Wednesdays are the new Fridays at Sunset Park.
Musician and producer Willie Villegas, the brains behind the wildly successful Salsa Sundays at Industry City, is bringing the fun to weeknights this summer, starting July 11 with the new Salsa Wednesdays.
Villegas and his team host the events, which include a dancer who teaches salsa as well as live entertainment from popular salsa artists.
“I was approached by Industry City about three years ago to produce a free, outdoor community event for the Sunset Park area and for the true lovers of salsa music,” he said. “We are celebrating our third year and we’ve been quite successful with Sundays, so much so that we’re going to start doing Salsa Wednesdays. We want to get people to come right from work to Industry City to have a great time salsa dancing.”
Villegas, a band leader who’s played for many years with award winning artists like Eddie Palmieri, believes salsa plays an important role in the Sunset community.
“As a band leader myself, I knew where the music of salsa was going. I felt most clubs that can’t generate enough funds were having a hard time keeping live entertainment alive,” he said.
The event, he added, is “about giving back to the community where people can’t go to clubs anymore and get live entertainment. Most clubs are using deejays now and at this point everyone wants to see live entertainment close to their home. There’s nothing in Brooklyn that is offering what I am.”
Industry City’s Filament at the Landing is the ideal spot, according to the acclaimed producer.
“The good thing about the landing is that there are a couple of pool tables there,” he said. “There’s a lounge. There’s a great dance floor. We’re going to have live entertainment, but we’re also going to be giving salsa lessons for those who don’t know how to dance or won’t attempt to go to a dance school to learn.”
It’s all about making salsa accessible, Villegas said.
“We’re trying to broaden the horizon to make sure everyone involved gets a little piece of the salsa music in the live entertainment,” he said. “The objective is for everyone to come and have a great time. In my opinion, when you dance salsa, you forget about everything else and everyone wants to be a part of it. Industry city hit it right on the button by doing events there because Sunset Park is one of the biggest Latino communities in New York.”
Villegas developed a love for music at an early age.
“I was lead trombone in the marching band in Junior High School 117 Francis Scott Key,” he said. “The salsa music didn’t hit me until my mother bought her first album, which was Eddie Palmieri. I heard that album and I was immediately hooked. I went from trombone to playing as a Latin percussionist to this very day. I was fortunate enough to travel the world and I’ve performed with many Latin Grammy Award winners. I’m proud of my background in the music I’ve done.”
As for Salsa Wednesdays, Villegas hopes attendees leaving his events will say three things: “One is that they had a great time in Industry City, two, that the band is awesome and three, those who don’t know how to dance will leave knowing to dance salsa.”
Salsa Wednesdays will debut at Filament at the Landing, 220 36 St. in Industry City on Wednesday, July 11 from 6 to 11 p.m. The next ones with be July 18 and 25. For more information, visit www.industrycity.com/event/salsa-wednesday.