It’s America’s birthday, and although it’s on a Monday this year, there’s no reason not to go out and party—especially since there are plenty of patriotic celebrations, dance parties and and 4th of July events to enjoy. From cool things to do on NYC rooftops to bashes on some of Gotham’s best beaches, block up and prepare your hide for some fun in the sun. After gorging on barbecue and drinking the day away, make sure to find the best spots to watch the 4th of July fireworks.
RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of the 4th of July in NYC
The best 4th of July events
Is there anything more American than rock & roll? Not really, cool guy. And this weekend, Lincoln Center’s alfresco danceathon taps into the genre’s ’50s and ’60s roots when cover band Black Rock Coalition delivers hits by the likes of R&B legend Ruth Brown, blues shouter Big Joe Turner, doo-wop staple the Drifters and soul stompers Sam & Dave. Show off your fancy footwork, or if you’re worried you’re not ready to bring it, come early and take a free dance class to learn the dips and spins. And if you’re still feeling invigorated after it’s over, keep the party going at the Silent Disco ($5)—WFMU DJ Gaylord Fields spins 45s from the era that are streamed directly into your ears via wireless headphones.
Dig out your freshest neon duds, because this Saturday the ’90s blow up the Bell House with an Independence Day–themed rendition of Party Like It’s 1999. In honor of the original sci-fi blockbuster’s 20th anniversary, the free monthly throwback dance party heavily rotates tracks from Will Smith’s music career in addition to the normal playlist of late-20th-century hip-hop, R&B and pop hits. To really seem fly, base your wardrobe off the fashions of a certain Fresh Prince, and you know, get jiggy wit it.
There are few regular dance gatherings in New York more beloved than DJ duo Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin’s Mister Sunday. And at this edition of the outdoor, daytime shindig—held in its new permanent home, Nowadays, an expansive junkyard turned bar on the edge of Bushwick—you don’t have to worry about calling it quits early. Give yourself free reign to throw back cheap drinks and eat tasty burgers, hot dogs and veggie options at the shaded picnic tables, and tear up the dance floor.
New York’s biggest series of outdoor concerts, SummerStage, is back in full force with free shows representing music from near and far. On Sunday, feel prideful for the country’s melting-pot heritage when amazing world music fills Central Park with joyous, infectious beats. Nigeria’s most popular musician King Sunny Adé headlines with his full band, which includes dancers, several guitars and phenomenal drummers, and it’s a great way to kick off the holiday weekend right. Fellow Nigerian Orlando Julius sets the mood with his signature Afropop style, and Philadelphia’s DJ Rich Medina spins between sets.
Who’s excited to have Monday off? Mind-bending dub champions Deep Space are—and they’re sending partygoers on a trip to new frontiers at the Meatpacking hot spot Cielo. Music producer Theo Parrish brings his loops, classic dance-song samples and untouchable rhythm to the table, while Deep Space’s own creator François K, a world-traveling spinner, delivers techno and dub mixes. The party starts at 8pm, but don’t expect to stop moving until the sun is about to rise on July 4th.
For the second year in a row, the South Street Seaport becomes the city’s portal into all things patriotic during its two-day Festival of Independence. Check out a selection of fashions and other wares curated by the all–American-made market Northern Grade while chowing down on a blend of culinary delights from Smorgasburg vendors. Vice’s Noisey handles the live tunes, featuring music from New York synth purveyors Porches, dream-pop band Wild Nothing, soul singer Lee Fields & the Expressions and one of the city’s favorite and hardest-working DJs, Jonathan Toubin. And, oh yeah, you also get a perfect vantage point if you stay late to watch the display over the harbor during the Macy’s fireworks show on Monday 4. Just make sure you arrive by midafternoon—the official light show begins at 9:25pm—as the pier will be packed.
Wanna get your waterside party on, but think traveling to the ends of Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx takes too long? Look no further than this bash at idyllic Inwood Park’s La Marina. This all-day, all-night marathon Sunday rager—dubbed Summer Love—from the MATTE & Crew Love team features French house heavy hitter Dimitri from Paris, Brooklyn’s groovy eight-piece disco revivalists Midnight Magic, quirky EDM producer Nick Monaco and DJ duo Soul Clap. Just remember the sunscreen—you want to be wearing red, not looking red, on Monday.
Reliable party collective the Bunker is throwing a backyard Fourth of July bash at Trans-Pecos that’s sure to put your neighborhood shindigs of yesteryear to shame. Starting at 1pm, there’s drinking and dancing to DJs from all around who bring catchy electro. Bunker regulars Ulysses and Mike Servito spin while L.A.’s Personable (a.k.a. M. Geddes Gengras) delivers techno and Germany’s Kassem Mosse makes his first New York appearance since 2013 with his mind-bending transcendent records.
The Bryant Park Summer Film Festival celebrates 24 years of America, and maybe more importantly, depending on your penchant for cheesy ’80s cinema, 30 years of Top Gun. Pump your fist in the air as a young Tom Cruise plays Maverick, a cocky Navy fighter pilot with a need for speed, who sets out on the bold mission to bed his flight instructor (Kelly McGillis) and beat jerk pilot Iceman (Val Kilmer) in homoerotic beach volleyball. There’s some military stuff too, but you’re probably just in it for the killer ’80s soundtrack and, be honest, that sex scene.
For this mother of all pyrotechnic displays, Macy's will explode more than 40,000 fireworks choreographed to a 25-minute patriotic score. Stake out a nice spot near the Brooklyn Bridge, and bring your own picnic basket with beverages to toast our country's birthday.
Best viewing location: Broad Street and/or Old Slip at Water Street, Brooklyn Bridge entry from St. James Place (Pearl Street) & Wagner Place, Montgomery & South Streets: From the north (viewing along the FDR between Manhattan Bridge and Montgomery Street, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Bridge Promenade.