Free dance lessons offered in Oaks Park’s Dance Pavilion

INCLUDES FUN VIDEO | There have been dozens of events held in the Oaks Amusement Park Dance Pavilion, but this time, many from outer East Portland are going there, to actually enjoy dancing …

In the Oaks Amusement Park Dance Pavilion, this Let’s Dance Portland group of learners is getting ready to master new dance steps and rhythms.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

On Thursday evenings, and occasionally on weekends, you’ll find as many as 200 folks putting on their dancing shoes after entering the Oaks Amusement Park Dance Pavilion – to dance!

“It’s true; we’re dancing here in the Oaks Dance Pavilion – this is where we host our Let’s Dance Portland lessons and dance parties on Thursday evenings,” affirmed the evening’s co-creator – along with his wife Michele – Brad Eaton.

Host Brad Eaton welcomes dancers – both experienced and new – to another Let’s Dance Portland session.

“At 7 p.m., we offer an hour-long dance lesson for both beginners and intermediate dancers: Two dance lessons, at the same time, in this space,” Eaton said. “And then, we host a ‘social dance’, in which people can practice what they’ve learned, from about 8:15 until 10 p.m.”

Watch how much fun they’re having at this dance session:

Seeing exponential growth
Let’s Dance Portland originally started in September 2021, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We started meeting in person, following state guidelines for masks and distancing – originally, in the Sellwood at Dance with Joy Studios,” recalled Eaton.

Although they started out with only nine participants, they soon needed to find a larger space; one designed for dancing – having grown by 2,100% over the past 15 months. That’s when they turned to the venerable Oaks Dance Pavilion.

In this session, Joel Jasso and Katherine King partner for a few minutes to learn dance steps.

The demographics of the participants? The dancers are almost equal in numbers of men and women; and they typically start about 50 years of age and older. “However, we’re finding that more and more younger folks are discovering us all the time – especially when they learn that the lessons and social dances are absolutely free!” grinned Eaton.

What to expect? You’ll learn a variety of “country and swing” dance styles, including:

  • West Coast Swing
  • East Coast Swing
  • Country Two-Step
  • Club Two-Step
  • Cha-Cha
  • Hustle
  • Country Western Waltz

“But, sorry, no polka – not at this time!” Eaton said with a grin.

Preparing to change partners for the next segment of the dance lessons, participants “circle up” on the dance floor.

Experience and dance partner not needed
These are not “couples only” events, Eaton emphasized. “You do not need to bring along a dance partner; and you do not need to have any prior dance experience, either. “In each segment of the lesson, you will be more or less randomly-partnered with another individual. And then you’ll be rotated through different partners – so you don’t learn ‘bad habits’ by always dancing with the same partner – and perhaps you’ll make new friends!”

All together, line-dance style, dancers learn a new step as they warm up.

Nothing to join
Let’s Dance Portland isn’t a club, or a “dance school”, asserted Eaton. “There is no membership; and it is totally free, except for the new parking fee here at Oaks Park. It is paid for by corporate sponsors Canopy Mortgage; Joel Martin; Brad and Michele Eaton of Eaton Realty Group; and Eric Bell from

To find out more about Let’s Dance Portland, see their official website: CLICK HERE. You’ll find them in the Oaks Park Dance Pavilion, located at 7805 SE Oaks Park Way. Note: a $3, Off Season, On Site Parking Fee is in effect.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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