No tradition is sweeter than the All-City Band’s annual fundraising Dessert & Dance. Now in its 18th year, the event is held every February on the Saturday before Valentine’s Day to raise money for band trips out of the territory.

The All-City Band Society is a not-for-profit organization that offers “big-city” music development opportunities for both students and adults. There are actually four bands in the society: the Grade 8 band, the Junior Band, the Senior Band (which has more than 60 members), and the Jazz Band. The varying band levels allows the All-City Band Society to act as an incubator for the next generation of musical talent.

The Senior Band involves the most advanced student musicians and members of the public. It provides music mentorship and music education for the whole community, as it gives younger students goals to strive for, and gives adults the chance to continue (or get back to) playing music. Playing music has far-reaching benefits, from keeping the brain active to building skills in collaboration. For All-City band members, it also offers the chance to travel to other parts of the country and play with musicians from other regions.

The All-City Band is not to be confused with The Big Band… although they often are confused because the names feel so similar. And it’s true that the two organizations have long had a close relationship, including having members who play in both. That’s why it has always been a perfect fit for The Big Band to guest at the All-City Band’s fundraising event.

I’ve now been involved in the Dessert & Dance for 11 years, and this will be my fifth time as the vocalist. It’s been wonderful to see young players moving through the various bands, growing up, graduating and sometimes even joining The Big Band. Conrad Funk-Robitaille is one such musician. He first started playing with The Big Band while he was still in high school and was a member of the Senior Band and the Jazz Band.

“In a way, I basically ‘grew up’ in the All-City Band,” he said. “It was exciting to always have another level to get to, including seeing that there was a band outside of the high school setting where fun music was happening.”

2017 Rendezvous Queen Telek Rogan, who happens to be the pianist for The Big Band, gets a kick out of the Dessert & Dance. “I love collaborative events where musicians come together to celebrate all different types of music. And all different types of desserts!”

PHOTO: Kim Friedenberg
The brass section performing at the 2016 Dessert and Dance at the Mt. McIntyre Rec Centre

At the Dessert & Dance, the Junior and Senior Band members run the event with performances by the Jazz Band and The Big Band. Bruce Sahlstrom drops by to conduct a free swing dance lesson, and community members bake a fantastic assortment of desserts. (I’m hoping someone will contribute my favourite, lemon meringue pie.)

Many local businesses contribute items to the silent auction. This event is open to the public, and dancers range in age from babes in arms to the golden years. You should come, too!

I will join The Big Band at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre on Saturday, February 10 at 7 p.m. for the Dessert & Dance. Tickets are available at Whitehorse Motors or AllCityBand.com.