Zachary's Dance Contest - Hustle / Disco WCS + Salsa


Zachary's Dance Contest -
by Ron Bess



This club opened back in 1983. One of the hottest discotheques in the region.

On any given Saturday evening, the line would go around the building. With a plush, upscale decor, the dance floor was sunken and provided great viewing area. Zachary's, in East Meadow, NY, was the place to be. One of the longest running clubs anywhere.

It's been said, the average club has a life span of less then five years! Well, this obvious broke that business mold. Over the years, Zachary's developed a wonderful reputation and stood out for it's annual "open dance contest." Couples were permitted to showcase any form of dance including lifts and tricks. Some of the greatest dancers put their skills to the test:

Roberto Pagan & LoriAnn Greenhouse, Donna DiSimone, Bobby O, Maria Torres, Kenny Gonzales, Nelly Cotto, Diane Nardone, Brian Gallagher, Silvana Gallagher, Lori Brizzi, Jose Solano, Eddie Vega, George Valasquez, Dee Quinoness, Victor Kanvesky, Sonj & Stephanie Falicano, Fernando Sales & Toni, Mark James, Ricky Quintana, Vincent Antonelli, DonaMarie Portelli , Lucas Jaime ,...

Each year, the contest would run for 10 weeks and concluded with two weeks of semi - finals. The weekly winning couple would receive $200.00 and passage to the semi finals.

In 1990, two experienced dancers formed a new partnership and won their preliminary round, advancing to the semi - finals. Donna DiSimone and Vincent Antonelli went on to be the grand prize winners beating all their competitors including Eddy Vega & Maria Torres.

The following year a record would be set. This gentlemen competed from 1991 till 1994 and walked away undefeated. He became a four time undefeated champion. With such a record, the club eventually asked him to kindly stop competing.

Mark James, obviously was unstoppable. In 1991 and 1992 with Giny Rae (ex-wife) he won the $1000.00 first place. Then in both 1993 and 1994, Mark resurfaced with a new partner and incredible routines. Together with DonaMarie Portelli he captured the first place prize of $1,500.00, two years in a row. So successful, Mark was asked to judge future contests, and put his dance skills to rest (while at Zachary's).

In 1995, DonaMarie Portelli returned with her new partner to capture first place.

Along with Vincent Antonelli, (not new to winning at Zachary's) DonaMarie now became a three time winner, with three consecutive wins.

And what turned out to be the last year (1996), for this annual event, first place honors went to the exciting couple, Brian Gallagher and Silvana Gallagher.

Like all great things, the "Disco" image got revamped. This pool of talented dancers diminished and contests no longer drew the record crowds. This year will mark the 20 year anniversary for Zachary's. Still a popular dance spot on Long Island, but, the contests are no more.

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