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New Podcast: "Let the Kids Dance!" tells the story of Seattle's Teen Dance Ordinance

April 4, 2024

Seattle, WA KUOW's newest podcast series, Let the Kids Dance!, tells a little-known story from a famous moment in Seattle's music history — the rise and fall of Seattle's Teen Dance Ordinance. The first episode of the seven-part series launched today on all major podcasting platforms.

The series, created and hosted by music journalist Jonathan Zwickel, is a deep dive into Seattle’s music history, youth culture and teen activism. The podcast explores the origins of the Teen Dance Ordinance — a law that effectively banned teenagers from attending concerts in Seattle from the mid-80s through the early 2000’s. It's a time capsule from a historic moment when parents and politicians worried that dancing and rock music were an existential moral threat to the youth — at the same time Seattle music exploded onto the world stage with bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.

"A lot of people think they know the story of Seattle’s music. This podcast is chock-full of stories that they have never heard before including a full-blown riot pitting teenage punks against police and police shakedowns of Seattle’s nascent hip-hop scene. It also chronicles the emergence of a DIY all-ages scene that birthed some of Seattle’s most iconic post-Grunge bands," said KUOW director of new content Brendan Sweeney.

The podcast leverages original reporting, archival audio, and thoughtful storytelling to raise questions about hidden agendas that often lurk under the umbrella of “parents rights” activism. It's a topic with urgent relevance to our present moment. It's also about about how to cultivate spaces that are safe for young people, but also give them autonomy for creativity, risk-taking and self-expression.

"The story of the Teen Dance Ordinance describes a surreal moment in pop-culture history, but it's also starkly relevant in today's political climate," said series creator Jonathan Zwickel. "Young people are still fighting to be taken seriously in American society, even as they inherit a spectrum of disasters from adults. And adults are still failing to make the world a better, safer place for them. Let the Kids Dance! details a rare win for grassroots youth activists that should be an inspiration for anyone coming of age in America right now."

Listeners can find Let the Kids Dance! on major podcast platforms. New episodes will drop weekly on Thursdays through mid-May.