The early Bastille Day street fair
A "joie de vivre" affair!
For over 20 years, Bastille Day on 60th Street, presented by the FIAF (French Institute Alliance Française), has been New York’s largest public celebration of France’s Independence Day : July 14, 1789 and its historic friendship with the United States.
Founded at the turn of 20th century, the FIAF offers unique access to French language and culture at the beautiful Beaux Arts building in Manhattan as well as at the satellites in Brooklyn and in Montclair, New Jersey. Marie-Monique Steckel, president since 2004.
In previous years, the FIAF's street fair took place on some of the hottest days of the year. Last Sunday was an exception, with sunny skies and a slight breeze, it made the outdoor fête all the more enjoyable. Flocks of francophiles came to sample French cuisine, music, dance (even some French Can-Can) on a three block stretch made to look like a "fête populaire". Two accomplished makeup artists sat patiently for scores of children, their skillful and intricate designs popped up everywhere, even on a few lucky adults! French cuisine ranged from crêpes to frites, baguette sandwiches and pastries. People were either standing in line, or walking around munching.
Frank Muhel, renowned choreographer and teacher from Martinique gave Zouk lessons to those brave enough to get on stage and shake a leg...or two..
French Mime Catherine Gasta (Cat Gasta) roamed the crowd with pantominme routines, to delight the crowds.
It’s Showtime NYC! gave a breathtaking Hip Hop dance performance and demonstration on stage. Even though their program celebrates and promotes New York City street culture, and provides performance for street and subway dancers, they fit in nicely with the overall French theme.
I was very fortunate to get into the corporate/press lounge at Amali restaurant on the 60th street near Madison avenue. Apart from the active bar and standard French finger food, there was a very nice group of people, most taking a break from working their booths. It gave people a break from the crowd and a chance for sponsors to get to know one another. This is where I ran into Marie -Monique Steckel, president of the FIAF. She has so much energy and enthusiasm. Now there is someone to follow!
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