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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Inside Perspectives
Argentine Tangos
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY


by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 3, 2002
New York, NY

About the Author:


By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

On a sizzling, summer, Wednesday night, where do New York Salseros and Tangueros congregate, to find solace and camaraderie? An air-conditioned movie theater? Jones Beach? No, they can be seen swirling and swooning to live Salsa, Tango, and Samba and relaxing in the candle-lit, cavernous confines of the Lightship "Frying Pan"(an historic sailing vessel) to Jazz or Belly Dancing. Join me on a dynamic tour of this most engaging experience, one that I have personally enjoyed on many sultry, summer Wednesday nights, till the early morning hours, in this inside perspective.

July 3, 2002, at the Chelsea Pier, 23rd Street and the Hudson River, with the SPICE organizers, Reba Perez and Trey Parker, late in the evening, after Tango and Salsa lessons, expertly presented by Paul Pellicoro and Eleny Fotinos (Tango) and Franklin Ayala and Amy Garcia (Salsa) from DanceSport Dance Studio, and after rousing ovations for a passionate Tango performance by Cecelia Saia and Ronen Khayat (DanceSport) and a pulsating Salsa performance by Franklin Ayala and Amy Garcia. The Tango Band, this night, is Tango Porteno, and the Salsa Band this night is Grupo Caribe.

REZ - I loved the Jazz performance in the Lightship "Frying Pan", electric guitar, percussion, clarinet, and saxophone. Rashanim (Jazz Group) was fantastic, sounds vibrating wildly off the metal pipes and tin walls, tiny white lights, framing the candle-lit stage. The whirring fans added their own texture to this enchanting sound, so refreshingly different from the familiar dance rhythms and bands.

Reba Perez and Trey Parker Ð Every week, we have different groups performing in the Lightship "Frying Pan", a historic ship that once floated offshore, with a special plaque on the back door. It was built in 1929, and you can research it on the Web at www.FryingPan.com. There's also another sailboat docked here, hand-built in 1976 by Reid Stowe, which Reid will actually take out to sea for 1,000 days, to set a World Record!

REZ - How did you both meet?

RP - We met when I was a Tango teacher at DanceSport and Trey was taking his first Tango lessons. We got to know each other, when Trey helped me with a series of Tango Milongas, called La Estacion (May, 2000 to May, 2001) and House of Latin Dance (Fall, 2001 to Spring, 2002). Trey also discovered the space to create the first Summer SPICE Festival in 2001. The rest is history!

REZ - What happens, if it rains on a Wednesday night?

TP - That depend on peoples' perceptions. Of course, there's no electricity. However, we create an incredible party, on a high energy level. There's Salsa in the Lightship "Frying Pan" and Tango under the Tent! (A well-enclosed and waterproofed tent covers the entire hardwood, glossy Tango floor, with large orange globes, descending from the ceiling to create a warm, cozy glow.)

REZ - Why are other ships docked here, every week, with non-dancers descending the stairs?

TP - The Manager of Chelsea Pier has a contract with a number of large cruise and sightseeing ships, and this is a seven-day, active Pier. Large groups from local and visiting ships stop by all the time, creating a festive, dynamic ambiance. In fact, as the sounds of the music build, the crowds thicken, to add to the weekly excitement of SPICE.

REZ - How do you feel, at this time of night, with so many separate, inclusive, and complimentary events happening, with dancers and visitors moving from event to event, snacking at the barbecue, joining friends at the bar, shopping at the Pier boutiques, gazing at the New York skyline, dreaming toward the moon, and leaning onto the band stages, to observe their favorite DJ's and musicians (bands rotate on a weekly basis)?

RP - It's a fantastic feeling, seeing everybody partying. I'm in an interesting and unique position. A lot of people put their hearts and souls into this, like tonight's Tango DJ, Richard Lipkin, and tonight's Salsa DJ, Joey Salsa, and the Security Guards, as well as our regular Crew of about ten.

REZ - At what time in the evening do you arrive, and at what time in the morning do you finally go home?

RP - Trey arrives at 3:00 PM, and I arrive at 5:30 PM. We both finally leave about 4:00 AM.

REZ - So, what's next?

TP - To sleep!!

RP - As someone, who's danced all my life, I'm finally fulfilling a dream. I'm opening a new Dance Studio, Empire Dance, Inc., on West 25th Street.

REZ - Now, let's dance!

Hot empanadas at SPICE

Reba Perez, SPICE organizer

Trey Parker, SPICE organizer

Brazilian Samba tent

Carlos DeChey and friends lead a spontaneous Conga line in the Tango tent

Salsa bandshell

SPICE DJ Joey Salsa. Joey also DJs at DanceSport.

Franklin Ayala (DanceSport Salsa teacher/performer) and Rosa Collantes (Salsa and Tango performer/teacher)

Robert Abrams, ExploreDance.com editor in between dances

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