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MIDSUMMER NIGHT SWING: Son, Merengue, Tango

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 16, 2002
New York, NY

About the Author:

MIDSUMMER NIGHT SWING: Son, Merengue, Tango

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
7/16/02


Saturday, July 13, 2002, Midsummer Night Swing, Josie Robertson Plaza, Lincoln Center; Coco Merenson, from the Bronx and Upper Manhattan, plays Son and Merengue, for dancers and an audience outdoors, surrounding the Fountain and onstage, under a sultry, moonlit sky. Coco Merenson and his Group combine traditional roots and contemporary sounds. Tuesday, July 16, 2002, Tanguardia, with Bandoneonist, Tito Castro; Guitarist, Pancho Navarro; Violinist, Leonardo Suarez-Paz; and pianist, Bob Telson.

Every June, for many years, I have eagerly gazed at the Plaza, outside Lincoln Center, anticipating the magic moment, when the Midsummer Night Swing (MNS) stage begins its methodical assembly. In summers past, we danced until 11:00 PM, we carried large water bottles, sacks, and pocket books, and we created a small mountain of personal belongings in the stage corner, close to the fountain and MNS Management area. We were the regulars, searching the dance crowd, every first week of the MNS event, secretly hoping to catch a glimpse of our favorite Salsa, Tango, Swing, Merengue, and Samba partners. This summer, in the aftermath of 9/11, MNS regulations do not allow bags or water bottles onstage. Yet, the mood could not be merrier, most of the partners we searched are, indeed, right where we need them, and the joy of finding yet another partner, for a Dominican Merengue or Son (most people danced Salsa) was always unique to the moment.

On July 13, Saturday night, it was truly a pleasure and quite relaxing to dance the simple, swaying rhythm of the Merengue, a most happy, upbeat, and spicy dance, which finds its roots in the Dominican Republic. In fact, I danced Merengue in Santo Domingo, in recent years, but the New York Merengue dancers are actually more skilled in the choreography of arm placement and body-twisting routines. Merengue is total-body aerobics, without impact or work. For the Son and Salsa numbers, there were some moments when couples accidentally stepped on one another. Apologies, not apoplexy, resolved the issues, and everybody enhanced the experience with Latin emotions, evoked through the pure, pulsating rhythms.

On July 16, Tuesday night, the magnificent and classy Tanguardia, a Tango Quartet, treated us with Tangos, Valses, and Milongas, three different dance rhythms, with music born in Buenos Aires, with hints of Caribbean and African sounds and sensations. Tango is a serious dance, and there were serious Tango dancers, those who frequent the Tango Milongas in New York, almost every night, such as this writer. Within sight were some beginners, and they seemed to love this new emotion that one feels in the arms of a stranger or loved one, legs locked, women walking backwards, and men seductively leading in close embrace. This was a most enchanting evening, and seasoned Tangueros could be heard, outside the Plaza, strategizing the next stop for the evening, as 10:00 PM is arrival time at most Tango Milongas.

During the remainder of July, I expect to report on Swing and Samba nights at Midsummer Night Swing, each of which promises to offer us opportunities for total dance expression and exhilaration. The Lincoln Center and Public Relations Staff of Midsummer Night Swing have accomplished an amazing array of logistical challenges, in this summer of security, and yet they have not diminished, in any way, the sheer pleasure of wrapping oneself in partner dancing in the aura of the Metropolitan Opera House, Avery Fisher Hall, and the New York State Theater. In fact, during the various intermissions of the Ballet Companies and Orchestras, performing at Lincoln Center, during the Midsummer Night Swing Festival, those audiences have thronged the balconies and the Plaza to participate in this enticing and dynamic, musical ambiance.

For more information on Midsummer Night Swing, please go to www.lincolncenter.org.



Midsummer Night Swing from the Balcony of the Metropolitan Opera House, during Ballet Intermission





George and friends at Midsummer Night Swing



Coco Merenson and his Salsa/Merengue band



Coco Merenson and his Salsa/Merengue band



Merengue



Merengue



Merengue



"Swango" preview



Tito Castro, Pancho Navarro, Leonardo Suarez-Paz



Tito and Pancho



Leonardo



Tango at Midsummer Night Swing



Tangueros



Tangueros



Tangueros



Isabel de Sebastian sings with gusto



Midsummer Night Swing Tango



Jeff and partner



Jai and Jan



Tango

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