PILSEN — You can help get a local dance crew get to the National Dance Competition with a fundraiser this weekend.
The 8TEENth Hip Hop Crew, founded in Pilsen in 2020, has qualified for the National Dance Competition for the second year in a row, said co-founder Jackie Gaytan. It’s in late June in Sandusky, Ohio, she said.
The team has fundraised for the flights, hotels, food and fees with a bake sale and a social media campaign. The next event is 1-6 p.m. Saturday at The Giant Pennywhistle Tavern, 1854 S. Blue Island Ave.
Tickets are on sale now for $35 and gets you entry to the bar, food and one drink.
Gaytan said she and co-founder Jessica Romero launched 8TEENth with a mission of getting kids who aren’t from affluent families into competitive dance. Gaytan and Romero grew up dancing and had missed being in that environment.
“With everything that was going on in 2020, like racial injustice and a lot of disparities coming to light, we were like, ‘We would love to provide that opportunity for teens within the Southwest Side or Chicagoland area,'” Gaytan said.
8TEENth is also a great opportunity for teens 13-18 to learn time management, teamwork and communication skills, Gaytan said.
Like lots of competitive sports, being on a dance team can be expensive, Gaytan said. It can cost $5,000-$10,000 a year with makeup, costumes, travel, hotels and competition fees, she said.
Gaytan and Romero strive to make being on the team accessible monetarily and time-wise, Gaytan said. This year’s Nationals competition is nearly a week, whereas last year they were able to only travel over a weekend. Gaytan said some teens have work obligations, and their parents can’t travel for long periods of time.
“Like any competitive sport, a lot of people are gonna come from privileged backgrounds,” Gaytan said. “It all kind of ties into issues financially and access to time, which I feel like is really underestimated.”
Gaytan and Romero have deep ties to Pilsen, which is where they launched the dance team. They’ve recently practiced out of a studio in Lincoln Park, but Gaytan said they hope to find a studio closer to Pilsen to make it easier for students to get to.
Many of their dancers come from the South and West sides, Gaytan said.
The team’s fundraising goal is about $10,000 to cover the 23 dancers going to nationals, Gaytan said. Gaytan said she’s still seeking food donors for Saturday’s event. Anyone interested can contact the team at email@example.com.
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