Dancing the night away in Forest Hills
by Michael Perlman
Oct 11, 2016 | 10315 views | 0 0 comments | 146 146 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Freak Out Let's Dance Festival
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It was a night to remember, as Grammy-winning songwriter, producer and guitarist Nile Rodgers presented the “Freak Out Let’s Dance” Festival at Forest Hills Stadium this past weekend.

It was the penultimate concert of the 2016 season, which turned America’s first tennis stadium into a five-hour outdoor disco party. Music fans danced and sang, refusing to allow intense downpours to place a damper on the show, which was largely a celebration of the soul of the 70s and 80s.

“We’re used to having one legend on stage at a time, but in this case we're ecstatic to have four on one night,” said concert manager Jon McMillan, who predicted beforehand it would be “the party of the year.”

The lineup featured Nile Rodgers and CHIC, the band he co-founded in the 1970s, performing hits like “Le Freak,” “Everybody Dance” and “Dance, Dance, Dance.”

Legend Bette Midler performed with Nile Rodgers, and her set included classics like “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” It was the first time she performed at the stadium since an August 1983 show.

“This is only the second time I’ve ever been to Forest Hills,” she said. “It is so gorgeous and glamorous up here.

“When Nile invited me, I was going to break out my platform shoes from the old days, but I realized I’d fall from that height and end my life,” she joked with the audience.

The high energy, elaborately costumed Village People performed their memorable numbers “YMCA,” “In The Navy” and “Macho Man.” Earth, Wind & Fire energized the stage with genre-spanning hits such as “Shining Star,” “Let’s Groove” and “Fantasy.”

The festival also featured Alex Newell, Studio 54’s DJ Nicky Siano, and the iconic DJ Cassidy.

Among the crowning moments was a rendition of “We Are Family,” with Nile Rodgers joined on stage by the multitude of musicians and dancers.

Miri Malach flew in from Boca Raton for the show, and as part of her VIP package met Rodgers.

“I enjoyed getting a minute alone with Nile, who is friendly, affable and warm,” she said. “The Village People instructed us on the proper way to do the ‘YMCA’ at weddings and bar mitzvahs, and Bette Midler has been one of my favorite stars for decades. I was thrilled to finally see her.”

For New Jersey resident Sandy Goldbeck King, the festival brought back memories of Midler’s 1983 concert.

“The incomparable Bette Midler is fun and energetic, but also moving,” she said. “I have distinct memories of when her backup singers the Harlettes were dressed as mermaids.”

“Hearing what was voted the happiest song of all time, Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘September,’ a mere two weeks after my beloved mom Barbara Ginzburg passed on was uplifting for me, as music is always therapeutic,” said Evan Ginzburg, a Forest Hills resident and host of the Net TV show “Evan Ginzburg's Legends TV.”

Bronx resident Catherine Joyner grew up during the disco era and attended the show with her friends from the High School of Music & Art as part of their reunion.

“We were vocal majors and sang along to most numbers, such as ‘Good Times’ by CHIC which wakes me up each morning,” she said. “If it wasn’t for our reunion, we wouldn’t have seen this concert.”

Manhattan resident Halli Moskowitz is a self-described “huge fan” of old school hip-hop artists Grandmaster Melle Mel and Doug E Fresh, who made an appearance.

“Back in the day, I actually danced with Felipe Rose of the Village People on the dance floor,” she said.

“I was incredibly impressed with how tight Nile Rodgers and his band were, and of course how Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire can still hit those high notes,” said Brooklyn Heights resident Kara Hailey, before praising the stadium. “It is intimate, which is rare for an outdoor venue.”
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