Indoor dances 'swinging' to Funkstown Moose

February 06, 2006|by JANET HEIM


For decades, dancers have delighted in the nostalgic music and venue of Pen Mar Park. During the summer and early fall, music of bygone eras brings the dancers to their feet, with as many as 1,500 people attending the park each Sunday.

Once Pen Mar's outdoor season ends, the fancy footwork and familiar tunes end, too. Several years ago, then-Hagerstown councilman N. Linn Hendershot suggested that the tradition continue indoors.

Event planner Ken Welch ran with the idea. Welch, a Hagerstown native and South Hagerstown High School graduate, started the company he calls Good Times Express.


Since October 2004, he has hired bands for two to three dates each month. The dances, which are open to the public, last for three hours.

"It's a clean event - nonsmoking, nonalcoholic event. There's live entertainment and quality music," said Welch, who added that you don't have to know how to dance to attend.

The indoor dances began at The Masonic Temple in Hagerstown. The building seemed a perfect fit - an old-style venue with a dance floor.

But with low attendance, Welch decided to move the dances to the Funkstown Moose starting in February.

While Welch said he has been supporting the revitalization of downtown Hagerstown for about 25 years, he thinks the lackluster attendance is due in part to safety and parking concerns of current and would-be patrons.

To cover the expense of the band and renting dance space, there is a cost of $9 per person, which Welch considers a good deal for the quality of the music. He hopes that the admission charge isn't a deterrent.

While the dances at Pen Mar Park are free, they are dependent on funding from the Washington County Commissioners and the Recreation and Parks Department, as well as donations from those who attend the dances.

There are six more dances - all open to the public - on the schedule for this season, featuring ballroom, Big Band and music from the 1930s, '40s and '50s.

For more information, contact Ken Welch at 301-733-9156.

Good Times Express

Upcoming dances at Funkstown Moose:

Sunday, Feb. 12, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., Swing into Love with Dagmar & The Seductones

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., The Continentals of Washington, D.C.

Sunday, March 12, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., Arrow

Sunday, March 26, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., Jerry Brenner Trio

Saturday, April 1, 8 to 11 p.m., Blast from the Past with Ho-Kiss Po-Kiss

Sunday, April 9, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., Saxy

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