Giving Peace a Dance at the Center House

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Saturday was the first day of six-months celebrating the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair hosted by Seattle Center in 1962. The Century 21 Exposition drew 10 million visitors, ended in the black and grew to be the regional hub for arts and culture that we know today. Click here for the Center’s schedule of celebratory events.

I didn’t attend the opening so I can’t talk of going on the Magic Mouse or riding the Bubbleator. However, my fondest memory to date of Seattle Center is when it was the site of Seattle’s longest running 24-hour dance marathon: Give Peace a Dance.

Mike Baker and I helped launch the annual dance marathon in 1983. That summer, over one million people demonstrated in New York City’s Central Park against nuclear weapons – the largest anti-nuclear protest and political demonstration in American history.

Give Peace a Dance attracted over a thousand people each year and went on till 1989. We had people form dance teams and they competed to raise the most money per team for the purpose of supporting the nuclear freeze movement and opposing nuclear proliferation. Between fifty and eighty thousand dollars was raised each year to create and air ads on prime time TV. One even received a national media award.

We didn’t start off dancing though. We started off running. The year before the dance marathon, we had formed Legs Against Arms and held a 10k run fundraiser for the same purpose. Check out our 1982 Legs Against Arms press release. The following year we decided dancing would be a lot more fun than running and began Give Peace a Dance.

Local graphic artist Art Chantry designed a couple of our posters, including the one above, which is now in New York’s MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) collection.

In 1986, there were over 70,000 nuclear weapons world-wide. This year, there are less than 20,000*.  I like to think that our dancing contributed to the decline. And Seattle Center gets credit for making it possible.

Let me know if you participated in Legs Against Arms or Give Peace a Dance – and if you’re still kicking up some dust.

* Federation of American Scientists

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