JCAL And BID Launch ‘First Fridays’ Dance Parties

BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
Staff Writer

While Jamaica has undergone a commercial makeover by welcoming development and several new businesses to the thriving area, there still seemed to be one thing missing – nightlife.

“Downtown Jamaica doesn’t really have any nightlife activities for adults and business professionals in the area,” said Akua-Akilah Anokye, of the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.

In an effort to fill that void, JCAL, in partnership with the Jamaica Business Improvement District, has organized “First Fridays” – a monthly evening dance party infused with arts and culture.

“We really wanted to do something that spoke to young urban professionals, ages 25 to 50, that wanted a place to just come enjoy music, enjoy drinks, enjoy food and networking with other local professionals in a relaxed setting – and so this is what we created,” Anokye explained.

It has been more than 40 years since Southeast Queens attracted crowds for its nightlife.

“Years ago, there were more and more activities,” Anokye said. “What we are looking to do is revitalize those opportunities and I think that ‘First Fridays’ will serve as that springboard.”

More than 75 business professionals attended JCAL’s first “First Fridays” mixer on Nov. 1. There was a food tasting, homemade sangria, music and plenty of art. Anokye said she believed the event was a great success and hopes that it will continue to grow in popularity.

“I foresee it getting very, very big and we are ready to accommodate as the numbers grow,” she said. “For our next event, we will probably expand into the other gallery and have two rooms.”

Although JCAL’s primary goal was to encourage networking and promote Southeast Queens nightlife, Anokye said “First Fridays” is a great opportunity to embrace the arts and culture in their facility.

“It is extremely important, especially in the Southeast Queens area where we don’t have many outlets where we allow for local artists to display their visual arts and talents,” she said.

“First Fridays” will be held on the first of every month from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. The Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning is located at 161-04 Jamaica Ave., Jamaica.

There is a suggested donation of $5 for individuals with a business card and $10 for those without a business card. For more information, call JCAL at (718) 658-7400.

Reach Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or nkozikowska@queenspress.com or @nkozikowska.