By James Maher
Name: Lucille Krasne
Occupation: Designer, Argentine Tango dance organizer
Location: 10th Street between Avenue A and B.
Time: 4 on Sunday, March 25
I’m from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I always wanted to live in New York and so I ended up making the big move to the East Coast while everyone else was making the move to the West Coast. This is the only place I’ve ever lived in New York and I’ve been here for 43 years. This is it.
I am so proud of Tompkins Square Park, which I consider my front yard. Important things happen here. When I first arrived here, I thought it was heaven, paradise on earth, because in the Park on May Day you had all the young people with big red flags celebrating May Day, Communism, Collectivism, and then you had a group of Ukranians with great big signs saying, “Free the Captive Nations,” free all the people in communist countries.
I’ve also seen it go through terrible times. In 1988, I was so stunned to find the entire place surrounded by helmeted police with nightsticks during the riots. I couldn’t believe what was going on. I remember the screaming when they were throwing out all of the homeless people from the Park. I know there were a lot of dangerous things going on, but it killed me to hear that. I was yelling, “Why are you doing this to those people?”
But it’s been wonderful for me since they closed the Park at night because I can now actually sleep. People used to scream and make noise all night. Noise has been a terrible issue in this neighborhood. For years I wanted to blow my brains out and everybody used to think of ways to try and stop the noise. There were also the car alarms. I’ve had a lot of tubes of lipstick that I’ve written on cars with.
I’ve had a very checkered career. When I moved to LA after college, one of my first oddball jobs was creating a hand-puppet show for the County Parks Department out of a converted park washroom. We eventually took it on the road and showed it to zillions of children and then had big puppet workshops all over the place.
When I moved here, I worked for an arts funding organization. It was the perfect job for me. Having no money, I was able to give away money that was provided by the New York State Council in the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. It was quite a wonderful organization. I was a traveling consultant and I went out to meet with all sorts of groups around the state having to do with issues of arts, saving interesting architecture, poetry groups, dance groups. I advised groups on how to stimulate the community to support them. My role was to instigate them to instigate excitement within the community and bring in more people. I also worked on prison projects and with migrant worker programs.
I also created a jewelry business with my sister for 10 years. We named it Krasne Two. We were designing imaginative accessories and jewelry. We made quite a splash but it is very hard to keep that kind of world going when you are limited financially and don’t have enough backing. It was fun while it lasted. Now I design floor cloths and murals and all kinds of accessories
And then I went into the Argentine Tango business. I fell in love with the Argentine Tango as so many other have. I first fell in love with the music and then I fell in love with the dance. If it grips you it grips you and you’re really caught. I helped start the first New York City tango festival, which was about the wonders of New York and the wonders of Tango. I took the Milanga (Argentine Tango Party) outdoors to Central Park about 15 years ago. I called it the hit and run tango because if the police came you ran. You find a beautiful place, free or pretty free, open to the public, attractive, and everybody dances like crazy and you expand this community, which was teensy weensy. I don’t run it anymore but it’s still going on every Saturday afternoon.
We now run a weekly Milonga at The Ukrainian on 140 Second Ave. on Wednesdays. It’s called “Esmeralda’s E.V. Milonga and Supper Club.” We dance from 6 to 11:30 and if you come between 6 and 7:30 and have dinner with us then you don’t pay the admission. You can listen to the gorgeous Argentine music and watch the fine dancing.
James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.