Rainy River dance challenge coming to a business near you, and yours could be next

Elisa Nguyen
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The District is facing a new challenge. But this one is all rhythm, with no blues.

The Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre is challenging local businesses and organizations to a dance-off challenge. They kicked it off with a toe-tapping video set to Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose.”

In the challenge video, the camera pans out to eight toe-tappers wearing matching red sneakers entering the dance floor.

Country-style choreography sizzles through the screen. As Kenny Loggins sings the end of the chorus — “lose your blues, everybody cut footloose,” the line-dancers pose and flash confident smiles at the camera. The back of a black T-shirt reads, “We challenge you!”

Two weeks later, The United Native Friendship Centre (UNFC) released a video tagged #OfficeDanceChallenge and #RRDDanceOff on Facebook. It reached more than 100 likes in five days. A woman sporting groovy glasses struts across the screen. She holds a sign that reads in bright, bold letters, “Challenge accepted!”

Shuffling a decade back into the ’70s, six disco dancers wearing colourful headbands and groovy glasses bop to the Bee Gee’s classic disco hit, Night Fever. They twirl in synchronized glory, clapping to the drum’s rhythmic beat and gliding to the Bee Gee’s piercing vocals. “Gimme that night fever, night fever. We know how to show it.”

It’s a funky flashback with iconic dance moves like the hustle, the Travolta, and the funky chicken.

At the end of the video, the dance party is kicked up a notch as another group is welcomed on stage. UNFC challenges the Shooniyaaa Wa-Bitong Eastern Area Office next.

“The dance challenge was just really a fun activity that we thought would be really great to re-engage with a lot of our partner organizations,” says Shanna Weir, executive director of the Health Access Centre.

“It was a fun way for the staff to get active, and then we posed the challenge to one of our partners and tried to potentially carry it on,” she says.

Weir says that the red shoes in their Footloose dance video was a symbol supporting the Red Shoes Rock campaign coming up in September, a global initiative raising awareness for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

At the UNFC, executive assistant Melanie McPherson says she chose Night Fever because it was a song she already knew the dance moves to.

“I thought, ‘well, this would be easy for us to learn. I already know the dance.’ So I offered to teach it to my coworkers, and we got a bunch of people on board, and we learned it in a couple days, and then we filmed last Tuesday,” she says.

“Whenever anything fun like this happens between our organizations, we’re always game. We’re always up for a challenge here at the Friendship Centre. And it’s great exercise too. We’re always looking for something to do, you know, promoting a healthy lifestyle is what we do here. Anything active like that, we’re always game for.

“Shooniyaaa Wa-Bitong, they are a partner with us with our Junior Rangers program. And they’re also an Indigenous organization who has been in the District for many, many, many years. And we work closely with them. We just wanted to keep this going. The Health Access Centre started this and they challenged us, and now we’ve challenged Shooniyaaa Wa-Bitong. I’m looking forward to finding out who they’re going to challenge next. And I’m looking forward to seeing their video.”

McPherson wants to announce to all organizations in the District to prepare because they could be challenged next.

Follow the Rainy River dance-off challenge by searching #RRDDanceOff on Facebook or through this link: https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/rrddanceoff