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While America Does the Holiday, These Folks 'Get Down, Get Down!'

January 10, 2008 By:
Roy S. Gutterman, JE Feature
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When the opening lyrics to Journey's 1980s hit, "Don't Stop Believin' " played, Ilene Fink put her hands in the air and let out a roaring, "Woooo!"

"I can't believe they're not all going wild over this song," said Fink, as her red-and-black Santa's cap waved back and forth on the dance floor at Cuba Libre on Christmas Eve.

Then, the lyrics rolled off her tongue: "Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world ... ." Her brother, Dan Horowitz, didn't miss a word as he sang right back at her, "She took the midnight train goin' anywhere. ... Just a small town boy, born and raised in South Detroit, he took the midnight train goin' anywhere ... ."

Fink was one of many grooving to 1980s' classic mixes on the crowded dance floor at the party. Big shouts went out to Def Leopard, AC/DC, even Belinda Carlisle and a range of modern Hip Hop mixes. The palm trees waved back and forth as the upstairs shook.

Fink, 35, was pulling an all-nighter on Christmas Eve; she was attending the party before catching a 6 a.m. flight to Denver for a business meeting.

"I'm not going to sleep tonight. I never miss this," she said as she handed out candy.

Decked out in a red skirt with her matching Santa's cap, Fink came with a purse stuffed with chocolates, mints and other edible treats.

As she handed out the goodies, which she called "sweetness for holiday cheer," some people accepted them with open hands. Others looked at her skeptically, which was better than last year, when she said a guy openly refused the candy, saying, "Chocolate makes me mucous-y." Such a response at a party was vexing, she said, asking, "I mean, who says that?"

"She brings the candy, and we always have a good time," said her brother, Horowitz, a 26-year-old second-year law student at Temple University, whose blue-velvet menorah, Santa-style cap was also a hit.

Almost everyone smiled when they caught a glimpse of his hat, especially when he shook back and forth on the dance floor.

"This works -- works quite well," he said. It worked a little better than the full Santa suit he wore to the dance three years ago, or the blue-and-white tinsel wrapping he wore as a "Chanukah Bush" two years ago.

"People love this," he said of his cap. "The Santa suit didn't go over so well."

'A Great Night Out'

The Pulse of Philly Christmas Eve parties, co-hosted by The Collaborative, attracted more than 700 people, according to event organizer Andrew Spivack.

"It was a great night," he said. "We had a line of people down the street; the place was packed." He added that many of the people he spoke with had a "great time."

The annual party is a place for people to meet and to reconnect. At least a few people "met" some new friends at the party this year.

Meanwhile, both Fink and Horowitz also caught up with old friends: Fink with someone she met on a Birthright Israel trip back in 1989, and Horowitz with someone he met on a similar trip in 2000.

Donna Gefen, 27, a pharmaceutical consultant, from Lower Merion, met up with Horowitz, who she met on their Birthright trip. She said that if she's ever in town on Christmas Eve, this was where she would be.

"I know a lot of people here -- and like meeting some new people and connecting with old friends," she said.

Paul Rubin was also making people smile with his T-shirt that read: "Everybody Loves a Player."

The 31-year-old Philadelphia chiropractor noted that his shirt was a good ice-breaker, and it helped root out people with a sense of humor.

He said that he never misses the dance either, having been to eight of them now.

And why not? "It's a great night out," he announced.

His buddy, Phil Richmond, 35, who is in jewelry and real estate sales, was dressed a bit more formally, in a shirt and tie.

Not the kind for extensive interviews, he grabbed Rubin by the shoulder and said, "He's the man to meet."

Before the big bash, Rubin and Richmond, and a few of their friends, attested to doing the usual thing Jews do on Christmas -- going out for some Chinese food before hitting the dance floor at Cuba Libre.

"This is a good night out," he said. "You see people from high school and college."

Roy S. Gutterman is a Syracuse, N.Y.-based writer. To contact him, visit: www.Lrev.com.

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