Scene Report: Big Band Dances in Centennial Park

There was obviously a lot of this going around

In Nashville there truly is no reason to be bored on a Saturday night. On Saturdays in the summer, Nashville metro parks in collaboration with WAMB radio, the Tennessee Arts Commission and a local dance studio, Dance World, offer a night of big band jazz music, and a swinging dance floor in Centennial park’s band shell. This past Saturday was one of the first of the summer, and I had the pleasure of attending with a couple friends to listen to the big band tunes of The Moonlighters and to have a couple free dance lessons on how to polka.

Every week there is a different band playing from 7-10 pm, and a different dance taught during their half-hour lessons that go from 7-7:30 and 8:30-9:00. If this past Saturday was any indication, these dances bring in a whole menagerie of different people. There were kids, teenagers, octogenarians, and everything in between. The dance floor was filled with two-left-footed college students like myself and experienced dancers that needed no lessons, elderly couples that clearly still got it and a few couples that maybe one day would, and kids that just clasped hands and swung around and children that put the rest of us to shame.

People got really into the theme of the night and there were women in full-skirted dresses fit for dancing, and men with button-down shirts and bowties, fit for a leading man. In general, people were really friendly and helpful and many attended just to sit in lawn chairs around the dance floor, chat with friends, and watch the dancers. Several families had planned-ahead and had picnics and footballs to entertain their kids while some of the adults learned to polka. There was a snow-cone stand with a decent line of customers all night, licking their lips and discussing flavor options.

Overall, the night was a fun time and I will definitely be going back next week to listen to the musical stylings of the J. Bradley Big Band and to learn to fox trot.

What: Dancing in Centennial Park
Where: Centennial Park Band Shell
When: 7-10 pm on Saturdays
Who: Everyone
What to bring: A dance partner, a lawn chair/blanket, some snacks, and your dancin’ shoes



About Emily

Emily (Founder/Editor in Chief) : Emily is a graduate from Belmont University, where she majored in Music Business. She’s originally from rural Ohio, where there are many cows, a river, and one vineyard. Though she moved to Seattle in 2015, Emily maintains a love of both Nashville and free things, and is actively looking for contributors for If you're interested, reach out to her at