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By Elena Ravich, Manhattan Expert | Broker in 10019
  • Midsummer Night Swing Is Still Going Strong at the Lincoln Center

    Posted Under: Quality of Life, Parks & Recreation, In My Neighborhood  |  July 6, 2013 9:01 AM  |  654 views  |  No comments

    That Ballroom Under the Stars

    Midsummer Night Swing Is Still Going Strong at 25

    Dancing the Night Away: Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing celebrates its 25th anniversary season.

    Published: July 5, 2013 Comment
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    It was supposed to be a summer fling. In 1989 Lincoln Center celebrated its 30th birthday by staging a big-band dance party on the plaza for 20 nights. (There wasn’t enough money for 30 nights.)

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    Daniel Schneider and Kiyomi Kubo at Midsummer Night Swing, which is in its 25th year and draws all kinds of dancers for tango, swing, salsa and other styles.

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    But New Yorkers fell in love with the music, the dancing, the outdoor vibe. The relationship endured, andMidsummer Night Swing, now in Damrosch Park, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

    For three weeks there’s at least one band per night for dancing alfresco — swing, salsa, tango and the less well-known styles, like soca. Before the music starts an expert teacher gives a lesson in the dance theme for the night.

    “From year to year, it was like watching a meadow,” Rebecca Weller, who produced the event through 2002, said. Different dances and different subcultures would flower and dominate. In the early ‘90s the tango was hot; in 1996, the macarena. Then swing swung back.

    Ms. Weller remembers compas bands from Haiti with special fondness. “Taxi cabs in the vicinity would multiply,” she said. One night a compas band with Sweet Micky (Michel Martelly, the current president of Haiti) led a rara parade around Lincoln Center. “I was the bane of security guards,” Ms. Weller said.

    The crowd reflects the city in age, ethnicity, size, skill level, personality and fashion sense. There are singles and couples, paired-up strangers and circles of friends. Different bands attract different crowds, so each night has its own character and energy, but there’s always a miscellany, a cross-section of New York mingling to music.

    Still, the festival has its dancers with the season passes who go every night, the veteran musicians and teachers who have watched the event change, the people whose lives have been changed by it. Here, a few of the regulars.

    Lana Turner and Spiritus Carlton. She said going consistently has allowed her to try new things.
    Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

    Lana Turner and Spiritus Carlton. She said going consistently has allowed her to try new things.

    A Regular Who Follows in Her Parents’ Footsteps

    The movie star name doesn’t hurt, but Lana Turner, 63, turns the heads of people who don’t know her with her sartorial elegance and her radiant joy in dancing. A Harlem native who sells real estate and runs an archiving business, she’s been coming to Midsummer Night Swing for the last decade or so, ever since her son left home, and she had more time for herself.

    The festival reminds Ms. Turner of her mother and father, a chambermaid and a chauffeur who regularly went out dancing and dressed up to do so. Her father would take her through the dance steps, allowing her to stand on his shoes. “It harkens back to a time,” she said, “when people were able to extend themselves in a personable way. Their jobs did not define them. Their social graces did.”

    Ms. Turner organizes her summer around the festival, careful that if she takes her grandson on a trip, she’s back in time for opening night. She picks out her her first outfit early.

    “I’m not a big salsa girl,” she said. “It’s too crowded. But I’m there most of the time. Going every night allows you to try things you may not have a predisposition for.” That’s how she learned the Texas Two Step.

    Vince Giordano of the Nighthawks, which played the first year of Swing.
    Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

    Vince Giordano of the Nighthawks, which played the first year of Swing.

    Midsummer Veteran, Back With His Band

    With his big band, the Nighthawks, Vince Giordano played the first year of Midsummer Night Swing, then the 10th anniversary, and is back this season. “It’s a wonderful piece of New York,” he said. “We play other gigs, and sometimes people dance, sometimes they don’t. When we play this event, people are there to dance. It’s like it used to be.”

    Mr. Giordano, 61, brings back music of the 1920s through the 1940s, and in recent years he has noticed a surge of younger people on the dance floor, a trend he ascribes to period movies and TV shows like “Boardwalk Empire,” for which his band provided much of the music. “I wish I had that audience when I got started,” he said. “There’s an energy that goes back and forth between the dancers and the band.”

    His favorite memory of the festival comes from a 10th-anniversary performance. At his day job in the music industry back then, he found 2,000 Frisbees about to be thrown out. He labeled them with the name of his band, and at the end of the show he sent them flying into the audience. “It was great to see the little old ladies trampling people to get the Frisbees,” he said.

    Margaret Batiuchuk and Charlie Meade. Ms. Batiuchuk taught swing with Frankie Manning.
    Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

    Margaret Batiuchuk and Charlie Meade. Ms. Batiuchuk taught swing with Frankie Manning.

    Devoted to the Romance of the Dance

    Margaret Batiuchok taught swing dance in the festival’s first two years, with no less than the swing dance legend Frankie Manning. Since then she has gone every year. And this year she will teach the final lesson, the Lindy Hop and Shim Sham, with Mr. Manning’s 80-year-old son, Chazz Young.

    She’s seen the festival get a lot bigger, especially since 2009, when it moved around the corner to Damrosch Park. “Before, people would see it from the opera house, in passing, but now it’s a real destination,” said Ms. Batiuchok, who declined to give her age.

    The festival encourages beginners, she said, “because they see people like them doing it and how fun it is.”

    Midsummer Night Swing, she added, is more than just the two-step.

    “Dancing is romantic anyway,” she said, “and under the stars it’s magical.” She knows several students who met there and later married. She taught them their wedding dances.

    Jackie-Lynn Wax and Daniel Kassell, who met on the dance floor in 2009.
    Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

    Jackie-Lynn Wax and Daniel Kassell, who met on the dance floor in 2009.

    Finding a Partner, in Dance and in Life

    Jackie-Lynn Wax, 62, a gemologist who took dance lessons in her free time, started faithfully attending Midsummer Night Swing in the late ‘90s. But things changed for her in 2009. That January she had been laid off, and interviews for jobs had disappointed her. Dancing was a release. One rainy night at Lincoln Center, she was waiting to dance, worrying about her curly hair and the humidity, when a gentleman, the jazz journalist Daniel Kassell, introduced himself and asked her to dance.

    “We danced the rest of the night together,” she remembered. “Afterward we went to P. J. Clarke’s and ate asparagus. Then we rode his bike home. Four years later, I’m still seeing him. I like to say that he took my hand and hasn’t let go.”

    Sid Chakli, who for years danced with his wife, continues the tradition.
    Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

    Sid Chakli, who for years danced with his wife, continues the tradition.

    Re-Engaging, With Vigor

    For about 10 years, Sid Chakli, 83, and his wife, Maria de Baroncelli, danced at Midsummer Night Swing nearly every night. “If it was a dance we could do, we went,” he said. “Not the Irish jig, but almost everything else.” She had been a ballerina and taught ballet at Florida State University, but ballroom dancing was his passion.

    “I’m a very talented ballroom dancer,” he said, “but she did it for me.”

    Two years ago Ms. Baroncelli died at the age of 86.

    “The nights were so lonely,” Mr. Chakli recalled. But a fellow dancer cornered him and told him: “Do you know the secret? Get busy.”

    That’s what Mr. Chakli did, signing up for every dance class he could find. Most nights at Midsummer Night Swing, he is one of the first dancers on the floor. “The only problem is that it’s too hot,” he said. “It should be in May.”

    Live music is a draw. “The other places I go, I have to pay a guy playing records,” he said. “This is real. It’s magical. All kinds of people say hello to you. You dance with different people. You’re not alone.”

    Midsummer Night Swing runs through July 13 at Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center; (212) 721-6500, midsummernightswing.org .

    A version of this article appeared in print on July 6, 2013, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: That Ballroom Under the Stars.
  • High-Line Art and Luxurious Renovations: This Week in NYC

    Posted Under: General Area in New York, Parks & Recreation in New York, Remodel & Renovate in New York  |  April 26, 2013 8:28 AM  |  778 views  |  No comments

    High-Line Art and Luxurious Renovations: This Week in NYC
    Written By Irina Faifman, Associate at Rakita Realty


    This week Manhattan experienced a cooling down in weather, but a warming up of beautiful sights to see! This year Manhattan-ites and tourists alike get to experience a year long art exhibition on the High Line that was released last week. The exhibition features nine internatial artists who play around with traditional ideas regarding the art form of the bust. Until June 14, visitors to the High Line can submit ideas for which person they believe should be sculpted in bust form on the park. Officials will then choose five finalists and the public will vote for their favorite, who will be created by a commissioned artist and installed on a pedestal already prepared for the bust. Interesting!




    On the other end of the city, HFZ Capital's The Marquand at 11 East 68th Street will renovate 40 units in its 100 year-old, 14 story building, featuring two penthouses equipped with private terraces. Apartments here start at $15M and go for up to $40M. Apartment sizes range from 4BR to 6BR with 3,795 to 4,656 square feet- penthouses excluded with a whopping 6,000 square foot area. Architect Lee Mindel chose to preserve an ‘old world’ feel when renovating, so the building will host luxurious pre-war elements including gorgeous oak parquet floors, oak-panneled walls, coffered ceilings, bay windows and wood-burning fireplaces made of Travertine marble.


    Whether it is apartment hunting or sightseeing that drives you outside this week, be sure to head down to MeatPacking district to enjoy the exhibition!



    Alberts, Hana. High Line's Busty Installation; More On The UES's Marquand. Curbed.com.


  • Bigger, Better City Plans

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in New York, Parks & Recreation in New York, In My Neighborhood in New York  |  April 19, 2013 5:32 PM  |  534 views  |  No comments

    Bigger, Better City Plans

    Written By: Irina Faifman, Associate at Rakita Realty


    ·         The Central Park Conservancy is to receive $100 million from John Paulson and the city of New York will contribute another whopping $90 million to better the park. The current pact expires on June 30 and provides $39.2 million spread over eight years

    ·         Bazbaz Development is offering homes at 101 W. 87th St. starting at $820,000 for one-bedrooms

    ·         On Monday, April 22, New York City’s Planning Commission will, or will not certify the proposal to rezone Midtown East. This proposal would enable developers to build skyscrapers almost as large at the Empire State in an already-crowded area

    ·         Tiffany & Co. released a new line of jewelry, inspired by The Great Gatsby film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, set to release May 10, 2013

    Overall, the city is hustling and bustling with many improvement plans, tourists and local ice cream parlor samples. Be sure to stop by TriBeCa’s film festival and enjoy the weather in the Meatpacking District’s Highline: a wonderful walk and an opportunity to stop by the Chelsea Market for exquisite goods.



    Chung, Jen. Midtown East’s Possible Future. Gothamist. (April 19, 2013). Retrieved from http://gothamist.com/2013/04/19/midtown_easts_possible_future_skysc.php#photo-1
    Seifman, David. ‘Spend’ Time in the Park. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/spend_time_in_the_park_F9AiNXzpgFcGxuEcNL1IHM

  • New York City’s Landmark Historic Districts on the Panorama of the City of New York

    Posted Under: Parks & Recreation in New York, Home Selling in New York, In My Neighborhood in New York  |  April 12, 2013 12:19 PM  |  538 views  |  1 comment

    Marking Spaces: New York City’s Landmark Historic Districts on the Panorama of the City of New York

    April 14 - June 02, 2013

    Opening Reception 
    Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the NYC Landmarks Law

    Sunday, April 14, 2013

    The designated historic districts of New York Cityrepresent some of the oldest and most distinctive areas in the city. Designated by theNew York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, these neighborhoods have been singled out for their unique “sense of place”. Each one is rich with history and architectural character, and together they help tell the story of New York City and its development into the world capital it is today.

    Brooklyn Heights was the first historic district designated in November 1965, followed the next year by districts in Greenwich Village, Gramercy Park and the Upper East Side. Today, there are 109 historic districts with 18 historic district extensions numbering more than 30,000 buildings across all five boroughs.

    Historic districts were created as part of the New York City Landmarks Law, one of the oldest and strongest laws of its type in the country. On April 15, 2015, the Landmarks Law will turn 50. Marking Spaces will kick-off the anniversary celebration of this historic legislation with the temporary placement of yellow flags on the Panorama of the City of New York indicating 109 historic districts throughout the City.

    This exhibition, conceived by the NYC Landmarks50 Advisory Committee, is made possible through the cooperation of the Historic Districts Council, New York Landmarks Preservation Commission, NYC Landmarks50 Advisory Committee, Queens Museum of Art and a generous grant from Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall

    Retrieved from:http://www.queensmuseum.org/11103/marking-spaces-new-york-city%E2%80%99s-landmark-historic-districts-on-the-panorama-of-the-city-of-new-york

  • Final chapter begins in city's High Line success story

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Chelsea, Parks & Recreation in Chelsea, In My Neighborhood in Chelsea  |  November 30, 2012 4:33 PM  |  3,112 views  |  No comments

    Just wanted to share this interesting information about Highline

    Steven Spinola

    President, Real Estate Board of New York.

    Thirty years ago it would have been unimaginable in New York City to transform a defunct elevated railway overgrown with shrubbery and wildflowers since the 1980s into a world-class park. The inconceivable has become reality through The High Line, which is generating both jobs and housing, attracting tourists and creating a great economic boost and revitalization to Manhattan’s West Side.

    The High Line runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues. Since opening in 2009, more than 10 million people have visited the park which has become a treasure to locals and tourists alike.

    Recently, construction began on the third and final sections called the High Line at the Rail Yards, which extends one-half mile beyond the current northern end and run from West 30th Street to West 34th Street and from 10th Avenue to 12th Avenue. The estimated $90 million extension of the park will proceed in phases and be financed by a combination of public and private funds.

    The first phase of the final section is projected to open to the public in 2014, and will extend The High Line park to West 34th Street connecting the Meatpacking District and West Chelsea with the future No. 7 subway station, the Javits Center, and the future Hudson Yards neighborhood, a Related Companies/Oxford Properties Group’s project that is anticipated to start construction later this fall.

    The Real Estate Board of New York commends Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Director of the NYC Planning Department Amanda Burden for this most successful development project in our city. Revitalization is key to boost our economic climate.  

    Design features of the extension will include familiar elements like the iconic “peel-up” benches, intimate overlooks, and meandering pathways, while introducing new design features, such as a designated play area for children, new bench typologies, and an interim walkway traveling through the existing landscape of self-seeded wildflowers, native grasses, and shrubs, which will close at dusk. Many of the design elements will coincide with the unique context created by the future Hudson Yards neighborhood.

    During the ground breaking ceremony on Sept. 20, the Mayor and Speaker Quinn joined the Friends of the High Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond and students from Clinton Middle School in Chelsea to toss native grass and wildflower seeds onto the High Line’s existing landscape, which grew up between the rail tracks when the freight trains stopped running in the 1980s. This self-seeded landscape will be part of a pedestrian path that will allow the public to directly experience the wildflowers and grasses that grew between the tracks.

    The High Line at the Rail Yards will remain closed to the public for the duration of construction. However, Friends of the High Line will open the gates for visitors to explore the site during Rail Yards Weekends, a series of free and low-cost self-guided tours between Noon and 4 pm during the first two weekends in October as part of the 10th Annual Open House New York Weekend. Reservations are required. For the first weekend the cost is $5, go to www.ohny.org and for the second weekend it’s free, go to www.thehighline.org.

    The High Line at Rail Yards project is an important generator of economic growth of our great city. We look forward to the third and final phase of The High Line being completed so all may benefit from this great transformation of Manhattan’s West Side.

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