A Restored Pratt Street
Through improved and restored retail storefronts, renovated residential spaces, and curated programming, Pratt St is being rediscovered.
HARTFORD — It’s time to break out your dancing shoes because the Hartford Business Improvement District’s most anticipated summer event, the Pratt Street Salsa Social, returns this Friday.
Once a month, from May through September, families from the state are invited to salsa dance down Pratt Street, known as the heart of downtown Hartford, in a judgment-free and high-energy environment.
Chip McCabe, director of placemaking and events at the Hartford Business Improvement District, said the event is very community oriented and fun for every family member, from grandparents to young children. The monthly event usually has a big turnout of around 800 guests.
“The street is just one big dance floor with people dancing, and it’s a very family-friendly event,” McCabe said. “We see people of all ages from all over the state really who come into downtown Hartford to salsa dance and have a good time for a few hours.”
McCabe said the Hartford Business Improvement District started the Pratt Street Salsa Social four years ago because of the large Latino population in and around Hartford. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 45.5% of Hartford is Latino or Hispanic. He explained that carrying out the salsa social also began due to the response to similar events across the state.
“We know that salsa dancing at many of the different venues and restaurants across the cities was very popular,” McCabe said. “And we were looking to do some free outdoor community-type events that would appeal to what people were already doing. And salsa dancing is one of those things. So it just made sense for us to offer up once a month a night where people can come and join salsa music and salsa dancing for free on the street.”
Lacey Escobales, a supervisor at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio West Farms, located at 623 Hartford Road in New Britain, said the studio had sponsored the salsa social for about three years. A few Arthur Murray Dance Studios in the state bring their students to the monthly summer event to bring the energy, get more people involved and get the dancing going.
“Honestly, our students love the community,” Escobales said. “They love the atmosphere. Some people need to dance to let go of stress. So a lot of them like when they go for those three hours where they don’t have to think about anything in the world other than dancing. It’s really cool.”
Escobales, who has been teaching for almost 19 years, said the dance atmosphere of the community is “wonderful” and she enjoys sharing her love of dance with guests.
“I love going to this awesome social event because not only is it for our students to get out there and dance more out in public, but it’s also good for us to share the love of dancing with everybody else,” Escobales said. “It’s just such a wonderful event, and the people that we meet and how happy people are to hear music and move their bodies to the beat is just so wonderful.”
She explained that the event is a good way for anyone, regardless of their level of dance expertise, to put themselves out there and immerse themselves in a care-free atmosphere and bond over the popular Latin dance.
” I always want to let everyone know it is open to the public,” Escobales said. “So if you’ve never danced before, or if you’ve never even taken a salsa class, we love going there and we will even just show you some basics. So you don’t really have to have any dance experience to go, because the community there is so great and there’s always someone to meet and people to talk to.”
The free outdoor celebration of cultural pride will take place on May 26 from 5-8 p.m. and is made possible by its sponsor, Hartford HealthCare.
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