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Shaking it up in West Linn

The night was right for dancin' at Saturday's fourth annual Street Dance in the historic Willamette district
by: vern uyetake 
David and Bonni Canary of West Linn get in the swing of things as Jeff Beatty of “Big Night Out” belts out another tune.

artha and the Vandellas assured us 47 years ago that '… It doesn't matter what you wear, just as long as you are there.'

And they were there Saturday night.

From toddlers just beginning to learn that it's impossible to keep a body still when you hear a good beat - to former rockers who still have a few good moves left - West Linn families turned out in big numbers for the much-anticipated annual dance event.

But dancing wasn't the only thing drawing the crowd.

Warming up the crowds, and especially the kids, was Scot 'Mag' Hughes of We Care Sports. Since 1980, this West Linn entertainer, who lives here with wife, Cheryl, has been teaching kids from Alaska to San Diego about juggling and introducing them to games from around the world.

'I love to teach them new games - the non-competitive ones,' Hughes said. 'So many kids play competitive sports; we just want them to have fun.'

He performs eight different programs that emphasize self-esteem through non-competitive play, and his motto is, 'the most fun wins.'

After encouraging Hughes to do just one more trick, the amazingly attentive children who filled the street then got the opportunity to actually play with the props and try a little juggling themselves. A trick known as 'the propeller' seemed to be a crowd favorite.

The night was all about fun.

One-hundred Frisbees that 72 Degrees Heating and Air Conditioning had waiting in the company truck were immediately scooped up and could be seen flying back and forth until the West Linn Community Chorus calmed things down a little with a lovely rendition of the 'Star Spangled Banner.'

When the 11-piece group Big Night Out took the stage, the crowd was ready.

'We came here for the dance,' agreed a group of four seniors-to-be - Lochlin Deeks of West Salem High School, Adam Winterling of Jesuit High School and Jordan Porter and James Coghill, both from West Linn High School. Although each was waiting for a different rhythm - rap, Motown, R and B and country - they would be able to hear most of it Saturday night.

During a lively rendition of Aretha Franklin's 'Respect,' city employee Jameson Steele could be found efficiently changing out the trash bags. Considering the great quantities of food and drink being consumed, his job kept him hopping.

He wasn't the only one working quietly in the background, making sure things were running smoothly - and safely.

West Linn police officer Ryan Lesmeister was using his recently acquired training in police mountain biking to guarantee that nothing was amiss on the streets of West Linn.

'I can move in and out of areas more quietly,' Lesmeister said, 'and maybe my presence (of riding back and forth) might prevent a citizen from getting in his car after having a little too much to drink. A lot of what we do is prevention.'

Although the bicycle should be helpful in checking out potential car prowlers, about all that Lesmeister ran into Saturday night was a few kids littering. The officer's presence on a bicycle seemed to be a pleasant curiosity for folks who are not yet used to seeing this as a law enforcement tool in West Linn.

Back on the dance floor, songs like 'R.O.C.K. in the USA' really created up a thirst, and there were plenty of businesses and vendors to satisfy. At the Hawaiian Shaved Ice stand, employees reported business to be fantastic, naming raspberry as the most requested flavor of the evening.

And, for those desiring a little more octane in their beverages, La Fiesta Mexican Kitchen, formerly Sandovals, was there to oblige. Margaritas, pineapple and rum concoctions, taco platters and burritos were all moving at a steady pace over the counter.

Owner Jose Garay was very happy with the results.

'But next year,' he said, 'we'll have more drink and food selections.'

Even as Big Night Out performed the B-52s 'Love Shack,' which, no surprise, brought everyone to their feet, the liveliness was appreciated by at least one neighbor. Penny Martin-Thomas, who lives right across the street from the performance, said she found it exhilarating.

'I love it,' she said. 'I think this band is quite amazing.'

And Shawn Haswell, of the Sunset neighborhood, added, 'Big Night Out did a really good job with the levels - not too loud.'

Even as the evening wound down, the local hot spots were still doing booming business and dancers just didn't want to stop moving to songs such as Earth, Wind and Fire's 'September' and Shania Twain's 'You're Still the One.' Long after 10 p.m. groups of people still had visiting to do and a little more of a summer evening to enjoy. At least once a year, there should be a night in everyone's life that you just don't want to end.

Maybe they were dancing in Chicago and perhaps down in New Orleans or in New York City, but for sure they were dancing Saturday night in West Linn.