Headphones in, jazz hands up and a ‘Dance Walk’ around Prospect Park | Photos
Some offered up some light shoulder shaking to Prince. Others sprinted and leaped to 90’s Japanese pop. A few kept a brisk pace with twirls and something akin to jazz hands. But, apart from a few chatty cyclists whizzing by, members of the Prospect Park Dance Walk were silent with their headphones in Saturday, keeping the music to themselves and their dance moves all their own.
Meeting at Grand Army Plaza, the caravan of women (and on this past Saturday, one man) traverse the Prospect Park drive loop. The Dance Walkers show up each week and let loose, shimmying and shaking past the curious and the admiring — each moving to their own playlist.
“It’s really not a performance in any way. It’s kind of akin to people listening to music and singing along in the subway,” said Joanne Nerenberg, a Park Slope resident and organizer of the Dance Walk. “The point isn’t to be seen. The point is to be inside the music.”
The Dance Walk started five years ago and saw a dozen people on Saturday.
On Saturday, Katie Merz from Boerum Hill was listening to Mos Def and 90’s hip hop.
“It’s usually hip-hop,” Merz, who attended one of the first of the Dance Walk meet-ups, said of her playlist. “It goes back to the mid-90s when we’d go out dancing all the time. I’m recreating all the R&B dance moves I’ve seen my whole life.”
For Merz, it has something to do with growing up in Brooklyn and the release of inhibitions.
“We used to play all the time and run around. This is that to me. There’s this freedom of breaking into places, hiding out. It’s all this defiant sneakiness,” she said. “It changed my life in a funny way. Every Saturday, I’m geared in to what’s going on with my body and it really made me not give a sh-t about appearances of any kind.”
The energy did not relent for the 3.35 miles. Every few steps was a new song for a different Dance Walker.
“Today, it took me an hour to get here because the Q train wasn’t working, so I had to take the F and then walk 20 minutes. But it’s better than therapy. It’s so important,” Sheepshead Bay resident Marina Rubin said. “Usually by the end of the dance, whatever was bothering me, I have it resolved. An answer comes.”
Rebecca Kostyuchenko, from Park Slope, has a regular playlist which includes “Church” by Samm Henshaw, “I Like It” by Cardi B and “Little Red Corvette” by Prince.
“I’m not that inhibited to begin with. The idea of dancing alone around the park is something that I would never want to do, so the safety of the group to just let loose is amazing,” said Kostyuchenko. “I’m disappointed when we start rounding the top of the circle. I’m usually really fast and I like to skip and jump so I usually end up in front. But I end up going a little slower because I don’t want it to be over.”
Sayoko Kojima, from Park Slope, agreed.
“It frees myself. You do whatever you want and who cares,” she said. “I’m from Japan. People are kind of reserved. Dance Walk is crazy. Let’s be crazy!”
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