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Dance Manhattan Holiday Party 2002

by Rachel Rabkin, Lisa Allen
December 20, 2002
Dance Manhattan
39 West 19th Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10011
(212) 807-0802

Dance Manhattan Holiday Party 2002

By Rachel Rabkin
December 20, 2002

Dance Manhattan studio located at 39 West 19th Street, NYC

No, it's not just a dance studio. Yes, they have classes of all kinds, accomplished teachers, and performances, but by night, Dance Manhattan doubles as a club. And this past Friday night, the studio was transformed into a festive holiday party.

It was my first time at Dance Manhattan, so I decided to take advantage of all the evening had to offer. I began with a complimentary group dance lesson, where about forty students in a large studio learned the basics of the salsa and the fox trot. The instructor was patient and funny, making the hour-long class go by quickly. Then, after the "sloooow, sloooow, quick, quick," we all cleared the way and the studio was set up for the party.

When the transformation was complete, with the lights lowered, the bar open, and the DJ spinning, people of all ages, shapes, and dance levels took the floor. While some people were coupled and others played the field, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I spent much of the time watching. I found that it was definitely a social scene-friends caught up with each other, and newcomers were introduced-but the primary objective of the evening was to dance. When I was asked to dance, my partners were friendly, but they usually meant business. I felt obligated to tell one man who asked me to dance the cha cha that I didn't have much experience with the style. Only when I assured him that I at least knew the basic steps, was he willing to proceed. In some ways, the atmosphere stirred up anxieties I once felt at high school dances, except that unlike high school where kids were usually asked to dance based on how cool or attractive they were, at the holiday dance party, people were usually asked to dance based on how polished their dancing skills. So, I gave several dance styles a shot, and then geared up to watch the scheduled performances.

About three-quarters of the way through the evening, the lights were raised, and the DJ stopped and we all crammed along the walls of the studio to watch instructors and students perform. It was time to showcase the hard work they'd put forth throughout the year. There were several group performances (west coast swing, hip-hop, lindy, and salsa) and several couple performances (tango, two-step, and waltz). Some dancers were professionals, some had just competed at the U.S. Open dance competition, and some were taking performance classes for the fun of it. But all of them were energetic and a joy to watch. They also made me want to spice up my salsa and put a bit more spring in my swing. In short, the performances made me want to take more classes and get back to Dance Manhattan soon.

After the choreographed dances, the floor opened back up to the rest of us, newly invigorated and inspired. An excellent way to celebrate the holidays and start the New Year.

Photos by Lisa Allen

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