By Steven Froias
It started as a simple idea.
Sensing a chill in the cultural zeitgeist after the 2016 election, performance artist, DJ and dance enthusiast Andy Anello felt the need to bring people together just to dance away their blues – and connect with one another during a disjointed time.
So, he launched a night of dance parties with both himself and top-notch DJs from throughout the southern New England region under the New Moon Dance Party banner – and Body, Body, Body was born. Despite the intervention of a pandemic, the monthly Body, Body, Body parties at the Co-Creative Center have become a staple of nightlife in downtown New Bedford.
In 2021, Andy and New Moon took it outside to Riverside Park in the north end along Belleville Avenue and launched Riverside Beats – a family-friendly, casual version of the night-time dance parties.
Riverside Beats was a hit, and returned last summer for three afternoons and returns again in 2023 for two special events, the first being on Sunday, July 23 and the second on Sunday, September 3, 4-8:00 p.m. on both dates. (Note: Originally scheduled for Sunday, July 16, the dicey weather forecast led New Moon to take advantage of their previously scheduled rain date of 7/23. Rain date for the September ‘Beats’ is Sunday, Sept. 10.)
Guest DJs for the first Riverside Beats on July 23rd are the providence-based crew, Soul Teknology, including DJs Mike Delick and Yummy. Soul Teknology are purveyors of soulful/deep/Afro house music and the force behind many fantastic dance nights in Providence, according to a New Moon press release. New Moon resident DJ Neil Matheson will be on warmup duties. Closing out the summer season for New Moon, September’s guest will be local DJ Ben Berte.
Andy says the afternoon Riverside Beats are looser in feel than the night-time Body, Body, Body dance parties at the CO+. “They’re all ages,” he explains, “and looser, with more uplifting rather than darker club music. More house and disco music.”
He writes in publicity material that he founded New Moon, “to support the development of underground dance music culture in New Bedford and to help create radically inclusive parties that provide safe places for self-expression to all dancers regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or income level.”
That goal is something that comes naturally to the mild-mannered yet very creative Anello. He’s been a fan of dancing as an outlet for expression and release as long as he can remember, mostly finding it in clubs outside of New Bedford. Yet, bringing something different to the city is nothing new for him.
For years he hosted a quarterly avant-garde evening of performance art called Lunar Teeth, often in his own home at The Ropeworks building right by Riverside Park along the Acushnet River.
It’s a creative enclave; another resident, Liya Hoshi, creates the distinctive and very wonderful graphics for New Moon, which are well on their way to being iconic.
“I was reluctant to even ask her,” Andy recalls, “as she’s a top graphic designer and art director in the field.” But not only did she jump right in, she’s also on the dance floor at all New Moon dance parties and even helps set up the Riverside Beats events.
It’s another indication of the sense of community Anello and the music have created.
“It’s super-gratifying,” he says. “We are creating a community. Some people come to every event. It’s a ‘friend’ event and is fulfilling a need.”
And, you don’t even have to know how to dance. “Some people come to Riverside Beats and listen to the music in lawn chairs,” he says. Don’t be intimidated, though, if you want to get up and move your body, body, body.
“Just come out and move however you want!” advises Andy.
Again, Riverside Beats kicks off this Sunday, July 23 from 4-8:00 p.m. in Riverside Park. Guest DJs are Soul Teknology, including DJs Mike Delick and Yummy. New Moon resident DJ Neil Matheson will be on warmup duties. The Marie Equi Zine Library (MEZL) will be onsite again this year to provide the people of New Bedford with access to radical queer feminist zines and other publications.
Riverside Beats is supported in part by the Wicked Cool Places ARPA Grant by federal award number SLFRP1067 awarded to The City of New Bedford by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and is facilitated by New Bedford Creative at the NBEDC.
Riverside Beats is also supported in part by a grant from the New Bedford Local Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.
More information about New Moon Dance Party and Riverside Beats can be found on their social media accounts: facebook.com/newmoondanceparty and instagram.com/newmoondanceparty or by contacting Andy Anello directly at email@example.com.
Featured photo: Dancers enjoying the music and sunshine at Riverside Beats, August 8th, 2021.