Calabrese Night celebrating life through music, dance and food

An Italian wedding band entertains at the annual event

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Calabrese Night at the Porcupine Dante Club is back.

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43rd-Calabre night, held on Saturday 4th of February every year “Journey to Calabria”

For the first time since the pandemic, the 6-piece band “Introduction”, offering Italian and American classics, will kick off the party.

“Introduction” has been entertaining the Dante Club crowd at Calabrese parties for ten years since becoming a member of the club. Joan Norcum took over the planning. This is the first time the band has played Timmins in three years.

The Daily Press spoke with Ralph DeFazio, an “Introduction” accordionist from Fonthill, just outside of Welland, Ont. He was born in Lamezia Terme, Catanzaro, Calabria.

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“Our goal is for everyone to have fun and say it was a night to remember. We want to celebrate life and eat together through dance and music.

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“We’re very happy to see people having fun,” said the retired Italian teacher and high school principal. “The community of Timmins is like a big family and you couldn’t ask for anything more.”

The band started as an Italian wedding band in 1979 with six friends from three different high schools in Welland. They were inspired by other Italian wedding bands in the Italian-Canadian community.

The band’s unusual name was the brainchild of the band’s original singer Frank Arcuri and his brother Mario.

“It sparks ideas for new things that start opening up to your senses,” DeFazio explains.

“We had a market for weddings because we’re all Italian, so Italian and Top 40 music became our thing,” saxophonist Dave Colonico said, adding that the area’s wedding market soon became a fixture.

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The current iteration of the band consists of vocalist Barbara Mantini, drummer John Multari, bassist Joe Castellan, guitarist Mario Minervini, saxophonist Dave Colonico, and accordionist DeFazio. Colonico said they have been playing together for 30 years.

The Calabrese Night committee has been preparing for two months, and starting a week before the event, the Italian wedding soup meatballs will be on the menu.

Committee members are; Patricia Biaseti, Dana Blaquier, Louis Clausi, Mark Brother, Mark Norcum, and Sam and Jenny Rizzuto.

This year’s theme is “Voyage to Calabria” and features an antipasto table that looks like the front of a ship. Door prize winners will receive four wine tours in Niagara.

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The menu will include specially ordered Calabrese wines for the evening.

Calabria is the “toe” of the shoe-shaped Italian peninsula. Birthplace of famed fashion designer Versace, the region is known for its rugged inland mountain ranges and white-sand beaches bordered by the turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea.

The media often reports that the ‘Ndrangheta mafia has settled in Calabria as well. Rice bronze medalists, two ancient, life-size statues depicting Greek ideals of male beauty. They were discovered in 1972 by a Roman chemist while diving on the seabed near the town of Rice. Considered one of the world’s best examples of ancient Greek sculpture, they can be seen at the National Museum of Reggio Calabria, the region’s most populous city.

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Lovers of the Italian language and cinema can attend the “Parliamo Italiano” and “Cinema Italiano” parties at the Dante Club on Thursday at 7 p.m.

43rd-The “Voyage to Calabria” party will be held on Saturday, February 4th with cocktails at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $70 for members and $90 for non-members and are available by phone. Porcupine Dante Club at 705-264-3185.

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