Things to do in Anacortes

I love the many things to do in Anacortes that might not be obvious -- no gigantic neon signs shouting and begging (if not screaming) at you to join. And although there are many fun and enriching things to do in the small town of Anacortes once you’re “plugged into the community within the community,” (such as finding out that a quiet little knitting group has an opening for you, or being invited to join your church’s previously unknown private hiking club), there’s also so much in between the neon signs and hidden community. By that, I mean the things to do that are ongoing and anyone can attend whether you’re new to Anacortes or have been a lifetime citizen.

There are so many such things to do in Anacortes that I’m posting on them at the bottom of the Living in Anacortes, WA page. But for this page, I’ll focus on one place and one event I enjoyed at that place. The Anacortes Center for Happiness offers “edutainment” and just plain old entertainment along with a way to develop a sense of intimate community.

The photo to the left is a shot of the door leading into the ballroom where the Anacortes Center for Happiness holds a lot of its group activities.

It’s both a place to go with friends you already have or often to meet people in town if you’ve just moved here. People show up on their own to events all the time and it’s considered completely natural. They do independent film showings, invite “couch talk” speakers where we gather around on couches and can ask questions in a more friendly setting, have house concerts, or workshops on making your own greeting cards by hand -- that kind of thing.

A few evenings ago I attended something there I’ve never experienced before. In more western terms I’d call it a sing-along with live musicians -- including a folk drummer and a violinist/fiddler. In the back for those inclined, we could free dance (not dancing with a partner or according to instructions). Then later the violinist led those who were interested in a sort of universal native (we’re all native of somewhere) dance that symbolized peace and harmony amongst humankind.

Some of the singing was in English and some in other tongues including Native American and Sanskrit. The title of this event was “Ecstatic Dance and Chant from the Heart.” My idea of “ecstatic” had previously been almost as if people would be in some sort of blissful trance. And this type of dance was something I’d heard of before but not one of the things I’d ever done as an activity in Anacortes. But it was casual and “normal” and very joyful. I started out in a kind of bad-ish mood and felt uplifted and connected to community as well as my own source of inner happiness again.

We started out making a large circle to hold hands while the drummer lady sang a song she learned from Hawaii. After that, we either sat down in floor chairs or regular chairs in front, or stood in back to dance, or even just snuggled on the big old couch along the very back if we were in more of a distant observing mood. That’s how most of the evening was until we did those group dances of peace the violinist led us through. (Not everyone joined in that, some prefered to just watch, but the majority took part.) That guided dance was very casual, we were given some short simple instructions and part of the fun was noticing how often we all did the steps or moves wrong.

Our small town has a nice diversity of folks and there are things to do in Anacortes that appeal to all kinds of philosophical and spiritual slants. For me, this was a great group activity which seemed to gather lots of cultures into one fun event.

The photo to the right is a shot of the upper story loft in the old Keystone building where the ballroom is situated up on the third floor.

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