ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A longtime local swing dancing group is going head-to-head with Albuquerque city government over the new enforcement of a city policy that some dancers worry will stifle attendance at their weekly events.
Commonly called “Tuesday Swing,” the weekly event at the Heights Community Center near CNM draws a big, young crowd of local swing dancers. Maeghan Plaisance is one of the participants who’s been attending the events for years.
“We have close to 500 people who regularly attend,” said Plaisance.
However, Plaisance is also among the crowd of dancers who are worried about fading attendance due to a now-enforced city community center membership policy.
“Adding more barriers is just going to deter people from coming,” said Plaisance.
The community center membership policy is about two years old, but the city says it hadn’t been enforced at the Heights Community Center until now.
“One of the rules of the community center is you must be registered to participate,” said Cristin Chavez-Smith, Community Services Division Manager for the city’s Department of Family & Community Services. “We’ve tried to slowly implement this process across community centers.”
Anyone using the Heights Community Center or any of the other city community centers is now required to sign up with a city database that records their name, address, phone number and email address.
“We have a ton of people who don’t come regularly or don’t come consistently enough to want to put all of their information into a database like this,” said Plaisance.
The sign-up process is free and can be done online. The city says it is enforcing the community center membership policy for safety and better activity tracking.
“One (reason) is just to know who’s coming in and out of our centers on a regular basis,” said Chavez-Smith, who oversees the city’s community centers.
“We’re also trying to capture really accurate data and numbers,” Chavez-Smith said. “When we can show how successful these activities are, we can advocate for more funding.”
Some swing dancers think the city policy is too much.
“You add this obstacle and they’re going to find somewhere else to go hang out,” said Plaisance.
Spearheading the “Save Tuesday Swing” online campaign, Plaisance and others want the city to back off of the membership requirement. They’ve got more than 700 support signatures on a Change.org petition.
“We would like them to reevaluate the implementation of this policy. We’re not against some kind of security measure, but we just think that the one they currently have in place is poorly thought out and it’s going to be detrimental to our dance specifically, but probably to a bunch of other ones at other community centers,” said Plaisance.
The city says it wants to work with the group to find a solution.
“Our intent is absolutely not to hurt activities,” said Chavez-Smith.
The city is planning on meeting with the “Tuesday Swing” group again next week. They say so far, no community center activity has ever gone away due to the new membership requirements.