Free Carmine!

I madder than a bunch of Occupy Wall Street riffraff when they’re told they can’t bring air mattresses and coffee makers to their sleep-over party in the park over the fact that I can’t get much for my favorite price anymore: free.

Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ol’Carmine has short arms and deep pockets, so it always pains me whenever I have to spend a penny, nickel, dime, quarter or (worst of all) dollar.

You all know I’m a child of the Depression (or at least Depression-era parents) and that I was brought up in a world where dying with the largest bank account was the goal.

I remember my sainted mother telling me every day as a little boy that a penny saved was a penny earned — and that’s why I’m still saving for a rainy day as we speak (or, more specifically, me writing this now and you anxiously reading it later).

And let’s face it, “free” is a magic word that tends to get not only my attention, but most everybodies’ elses, too.

So that is why I am proud to announce that the Federation of Italian American Organizations of Brooklyn is again sponsoring its popular free (that’s right, free!) ballroom dance instruction for teens and seniors in its ballroom dance classes on Wednesday nights starting this week and running until late June.

Now’s the point in the column where I get real lazy and cut and paste from a press release I sent out.

The organization’s dance program is held at its Beacon Community Center in the auditorium at Seth Low Intermediate School 96, at 99 Avenue P (between W. 11th and W. 12th streets.) The three-hour classes begin at 6 pm.

The lessons are for beginners of all ages, aided by students who advance year after year. Partners are not necessary, but are encouraged. So the classes are filled with all levels of dancers eager to learn more. Master Dance Instructor Carmine Santa Maria (that’s me!) has been teaching ballroom dancing for more than 57 years, and his classes are so popular, his students come from all over the city to learn his dance techniques and patterns.

Under his watchful eye and thunderous voice, Santa Maria uses his regular students to demonstrate initial patterns and techniques, teaching students to dance in time with the music. Basic meringue, foxtrot and tango are introduced, and then cha cha and swing are added. However, he does accommodate his advanced students with peabody, rumba, mambo, waltz, and samba.

His students call it a ballroom dance clinic, others call it great exercise, and all call it fun!

During the years the popular evening program has had parents who brought their teenagers to learn to dance with them, bridging the generation gap. Santa Maria teaches group lessons only, telling students “you learn to dance by dancing and teaching each other,” adding, “but I’ll always be there watching and correcting you!”

Pre-registration is advisable; Santa Maria suggests that students enroll as soon as possible! Call Director Joe Rizzi at (718) 232–2266 for more info.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Carmine, how the heck do you get away with all this? Isn’t this column just a big, free ad for your big, free dance lessons?” Well, I don’t know how I did it, but apparently I just did again.

Now back to actual writing.

Last Monday I attended the wake of a great lady and friend, Rose Lood, at Miraglia’s Funeral Chapels. Rose was an activist for many years with the New Utrecht Dutch Reformed Church on 18th Avenue and 84th Street. For many years Rose sat on this Santa’s lap at the Boy Scout’s Troop 20 Christmas fund-raiser. Katherine Rose Lood also headed the New Utrecht Liberty Pole Association.

She was active in all church activities. Rose was an amazing, beautiful woman who stunned everyone when her funeral card revealed that she was 96.

Now, a little on the Miraglia Funeral Home, where its director Nick was honored by the Federation of Italian American Organization of Brooklyn (you know, the guys who run that great dance class) along with Heartshare’s Bill Guaranello and District 21 Superintendent Isobel Dimola, during this year’s Columbus Parade.

More on this trio in the next column, when I write about the Brooklyn Columbus Parade dinner and dance at the Dyker Heights Golf Club that Sharon and I attended last Sunday night.

Screech at you next week!

Read Carmine every Saturday on BrooklynDaily.com. E-mail him at [email protected]!