From Union Square to Tompkins Square Park, the streets of downtown Manhattan turned into a massive party yesterday afternoon, thanks to the thousands of revelers on both sides of the barricades at the 11th annual Dance Parade and Festival.

The theme this year was "Dance For Peace", and while only a few of the more than 200 troupes and crews who frolicked their way through the East Village overtly expressed the sentiment, just by showing up they all contributed to the parade's overall mission, "to inspire dance through the celebration of diversity."

Among the waves of dance styles on display were Hip Hop, Irish Step, Ballroom, Flamenco, Salsa, Mexican Carnival, Contemporary Jazz, Sri Lanken, Tribal, Tap, Congo, Therapeutic Movement, House, Global Bass, Ecuadorian, Caporales, Belly Dance, Afro Latino, Samba, Creative Movement, Hoopers, Flamenco, Clogging, Lithuanian, Ballet, and PLUR.

Many of the dancing groups came from out of town to participate, including a huge showing by Hartford salsa outfit XDance, who arrived yesterday morning in four charter buses. There's no big corporate sponsorship floats allowed, and the Dance Parade itself is a non-profit organization, so all of the participants pay their own way. This gives the enormously eclectic parade a decidedly grass-roots feel, though it's also well-organized, with a large team of Dance Police volunteers along the route keeping things moving.

The NYPD helped out in that regard as well, deploying a substantial force, controlling car traffic and, occasionally, getting dragged good-naturedly into the action. Politics did cut in for a couple of numbers, as there were several protest signs calling for the repeal of the city's archaic "no dancing" cabaret law, which only allows dancing in establishments that have obtained expensive, city-issued licenses.