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Feature Article: Mount Airy Casino Resort: Dance, Dine, Dance, Dine, Poker

An easy weekend getaway, with lots of opportunities for dancing, is Mount Airy Casino  Resort, just 75 minutes from NYC.

There’s a nightclub, a lounge and a piano bar, all with great dancing, and if that won’t give you your fill of dancing in two days, pick the special doo-wop weekend or the Learn to Salsa Fridays weekends or the PBS Ballroom show taping weekend, and you’ll be in cha cha heaven.

It was drenching downpour on our Friday drive up to this Pocono resort, the kind of rain that soaks you in just one step out of the car.  As we turned off Route 80 at the Tannersville Exit, I was hoping that the renovated resort we were going to see, originally built in the 50s, would have an overhang at the entrance. How glad was I to see one and that once inside I didn’t have to leave until Sunday.

We went on the weekend that Shirley Alston Reeves, the original lead singer of the Shirelles, was performing at the nightclub Gypsies Lounge, and it was such a sell out crowd that they put chairs on the dance floor so the only dancing we did was in our seat, swaying to the music she made famous, “Soldier Boy,” “Dedicated to the One I Love,” as well as “Up on the Roof” and “This Magic Moment”.

Shirley herself urged the audience to get up and find a little slot to dance and do “the Stroll.” She put on a fabulous show and from the looks of the audience, they were around when the Shirelles were on their radio. At only $25 a ticket, this venue is ideal for an intimate up close evening with a headliner. Also scheduled in 2010: the Village People and Jay Black (from Jay Black and The Americans “This Magic Moment.)  Tickets for these shows are $50 on the floor; $35 on the mezzanine.

Gypsies definitely is the place to be for dancing after a show or on non-show nights, where there is no cover charge.

On Friday night when we arrived, John and I hit the dance floor at Gypsies to the live tunes of the group “Sweetwater,” a ten-piece band that played a good mix from “We Are Family,” to “Lady Gaga” to Barry White’s “My First, My Last, My Everything.” The floor itself is perfect for the spins and turns of swing dance numbers.

The lounge set-up at Gypsies is ideal for whichever seating option you prefer: take a seat on the banquette lining the dance floor or at a table right at its edge, or sit in the mezzanine level overlooking the dance floor or skip it all and take a seat at the bar away from the dancers.

When “Sweetwater” took a break we carried our drinks onto the casino floor to the mini lounge right by a glass bar where another live band was performing, CJT Band. We couldn’t see a name for that lounge so we called it the Linoleum Lounge after the spongy dance floor on the carpet. John says it wasn’t actually linoleum, because it wasn’t sticky, and anyway, sinking into the floor slightly is better for your knees.  It turns out the name of this lounge is indeed Glass Bar. When CJT took a break, we raced back into Gypsies to catch the next Sweetwater set. Since Sweetwater band members came out during their break to watch CJT it was easy to time this.

If one group is on a break, or you don’t like the song they are playing, go right across the casino to Gypsies for an evening of non stop dancing.

In fact, this little dance floor is at the center of the Casino and as John led us in the foxtrot box step he turned us 360 degrees so I could see the entire casino over his shoulder: the slot machines, the gift shops, Gypsies and all four restaurants.

Then, when Sweetwater was done for the night, DJ Tony Piazza took over.

We also danced at Gypsies Saturday night when Mike Mittman’s Dance Party took over after the show at 10:30. On Saturday, in the Linoleum Lounge, (Glass Bar) it was the Hometown Boyz, playing country, rock and some good numbers to do a West Coast swing to (Mustang Sally.)

We added a third stop on our Saturday night dance route, The Piano Bar in Red’s Bar where Bud Noble played romantic music at that type of piano where you can pull up a bar stool and rest your drink on the ledge built right into the piano for this purpose. There was no official “dance floor” but we danced between the piano stools and the bar stools in the little “marble” floor area where people wait to be called for their dinner reservation at Red Steakhouse restaurant.

When I asked, Bud said, no, he didn’t see many couples dancing but he wished there would be more. We’re a little bit used to being the only couple dancing and we were once again, as we danced to Come Fly With Me, Sunny Side of the Street, Tea for Two and Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.

So, you may wonder, did we stop at any slot machines on our way from dancing to dancing to dancing? Yes, we liked the Triple Diamonds slot machine, the Wheel of Fortune machine and one called Kitty Glitter, which I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how you win, but I liked seeing the pictures of Siamese and Calico cats drop into the rows.

We’ll be back when table games start in July (Poker!) For now, John found the bar in the casino where you can play video poker and smoke cigars. Apparently that includes just the bar stools from the ice machine down since the other side was no smoking. Yes, the casino is divided in half for smoking and non smoking.

We ate at all four restaurants in the Casino (there’s also a mini express counter with fast sandwiches). Dinners were at Red Steakhouse (where I enjoyed the Roasted Beet Salad with crumbled blue cheese and citrus vinaigrette and the parrotfish) and the next night at La Sorelle (where I loved my Insalata La Sorelle with Boston bibb lettuce and pancetta vinaigrette and the Chicken Parmigiana.) I like going to a different restaurant every night, and while these two restaurants each have their own kitchen and chef , they share an entrance and a common wall so I was confused when it seemed like we were going back to the same place.

Our first breakfast, on Saturday, we had at Betty’s American diner, a 50s style vintage restaurant where my eggs and bacon platter was only $5.25. On Sunday, we splurged and took in the Signature brunch ($24.95 after a $2 discount by showing your players card) where we feasted on breakfast, lunch and dinner fare and then dessert. Among the offerings, an omelet station, a carving station, crab legs, shrimp, short ribs, parfait, a chocolate fountain and much much more.

While John went right up for a nap after breakfast on Saturday, I took in the spa, where a relaxing environment awaited. The spa booked up fast but I got a massage appointment with Rhonda, who mixed in lavender scent for aromatherapy and shea butter plus organic olive oil into the massage oil. She had a very soothing spa voice and you would never have guessed she had lived in Queens for 13 years. I experienced utter relaxation in each of the sauna and eucalyptus steam rooms then reclined on the leatherette lounge with a cool glass of cucumber infused water listening to the spa music. After that, I was ready for a nap too but it seemed criminal to sleep while a possible nature walk awaited.  But at the front desk, we got only a blank stare when we asked, “Do you have a map, like if we wanted to go for a little hike or walk?” I repeated, “Like a map you would give people who want to go for a jog?” Nothing. So I tried, “Say I went out that front door, would I go right or left if I wanted to go for a walk?” Finally, she said, “Well, there is a path you can walk along on the golf course, but that’s only if you are playing golf.” So, instead, we set off on our own to see what we might find. John said, She was confused that someone in the lobby of the Casino wanted to go outside. But, apparently she was right, because once outside there was no place to walk except around the outdoor parking lot which bordered the property. So we did that. Once there, we came upon our car, so I suggested a drive instead. Why don’t we drive around the Poconos a bit and see the area. But John said No, because he had a good parking spot. I said, John, you are completely impossible and I am going to put that you said that in the article. But indeed, the parking lot was completely full, and he pointed out all the cars following us, thinking we were going to be giving up a space. Our walk covered the main lot, the side lot, the overflow lot, and then, the bus lot across the bridge over the country road. We got so far away we took the shuttle bus back to the main entrance. But our little reconnaissance mission did yield some license plate facts about the visitors to Mount Airy Casino Resort. They all are from NY, NJ and PA, and one each from Maryland, Delaware and Massachusetts and a pick up truck from Las Vegas Nevada (!?)

So our walk was short but it turned out just as well as we had to head back to change for dinner. We could only take the 5:30 reservation available that would get us to the show in time.

We were very happy with our hotel room

Finally on the drive home John said we could make one stop so I chose the Pocono Peddlers Village Antique Mall which advertised over 100 dealer mini booths and did not disappoint. And it was only 1.4 miles further than the entrance back onto Route 80 so he said OK.  Lucky for him antiquing is a 45 minute stop. I could have chosen The Crossings Premium Outlets Mall which has 100 different stores.

The number he is most interested in is 72, which is the number of table games planned for Mount Airy Casino Resort come July….and we’ll be back.

For updated entertainment and lodging information visit http://www.mountairycasino.com or call 1-877-MTAIRY1.