If you’re looking for a little evening activity on Shelter Island, head over to the Pridwin Hotel on Thursdays for Salsa and Sangria Night.
Each week, the hotel hosts a free night of salsa dancing with a dance instructor. At the same time, the Pridwin bar serves up its own housemade sangria. What began last year as a test run is now firmly entrenched at the site.
“The Pridwin is famous for its Wednesday barbeque, so Thursday was always a day that people wanted to relax, including the staff and our guests,” said James Gibson, guest experience manager at the hotel. “But we wanted to do something that was relaxed and fun, without the high pressure of the barbeque.”
Gibson wears many hats at the Pridwin. One of his responsibilities is making sure guests and staff are happy and that things run smoothly.
“One of our bartenders had traveled through Mexico and knew the culture a bit. He came up with some of the drinks we’ve incorporated, but we found that sangria was our number one drink,” Gibson said. “We make it ourselves and it’s always a great seller. So this year we’re calling it ‘Salsa and Sangria.'”
Salsa instructor Alexandra Binder is certified in ballroom and Latin dance instruction. Last Thursday, at the first Salsa and Sangria of the season, she strolled among diners and bar patrons, inviting them to join her on the floor. During quiet moments, she danced solo on the dance floor, showcasing some intricate dance moves.
“I’m kind of on call, which means the music is playing and people can come in if they want a lesson,” explained Binder. “We did it last summer. It was the first time and it caught on, especially now, with the season in full swing.”
On a recent night, everyone wanted to dine on the hotel’s outdoor patio and was willing to wait for a table to do so. By 8:30 p.m., patrons began wandering into the ballroom to engage Binder. She lined the first couple up side by side and showed them the basic back and forth steps of salsa. Soon, another couple, watching from the sidelines, joined them on the floor.
After a few moments, the two couples were joined hand-in-hand with their partners and went through a slow, methodical dance step as Binder looked on. The salsa music continued without a beat as more patrons wandered by to watch.
“It was great; she was wonderful,” Heidi Rain of Noyack said of Binder’s lesson. “As a matter of fact, we were thinking of taking a samba class next Tuesday in Bridgehampton, so this was like a warmup.”
Tom Oleszczuk, also of Noyack, concurred. “We were absolute beginners and now we know the steps,” he said.
“Salsa and Sangria” takes place every Thursday night from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Pridwin Hotel through Aug. 27. On that final Thursday in August, a Latin band will perform.
The Pridwin Hotel is located at 81 Shore Road on Shelter Island. For more information, visit www.pridwin.com.