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May 16, 2017
Come to NoMa Social in the downtown New Rochelle Radisson for the free Thursday salsa lesson, then stay and dance with salseros of all levels, but heed this friendly warning:
You may find yourself hooked.
Sometimes, all it takes to change your life (for the better!) is an hour trying something new. If you’ve never tried Latin dancing, or if you’re looking for the salsa scene in lower Westchester, the Sizzling Salsa Dance Party every Thursday at NoMa is the place to be.
Each week you’ll find dozens of dancers moving to the Latin rhythm in pairs, turning, swiveling hips, wrapping into and out of partners’ arms, and smiling. Some will be newcomers, others will be longtime salsa lovers, many of whom have made lifelong friends on the dance floor.
“What I love about the Thursday salsa party is that I’m guaranteed to have a good time because all my salsa friends will be there,” said Poppy Gaskin, a corporate trainer from Bronxville and a regular at NoMa. “I know I’ll have great dances.”
It takes place each week in the hotel’s Mediterranean restaurant with a dance floor and a nightclub vibe at 1 Radisson Plaza, a couple of blocks from Interstate 95.
The evening is led by Audrey St. Vincent, Westchester’s leading salsa impresario. For those who are new to the dance, St. Vincent starts off the evening with a free lesson at 8 p.m., teaching New York-style “On2” salsa – a style popular in the New York City area that stresses the second beat in the eight-count basic step.
Everyone knows that Thursday is the new Friday – the true curtain-raiser on the weekend. At NoMa, with free parking, a free lesson and free dancing, the salsa dance party is hard to beat as a way to spend the evening. Throw in the $4 drink and tapas specials until 10 p.m., and what more encouragement do you need?
“You really can’t not try it,” St. Vincent said. “It’s a pretty good thing to give a shot.”
And there’s more, especially when your birthday rolls around.
St. Vincent has amassed a loyal following for her events, and many of the dancers have become friends. When an attendee’s birthday comes up, St. Vincent celebrates with a cake large enough for all, and a special treat – a birthday dance. That’s when the celebrant dances one song with a succession of partners, one after the other, as they circle around waiting their turns.
While salsa dominates the night, the D.J. will throw in some bachata and merengue – two types of music with easier-to-learn dances – and a few cha-chas, for a slightly different flair.
St. Vincent has run salsa events for a decade in Westchester, starting in 2007 at a club in Mount Kisco. From there, her parties moved to Yonkers and then White Plains before arriving in the Radisson’s elegant restaurant room in May, 2016.
The scene sustains itself as newcomers join constantly, St. Vincent said.
“When you get to know the dance, you’re meeting new people all the time,” she said. “Even in the classes, when you’re rotating partners, you’re making new friends. So, on any Thursday, you know that even if you walk in by yourself, you’re going to know people there.”
Rosa Estevez, another dancer who has attended St. Vincent’s dance socials for years, says about half the dancers she encounters at the parties are people she’s never met who are learning how intoxicating salsa can be.
“Everyone here shows the same passion for the music and dancing,” said Estevez, a school administrator who lives in White Plains. Their love of salsa is obvious because they’re on the dance floor, showing off moves they have long spent perfecting or have just learned to songs that could be new hits or lifetime favorites.
“You’ll see people dancing to a song from 30 years ago and it’s just as popular as a new song,” Estevez said.
The bonds forged there transcend the dance floor. Groups formed at salsa events go on to party and dance in each others’ homes for Super Bowls, Oscar nights and other occasions. Some even vacation together. Couples who met dancing at St. Vincent’s events have married. People have danced through career changes, job losses and new milestones and triumphs.
And every Thursday the dance party strikes up again.
“It’s exciting to know that something as simple as dancing can make such a difference in people’s lives,” St. Vincent said.
Check it out at sizzlingsalsadanceparties.com