Saturday, June 23, 2018
News Roundup

Anti-Valentine's Dance for Pasco teens should be a real bash

LAND O'LAKES — Those who enter the party area Friday at the Anti-Valentine's Dance will see a plethora of sweet pink paper hearts, posted video box art from movies like Twilight and assorted rom coms, and other conventional Valentine's Day decorations.

And by the end of the evening most of these frilly, romantically inspired pieces of decor will be demolished.

Intended as a surefire antidote to what organizers call the "squishy pink hearts and lovey-dovey ick of Valentine's Day," the sixth annual Anti-Valentine's Dance will take place Friday night at the Land O'Lakes Library. About 100 people attend this teen-geared event each year — none of whom is expected to bring a date, carry flowers, slow dance or wear pink.

"We will be giving guests pink paper hearts," admitted Paul Stonebridge, the library system's teen services manager, "but only so they can rip them apart and get to the candy inside."

Stonebridge and his Teen Advisory Board members conceptualized the Anti-Valentine's Dance in 2008.

"Some of the kids were sick of generic, cookie cutter school Valentine's dances with strict dress codes," said Stonebridge. "Some didn't have a boyfriend or girlfriend."

At the Anti-Valentine's Dance, the admission is free and so are the guests, in that they are free to do as they please throughout the course of the evening. They can dance to the songs that they request from a professional DJ — though they're more likely to be doing the Gangnam Style than swaying to a sappy ballad.

"Or if they don't feel like dancing, they can sit and talk," said Marissa Rose, a Teen Advisory Board member and event co-organizer.

The teens can drink free soda and punch and chomp down on complimentary chips and pink heart-shaped cookies; all the while smashing other heart-shaped treats with a rubber hammer supplied at the event. They also can take a crack at the party pinata.

"Angst is allowed here," said Teen Advisory Board member Diego Hernandez, who will be overseeing an event VIP room where, for a $5 admission, guests can enjoy pizza and video games. All proceeds go to benefit the Friends of the Land O'Lakes Library, which sponsors the event.

"No one has to worry about bringing a date or wearing formal clothes," said Mandy Bacon, Teen Advisory Board member and event co-organizer. "No one will judge you. Everyone is popular here."

Stonebridge said he's particularly pleased with the timing of this year's Anti-Valentine's Dance.

"It takes place the day after Valentine's this year," he said, adding with a chuckle, "If you think you can't stand to hear one more thing about Valentine's, all you have to do is hang on one more day."

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