Damaris Lewis' guide to dancing in New York City

portrait of woman looking into camera

The model, actress and dancer shares her picks for a night on the town

By Jess Kelham-Hohler   Thursday 5 September, 2019

A born-and-bred New Yorker, Damaris Lewis describes herself as a Renaissance woman – aside from being a model, she’s also a candlemaker, an actor currently performing in television series Pose and a dancer. Training since childhood, she was hired by Prince in 2012 as a dancer for one of his tours, ultimately working with him up until his 2016 death. ‘Dancing is my heartbeat,’ she says. ‘But after Prince, it’s hard to follow that up with anything or to imagine going back on tour.’

Nonetheless, when it comes to a night out in the city, Lewis has her list of dancefloor hotspots across Brooklyn and Manhattan alike. Here, she shares her picks:

240 West 54th Street, 10019; 212-765-5454
‘This Mexican restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen is really cool – upstairs is a Latin club and downstairs is a hip-hop club. I really enjoy a night out here, it’s one of the places I’ve found where people actually put their phones down. It’s great for a night of merengue and salsa.’

333 Lounge
333 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, 11217; 718 399 8008
‘This is one of my go-to spots in Brooklyn, it’s perfect if you have friends in town and want to explore downtown. You can get classic hip-hop, maybe some 1990s music, soca and dancehall. I’m West Indian so any place I can get music like that is a hit with me.’

55 Water Street; Brooklyn, 11201; 718 650 8100
‘It’s true! There are some great DJs performing at the House and the Labor Day party last year was a highlight for me; I’m really looking forward to seeing what DUMBO House has got planned this year.’
woman dancing at night in carnival
woman in sparkly pants at nightclub
man DJing at night
Alivin Ailey Studios
405 West 55th Street, 10019; 212 405 9000
‘New York nightlife culture has transitioned to eating out at night. So, if you have dinner plans, try a Saturday afternoon dance session instead and go to one of Karen Arceneaux’s Zumba lessons. It’s the most fun time; it just feels like one big afternoon dance party.’ 
Lot 45
411 Troutman Street, Brooklyn, 11237; 347 505 9155
‘This is another cool spot in Brooklyn that normally has a good DJ. It’s out in Bushwick and there’s a fun crowd out there.’
Bonus tip: Follow the DJs
‘As someone in this industry, I’m very spoiled in that I know a lot of great DJs like Questlove and DJ Kiss. If they are throwing a party in New York, I will be there because I know I’ll have a great time. But for anyone in New York, I think the best way to find a night where you’re guaranteed to have an amazing dance party is to look up your favourite DJs and see if they’re performing somewhere. In this city, it’s the DJ more than the venue that makes the night.'
Images from top: Damaris Lewis (Johnson Lui); DUMBO House (Karston Tannis); Lot 45; DUMBO House (Karston Tannis)
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