The Cupid Shuffle

Education Division shows love for the community with Valentine’s Day dance

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The lights were dim, and the music was bumping at the Greg Williams Court on the evening of February 14. Multi-colored strobe lights danced about the room in perfect sync with the music, and added to the aesthetic of both romance and good times on Valentine’s Day this year. 

Tables were stationed around a large space that served as a dancefloor at the head of the gym. While the one and only DJ Monie set the vibes at the start of the evening, families and couples slowly trickled in; some grabbed a plate first, while others lined up at the popcorn and balloon animal lines. And before anyone even knew it, the place was packed, and laughter was shared by all deadly aunties and uncles alike. 

This celebration on the National Day of Love was the first of its kind at Tulalip and was a big success. Hosted by the Tribe’s Education Division, the Community Valentine’s Day Dance had well over one hundred people in attendance, many of whom danced the night away. 

“I danced the entire time,” exclaimed Tulalip youth, Tashina Cortez. “There was Cupid’s Shuffle, Cotton Eye Joe, and I really liked Uptown Funk and the Cha-Cha Slide. I thought this was going to be a regular Valentine’s Day, exchange gifts with classmates and go home. But then I found out it was a dance, and it started getting really fun when people actually started to dance.”

Love birds, parents and children, cousins, and best friends showcased their affection for one another by spending some time and sharing a dance together during the Valentine’s Day gathering. In addition to dancing, there were various activities, including a cake walk and a door prize raffle.

The life of the party was a group of local elders who didn’t miss a step or leave the dancefloor for the duration of the three-hour event. A highlight for many was when a young man and a tribal elder broke the age barrier and joined together in a slow dance while a group of teens circled around them and swayed their phone flashlights back and forth, reminiscent of lighters at a rock concert. And just like that, tribal elders were on the floor with the teens learning how to do the stanky leg, the superman, and the nae nae. 

“We haven’t hosted an all-ages community dance in a long time, so that was really cool to see everyone excited about it,” said Executive Director of the Tulalip Education Division, Jessica Bustad. “It was awesome. It felt so good to see our community in a space together like that, for something positive and for everyone to just have fun. Add to the fact that there were little people all the way to elders dancing, and the elders even outlasted some of the adults!”

This year, February 14th was also Election Day. And as you may know, the Tulalip Education Division was a strong advocate for the levy on this year’s special election ballot, which affects Tulalip students who attend school within the Marysville School District.  Hoping to garner as many yes votes as possible before the 8:00 p.m. deadline, the Education Division took time throughout the dance to remind all eligible voters in attendance to cast their vote. 

Jessica expressed, “Hopefully the levy passes, but aside from the levy, we still have to keep coming together as a community in a positive way to show our children that we can live in a healthy community together.”