Seniors Show Off Moves at Hope Gardens Dance Parties

By Meredith Hoffman on August 13, 2012 9:59am 

BUSHWICK — Sara Mulero may live in Williamsburg, but one of her favorite DJ parties is in Bushwick. Late last week, she tossed on a summery floral shirt and dangly earrings and met her best girlfriend to get down on the dance floor — even though it was just after noon.

"I love dancing, it keeps me happy," said Mulero, 63, twirling alongside her pal Luz Rivera, 70, whose bracelets clinked to the beat.

Mulero and dozens of other seniors have made Tuesday and Thursday afternoon dance parties a ritual at Bushwick's Hope Gardens Community Center, where they salsa, swing, bop and sing to Spanish and pop tunes.

Locals said the Linden Street community center, part of New York City Housing Authority's Hope Gardens public housing development, has served for more than 20 years as a spot for various arts activities, from painting to dance.

For many residents, the center has become a second home.

Margareta Cherifoga, 80, has frequented Hope Gardens for the past two decades years for painting classes and has a whole room's worth of bright masterpieces there.

"These are beautiful people," said Cherifoga, a native of Ecuador, of her friends at the center. "These are my people."

And Mulero, who also frequents Williamsburg's JASA Senior Center, which has even larger parties once a month, said that those in the local dancing community all know one another, like an informal club.

"I live alone so it's important for me to get out and come dance," she said, smiling and swinging her hips. "Plus, I like to do this."

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