Neighbor hosts weekly dance parties on balcony to spread joy in Washington Heights

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS -- One night a week, for one hour, one Washington Heights building transforms into New York City's hottest new dance club.

The Saturday night dance fest at 100 Overlook Terrace is the brainchild of Jim Shearer, a former MTV VJ and current host on Sirius XM, who dragged his bass amp out to the balcony one Saturday in late March just after the nightly applause for hospital workers concluded.

"It just felt like it needed a crescendo," Shearer said, "so we decided to play a song."

At the suggestion of a neighbor on a nearby fire escape, Jim turned his one-song spinning session into a full-fledged dance party. Half-expecting angry neighbors and cops knocking on the door, he found himself inundated with messages of gratitude.

"After the first party, I got an email asking if we were going to do it again the next week. After the second week, I got another email asking if we were going to do it every week," Jim said. Since then, they have.

"It can sometimes get kind of lonely," said 11-year-old neighbor Emi Hare-Yim. "Me and my friends yell to each other from the balcony, and it's a way to spend time together from a safe distance."

Shearer announces his email address over the microphone for neighbors to send song requests and does shoutouts and dedications.

"My favorite part is when he plays my song," Hare-Yim said. "Because it makes me feel acknowledged, and it's nice."

In a time of collective despair, Shearer knows he's no hero on the front lines of this battle, just a guy with a particular skill doing the one small thing he can to move the needle.

"I'm just glad I get to do something for one hour a week that puts a smile on people's faces," he said.

"It kind of reinstates this positive energy that, no matter what, we're going to get through this together," said neighbor Amanda Rodriquez. "And the best way to do that is through everybody's love language, which is music."