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Saturday, June 15, 2024
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St. Thomas Scene!

The dance floor at Havana Blue was on fire Saturday night when the salsa kings and queens took over the restaurant. It was HOT, HOT, HOT and no amount of water could cool the vibe. The first Salsa Dance Competition was held following an entertaining evening at the Reichhold Center for the Arts featuring Ballet Hispanico. And the joy was that the dancers from the company joined local dancers at the restaurant …and that was magic.
Patrice Johnson and dance partner
Patrice Johnson, who has been leading the movement in St. Thomas to bring more folks to the salsa experience, lit some of the first flames on the dance floor as she shimmied and shook in a beautiful little black number reminiscent of the participants in “Dancing with the Stars.
Five couples entered the salsa competition. Patrice and Ishmael; Welby and Ursula Warner; Joe and Billye Mayo; Harry and Yvette Freeman and Dilsa Capdeville and Vernon Finch. And the winners are…….Harry and Yvette Freeman who wowed the crowd with their totally smooth moves. They received ovation after ovation as they glided around the floor in total synchrony. All of the couples were quite wonderful and I can’t wait for the next competition. Among those enjoying the dance from the sidelines were, Charlene Kehoe, Clara Stryker, Sheena Conway, Lida Rogers, Lucy Gunther, Karen Gutloff, Millie Bough, Veronica Handy-Smith and Cynthia Gomez who was one of the judges and who teaches salsa at Antilles on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7pm. I’m joining! Salssa contest winners Harry and Yvette Freeman
Prior to going to HB, we attended the performance of Ballet Hispanico. A small glitch with late arrivals caused a slight delay in the usual prompt 8 pm start time. The opening number was a series of sexy and sensuous pas de deux providing a sizzling start.
Since the huge success of TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars and America’s Dance Crew, everybody is a dance critic…even me. So I found the evening’s overall performance a little uneven. The solos and duets were standout but some of the ensemble performances were just off …..all except the finale.
At the curtain call, Billye Biscoe who was there with his wife Avian, jumped to his feet and wolf whistled and applauded with gusto. We spotted Sam and Josandra James, Jomo McClean, Felipe Ayala with his Mom, also Millie Carpenter, Julie Dukes accompanied by the cutest little future dance stars, Renee Hazelwood, Kim and Beegs Bonelli and hisDad, Brother B, George Blackhall, Ija Mills, Ron and Angela Belfon, Felicia Blake, Laverne Ragster, Raul Carrillo, Noreen Michael, Susan and Don Chandler, Rosalie Javois, Michael Bornn, Curtis and Ilene Garner, Sophie Nielle with her daughter, Nia, along with Camille McKayle and her husband, Robert Stoltz.
To start our weekend, on Friday evening we attended the opening of a new show by St. Thomas artist, Augustine Holder at the VI Council on the Arts gallery. This was his first solo showing and some of his work is just wonderful. So wonderful, that quite a few pieces were already sold by the time we arrived. The very appreciative audience who came to view and be supportive of this relatively new talent included Augustine’s brother, Robert and sister, Kathleen. His daughter, Alex served as his able assistant for the evening. Dear friend and master chef, Carrie Freyn prepared the simple but delicious repast. Among those attending the opening were Carrie’s husband, Harry, Cordelia Jones, Tariq Grosvenor, Chardonay Maharaj, Elyse Barthelemy, Dalton Carty, Vernon Araujo, Kim Moore, Mabel Maduro, Tregenza Roach, Nzingha, William Chandler, Inez Barteltte with her granddaughter, Je’synia, Gail Praag, Jacqueline Van Holten, Riise Richards, Carol Hart, Cordelia Jones, Ethel Tucker, Alton Evans and Kelly Thompson-Webbe. The show is up for a month so stop by the VI Council on the Arts and check it out.
On Sunday we were invited to the UVI beach picnic at Brewer’s Bay, but before joining the alumni we met up with good friend, Rosary Harper, who was at Magen’s Bay with avid gardener, and my neighbor, Ruth Gomez, along with Desiree and Daniel. Ooooooh lawdy! It must be winter. The water was goosebump chilly and the surf was rougher than we’ve seen in a while. Nonetheless, I was reminded of how much I take this piece of paradise for granted. So to make up for lost beach time, after leaving Magens Bay I headed to the UVI picnic.
DJ Keg was blowing it up with hit after hit after hit while UVI alums sat around shooting the breeze and munching on the victuals catered by Willie, until Keg droppedthe Electric Slide. Then they got to their feet and danced away under the sea grape trees which provided much needed shade.
We chatted briefly with new prez, Dr. David Hall who was not wearing short pants..(inside joke courtesy of DJ Keg…ask him!) Although relatively new to the helm of our university, Dr. Hall fit in really easily with the alums and friends who came out to support the annual event. The highlight for me was watching the UVI slide. Such fun!
We chatted with Jackie Sprauve, Dale Morton, Linda Smith, VP Henry Smith and his wife Peggy, Maureen Moorhead who came over from St. Croix, as well as Rick Grant, Clarence Nibbs, Pat Esdaille, Ardrina Scott-Elliott, Michele Smitherman, Judith Hodge, Mervyn Taylor, and Deana Payne, and we saw Gary Metz, Cordell Williams, Jacqueline O’Neal and her sister, Carolyn who had come over from the BVI, as well as Delawn Mercer who flew in from Rhode Island for the celebration.
The UVI Bucs team who squeaked a narrow victory over U. Met PR the night before, were there to get some R&R in the midst of Paradise Jam 2009. We saw Nagid Brown and Jahaua Joseph huddled over what seemed to be a friendly chess match while other team members were enjoying the ambience of the beach and the special drink prepared by Petite Pump Room and named for the team called, Bucs Blue Punch, served in blue cups….but of course.
For those of you in the Los Angeles area, please go to see my long time friend from back in the day in NYC, Loretta Devine in her new cabaret show on December 3rd, 4th and 5th at the Upright Cabaret, located at Hollywood and Vermont. This is an incredible treat from someone who is so busy that she hasn’t had the time to do a cabaret in 15 years. She sent me an invite and alas we can’t get there. Loretta is one of the original Dreamgirls, who also starred in Waiting to Exhale and has been a regular on Grey’s Anatomy. It’s great that she’s going back to her first love, singing. When you go to the show, please give her a huge hug for me and encourage her to bring the show to the VI.
SCENE…….!
Send your invitations to june.archibald@gmail.com or source@viaccess.com

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