Teenagers love Dodge City Days as much as the rest of us do, and every year, their efforts contribute to the event's success. They build parade floats, help out during the golf tournament, sell hundreds of rubber ducks, and hand out hamburgers. You'll see them at the rodeo, the bike ride, the gunfight,the classic car show and the carnival.


Teenagers love Dodge City Days as much as the rest of us do, and every year, their efforts contribute to the event's success. They build parade floats, help out during the golf tournament, sell hundreds of rubber ducks, and hand out hamburgers. You'll see them at the rodeo, the bike ride, the gunfight,the classic car show and the carnival.
    But like teenagers everywhere, Dodge's kids need to take a break sometimes just to do what teenagers do best: hang out with one another in a space they can call their own. Add an opportunity to dance up a storm, a DJ, junk food, a couple of pool tables, a basketball hoop, foosball, and Guitar Hero - and the result is a teenage version of an earthly heaven.
    The Alley sponsors dances for middle and high school students all year round, but tonight's is kind of special. This is one Dodge City Days event that belongs to them - the dance is set aside just for teenagers and they're the ones who run the show.
Not only do they run it, they also do all of the work. Well before the dance begins, the Alley's teenage board members will be stocking coolers with ice and bottles of pop, preparing the pool tables for play, making sure the facility is clean,filling the candy racks with chocolate bars and chips,and stocking the bathrooms with supplies for the night.
    Soon, the guest DJ will arrive from Fort Hays State University. Until pretty recently, this mystery DJ was an Alley regular who learned the art of deejaying right here in the Alley. Then the lights will dim, the multi-colored dance beams will flash, and then the DJ will flip a swith.
Just as the walls begin to reverberate with the first thudding of a current hip-hop hit, the doors will open and about 200 middle school kids will pour in.
After two hours of dancing, including several competitive dance-offs, a satisfied, sweaty crowd of kids will stream out of the Alley and the advisory board teens will get to work.
    They'll clean the place up, restock the supplies, and have The Alley ready to welcome 200 high school students at 10 p.m.
    When the older dancers spill out the door at midnight, the faithful board members will get to work once again. They do all this because they want to. Alley teenagers are pretty passionate about preserving a safe place for other kids to go, a place where teens can be as exuberant as they want, dance like maniacs, fool around with their friends - and end the night sober and safe in their own beds.
    But in order to keep Dodge's kids safe, the Alley needs money, and right now, the youth center just isn't getting enough.
Businesses and individuals who promise monthly donations will make it possible for the Alley to plan and budget its funding, and take a bit of the load off the staff who have to worry from month to month about just meeting basic operating costs.