On Friday evening, the biggest crowd at 18th and Vine didn't brave the scorching temperatures to listen to jazz. They showed up to see a dance legend reflected in the faces of excited students.
"We're new to the neighborhood and we're excited to be in this neighborhood," Tyrone Aiken told a couple hundred hot-dog-eating, ice-cream-licking spectators.
Aiken is the executive director of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, a nonprofit group that uses the techniques of dance icon Alvin Ailey to instruct and inspire area kids. It's been less than two years since KCFAA moved from the River Market to 18th and Woodland and, when I spoke with him last year, Aiken was ready to channel his organization's energy into a more vibrant Jazz District.
He succeeded on Friday. Celebrating the start of AileyCamp -- a free summer dance session that serves 180 kids from across the metro -- KCFAA threw its second annual Block Party. And the kids brought their dancing shoes.