Chilliwack tween dances aim to socialize kids at young age

A Chilliwack couple wants to get preteens off their phones and onto the dance floor where they can socialize, have fun and meet other kids

Preteens run around and socialize on the dance floor during the November Mint Tween Dance. The next dance is set for Dec. 16.

A hip Chilliwack couple is hoping to get preteens off their phones and onto the dance floor where they can socialize, have fun and meet other kids their age.

Cameron and Sara Douglas are the owners of Mint Entertainment and the organizers behind Mint Tween Dances, a monthly dance party featuring a live DJ playing top 40 music, nightclub lights, a smoke machine, and a candy bar.

“We need to start with the little ones because they’re so awkward,” says Sara.

Raising two kids, one being 12 years old, the Douglases know this firsthand.

“They’re always connected to an electronic device and we want to socially interact them,” she says.

Their focus is on kids aged 9 to 14, not teens, because they want to target them at a young enough age that, by the time they are teens, they are better socialized. Now is the prime time to do that, they say.

“We, as parents, need to encourage our kids to go to these things because this is the age when we can still encourage them to go to these kind of events and socialize. We need to encourage them to be kids and be silly and have fun,” says Sara.

But the dances are “more of a social than a dance,” she says.

During their November tween dance, a small group of kids were running back and forth across the dance floor and doing gymnastic moves instead of dancing, while another group sat in a circle off in the corner chatting with each other.

The kids don’t particularly dance, but they do interact with each other.

“If all the stars line up: if they have enough friends, if it’s dark enough, and if no one is directly looking at them, then they will dance,” laughs Sara.

The Douglases started Mint Tween Dances two years ago. The events have been relatively small but they’re hoping to change that.

“We are looking for a sponsor so we can take it to the next level,” say Cameron.

They have been hosting other monthly tween dances, sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club, in Ladner since 2011 which draws more than 300 kids. The Douglases want Chilliwack’s dances to look like Ladner’s.

“We’ve had really, really good success in Ladner. Cam deals with the music and I deal with the kids,” says Sara.

“We play all edited, clean music. It’s age appropriate radio edit music,” adds Cameron.

Cameron knows that the success behind the Ladner dances is because of the sponsorship, but also the level of professionalism he brings to each event.

Cameron takes his work very seriously. He has more than 20 years organizing and deejaying teen dances and events such as weddings. All of his equipment — the sound system, lights, lasers and smoke machine — is professional grade, and everyone who’s involved gets paid.

Growing up in Chilliwack, he recalls going to dances when he was younger.

“There used to be base dances on the CFB when I was a kid,” he says.

After attending a number of them, he then purchased equipment and started deejayed at the base dances, and “then it kind of flared away,” he says.

Sara also remembers going to dances at her high school. She loved how excited she and her friends would get leading up to the dance, and what a blast they’d have together at the dance.

Since then, there’s been nothing like that for tweens and teens in Chilliwack until Mint Tween Dances came along.

Now, they’re ready to grow.

“The problem we are having is we’re not associated with someone. We’re looking for a community-minded organization to pair with,” says Cameron.

Mint Tween Dances are fully supervised. They have strict rules to ensure the kids’ safety.

Children have to be accompanied by an adult when they arrive and leave — no unaccompanied minors are allowed in. When parents drop off their kids, they must check them in, and provide them with emergency contact information including name, phone number and email. If another adult will be picking up the child, event staff needs to be notified.

There are no in-and-out privileges.

Parents are welcome to stay, or they can leave and go get a coffee or have some quiet time, and come back later.

Last month, one boy even asked his father to come back every 15 minutes just in case he wanted to leave.

Mint Tween Dances are open to kids aged 9 to 14. They take place on the third Friday of every month (October to June) from 7 to 9 p.m. at 45892 Wellington Ave. (The Vineyard).

Admission is $5. There’s a candy and snack bar provided by Sticky’s Candy, plus pop and water.

Every dance they give away a VIP package which includes admission, candy, pop and a glow stick for the next month’s dance.

The next dance, Tween Snowflake Ball, is set for this Friday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.

Whether your kids are there to run around and not dance, or to sit quietly and watch others not dance, or even to dance, all tweens are welcome.

“It gets them out of the house, off their phones, interacting with people their own age and chasing laser beams,” says Sara.

For anyone wishing to sponsor Mint Tween Dances, contact the Douglases at 604-845-4461 or mintentertainment@live.ca.

jenna.hauck@theprogress.comtwitter.com/PhotoJennalism

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