The Dance Parade and DanceFest are held on the third Saturday in May, right before Memorial Day. It’s the last blast before summer.
The Dance Parade features over 200 dance groups performing over a hundred unique styles. New York City has a small Bolivian community, but Bolivian folk dancers come from the entire East Coast. So many come that it looks like Bolivians are New York’s biggest community of dancers.
Dancing is an important part of Latin culture. The Latin world fuses Indigenous, European and African traditions. In the Caribbean we are Asian too. For us, dance can be a form of prayer, psychotherapy, a dating game or just fun. We dance to connect with our families, friends and communities. We also face the harsh moments in life by dancing to release the pain and reconnect with our spiritual ancestors.
The parade really begins six months ahead with Dance Parade community engagement in schools, parks and community centers across New York City. The community then dances in the parade.
The DanceFest dance festival in Tompkins Square Park features stage performances, workshops and lots of very social dancing. It’s all FREE.
This is an especially fun parade. Everybody has a very good time. One of things you might notice at this parade is that no matter where in the world we come from, we all do pretty much the same things. We have different names and different traditions, but the thread that runs through it all is our common humanity.
It’s a small world after all. “Let’s Dance!”
FLATIRON, UNION SQUARE, EAST VILLAGE, NYC | Sat, May 18, 2019 | Dance parade & festival | African, Bolivian, Brazilian, Cuban, Dominican, Ecuadorian, Mexican, Panamanian, Puerto Rican & Spanish dances
FLATIRON, UNION SQUARE, VILLAGE, EAST VILLAGE | Sat, May 19, 2018 | African, Argentine, Bolivian, Brazilian, Cuban, Dominican, French, Haitian, Italian, Puerto Rican dances and more
Everybody Loves the Dance Parade NYC
At NYC’s Dance Parade, you’ll see African, Middle Eastern, Latin American, Asian and European styles. There’s swing, salsa, tango, hip-hop, club dancing, belly dancing and more. There’s ballet, modern dance, tap and jazz dancing. There’s whacking, voguing, popping and locking. Everything under the sun is at the Dance Parade NYC.
The Cabaret Law
In the 1920s, New York City created a Cabaret Law that required venues where more than a couple of people dance at one time to get a license. It was put in place because White kids were going uptown to Harlem to dance with Black kids. Really.
You couldn’t dance in a bar in New York City for 91 years, unless they had a Cabaret License. The New York State Supreme Court upheld this racist law in 2006. So the Dance Parade was founded in 2007 to fight it. The organization played a key role in the law’s repeal in 2017. The parade’s NYDP, New York Dance Police, make fun of this today by giving out tickets to non-dancers which are actually invitations to dance lessons.
The origins are sad, but the solution is almost funny. What are going to do, arrest 10,000 people dancing in the streets, just having fun together? Thank you Dance Parade.
Dancing in the Streets is a Civil Rights Tradition
Dancing in the streets is a historic tradition of peaceful civil rights protest. Remember Martha & The Vandellas “Dancing in the Streets” from 1965.
After the Black Lives Matter movement entered mass consciousness in 2020, singer Martha Reeves explained that we were actually dancing in the streets to claim and celebrate our civil rights. That tradition can and should be carried on today. Dancing is one of the Latin superpowers. It’s one of the ways we transform bad things into good.
“Oh it doesn’t matter what you wear
Just as long as you are there
So come on every guy, grab a girl
Everywhere around the world
They’ll be dancing
They’re dancing in the street…”
Stanley Lebowsky and John Lehmann, 1965