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The best events at Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center

Each night a different band plays Midsummer Night Swing and an expert coaches us in the basics of salsa or disco

Photograph: Filip Wolak

Midsummer Night Swing brings together the best of music, free outdoor dance events and things to do outside in New York, but we have a few tips to help you make the most of the festival. Lovely Damrosch Park can get crowded, so be sure to book in advance, get there when the dance floor opens at 6pm, and remember that purses and backpacks must be left at the bagcheck—ladies, you’ll need a dancing frock with pockets. The whole lineup is tempting, but we’re particularly excited about these eight shows: no matter your groove of choice, you’ll be able to mobilize it in one of these evenings, which we've ordered by date. Make sure you come out to Midsummer Night Swing, one of the best reasons to stay in New York in the summer!

When is Midsummer Night Swing?

Midsummer Night Swing is on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 through Saturday, July 11, 2015. Every night, the group dance lesson goes from 6:30–7:15pm, so if you already know your boleo from your barrida, then you’ll want to get there closer to 7:30 when the live music begins.

Where is Midsummer Night Swing?

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Midsummer Night Swing takes place at Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center.

Top events at Midsummer Night Swing

Jody Watley and Shalamar

Singer-dancer-diva Jody Watley, Soul Train dancer and founding member of Shalamar, gets her funk on and her disco down. Before the show, Princess Lockeroo teaches us Waacking fundamentals (think Voguing crossed with locking) while Mobile Monday’s DJs Operator Emz, Joey Carvello and Natasha Diggs keep the vinyl spinning. After 10pm, don headphones and join the silent disco, where you can sway to a private beat without violating noise ordinances.

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Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center 25 Jun 2015

Roomful of Blues

Rock out with Roomful of Blues, playing the tunes of the great Doc Pomus, the blues popularizer who also famously cowrote “This Magic Moment” and “Viva Las Vegas.” If you need tips on how to move, John Joven and Shoshi Krieger are on hand to teach blues dancing, which uses close-partner work that derives from two-step and waltz. If you’re looking for a good third-date outing that absolutely mandates holding your baby tight, this event may be your magic moment.

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Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center 27 Jun 2015

Cachao's Mambo All Stars

The second week of the Swing gets off to a rollicking start with the New York City debut of Cachao’s Mambo All Stars, the Afro-Cuban supergroup that carries on the legacy of Israel “Cachao” Lopez, known as the father of mambo. Before the music starts, Latin dance instructors Eddie and Maria Torres guide us through the fundamentals of mambo, a dance characterized by sensual languor, punctuated with quick footwork and rapidly shimmying hips. Shake it, New York.

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Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center 30 Jun 2015

Loser's Lounge Disco Party

It’s Thursday Night Fever when the series returns to disco with a performance by the Loser’s Lounge, a collective that pays tribute here to Casablanca Records and its stable of stars. Dance instructor Robert Vance teaches the assembled masses the Hustle, the dance that’s like a foxy love-child of disco and ballroom. Again, stick around after 10pm for a silent disco; put on your headphones and dance like nobody’s listening.

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Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center 02 Jul 2015

Kahulanui

Imagine that Manhattan is a slightly different sort of island when the Hawaiian swing band Kahulanui (the Big Dance) brings a big band–inflected set that includes the appropriate amount of ukulele. The hot tip: Judges will be on hand to assess your tropical finery and to assign prizes to the best dressed. Swing enthusiasts will get a little extra coaching from Paolo “Pasta” Lanna, who will run through the essentials of the Balboa swing form and the upbeat, hilariously named Collegiate Shag.

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Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center 03 Jul 2015

Conjunto Sabrosura

The final week of the Swing starts with a fanfare: the New York debut of the Puerto Rican salsa band Conjunto Sabrosura, a brass-filled ensemble fronted by Mayte Perez. If your moves need a bit of burnishing, come early and instructor Gildred Ribot walks you through salsa’s elegant yet propulsive catalog of movements.

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Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center 07 Jul 2015

Pedro Giraudo

It’s time to tango. Argentine pianist Octavio Brunetti died just after his appearance at last year’s Swing; this year the bassist-composer Pedro Giraudo and his Tango Orchestra will perform in his honor. Instructors Ana Padron and Diego Blanco emphasize tango’s ability to create connection and deep communication between partners, so it's a night for couples, old and new.

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Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center 09 Jul 2015

Midsummer Night Swing: Harlem Renaissance Orchestra

For the program’s final night, the big band Harlem Renaissance Orchestra pulls out all the swingin’ stops in its 11th annual tribute to Illinois Jacquet, the legendary jazz tenor saxophonist. Before the show, cofounder of the New York Swing Dance Society Margaret Batiuchok bounces us through a how-to for the Lindy Hop, the jazz-swing form that keeps dancers in constant contact. If you aren’t a Lindy Hop beginner, consider competing for the Ambassador Prize—or just go to cheer on your favorites.

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Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center 11 Jul 2015

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