is that there’s nothing for teenagers to do; we’re trying to fill that gap.”

The quarterly dance parties are an attempt to have a presence all year, Hamborsky said. 

“Queer people are more prevalent than people think,” she added. “It’s important to support queer youth who are at risk. There’s still a lot of bullying — from students and teachers.”

Hate crimes have been on the rise over the past year, according to the Moab Pride website. Identifying as LGBTQ is shown to be a risk factor in youth suicide. Nationwide in 2015, 42.8 percent of LGBTQ students seriously considered attempting suicide, compared to 14.8 percent of heterosexual students, the Utah Department of Health website says. Thirty-four percent of LGBTQ students reported being bullied at school, and 28 percent online, compared to 19 percent of heterosexual students who reported being bullied at school or 14 percent online.

Members of Moab Pride helped facilitate the Rainbow Club in collaboration with the BEACON After School Program at Grand County Middle School and Grand County High School. The Rainbow Club meets at the Youth Garden Project to work on art projects, bake and attend hikes or field trips to Mill Creek and Lions Park. 

The Moab Pride organizing committee meets every other Monday at 6 p.m. at the Moab Valley Multicultural Center, 156 N. 100 West. 

“(The dance) is about providing a regular space,” for families to gather and dance, Hamborsky said. “It’s unique. Having an all-ages dance party (not in a bar) in Moab is uncommon. It really brings together all sorts of people.”

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