A popular reality TV show serves as inspiration for what is expected to be the largest fundraising event ever for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Southern Branch.

The food bank is teaming with The Press of Atlantic City/Atlantic City Weekly for the event, titled Dancing Under the Atlantic City Stars, which will be held Nov. 3 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

A pairing event was held Wednesday at the Hard Rock Cafe, where 12 local personalities were teamed with professional dancers from the community.

Lloyd D. Levenson, CEO and chairman of the casino-law department at the Cooper Levenson law firm in Atlantic City, thought he would just be attending the event as a spectator when he first heard about it.

Levenson then decided he would be one of the celebrity dancers. He was voted best dancer in high school “a few years ago,” he said. He will be paired with professional dancer Carrie Reilly.

“I’m excited about it. She’s a wonderful teacher,” said Levenson, who added he will do a dance in the swing style. “I’m a little nervous.”

On Nov. 3, attendees will see the couples do their best versions of the boogie-woogie, jive, mambo, quickstep, polka, rumba, salsa, swing tango and waltz.

Members of the public at the event and a panel of celebrity judges will vote to decide the Ultimate Dancing Under the Atlantic City Stars 2018 champions.

Cookie Till, owner of Steve and Cookie’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Margate, was originally called upon to recruit celebrity dancers and professional dancers for the event.

“They kept saying, ‘What about you?’ I’m not a dancer. I said I would think about it,” Till said.

Till realized she would have more leverage to convince other local celebrities to do it if she were a participant herself. She also would watch people dance and say to herself, “I wish I could do that.”

Till will be paired with Joey Gonzalez, who is known as Joey G. They will do a cha-cha.

“He (Joey G.) is an amazing natural dancer,” Till said. “I’m peering into a world I know nothing about. I’m fascinated.”

Nicole Stephens, of the Paul Morris Dance Explosion in Hammonton, will be the choreographer of two celebrity dancers, Frank Chesky and Laurette Pitts.

“I love the idea. I love ‘Dancing With the Stars,’” Stephens said. “It’s more than steps and choreography. It’s me building a confidence in them. … If you feel great doing it, you will look great doing it.”

Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

Recommended for you

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Soon we will no longer integrate with Facebook for story comments. The commenting option is not going away, however, readers will need to register for a FREE site account to continue sharing their thoughts and feedback on stories. If you already have an account (i.e. current subscribers, posting in obituary guestbooks, for submitting community events), you may use that login, otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account.