So you think you can Wance? St. Paul group brings dancing while walking to Grand Avenue

There are few times in life when you can truly cut loose and feel free. Or to put it another way, to dance like nobody's watching.

Every other Wednesday, about two dozen people get together to strut their stuff along Grand Avenue. The group is called Wance, a combination of walk and dance, and that's exactly what its members do along the popular street.

"What I like about Wance is it allows me to embrace fear, to show up without judging myself or others, and allows me to create space for others to do that as well," said Wance St. Paul organizer Morgan Short.

Short started wancing after a friend created a similar group in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, during the pandemic.

"She was out on a walk with her headphones in, and she was walking, and she kind of just started dancing, and then cars would go by, and she would be like, 'Oh, I guess I should stop dancing,' and she just decided, you know what? I'm not going to stop dancing. I'm going to keep dancing, and I'm going to invite other people to dance with me," said Short.

Short decided to bring her own group to St. Paul this spring as a way to spread some joy and positivity and build community at the same time.

"It's just a really nice feeling, and you always feel really energized afterward, and I want to spread that to everyone because we really need that right now," said Short.

For some, it's a way to get a good workout.

"Totally got caught in the grocery store in the pizza aisle. Dua Lipa came on, and I was just jamming out. Some lady walked by, and I was like 'Yeah, getting some pizza for tonight,'" said wancer Sydnie Froyd.

While for others, it's an exercise in letting go of societal norms.

"It's really about being yourself and being free and not worrying about what other people think," said wancer Michaela Makarianova-Wentz.

The unusual outdoor activity draws its fair share of strange looks, but the wancers take it all in stride.

"When we walk down Grand Avenue, we get honks. We get people joining in. We get people doing dance moves too. We get smiles. Some people just ignore it. To each their own," said Short.

"My favorites are the ones where you can tell they want to join in, but they are too shy to do it. I wave at them. Try to bring them out and encourage everyone," said Makarianova-Wentz.

With fall, Short says wance season is coming to an end, but she is looking forward to keeping this strolling dance party on its feet, bigger and better next year.

"I love it. I'm so grateful to have found it. It's a gift to bring it to the Twin Cities, and I can't wait to see how we expand and grow the group over time," said Short.