Briarcliffe gets grooving at first-ever Latin Dance Party

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The sounds of lively Latin music echoed through the jam-packed community room inside Briarcliffe Manor in Johnston, which was also adorned with flags of places like Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cape Verde and Liberia.

Even before the event, people were dancing everywhere, as Cranston-based entertainer and disc jockey Eric Colin created a festive mood that even had some residents clapping to the beat and moving their walkers from side-to-side.

“This guy’s got everyone excited,” said Pamela Raymond, the assistant activities director at Briarcliffe Manor. “Today is going to be special.”

For inside of 50 minutes, seven groups made up of Briarcliffe Manor staffers from different departments took part in the Johnston-based facility’s first-ever Latin Dance Party.

“Each group goes on for about two minutes and 15 seconds,” Colan offered while adjusting his sound system as Raymond hung a Dominican Republic flag on a wall next to the speaker system. “Some will probably go a little longer.”

The event was an overwhelming success and created a buzz for another show in the near future.

In the center of it all were three staffers – Jessica Reid, Anne Scotti and Penny Riddensdale, Briarcliffe Manor’s activities director – who served as the contest judges.

Once all the point totals were added, Kim Fontes – a physical therapist who represented Cape Verde during her unique routine, which included scooting all over the designated stage area while balancing a huge wooden bowl on her head – was the contest winner.

“We all had fun,” Fontes said of all eight acts performed by a total of 14 employees who were, in most cases, decked out in special garb. “I love dancing.”

The judges announced that Sally and Angie’s group – a.k.a. the Passion Dance Company – tied for second place, with Rachel and the Helena/Linda duo taking third. Two other duos – Chris and Michelina and the Evelyn-pAshley tandem – tied for fourth place.

In the end, as Riddensdale emphasized, “the biggest winners today were our residents; everyone in this room enjoyed the music and learned about the talents of our valuable staff members.”

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