Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reclaiming the glory days of Coney

Harvest Moon

By Meredith Deliso

During the 1930s, Luna Park was one of the entertainment destinations in New York City.The amusement park, among three in Coney Island at the time, featured cutting-edge technology and swarming crowds, despite, or because of, the Great Depression.

Now, during another depression, one Brooklyn dancer is looking to bring back a little bit of that heyday to the borough.

“In the 1930s, Coney Island was really at its best,” says Harvest Moon, a Greenpoint-based burlesque performer and producer familiar at places like the Slipper Room in Manhattan and Dressler’s in Williamsburg. “In terms of technology, it was really the height of any amusement park.”

In terms of entertainment, with the likes of Busby Berkeley and his legions of showgirls taking centerstage, that also provides a lot of inspiration to the choreographer in a somewhat parallel time.

“I want to bring this back,” says Moon. “That’s the great thing about history – history repeats itself. It’s not the worst it’s ever going to be, it’s not the best it’s ever going to be. You just have to get through it.”

You can relive a bit of the old Coney Island yourself in two nights this month – first at Williamsburg’s Monkey Town, with “Moonshine! A Variety Bonanza” on June 19, and then a slightly different show at Galapagos in DUMBO with “The Vaudevillionairs of Luna Park” on June 26.

“This is more than just burlesque, it’s aerial, it’s circus, it’s vaudeville,” says Moon of the two shows. “I want to get away from just having a girly show. I want to bring more variety to it.”

At Monkey Town’s tribute to 1930s Coney Island, the night will indeed feature acts from burlesque performers like Little Brooklyn, Ekatarina the Mermaid, Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey, and Mr. Fantastic, as well as Ukulele Louis, Barnacle Bill the Sailor, Maine!.

The following week at Galapagos, the tribute continues, with the same acts as Monkey Town, minus Mr. Fantastic, plus The Red Hook Ramblers, Miss Astrid, Diamond Redd, and The Merrymakers.

“It’s all people that I know and have worked with and admire,” says Moon. “I feel like it’s the crème de la crème.”

On both nights you can also find Harvest Moon performing her acrobatic, jaw-dropping moves.“I’ve got something up my sleeve,” promises the dancer.

At Galapagos in particular, Moon will have a custom-built birdcage, large enough to fit a person, and with an aerial hoop inside to allow for some tricks as well.

While the shows are one-night only, Moon hopes the ode to Coney Island will have some longevity to it.

“Hopefully some venue will pick it up and say, ‘This is the show that we’ve been waiting for.’ That’s my ultimate goal with this,” says Moon. “It’s not just for one night.”

“Moonshine! A Variety Bonanza” is June 19 at Monkey Town (58 N. 3rd St.), with shows at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Reservations are recommended. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 718-384-1369.

“The Vaudevillionairs of Luna Park” is will then be June 26 at Galapagos Art Space (16 Main St.) at 10 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. For more, call 718-222-8500.


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