New York City's summer spectacle season got off to a rousing start over the weekend when thousands of revelers filled the streets from Union Square to Tompkins Square Park for the 16th annual Dance Parade.
Covid had sent the cultural celebration into the virtual realm the prior two years. But on Saturday afternoon, dance troupes and party people from all over the city came out in force for the first time in the pandemic era.
"We're celebrating life, we're celebrating how far we've come," Ariel Palitz, executive director of NYC's Office of Nightlife told Gothamist right before the parade started. "We've all suffered tremendously in the last few years, and now is the time to really come back together and socialize, as is naturally intended. We love to socialize, we love to party, it's part of our DNA, and our identity, and it's important to celebrate it."
As Palitz pointed out, Dance Parade started in 2006 as a protest against the city's "antiquated cabaret laws," which were repealed in 2017. Since then, it has become the city's most diverse of the big parades, and dozens of different styles were on display at this year's event, including disco, belly dance, samba, Caribbean, hip-hop, Bolivian tinkus, modern, Bolivian carporles, funk, salsa, Irish, house, tango, Korean, trance, Chinese folk, Brazilian, kathak, pom and freestyle. Kicking things off was the folk dance club Kaleidoscope, performing traditional routines to much applause.
As you can imagine, the music is loud and lively at Dance Parade, and spectators lining Union Square, University Place, Eighth Street and St. Mark's got into the spirit of the things by grooving on the sidewalk.
"It's really exciting," said Nicole Albino, a lifelong New Yorker who lives along the route and ran outside with her two young daughters when they heard the music. "I feel like the community's really embracing it and it's so much fun. It's so cool to see people out here having fun. And it's a perfect day! This is major. It feels so New York. I love it."
Correction: Because of outdated information provided by event organizers, an earlier version of this story misidentified the folk dance club Kaleidoscope.