DanceOn closing its curtains after five years

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“How did we get to this decision? My wife and I in calling it a day on DanceOn, it actually has been going on in our heads for a couple of months. The heart of it is, just, if I can be blunt, sheer exhaustion. It is absolutely a labor of love for us these last five years, but it is not our primary job. And so, our daily responsibilities, we have kids and parts of our lives and those at certain times took a backseat,” said Greg Long, founder of DanceOn.

DanceOn closing “the shop”

After five years of providing scholarships and supporting local dance groups, nonprofit DanceOn Chicago will be closing “the shop” on February 28.

DanceOn started in 2018 when Greg’s son, Jimmy, and other male dancers, were heckled by some members of the audience using homophobic slurs at a performance. This inspired Greg to create t-shirts with the hashtag DanceOn to support male dancers, but he never knew that it would take off like it did, launching worldwide requests for apparel.

“There is no way there was a thought in our heads that this was going to evolve into the cause, movement, effort, pick your word there, that it did. It was, it’s simply a t-shirt that was made and a slightly angry overprotective dad. There was no illusion that we were going to sell more t-shirts or figure out what to do with the money,” said Long.

Remembering all that was accomplished

Over the course of five years, DanceOn has provided more than 100 scholarships for young dancers in need, reaching all 50 states along with 17 other countries. From all of the trips and performances the group has participated in, there’s one thing Greg says he’ll always keep with him.

“I think I’m always going to remember, if I’m going to remember anything, I’m going to remember all the kids. Hundreds of kids have come to work with us and perform, and they all did it with a lot of great sacrifices, for many of them they would have to give a lot of their personal time to work and rehearse,” said Long.

“Keep chasing your dreams, Dance On”

With Jimmy heading off to college, Greg and his wife decided that it’s time for a new act of their life.

“To the untrained eye, it looks like this is the end. Well, it really is just the end of a chapter. We’re going to put a period on the end of that sentence and recalibrate. And the Long family will take a breath and try to enjoy a little bit of the space,” said Long.

Their efforts at combatting bullying and supporting male dancers, Greg says, couldn’t have been done without the help of others.

“Thank you. Thank you for letting us be a part of your lives. Thank you for letting us in. I implore you to keep going on, keep chasing your dreams. DanceOn,” said Long.

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