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Hudson Theatre 1 Event Spaces Midtown West Theater District

The theatre is closed for renovations.  It will eventually reopen as a Broadway house.

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Hudson Theatre 1 Event Spaces Midtown West Theater District
Hudson Theatre 2 Event Spaces Midtown West Theater District

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Lost Gem
Rainbow Room 1 Bars Event Spaces Rooftop Bars Brunch American Rockefeller Center Midtown West

Rainbow Room

“I’ve never seen Central Park look so small,” our photographer, Tom, exclaimed when we reached the sixty-fifth floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. We were gazing out at a dazzling view, seen by the fortunate visitors who ascend the elevators to the Rainbow Room, a dining destination since the mid 1930s that has recently re-opened after a five year “facelift.” For the time being, the public is invited for brunch on Sundays and dinner on Mondays, with the rest of the week reserved for private events.When the Manhattan Sideways team arrived, the late afternoon sun was streaming through the windows, and it became immediately apparent why the restaurant is known as the “Rainbow” Room. From the crystal "curtains" on the windows to the glass balustrades on the railings, each element turns the rays of light into beguiling dancing rainbows - and the ultimate glittering piece is found in the center of the ceiling where the spectacular crystal chandelier hangs. Above the fixture is a circlet of bulbs referred to as "the globe" that can change color and alter the quality of light emitted from the chandelier in order to match different party themes.If looking up was not enough to wow each of us, the marketing team giving us the grand tour then directed our eyes down to the other centerpiece of the room: the rotating dance floor. We were happy to learn that just as much dancing happens today as in the 1930s. We were told that in the weeks since the Rainbow Room unveiled its new look, guests have been eagerly stepping onto the gently spinning disk each night. The two women guiding us through the space agree that this is part of the allure of the Rainbow Room, as it is one of the few places in the city where patrons can dance in ways they are unable to in a nightclub. When I asked the ladies if they had had the chance to try out the dance floor, one of them grinned and admitted that yes, indeed she had. She described the exciting, dizzying feeling of stepping off in between songs to return to her table. I did not have the pleasure of experiencing the dance floor some twenty plus years ago, but I do remember an enchanting evening when I listened to my childhood idol, Leslie Gore, sing some of her classic songs from the 60s including, "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows!"The Rainbow Room is not the only dining establishment on the sixty-fifth floor. Down the hall, past the covered seating area called “the gallery," SixtyFive was bathed in the light of the sunset. The bar has an excellent after-work vibe with a direct view of the Empire State Building. It also has a new balcony where outdoor seating is available and allows for some of Manhattan's most breathtaking and majestic views."I am thrilled to be part of an iconic reopening, a part of New York history," Molly Cohen, the beverage director, declared. While spending time with us, sharing the joy of traveling up sixty-five floors to her job every evening, she explained that she was in charge of creating the exciting cocktail list, broken down in the menu as either “classic” or “contemporary.” Molly said that her goal is to pay homage to the traditional drinks (since modern mixology "began at the Rainbow Room") and to keep everything simple but imaginative. She is not a fan of being “fussy for the sake of being fussy,” and prefers uncomplicated drinks that are very well thought-out. She continued by saying that she is equally proud of her wine list. "It is easy to create an excellent cocktail, but harder to please wine drinkers." Molly encourages people to think of SixtyFive as a great place to return to for a night with friends or business associates, not just as a location for special occasions. She believes that there is a magical quality about the Rainbow Room and SixtyFive: “It’s hard to have a bad time.”While sitting by the windows, peering out over New York, sipping on cocktails, and sampling some of the new, incredible food items rolling out that evening, we had the pleasure of speaking to Keith Douglas. As the managing director, he told us that he has been a central player during the renovation. He shared the story of bringing up pieces of the old dance floor and finding confetti and newspaper clippings from the 1940s. As he is planning the future of the Rainbow Room, he says he keeps remembering those hidden memories. He thinks about how in eighty years time, another crazy managing director could pull up the floor, see his name, and ask, “Who’s Keith Douglas?”

Lost Gem
Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana 1 Event Spaces Dance Dance Studios Midtown West

Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana

Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana fills a very important role in Manhattan: It is not only one of the few flamenco schools and companies in the city, but it also provides studios for those who tend to make a lot of noise and roughen up the floors while dancing. In 2007, Flamenco Vivo moved to its current space in a building reserved strictly for non-profits (including many other arts organizations). As Hanaah Frechette, the Managing Director, quipped, “We are a non-profit in the middle of Midtown madness.” She explained that before 2007, many flamenco groups would meet at what she called “the Mecca of flamenco” down the street. When that building was demolished, Flamenco Vivo realized that they had to step up to the plate and find another place where flamenco dancers could exuberantly stomp and stamp. “We are catering to the percussive crowd,” Hanaah said with a smile.Flamenco Vivo started out solely as a dance company. It was founded in 1983 by Carlota Santana and Roberto Lorca. Though Roberto passed away in the late eighties, Carlota still acts as the Artistic Director for the company, spending most of the year in North Carolina, where she teaches at Duke University and runs a second location of Flamenco Vivo in Durham. Carlota has been honored by the Government of Spain with "La Cruz de la Orden al Merito Civil" for promoting, teaching, and performing flamenco throughout the world, and she has been called “The Keeper of Flamenco” by Dance Magazine. Hanaah proudly told us, “As a founder, she’s very involved. She’s spearheaded everything from the beginning.”The company is composed of both local artists and guest artists from Spain, and the dancers train both in the United States and Europe. In addition to touring, they do a lot of work here in New York, thanks to the Flamenco in the Boros program, which has been offering free shows in libraries, schools, and museums. “We offer high quality performances in unusual spaces.” Hanaah went on to emphasize that the company also does arts education outreach, which includes a lot of work with English as a Second Language students, to help them feel more engaged in their communities. In addition, they have a choreographic residency each year in conjunction with a competition in Madrid. Hanaah was excited to tell us that it is her turn, this year, to travel to Madrid and present the prize to the winner. The residency allows Flamenco Vivo to support a new generation of dancers and choreographers. The studio recently started hosting a New York State Choreography Competition, hoping to foster the same growth and spirit.Offering classes is a more recent development. Most of Flamenco Vivo’s classes are geared towards beginners, but the studios are also rented out to other programs and independent teachers. I met Juana Cala who, in addition to being an instructor for Flamenco Vivo, also holds her own classes here. I witnessed one composed of a diverse group of women. “Flamenco lends itself to all abilities,” Hanaah pointed out. She added that dancers do not need to have a specific body type in order to become a master of the form, and that participants often range in age from eighteen to seventy-five. Flamenco Vivo’s other programs reach an even broader age range: For example, Hanaah told me about the studio’s fun family-friendly holiday program, Navidad Flamenca, which explores the traditions of the Spanish-speaking world. “I love how robust and accessible our programming is,” Hanaah gushed.The breadth and openness of Flamenco Vivo’s work echoes the art form itself. Hanaah admitted that before she came in contact with flamenco, she thought the dance form was “a complex mysterious being.” It was not until she started coming in contact with flamenco that she realized “there are lots of points of entry.” Not only does flamenco rely on many different types of artists (singers, dancer, musicians, etc.), but it also relies on many different cultures, including Sephardic Jewish, Islamic, and, of course, Spanish. Hanaah stated, “It’s an art form born of the people.”