Jamaica Dance Party Ready to Fill Gap Left by Brooklyn's 'First Saturdays'

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on November 1, 2013 10:49am 

 First Fridays aim to be an opportunity for social and professional networking.
First Fridays aim to be an opportunity for social and professional networking.
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Jamaica Center BID

QUEENS — Friday night fever is taking over Jamaica.

In a bid to fill the void left by the once-packed Target First Saturdays dance party at the Brooklyn Museum — which was toned down last year to tamp down on the dancing — the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) is putting together its own monthly dance party with the help of the Jamaica Center BID.

Organizers said they want to give Queens culture vultures a taste of the latest in art, food, culture and a rollicking dance party.

The first get-together kicks off on Nov. 1 — and will feature a DJ.

“We’ll encourage people to dance,” said Akua-Akilah Anokye of JCAL.

“When you are a business professional, you are running in and out of your office from 9 to 5 and that’s about it,” added Anokye. “We want to open our space for them and we want them to understand that there is a place for them in Jamaica to come Friday evening for drinks, networking, light food and some great music.”

Participants will also have a chance to get to know each other, exchange ideas, learn about various art events and new venues in downtown Jamaica and meet local artists and vendors, organizers said.

There will be food tastings and participants will be invited to help make a short video about Jamaica, which will be shown at a future gathering.

As First Fridays expands, Anokye said it will likely move to a larger location at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, which is run by JCAL, and the event will become “an official dance party,” modeled after Target First Saturdays.

The free dance parties at the Brooklyn Museum were extremely popular until the dance party portion of the event ended last October.

According to statistics provided by the Jamaica Center BID, about 158,000 people work in downtown Jamaica. About a third of them are young professionals in management, law, medicine and academics.

Felicia Tunnah, executive director of the Jamaica Center, said First Fridays will bring more nightlife activity to the neighborhood.

“We want people to connect downtown Jamaica more with arts and culture,” she said. “We want people to think like: ‘oh, I’m going to Jamaica to see an art performance or to have dinner and really make an evening of it.”

First Fridays are for young professionals ages 25 and up. Entry fee is $5 with a business card, $10 without. The first event is free. JCAL is located at 161-04 Jamaica Ave. First Fridays start at 7 p.m.

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