Dance the night away at Italian Charities
If you’re looking for a place to bust a move on Saturday night, then we have just the spot for you.
Saturday Night Live’s Stefon might say Queens’ hottest dance club is Italian Charities of America in Elmhurst, where every other weekend a wide range of music is played and people fill up the floor for four hours.
The event has its faithful followers, such as husband-and-wife duo Judy and Craig Bazelaire and the Queens Chronicle’s own Walter Karling, but also sees many first-timers come from time to time.
And it doesn’t matter what type of music you’re into — there’s something for everyone to dance to.
DJ Ray Reggio on March 24 played salsa music one moment, a slow Frank Sinatra song the next,bachata right after that and then a hit from the 1970s.
While some people only danced to one type of music, many could be seen changing their moves between tracks and staying with their partners, or finding new ones, for much of the night.
Dominick Gampino, president of the Italian Charities of America, said the dances have been going on for decades.
From what I hear, when they had these even going up to the 1970s everyone would come fully decked in the finest clothes,
The men would come in their tuxedos and the women in their dresses and would be wearing white gloves. It was a big event.
At first, many of the attendees were the club’s members.
The first people involved were judges and lawyers,
At one point it was the New York City Columbia Police Association that was involved and running it.
But that’s changed in recent years, due to many members becoming elderly and not making their way to the hall twice a month.
It’s less members, and more people from the community,
That means, just like the community the hall is in, the population of the dance floor is very diverse.
Back when the events first started, Queens Boulevard had many other halls hosting similar events — fraternal organizations, Elks lodges and more.
Everything was really busy,
All these clubs, cultural organizations on Queens Boulevard were, even more so than now … the places would just be packed. It was a big to-do
The same still goes for Italian Charities twice a month.
While there are always a few dozen dancers who make the events throughout the year, more can be expected during the spring and summer months.
We have a good amount of people who like to come, but depending on the weather we might get a few more or a few less,
Many of those at March 24’s event were part of the regular crowd.
Judy Bazelaire said she and her husband have been coming for many years.
We absolutely love it,
Karling, who takes photos for this paper, joked the only problem with doing a story on the dances is that everyone will want to come and the dance floor will be even more crowded. Gampino said Reggio’s style of playing many different types of music, which included requests from the audience, is typical of the DJs who provide music on other nights.
We have a couple of other DJs who do the same thing,
Maybe they play more of one than another type, but it’s always a good mix.
Attendees will also be fed, though beer and wine are not included in the cost.
The Saturday night dances are not the only social function held by Italian Charities — it has hosted a New Year’s Eve celebration for more than 30 years.
There are also flea markets held throughout the year and Gampino is planning a fashion show. The group is also known for its Sicilian language courses.
All events, including notices about the bi-monthly Saturday dances, can be found on Italian Charities of America’s Facebook page.