Jazz, swing events cancelled

Omer Mahmood and Shannon Braithwaite will host the final Fat City swing dance on June 3. They will also no longer mount the annual jazz festival or swing dance events in Douglas Park.  - submitted photo
Omer Mahmood and Shannon Braithwaite will host the final Fat City swing dance on June 3. They will also no longer mount the annual jazz festival or swing dance events in Douglas Park.
— image credit: submitted photo

As the gates of Fat City prepare to swing shut for good next month, fans of the music and dance style will have to look beyond Langley’s boundaries to get their fix.

The annual Jazz Festival, held for the past several years in June, and Swingin’ in the Park, an annual dance event held in Douglas Park in July, have also been cancelled, said organizer Omer Mahmood, who co-founded and operated Fat City Swing for nine years.

Mahmood said it was important to make a formal announcement, because he has been getting questions about what is happening with respect to both the monthly dance club and the summer festivals.

“Our priorities have shifted,” said Mahmood, referring also to his wife, Shannon Braithwaite, with whom he started and ran each event.

“It’s all very rewarding, but it’s not paying the bills.”

Mahmood is stepping back to focus on his career as a financial advisor, while Braithwaite recently finished directing a play in Abbotsford and is working as front of the house manager at Terry Fox Theatre in Port Coquitlam. 

However the couple will continue to teach workshops where they’re asked. 

In the end, it came down to time and money.

“Envision has been very supportive,” he said of the jazz festival’s major funder.

However, he added, the credit union’s mandate is to help with an event’s start-up, with the idea it will become self-funding over time.

Last year, instead of a full festival, they hosted a day of live music in the park. 

This year, with no money to pay the artists, Mahmood said, it had to end.

“I’m not going to host a festival where musicians play for free,” he said. “That’s unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, at Fat City, attendance has dropped off somewhat since the club’s heyday, Mahmood said. 

Whether that’s due to a slumping economy or if the popularity of swing dance is waning, he can’t say.

And, nine years in, it’s no longer a top priority for the couple, meaning it no longer gets the focus and attention it deserves, he said. 

“We don’t want to get sick of dancing, we started out to have fun. In hindsight, we probably should have groomed someone to take over, but we never thought it would last.”

And it will last — for one more session. 

The final dance, on June 3, will feature Red Beans and Rice.

As always, doors will open at 7:30 p.m. with a beginner swing dance lesson beginning at 8 p.m.

General admission is $15 or $13 for students and seniors. Anyone planning a party of 10 or more, is asked to contact Mahmood at 604-825-7045 for reservations and a group rate. 

This is an all ages event. West Langley Hall is located at 9400 208 St. For more information, contact Mahmood or visit www.fatcityswing.com.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Highway 1 split a preview of Port Mann Bridge local lanes
More than $10K run up on stolen debit card
Cineplex’s Great Digital Film Fest is coming to Colossus
Soccer coach under investigation
Fatal crash on Highway 1
Renewed interest in Kwantlen Band’s land
Oval pump station gets seven-figure rebuild
Mediation continues with Canada Line union
Grieving dog owner looking for closure

Community Events, January 2015

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jan 27 edition online now. Browse the archives.