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Storied venue

All photos by Matt Duboff

Two longtime West End institutions recently came together for one amazing night of music: the DMCI Dance Party.

The June 15 concert saw 16 students from the Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute music program take to the stage at the West End Cultural Centre.

The DMCI Funk Band played through two sets and 17 songs worth of material; most of the band's members have been playing together for the past three years.

"The goal from the beginning of creating this group was to do a live show, similar to the shows these students will go out and watch when they're finished high school," said music teacher Graham Dion. "I've done a few shows at this venue and I love it. Since they've renovated the sound is just amazing."

While the West End Cultural Centre is a famous Canadian musical venue, it also serves as the "home arena" for this group of musicians.

"This is our neighbourhood, this is our home, so it gives a comfort factor on stage," said student Maria Aragon, who serves as one of four vocalists for the band.

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Band members said their main goal was to get their audience up and dancing as soon as possible.

"When we've rehearsed, we've talked a lot about the energy that we send out as a band and encouraging people to move," Mr. Dion said.

"With funk there's twice as much connection with the audience than say, concert band," added drummer Austin Salonga. "It's a totally different atmosphere."

"This is music that people can dance to," Maria said. "We're playing songs by artists like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and this band we really like, called the Wolfpack."

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In the weeks leading up to the big show, the band undertook an extensive promotional junket that included a photo shoot and a social media campaign.

"The West End Cultural Centre is part of our home, and we needed to celebrate that," Mr. Dion said.

"Even though some of these students won't be studying music after high-school, I want them to know that they can still play at a high level."

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