The mysterious blonde & La Rubia’s Dance Party in Saugerties

That palace of all things hot and tasty, New World Home Cooking in Saugerties, is hosting an event this Saturday night billed as “La Rubia’s Dance Party.” Those with a smattering of Spanish will know that la rubia translates as “the blonde.” So who is this mysterious fair-haired woman bringing Latin rhythms to a venue better-known for master chef Ric Orlando’s incendiary Purple Haze Shrimp?

La Rubia del Norte – the Blonde of the North, to use her full title – is in fact Ilene Marder, whose flaxen head has worn many hats over the years that she has lived in Ulster County. Her paying gig these days is doing public relations, notably as the top press liaison for the Woodstock Film Festival. But somewhere along the line Marder picked up a passion for tango, and took it upon herself to make a home for the torrid Argentine artform in the sub-Arctic wilds of Woodstock.

On her Woodstock Tango website,, Marder writes that she deejayed her first party for friends at the tender age of 13. But it was in 2004 that she hosted her first dance party or milonga in the Catskills, and she has been preaching the tango gospel ever since. She travels far and wide to deejay, including regular trips to hotbeds of the indigenous dance form in Buenos Aires, and is the spark behind many local tango events that bring world-renowned dancers, teachers and musicians to Ulster County. Woodstock Tango also sponsors ongoing series of tango classes in both Woodstock and Rhinebeck. And if you really want to get people up and dancing at a private party, Marder is the one to call.

This weekend’s event at New World is explicitly billed as “not a milonga.” The music to be spun will range across a variety of Latin American genres including salsa, merengue, cha-cha, cumbia, bachata and nuevo tango, plus some forays into swing, world pop and soul, R & B and Motown. In other words, you won’t be able to sit down for long, even if you don’t know any actual tango moves.

La Rubia’s Dance Party will run from 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 18 to 1 a.m. on Sunday. Admission is a mere $5, although it’s a fair bet that all that dancing will work you up an appetite for some of Orlando’s famous spicy food and iced beverages. New World Home Cooking is located at 1411 Route 212, about midway between Woodstock and downtown Saugerties.


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