Colored lights illuminated the room as attendees gathered around a chocolate fountain, staring in awe. Lines formed in front of two photo booths, participants exchanging goofy poses or large smiles. The building was packed, and the Sweetheart Dance was in full swing.
On Feb. 7, the Belmont Parks and Recreation Department hosted its annual Sweetheart Dance, one of its most highly anticipated events.
“This is a classic event in Belmont history, and it is a classic for a reason. It keeps coming back, and its high attendance rate is proof of its success,” said Brandon Council, the recreation coordinator of youth and teens.
Previously, the dance was named the Father-Daughter Sweetheart Dance. This year, the event has been changed to the Sweetheart Dance in order to promote inclusivity. Now, the dance is open to all genders.
“We have a more diverse range of participants this year than we did in the past,” Council said.
While the Sweetheart Dance welcomes newcomers each year, many of the participants are returners.
Craig Michaels, an attendee for the past five years, said he has been the first to register for this event for the past few years. Although he called it a “meaningless badge of honor,” he enjoys it nonetheless.
Michaels said events like the dance allow the community to connect organically and in a fun environment, rather than a city meeting.
“Events like these give you a much larger sense of the community. There is a very comforting feeling that makes you feel like you are part of something bigger,” Michaels said.
Michaels said he sees many familiar faces from all around the community each year, whether they are soccer coaches or Carlmont teachers like Greg Schoenstein and David Braunstein, who came with their daughters.
Braunstein said, “Belmont likes to talk about its sense of community, and this is a way to create that community feel. The Sweetheart Dance is a good excuse to hang out with your family, and any opportunity to do that is important.”
Although the dance has become more inclusive, children must be between 4 to 12 years of age to attend. The age limit has drawn disappointment from former attendees who have grown too old to attend.
Still, those who can and do attend enjoy each moment.
Council said, “This event can appeal to anybody. Children can have a lasting memory with their parents, and it is a special moment for both parties.”