Bringing free dance parties to the Brooklyn waterfront was a genius move by Celebrate Brooklyn! and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. The music is always stellar, the views from the lawn and steps of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 are phenomenal, and the food trucks and beer garden make the party even more lively. The series, held on three consecutive Thursday evenings in May, serves as a “bridge” to Celebrate Brooklyn! in Prospect Park, which starts its 36th year on June 4 with Janelle Monae. But the line up of this year’s dance parties is so good, it doesn’t feel like a warm up.
Step onto the outdoor dance floor starting next Thursday, May 8, with Balkan Beat Box, who meld together brass, electronica and dancehall beats inspired by their Mediterranean roots and their passion for peace. Belly dancing lessons beforehand, and “crunk charlatan” DJ Joro-Boro, also from the Balkans, will get your body moving.
On Thursday, May 15, JD Samson of Le Tigre and MEN primes an evening of electro-pop with a DJ set before Cibo Matto take the stage. The two women have a new album, Hotel Valentine, filled with the kind of colorful, quirky tunes that brought them fame 14 years ago. They’ll be sharing the stage with another duo, Javelin, who also make irresistible synth-pop.
The final party on Thursday, May 22 brings on the African beats. DJ collective Okayafrica Electrafrique featuring Chief Boima and DJ Underdog lays the groundwork for a warm, up-tempo night of Afropop by Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, whose music blends their West African heritage with other influences like reggae. Get ready to get learn some new moves with Iris Wilson of FELA! and an instructor at Cumbé: Center for African and Diaspora Dance.
The free dance parties take place between 7 and 10pm each Thursday at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 at the foot of Old Fulton Street at the Brooklyn waterfront. You can also access it from the new Squibb Park Bridge, or ride your bike–valet is free for two wheels.