Dance it Off at Festo Festo

Written by Shlomit Ovadia of JCC Denver.

Longtime FestoFesto fan and musician Marissa Firstenberg is excited to get down and boogie at this month’s FestoFesto performance on Thursday, February 22, from 7:00 – 9:30 pm at JCC Denver Phillips Social Hall, featuring guest bands, Zoe Aqua and Los Mocochetes. 

Originally from Florida, Marissa jokes about how she met her husband while living in Hollywood, Florida.  

“I walked up to him and his friends at a martini bar in Fort Lauderdale and said, which one of you is Jewish,” to which her now-husband of 13 years meekly raised his hand. The rest is history. 

The duo ultimately decided to move to Colorado after getting married, and Marissa says it was her experiences at JCC Denver and Ranch Camp as a teen that led to their Denver relocation. 

“JCC Denver is one of the reasons why I fell in love with Colorado and decided to move here. I was going to Ranch Camp as a teen.”  

After settling in the Rocky Mountain State, Marissa connected with Ranch Camper alumnus Kolby Morris, who introduced her to musical high holiday services at Hebrew Educational Alliance (HEA). 

Having not been much of a musical person prior, Marissa was inspired to try playing an instrument, and immediately became hooked. “At that point, I had never played bongos or tambourine, but I just started going to every practice and learning the songs.”  

Through her new friendships at HEA, Marissa discovered FestoFesto, a community jam started by Tung Pham of GoraGora Orkestar and Hadgaba guitarist, Josh Klasco in 2020. 

While FestoFesto experienced a brief hiatus during the pandemic, it has grown in popularity since its resurgence in July of 2022. JCC took ownership of the program in 2023 to help it expand and reach even greater heights. 

“I’ve really enjoyed when we get to go to the JCC… it’s been such a fun environment and a great connection to have,” Marissa reflects. “I love dancing with my friends, singing, and all the new experiences because there is a new feature artist every time.” 

FestoFesto alternates between being hosted at the JCC Denver Phillips Social Hall and the Mercury Café. 

Between performing musicians and other creative expressions that include belly dance and ballet, FestoFesto has created an eclectic scene that celebrates the arts in many forms.  

“Plus, it’s nice to hear Upsherin and GoraGora and the classic tunes and energy they bring,” Marissa notes of FestoFesto’s house bands. 

You can join Marissa and many other aficionados at the JCC on Thursday, February 22. Tickets are sold using a sliding scale pricing model. 

JCC Festo Festo – JCC Denver 

Want even more Klezmer celebrations? Learn more here about upcoming programs, including when tickets will be available for the KlezKolorado music festival May 17 – 19, taking place at JCC Ranch Camp.