It’s a cold drink on a hot and dusty trail, a shower after a long dirty job. Moving to beloved music until you’re part of it shakes off the physical aches and pains and the emotional and spiritual cobwebs like nothing else can. It frees you, body and mind. And no matter where you venture in the Hudson Valley this summer, chances are you’re not far from a dance destination.
Live music, of course, abounds at a vast variety of venues and events, and dancing is encouraged—even beloved—at most any of these. It’s not hard to find a setting to just shake it up. Beyond that, though, it’s getting easier and easier to find good times that are all about the dance—places where you’ll find someone else who can Lindy, places where your partner can spin you into a Latin twirl without risking collisions with the unaware, places where everybody dances as if nobody’s watching.
Pure, unabashed, and unadulterated love of dance can be found in abundance two Saturday nights a month in Tilson at the Stone Mountain Farm in the barefoot outdoor revelry that is a summertime Freestyle Frolic. Ever since 1993, volunteer movement lovers have been organizing regular gatherings at which dozens of dancers come together in joyous bursts of exuberance. Frolics draw a warm, welcoming crowd, jamming to an eclectic variety of music: everything from big band to house to hip-hop, depending only on the collective mood and whim of DJ and dancers. The scene is smoke-, drug-, and alcohol-free, inclusive, and family-friendly. Dancing has been known to continue into the next day on certain legendary occasions. As the name suggests, Freestyle Frolics are for any sort of boogie you choose.
If you’ve got a preference for a specific style, chances are there’s a place you can find it. Here’s a brief rundown of the scene:
Swing and ballroom dancing are the love languages fluently spoken by Chester and Linda Freeman of Got2Lindy, world-class teachers and performers who call this area home and have dedicated themselves to spreading that love all through the community. If you don’t know how to Lindy or cha-cha-cha, they’ll teach you in a supportive and accepting environment—no partner required—with a focus on the “lead and follow connection” that lies at the heart of social dance. Not only will you amaze everyone at the next wedding reception you attend, you can also kick out the jams at the Freemans’ Lindy Hops and Swing Infusion—noted, like the Frolics, for good times among great people. That action’s in Kingston and Highland and beyond. Check the Got2Lindy website for details; they’re always finding new venues for swing, one of the latest being the Newburgh Brewing Company.
You can also connect with a lively social dance scene encompassing swing, ballroom, Cajun/Zydeco, Contra, and English country dancing via the good folks of Hudson Valley Community Dances. Based in Poughkeepsie, they offer a calendar of events on both sides of the river, tearing up the floor at a variety of churches, clubs, and social halls. You’ll find them on Facebook. Then there’s the group PoTown Swing, which meets up every Wednesday at Vassar College.
If your taste runs to spicy Latin, a couple of local restaurants are serving it up hot. At Gabriel’s Café in Kingston, salsa and samba dances with live music are regular items on the menu. At the Rosendale Cafe, most Thursday nights feature an hour’s worth of Latin dance instruction with an Argentinean teacher, after which you can dance the night away. Tango addicts meet for regular lessons, known as milongas, at the Tango Cafe in Saugerties. Find sessions and special events with international master artists in Woodstock, Kingston, Saugerties, Rhinebeck and beyond; you’ll find the latest updates on the Woodstock Tango Facebook page.
If your dance of choice hasn’t been mentioned here, definitely do not despair. Whether you desire belly dancing or clogging, line dancing or Bossa Nova, the Hudson Valley dance world can help you find anything from beginner’s lessons to competitions. At JB Studios in Kingston, for example, you can study up on zumba, belly dancing, or hip-hop.
Whatever the flavor, grab your dancin’ shoes and jump on in; somewhere nearby, this very weekend, a band or a DJ will be playing your song.