I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
New Yorkers are famous for taking it to the streets. Pillow fights. Zombie hordes. Group improvisation. There's little we haven't conquered. And the Dance Parade, now in its fourth year, sort of combines all of those aforementioned experiences. It's both an opportunity to boogie in the street as well as to watch others get their groove on, plus expert instructors offer plenty of free lessons to teach those who are willing to foxtrot, jitterbug, swing, salsa and sway to the music.
In fact, at press time, more than 5,000 dancers have committed to the parade and festival as well as more than 150 dance organizations, though those numbers are expected to nearly double. This year's dance marshals include dancer and choreographer and "So You Think You Can Dance" Season Six finalist, Ellenore Scott, dance writer Elizabeth Zimmer, DJ Jellybean Benitez (of Madonna fame), and performer and choreographer Amy Marshall. There's even an after party at Webster Hall, so you can dance all day and party all night.
The parade begins promptly at 1 PM and kicks off from 21st Street between Park and Fifth Avenues. Then in an effort to recreate the history of dance, thousands of participants will strut their stuff down Broadway, drum up some African beats, indulge in some lesser-known ethnic dances, Irish step into Union Square, salsa past Eighth Street, and tango right into St. Mark's Place. A break dancing party is scheduled near the Alamo (The Cube) sculpture at Astor Place followed by a techno house party through the streets of the East Village and into Tompkins Square Park. Once in the park, the Dance Parade turns into the DanceFest where lessons will be available in a party-like atmosphere and performers take to the stage. So, c'mon, with summer nearly here don't you want to shake your booty? After all, where on Earth can you see more than 70 styles of dance in one day other than in the Big Apple?