If you spent the 80s and 90s dancing at nightclubs around New York City and you weren’t in the Bronx on March 7th, you need to read further and make plans to be at next year’s event! We went to Forever Freestyle 9 and couldn’t figure out why we haven’t been to the previous 8 shows. Eva Bornstein, the Executive Director of Lehman Center along with Sal Abbatiello of Fever Records put on a production that had the 40 and over crowd partying harder than anyone else in the audience. And, yes, there were younger folks present.
The event was a throwback to the glory days of dance clubs. As Judy Torres mentioned in-between her performance, the ‘freestyle’ category never received Grammy recognition but that means nothing to the people who spent their nights partying to the early morning on dancefloors across the five boroughs. Just ask anyone in the crowd of 2,300 freestyle aficionados. In fact, you wouldn’t need to ask. All you had to do was look around. Everyone was out of their seats, dancing and partying until well after midnight.
Images by Joe Conzo Photography (www.joeconzo.com)
Forever Freestyle would not be the same if it were held any where else besides the Bronx. Aside from the fact that the genre was born in the borough and many of the acts are from the Bronx, the audience made the show. Mr. Abbatiello brilliantly facilitated a true Bronx crowd in true Bronx fashion. We sang, we danced and we partied!
Nocera opened the night and gave us summertime in this brutal winter. The sexy Lisette Melendez followed with together forever and got the crowd in the right mood and ready for The Cover Girls who blew the doors wide open and turned the night into a party! The only act that could follow up appropriately was the Freestyle Diva, Judy Torres who received a hometown welcome from her hometown crowd. Rob Base then took us into intermission on a high note.
The show opened up after intermission with Soave who charasmatically kicked off the second half of the program. Noel came after to a warm welcome but decided to tease the crowd, our personal favorite part of the night was Coro who is obviously a natural entertainer and had us singing until we almost lost our voice when the Sugar Hill Gang came on. They were exactly as you would expect and did not, could not, disappoint. It was a perfect set up for the final two acts, George Lamond whose surprisingly came out singing Journey and left us with some latin flavor (with some bad of the heart in between). The final act of the night needed no introduction and likely what everyone came to see. They made us wait (and gave Speedy some gear in the process) but TKA/K7 closed out the party; at which point, no one was left in their seats and everyone was singing MARIA!
Almost 5 hours long and we could have done another 5 hours given how much fun it was. Sprinkled in-between the acts were breakdancing bits, Speedy Gonzalez dancing with the audience and other madness that could not happen anywhere else besides the Bronx.
The show gave us a new appreciation for the Boogie Down and the unique culture that we need to experience more. We will be back and can’t wait to see our next show at Lehman Center!