Our weekly party, “Salsa Thursday at PERLÉ Nightclub w/ Dany J” made it to the Star Ledger Newspaper in an article on Friday, March 25th, 2011. The article is below, but you can also see this article in the Star Ledger’s NJ.com website.
by Tiffany N. Garlic
Women in high strappy sandals and men in dress shirts all groove to the same rhythm of blasting trumpets and soul-shaking drums. Even the most timid pull their hands out of their pockets and break away from the bar to attempt some sultry steps.
Perlé is bringing the New York salsa scene to downtown New Brunswick.
Every Thursday, the small Paterson Street nightclub trades in its Top 40 playlist for the pulsating beat of salsa. Started in 2009 as a response to the growing interest in Latin dancing and music, the salsa-themed dance night attracts enthusiasts of all skill levels.
A beginner’s class kicks off the festivities at 9 p.m., when instructors from the Highland Park-based Scarlet Mambo Latin Dance Studio, which promotes the weekly event, teach basic steps and turns.
“The nightclub is the perfect place for people to be exposed to Latin music and dance,” said Dany Joshua, artistic director for Scarlet Mambo. “There are classes around here, but this is a place where they can learn and be social.”
The hour-long class shows dancers how to transition from move to move and add their own flavor.
“Do a different pose every time, make it your own,” Joshua urged a group of about 30 people earlier this month.
Later, as the lights go down and the music turns up, the floor is not empty for long. Dancers show off fierce footwork, dizzying turns and hip rolls that would give professionals a run for their money. The sophisticated crowd ranges from mid-20s to early-50s, all displaying fascinating styles of Latin movement and rhythm.
Though you may feel more comfortable bringing a partner along, don’t be afraid to go solo, since it’s not uncommon for a stranger to ask someone to dance. The low-pressure environment is ideal for dancers of all levels to watch, improve their skills and soak up the culture.
There’s enough seating to perch on after you’ve built up a sweat from the fast-paced choreography. But pay attention as you make your way across the floor, in order to avoid collisions — it’s easy to get tangled up in twirling couples.
Rose-colored lighting adds a warm and exotic vibe to the crimson and chocolate-brown space, which shimmers with pearl white furniture. The main room serves as the dance floor while the secondary bar often hosts bands and provides a more intimate lounge atmosphere for conversation.
Melanie Thompson, 31, of Highland Park said she has been coming to the salsa night for about three weeks and couldn’t think of a better place to learn and socialize.
“It’s all about moving and feeling good and knowing your own vitality,” she said. “Plus, technically, everyone’s learning here, so there’s not as much pressure.”
Richard Reque, 43, of Plainfield, said it was hard to find a place to salsa without trekking to New York, but the salsa night ensured a full dance card each week.
“It’s very friendly,” he said. “We share the desire to dance and show off the steps that we’ve learned and really have a good time.”
Jorge Palomino, 28, of Milltown came to the salsa night for the first time and said it was exciting to see salsa in motion outside of class.
“I like that you can see beginners and professionals dancing together,” Palomino said. “It’s cool to actually show off what I’m learning and pick up steps from everyone else.”
Salsa Thursdays at Perlé Night Club & Lounge
Where: 13 Paterson St., New Brunswick
How much: $10 cover charge with free dinner buffet from 7 to 10 p.m. and a free salsa lesson from 9 to 10 p.m. (texting SALSANJ to 46786 can get the cover reduced to $5 or lower). Call (732) 391-1110 or visit scarletmambo.com.