The Resorts World Casino in New York City hosted Sal Abbatiello‘s latest concert event, I Love Freestyle Volume One. Long before reality shows became a haven for celebrities past their prime, Sal has provided a circuit for the Latin acts he once produced, leading them to mainstream success during the dance and music video’s heyday in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
But the sudden turn of radio to other genres ended it all too soon. However, many of these artists have made a living by staying relevant to the fans who they inspired in their teenage years. These dedicated fans were seen as symbols of themselves. It has not changed, and the artists appreciate them for this. “All of us do this still because of the fans who allow us to keep working because of their love and loyalty,” Lisette Melendez said. Melendez was on the roster of former stars who rocked the casino in Far Rockaway, NY.
A packed audience was treated to the likes of Lisa Lisa, who performed last with a pair of young background dancers, looking stunning in high black boots, sunglasses, and sequined one-pieces. Lisa Lisa belted out her hits, “I Wonder If I Take You Home” and “Can You Feel The Beat.” However, her extended soulful six minute rendition of “All Cried Out” was the best performance and most intimate moment of the night.
Safire, who was celebrating her 48th birthday, showed the audience what conditioning can do for an artist as she sang with the same youthful voice. She even rode on one of her dancers like a horse during her set, causing smiles of excitement throughout the crowd.
Lisette Melendez provided a pulsing version of “A Day In My Life (Without You)” with her dancers in perfect sync. It was a night where all the performers were on top of their games. Nyasia, Coro, C-Bank, and Fascination were all over the stage, duplicating dances that made the freestyle era its own. Fascination, in particular, is the norm for most of the artists, usually working an everyday job while performing a few times a year. “This is an absolute, I cannot even tell you how it feels like as a performer to come here and see fans who are true die freestyle fans. It’s a high for me,” Fascination explained, “When they love what we do, we just give it.”
A special attraction was comedian Mark Viera, who came out twice. He was brilliant in portraying the character of the stereotypical girlfriend while using a falsetto voice. His presentation of the typical girlfriend as detective-like and sneaky was greeted with knowing laughs throughout the crowd. The show was hosted by Sal Abbatiello and Speedy, who kept the show going through the breaks with classic songs from the 80’s, which kept the fans pumped during intermission and beyond.