Over the past few months, New Yorkers have been celebrating essential workers by clapping and cheering at 7 p.m. every night. Some, however, have elevated that experience — we've seen Jimi Hendrix tributes from fire escapes, Frank Sinatra pumping from windows above, and blocks gathering together for a nightly dance. The biggest block party by far has been on St. James Place in Clinton Hill, which we visited in May and has grown exponentially since then.
Gail Bryan-Vill, her husband Jo, their daughter Chelsea and their son Chad are behind the gathering, which began with Gail and her whistle, and was quickly upgraded to four speakers and a joy-giving playlist of songs (one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's speeches has even made it into the mix). The event has been a way to meet neighbors and dance it out at the end of the day; "We're all spiritual beings, just having a human experience," Jo said, adding that they needed "a Covid-release."
One attendee, who says her friends have lost a lot of family members, said she had almost given up before being introduced to the nightly event — "It just renewed my faith in human beings."
And amidst the music, there are reminders to remain safe and wear a mask — "Don't let the weather and music fool you, don't let your guard down."
Meet the Vill family in the video above.
Directed by Shaina Feinberg // Shot and edited by Chris Manley // Additional footage by Jeff Seal // Produced by Shortbits and Jeff Seal