GrooveMiami is a 2015 Public Space Challenge winner. The team of three set out to create a community-wide dance party. See how they got Miamians on their feet. 

What would happen if you invited the entire community to one huge dance party, at a park, and for all ages and dance styles? That’s exactly what Team GrooveMiami did with our Public Space Challenge grant. We called it DANCE DANCE DANCE: a night of salsa, Caribbean and hip-hop grooves at Bayfront Park in Downtown.

Our team consists of Tracey Jackson, a user experience designer at PWC Digital; Alissa Farina, a program manager with the Miami Science Barge; and Matt Mawhinney, the South Florida community manager for LaunchCode. We first met in March 2015 a Public Space Challenge workshop hosted by Design Thinking Miami. We came to the workshop wanting to somehow activate a public space in some way

At the workshop, they challenged us to imagine different ways we could better utilize public spaces. In ideating and iterating our way through the design thinking process, we post-it-noted together a proposal to host a community dance class. We realized that dance combined fun and fitness, could be done anywhere, and was lacking a presence in public spaces. But which style? Salsa? Swing? Flamenco? “Why not all three and many more?” we thought. “And in one night!”

After our discussion, we reached a few conclusions: teach multiple styles in one night, use an underutilized space like the roof of a parking garage, and host it during one of Miami’s ideal winter months.

In May 2015, we submitted our Challenge idea, and in August, we won! While we had an idea of how to launch our project and great support from The Miami Foundation, Baptist Health South Florida and Urban Impact Lab, it took us a few false starts and several months to decide on Bayfront Park as our location.

As a purely volunteer effort by all three of us, we were flexible but also working against a deadline. When January of 2016 rolled around, we knew we’d be racing against the onset of Miami’s epic summer heat and monsoon rains if we didn’t lock in a date soon. We made our best efforts to meet semi-regularly at the Starbucks at Biscayne and 64th in MiMo, aiming to lock in a date in March, then April, then May. Before we knew it, it was already May 25; time was flying!

Another challenge we faced was limiting our legal and tax liabilities. Did we need to be a partnership? An LLC? A 501(c)(3)? Ultimately, we decided that becoming a Florida Limited Liability Corporation was sufficient to protect us and incorporated as GrooveMiami, LLC.

We locked in June 29 for our event and crossed our fingers that both the temperature and rain clouds would cooperate. With all of the major decisions finally made, things were about to get real. We had a three-week window to: confirm our instructors, lock down all of our logistics and get the word out. For this, we turned to our social networks on Facebook and Twitter; advertised in The New Tropic; spoke at CreativeMornings/MIA; and street-teamed it in Downtown.

At last, the big night arrived. To our delight, our idea to activate Bayfront Park with a dance party was a success. On the night of DANCE DANCE DANCE – a relatively nice night for June in Miami – there were nearly 150 people moving, grooving and definitely sweating. Groovers were from all walks of life – expert salseros, families with strollers, people in work clothes, health-conscious fitness folks, abuelitas, etc. It was an epic night and quite a sight to see. We’re already planning for the next GrooveMiami event. Stay tuned!

Check out event photos and videos here >>

Tracey Jackson, Alissa Farina and Matt Mawhinney – Team GrooveMiami – are 2015 Public Space Challenge winners.


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