Weekly teen dances at Westside Community Center to start Jan. 11

       The Hangar Teen Center, popular in Fountain for the past four years, will start offering weekly teen dances and electronic gaming Friday nights at the Westside Community Center, with the opener Jan. 11 from 7 to 10 p.m.
       A family-run non-profit, the Hangar is “devoted to providing a positive and safe environment in which today's teenagers can just have fun,” its Facebook page states.
       The Friday-night events will be open to children in grades 6-12 (maximum age of 18). A deejay will play recorded music in Hughes Hall in the Community Center's west building. The gaming set-ups will be in the middle building, where there will also be a snack bar. Admission for all activities is $5.
       Tony Jaquez, the Hangar's founder and coordinator, was previously the youth pastor at a Westside church. He has three children now in Westside schools, plus his oldest, a 2011 Coronado High graduate who's now at CSU. Also helping out is his wife Veronica.
       Ulitimately, Jaquez would like to expand teen activities at the center in more profound ways. “This is about a whole lot more than just Friday nights,” he said. Possibilities include classes in hip-hop dance and character-building, with the ongoing intent “to find out their passions and their goals and to give them tools they can use. So many times, teens have dreams, but they don't know how to reach them.”
       Jaquez said he enjoyed the time in Fountain and is sorry to leave, but he had to find another Hangar venue when the owner of the building (a former K-mart on Highway 85/87) significantly upped the rent. The city-owned Westside Center, which is run by a wing of the Woodmen Valley Chapel, provides “a great arrangement for us,” he said. “We're excited to launch it here.”
       Similar sentiments were expressed by Dick Siever, the center's executive director. Until now, “we feel like we haven't been able to do what we need to do for teens on the Westside,” he said. “This looks like an opportunity for that to happen. From all indications, they've had a real good operation in Fountain, and we're hoping they'll be very successful here.”
       Regarding security, Jaquez said he will have am-ple numbers of volunteers checking attendees with metal detectors (plus requiring shoe removals) and manning “checkpoints” for both buildings. The Hangar also has consistent “rules of engagement,” including no tolerance for fighting or bullying or for inappropriate dress, dance styles or intimacy, he said.
       In Fountain, according to Jaquez, the Friday-night attendance typically ranged from 250 to 400 teens. Pre-Hangar, that area's kids were known to hang out around local stores or fast-food places.
       He said the same kind of scene exists on the Westside: “There's nothing for kids to do, and Friday-night boredom breeds trouble.”
       It's not as if the Hangar will be starting completely from scratch on the Westside. Similar dances used to draw teen crowds to the West Intergenerational Center several years ago when it was part of the West Middle School building. Also, up to 80 of the Fountain attendees are Westsiders, Jaquez said, so he hopes that now they'll come to a place that's closer to them and tell their friends about it.

Westside Pioneer article