Mark your calendars for the weekend of September 25-27: square dancing is coming back to Bryant Park! It’s on their calendar so it must be true, and since unlike most of the things I post about, this is a time-sensitive activity, I figured three weeks notice was only fair. That’s plenty of time to get excited, and to figure out which of your friends you might be able to convince to go with you. There are three nights of dancing — Friday 9/25, Saturday 9/26, and Sunday 9/27, all from 6 till 9.
I’ve written about this square dance before, but here’s a refresher: Giant dance party, live music, Bryant Park. Do you need to know how to square dance? Nope! There’s a caller and he not only walks you through the steps at the beginning of every dance, he also calls out the steps over a microphone during the dance itself. If you ever square danced in gym class, many of the steps will be like what you learned back then, only without the boys worrying about cooties. And while it’s fun to show up with friends, you can also go on your own — I did two years ago, and the people in my square were really nice!
Middle school gym class aside, I became interested in country dancing in college, when my choir would go on a retreat each fall and one of the activities would be square and line dancing. It was a great way to meet new people, since you’re always changing partners. After moving to NYC, I checked out some contra dancing (usually done in lines, rather than squares, but the same idea) here and had a blast! I haven’t gone in a long time, but I hope to get back into it this winter, and I’ll definitely check out one of the Bryant Park square dances. If you’re interested, just search “contra nyc” and you’ll find out about all the opportunities here in the city — there are more than you might expect!
Every time I talk about Bryant Park I have to mention that it’s one of my favorite places in the city. My friend said recently that it’s her least favorite park — because it’s more like a plaza than a park — and I understand why. But I came to Bryant Park one summer night five years ago when I was on the verge of moving here, and had a lovely conversation with two college roomies of mine while we people watched and looked at the tree shadows that looked almost blue, and it was magical. It’s not the prettiest park (and really, my friend is right, park isn’t quite the right word), but it’s a place where New Yorkers and tourists come together and sit and be, and that’s a beautiful thing.
And on some nights, they dance! Last year they even gave out free cowboy hats. Check out the Bryant Park calendar for more details about square dancing and all the other great programming in the park!