“Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street,” Martha and the Vandellas sang in 1964. On Friday, Aug. 4, the time was right for Santa Clara’s annual Street Dance, and Jackson Street became a dance floor for “swinging” and “swaying” to live music.
An annual City event for about 40 years, it was canceled during the pandemic and only returned last year. This year’s dance was presented by Silicon Valley Power and the city’s cultural commission with support from Santa Clara Parks & Recreation, which did an outstanding job seamlessly managing the event.
“This year’s dance was the biggest we’ve seen,” said Recreation Director Kim Castro. “The amount of activities, booths, food trucks.”
The comfortable evening brought out a sizable crowd to enjoy the music, drinks, food from local vendors — beer and wine courtesy of Santa Clara Sister Cities — and most of all the people and the dancing. Jackson Street provided a sizable dance floor for the dancers.
“A very positive vibe, a lot of smiling faces, kids having fun,” said one visitor. “Being a pet-friendly environment, even the dogs were having fun.”
The Library’s bookmobile was there, and, for the kids, there was plenty of space for chalk art.
Several people commented on the variety of food available. There were food trucks galore to please every palette. Lobster rolls, Korean rice bowls, shave ice, chicken and waffles, flavored teas, and those perennial favorites: hot dogs, pretzels and kettle corn.
The main attraction, as always, is the dance band. This year the high energy Pop Rocks kept dancers on their feet from start to finish, with an extensive repertory that ranges from Sinatra tunes to contemporary hits.
Sponsored by the Santa Clara Cultural Commission, putting on the event requires teamwork by Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and Santa Clara Police Department.
“It’s a collaborative project,” said Castro. “It takes about six months to put it together with all the permits, publicity, vendors. The team is extremely resourceful and hard-working.” It’s a labor of love, she adds. “They enjoy [the fact that] people are having a good time. But it was a long day.”
The street dance has its roots in the City’s former festival days that began after WWII, according to Parade of Champions president Ana Vargas-Smith.
“These events are the heart of Santa Clara,” she said. “This was a weeklong festival at one time, my mother told me about it.
“I used to come to this as a child back in the 1970s,” she continued. “There was a carnival. Saturday was the street dance [and Sunday] was Lions pancake breakfast, the Parade of Champions and another dance. As a kid, I looked forward to it all year.”
“It’s just a fun city party,” said council member Karen Hardy.
It was so much fun that it had people asking for more.
“Why only one of these a year?” Taylor Aramonte wrote on Facebook the next day. “After seeing last night’s amazing turnout, positive vibes and safe/inclusive atmosphere, what’s stopping Santa Clara from doing a few more of these a year to generate interest and revenue for local downtown businesses.”
Silicon Valley Power, Patelco Credit Union, Santa Clara Parade of Champions, Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri and Rotary Club of Santa Clara sponsored the event.