Dance Parade and Festival in New York City is the world’s largest display of cultural diversity. Every year, on the third Saturday of May, over 10,000 dancers fill the streets of Manhattan showcasing over 100 dance styles from ballet to break-dancing. The parade usually starts on 21st & Broadway at 1 pm and passes through Union Square to a Grandstand in Astor Place. The show ends with a vibrant DanceFest that takes place on five stages in Tompkins Square Park.
The opportunity to perform in the Parade and Dance Fest is a fantastic motivation for all participants. Everyone can participate in the Dance Parade joining live bands, DJs and colorful floats, celebrating all styles of dance. The parade also keeps historical and ethnic dances alive, from Armenian Folk dancing to Bolivian Caporales and Zouk.
Dance Parade was founded as a protest to New York City's dancing license requirement ("Cabaret License") that restricted dance to only 100 venues in the city. A judge had ruled that social dance found in nightclubs, tango, salsa, hip-hop that wasn't on stage was not protected by 1st Amendment as free speech. Each year since the parade's inaugural first year in 2007, the parade featured a square of Dance Police (NYDP). Unlike the Cabaret Task force from the Guiliani era who ticketed venues without licenses for dance licenses, the NYDP would take "bySTANDers" in the parade for not dancing—Violators would then get a summons to dance court which would result in a free coupon for a dance lesson or dance party. Greg Miller worked with lawyers and advocates in 2017 to finally overturn the cabaret license law.
The best opportunity to enjoy the parade is to watch from the Grandstand seating stationed at the junction of University Place and 8th Street. Tickets priced from $35 to $100 support the production of Dance Parade and DanceFest. Seating at the Grandstand begins at 12:30 pm. The ticket guarantees you a seat in the Grandstand; however, spots are taken on a first come, first served basis, thus for the best seats try to arrive early.
The post-parade festival in Tompkins Square Park is another excellent opportunity to enjoy the performance and the unique atmosphere of the Annual Dance Parade. At DanceFest, participants and viewers come together to watch free dance performances and to take free dance trial lessons.