Once again Fridays in July and the first two weeks of August people were found dancing the night away at Dancing in the Street, made possible by the Oyster Bay Main Street Association, a grassroots and non-profit organization who host the event.
Celebrating its 12th year, the free music and dance event has become more and more popular. It was originally born out of the Main Street’s mission to promote historic downtown Oyster Bay by providing initiatives and events for the community and visitors.
“At the heart of any downtown revitalization is community,” Meredith Maus, the association’s executive director said. “One of the best ways to foster that feeling of community is to bring people together.”
There is hope that by coming to an event, people will also want to experience one of the local restaurants or visit the many shops in the hamlet. Maus said people were disappointed when Dancing was canceled during the coronavirus pandemic. It came back in 2021.
“It was so well received then, and people were just so excited to be able to come out and be back together,” Maus recalled. “Honestly, it was great.”
Dancing attracts on average 100 to 250 people a night. They include singles and couples of all ages. And those who come out are both local community members and those from other areas. People have even been known to travel from as far away as Manhattan and eastern Long Island to attend.
The music and dancing are led by well-known DJ and dancer, Louis Del Prete who plays music from the 1940s to current hits. Dances include ballroom, the waltz, electric slide, line dance, twist and mambo. Del Prete spends the evening singing, leading the dance instruction and entertaining the crowd.
“There is something for everyone,” said Del Prete, who has been in the music and entertainment business his entire life. “It’s a night out for everyone and they enjoy the music.”
People come early, arriving at 6:30 p.m. to set up their lawn chairs on the sidewalk. Some are dressed to dance and others, more casually. The music begins promptly at 7 p.m. when Del Prete invites dancers of all abilities to get up and have fun.
Diane Meltzer, chair of the promotions committee for the Oyster Bay Main Street Association, organizes Dancing. For Meltzer, it’s all about ensuring the evening is fun, regardless whether people dance or watch.
“Not everyone dances. Some people come and sit in their chairs and enjoy the music,” said Meltzer, adding that sometimes they become inspired watching others and join in. “They hear that music and see everyone getting out there on the street and they want to be a part of it. Then they do it and they find they love it.”
This year’s event sponsors were local Oyster Bay businesses including The Wine Line, Stellina Ristorante and Stellina Bakery. For more information about Oyster Bay Main Street Association, visit OysterBayMainStreet.org or call (516) 922-6982.