Inside La Luna Dance Studio, students whirl like colorful tops, salsa dancing, tango dancing, or swing dancing atop a 5,000-square-foot dance floor as a crystal-clear sound system pumps tunes. Encouraging instructors stand nearby, breaking down the music and the steps of each style, as friends, partners, and the newly acquainted bond over each tap of their toes. While the studio specializes in these adult Latin-dance courses, junior-level programs welcome kids aged 3 and older, and all classes are scaled to beginner, intermediate, or advanced levels. In addition to their comprehensive month-long programs, the sashayers host special events and dance parties, such as BYOB Salsa Friday every second and fourth weekend, and an annual symposium on the safety risks of holding roses in your teeth.
A union of Middle Eastern and Western cultures, Fire N Ice Hookah Bar combines the laid-back charm of a hookah lounge with the music and swank of a nightclub. Customers roam through the electric bi-level space flooded by soft colorful lighting before picking their poison—hookah, drinks, food, or all three.
In the hookah lounge, they curl up on plush sofas cushioned by satiny pillows and reach out every so often to grasp the hookah pipe as it’s passed around, inhaling any one of 25 exotic hookah flavors. The smoke spirals up toward Middle Eastern tapestries hanging overhead or snakes around the top-shelf cocktails perched beside the pipe. It even intermingles briefly with the aromas wafting from Middle Eastern dishes—such as chicken tikka, korma sliders, and kebabs—before vanishing into the air as quickly as a magician at a science fair.
As the night lingers on, Fire N Ice begins its transformation into a full-blown nightclub. Belly dancers take to the stage first, twisting and shimmying across the spacious dance floor. By 11 p.m., the club's three DJs begin spinning top R & B and hip-hop hits intermixed with a few Arabian jams, signaling to guests that it's their turn to hit the floor.
The banners of New York's sports teams hang from the ceiling at Play Sports Bar, a space lined with flat-screen TVs tuned to sporting events all while more than 100 different beers flow from the bar. The diverse selection of bottles and drafts, many of them craft beers, complements a menu of traditional sports-bar fare such as burgers, wings, and pizza that can be molded into a football. On nights throughout the week, the bar is enlivened by events such as live music, beer tastings, and karaoke.
Head chef Andrew DiCataldo helms Patria Restaurant and Mixology Lounge, crafting Latin fusion cuisine so artfully executed it moved the New York Times to advise readers: "Don't miss the place". DiCataldo's menu highlights classic ingredients such as avocado, plantains, and queso fresco, presenting them in contemporary updates of traditional Latin dishes. Patria and its afterhours lounge are divided in both atmosphere and décor, alternating between the restaurant's scarlet walls, rich wood furniture, and luxurious curtains, and the lounge's cool-toned lights, well-stocked bars, and wizards attempting to resurrect disco.
The sizzling of Cajun batter-fried shrimp mingles with the sweet twang of acoustic guitars and smoky jazz vocals. This distinct bouquet of sounds and smells is the essence of The Crossroads, a venue that describes itself as an amalgamation of classic Cajun and American stylings: “[It's] as if NY and N'awlins had a baby and moved to the suburbs.” Patrons can sate their appetites with a menu of soul and Cajun fare escorted by a choice of libations, including more than 40 martinis. Nightly musical guests have included local and national acts spanning the genres of jazz, bluegrass, and classic-rock cover bands. Nightly events and specials keep energy high. Every Tuesday, guests pay no cover charges and can climb onstage with their finely tuned instruments or an array of water-filled pint glasses for the open Jazz Jam with the house’s trio of musicians.
An Exotic Ambiance
Bolts of crimson and green fabric embellished with golden patterns adorn the walls of Fez Moroccan Restaurant. Seated atop cushioned stools, diners surround the room's low-slung circular tables as Moroccan music echoes throughout the space and Friday and Saturday evenings herald the arrival of belly dancers. Collectively, these elements create an unmistakably Morroccan atmosphere.
A Feast for the Senses
As evidenced by the swirling aromas of saffron, honey and almonds, and harissa-cumin sauces, the chefs are equally committed to the task of capturing the essence of Morocco. In addition to the selection of kabobs and tagines, the menu features a variety of vegetarian as well as meat-laden couscous dishes. The savory smells mingle with the slightly sweet smoke of the fruit-flavored shisha smoldering in the hookahs.
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