For those who yearn for the old school, love to dress to the nines and have a hankering for the earnestness of generations past (but without the boring conservatism), The Dancehall of Beautiful Radiant Things is not to be missed!
Each month, the Verdi Club features an old-fashioned dance experience that caters to dancers of all skill levels. Upon entering, you are given an actual dance card with 21 spots to fill. If you're an accomplished dancer and want to show your flair, you get a yellow card. Those who are less skilled, or who would rather just focus on conversation, get an orange card. All dance abilities are encouraged and there is plenty of interaction between the different card holders, so newbies won't be treated like lepers. The Dancehall attracts people of all ages, from all around the Bay Area with its fun, unpretentious vibe.
[jump] DJ FACT.50 plays an impressive range of slow songs; recognizable music blended with more unknown. The sets tend to be in a semi-chronological order by decades, usually with the 1920's to 1950's in the first set, 1960's to 1980's in the second set, and more modern and unusual songs during the last. Some examples are The Skyliners, Edith Piaf, Sam Cooke, The Carpenters, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Beck.
While the event originated in New York, San Francisco got in on the action only nine months ago.
Rick Abruzzo, organizer of the event told SF Weekly, “Dancehall for me is about being present and intimate with a friend or stranger. It’s 3.5 minutes of serenade sincerity.”
That means you only have to endure any potentially awkward or boring conversation for the span of a single song. But as one dancer pointed out, the short timeframe for interaction usually just leaves him wanting to talk to someone even more.
Keep in mind, this is not a speed-dating event, and there is no pressure to meet someone. So relax, don’t be shy, and just go for it. Don’t wait for people to ask you to dance, and don’t even bother looking around the room for the people you find most attractive. Just fill up that dance card during the social sessions at the beginning and in between dance sets, while enjoying libations available at the bar. With everyone participating in the asking, it takes the edge off of that self-conscious feeling reminiscent of school dances. People don’t say no here, unless of course, their dance card is already full. And when was the last time you got to say that, in the literal sense?
Kasey Smith, a dancer and event worker wearing a gorgeous vintage dress, said, “It’s the most earnest event I’ve been to in the Bay Area.”
Best of all, as Mark Krawczuk from the original Dancehall event in New York says, “The thing about partner dancing is that no one can look down at their cellphones.”
The Dancehall of Beautiful Radiant Things occurs every two months at the Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa, 861-9199, $12 in advance, $15 at the door.