Thursday April 18th, 2013 Still in the Bay Area

24 Apr

Thurs. April 18th 2013, Still In Berkeley

Today there are numerous dances here in the Bay Area:
Moving Meditation, a 5Rhythms offering is every Thurs. morning, 10:15 to 12:15 at The Tamalpais Community Center, Mill Valley, facilitated by Kathy Altman & Lori Saltzman. There is a $20 drop in fee;
Moving Meditation, also 5Rhythms, with Jennifer Burner & guests is every Thurs. night 7:00 to 9:00 at the San Geronimo Valley Community Gym (1 Lagunitas School Road, San Geronimo, CA 94963);
And Ecstatic Dance Thursdays with Dance Dharma Talk from 6:00 to 7:00, warm up & invocation 7:00 to 8:00, and Ecstatic Dance from 8:00 to 11:00, at the Tropicana Ballroom, 1933 Broadway, Oakland, CA, $15.

So there are numerous dances today and tonight, and I choose to stay at home with Mark and Julie. A low key evening refilling my tank for the next few days activities. Tomorrow I’ve made plans to attend a Biodanza benefit with Laura an editor for Conscious Dancer. Saturday is Sweat Your Prayers in Sausalito, and Sunday there are two dances, Soul Sanctuary in the morning and Barefoot Boogie in the evening. I’ll fill you in on those in a few days.

Love and Blessings,
Franklin

Wed. April 17th in Berkeley

24 Apr

Wed. April 17th, 2013 in Berkeley

Plans are mysterious things. It seems no matter what I plan, my default setting is to be open to whatever might present itself. Tonight there are two possibilities. Ecstatic Dance in Oakland and Waves Journey in Sausalito.

 

The Oakland dance starts gently and builds into a heavy beat, sustained energy marathon. At least this is my perspective. So tonight I think I’ll go to Sausalito. But first I’m going to visit my friend Magalie, creator of Dancing Without Borders.

If you haven’t seen or heard of her Flash Mobs around the world check it out on youtube. She orchestrated twelve hundred South Africans to create Nelson Mandela’s face in the desert about a year ago. There is an aerial photo of it that is amazing. Tonight she is having a rehearsal for this Saturdays’ Flash Mob celebrating Earth Day and I’m going to show up to say hello before going to dance. Or at least that’s what I thought I’d do.

At her rehearsal I get a big smile and a great hug at the first break. I watched them rehearse for about an hour and when they are done Magalie asks if I’ve eaten. Well, so much for plans. We spend the evening eating and talking, and before I know it, it’s time to return to Mark‘s house for sleep.

I’ve danced eleven times in the last thirteen days so I figure a night off is good for the soul. The souls of my feet at least.

It was wonderful catching up with Magalie and I make plans to attend the Flash Mob on Saturday in San Francisco after the morning’s 5Rhythms class in Sausalito.

I’ll be writing pretty much every day for awhile, so I’ll talk with you soon.

Love and Blessings,

Franklin

Tuesday April 16th, 2013 at 5Rhythms in Mill Valley

18 Apr

Mill Valley-April 16th, 2013 at “Waves Of Awakening”

After a long drive south the Bay Area looms ahead. Which direction should I go? I haven’t heard from either of the people I could stay with and make a decision to head west to Mill Valley. I’ve only recently learned of a 5Rhythms dance there on Tues. nights. Crossing the bridge I’m surprised to learn that the toll is five dollars. I thought that there were tolls only on the bridges into S.F., but that’s O.K. it will be well worth it to move my body again. I guess living in Seattle/Portland is like being a country bumpkin. After all, the only toll bridge I know of there, is the new one to the east side. We live a very privileged life in the northwest.

Before I arrive at the dance I hear from Mark Metz, publisher of Conscious Dancer, and realize I have a place to stay after dance. Pulling into the parking lot at the Tam Valley Community Center (203 Marin Ave., Mill Valley) I see Stacey Butcher (the facilitator of Waves Of Awakening) unloading her car. I introduce myself and offer to help setup, but she says relax, we’ve got it covered. Tonight’s theme is Chaos, and Stacey says she expects chaos to reign as it always does when this is the theme. Sure enough, there’s a problem with the door. It opens fine but will not close. Just a little mayhem before starting the music. It was expected.

The room is fairly small with a great four speaker Mackie system. The mix was also great, and of all the 5Rythms sets I’ve been to, Stacey’s was put together better than any I‘ve Experienced before. I’ve noticed at 5Rhythms that often dancers get lost, struggling to find the rhythm. This time though everyone was up and dancing, and to the rhythm. Stacey created a classic event with very little interaction between people, and the music was so moving within each rhythm I hardly noticed that I danced alone the whole evening.

5Rhthms in the classical style is a very different event than an Ecstatic Dance and if you’re planning on attending this one you might want to call Stacey ahead of time (415-755-7905) to find out what the style will be. Having said that I strongly recommend her dance. Great space, music and friendly people. Tuesday’s 6:30 to 8:30.

Love and Blessings,

Franklin

Seven Dances In Ashland-Wed. Through Sunday

16 Apr

Friday through Sunday in Ashland

It’s been such a whirlwind in Ashland. I’m going to break with my own guideline of writing about each dance separately. I’m a bit fuzzy about all the details, so I’ll relate them to you to the best my memory allows. Please forgive me if I mix up any of the details.

I arrived in Ashland on Wed. April 10th, having driven straight through from Portland. I’ve already written of the Wed. night and Thurs. morning dances, but from there things get a little hazy. You see I stayed for five days and attended seven dances. Each night I had barely taken off my clothes and climbed into bed when I was preparing for another dance.

So, first to familiarize you with the dance spaces, some of which I’ve already described: At 280 E. Hersey St. there are two studios, Dance Space and Studio Z (as well as Jerry Soloman’s Electric Bike shop). This address is a series of small individual work spaces, and these two are beautifully appointed. They are small, but adequate for their purposes. Dance Space is about fifteen hundred sq. feet, with a really nice sound system, and Studio Z is about one thousand sq. feet with a sound system that accommodates the room. I believe they both have sprung floors, with Studio Z having a heated cork surface. Oasis is new, recently created by Renee Jeffus in a small office building at 258 A St., on the second floor. Renee has done an amazing job of creating a multiuse space with room for about twenty five dancers and additional space for chilling. The night I was there she had snacks and a tea house available. Original paintings on the walls, tapestries and assorted inspirational adornments added to the general feeling of Spiritual awareness. She has done a marvelous job.

There is a third location for dance in this Alpine village at the Jackson Wellsprings. On my last tour I visited and wrote about a dance held there, so for a description see that entry. The important part of this venue is that Rara Avis is holding dances there occasionally (I think it’s once a month). For those of you who do not know who he is, go to youtube right now and look him up. He is responsible for many of the most beautiful chill and transitional music I’ve used through the years. If you’re in Ashville be sure to check on whether he’s playing and go.

Now to the dances I attended:

Friday evening is an every week event at Dance Space, and this week for the first time, Sarah who usually does alternate Wed. nights was our DJ. She had a great set and I danced to every tune. I saw some old friends and connected again with some new ones. Wonderful space, music and community.

Saturday morning and another of the new dances. The Ecstatic Soul (second and fourth Saturdays), created by Heather Rhea Dawn and held at Studio Z starts at 10:00 AM. Heather has recently moved to Ashland from the southern Cal. Area. She is an accomplished DJ and her mix was an eclectic array of tunes that took me to the nineteen fifties with “Lucky Lips” by Ruth Brown, and back again into the present. This group was small owing to the fact that only ten hours later Renee Jeffus would hold her first dance at Oasis.

I guess most people feel they have only so much dance in their feet. As I’ve said before, I used to think I could only dance twice a week. I now know I can dance every day of the week. The more I dance, the more energy I have to dance.

Saturday night and I’m off to Oasis and another opportunity to connect with Spirit. There is a pole in the middle of the dance space at Oasis, but it doesn’t get in the way. I actually used it to center my dance. Renee had specific goals in mind for the evening and gave us a few directions. For safety, she asked that we not do any Contact as the ceiling is low and the decorations all around the room might be affected. She also asked that we focus internally rather than as community. This accommodated her desire to create easy access to Spirit. The mix was quite good and I danced alone the entire evening, something I do many times anyway. I had a great time. Wonderful space, visit it for dance or one of the other varied things occurring there when you’re in town.

Sunday morning and off to Studio Z for 9:00 AM Ecstatic Dance created and DJ’d by Eden Luz & Ryan Ginn. This dance usually starts with a lot of Contact Improv. The first twenty minutes or so I lay on the floor and moved to the music, and then I felt the gentle brush of something across my feet. I opened my eyes and there was Melanie, a friend from previous visits. We had a very sensual, evocative dance together and from that point on, I was up and moving. It was a good set and I danced the entire time. When the mix was ending, many of the people left to go to the second dance of the day at Dance Space only a feet feet away. I’m not clear on why these two dances overlap when with a slight adjustment they could make it possible to attend both in their entirety. In any case, the closing circle was small and perhaps more intimate because of this. I stayed late talking with Eden about Ashland dances, arriving at the second Ecstatic Dance a bit late.

I seemed to be on time however, as they were still in the low key part of the dance. I danced with so many people it made up for dancing alone the night before. Diane Horbacewicz has held this dance for nine years and does a great job with the facilitation and the music. Talking with her after, she mentioned that in all that time she’s never repeated a mix. She uses tunes over, but never in the same mix twice. I was surprised. She’s the only one I’ve encountered that does that other than myself. Of course I’ve changed that a bit while traveling. When I’m DJ’ing for a new group I’ll sometimes use a mix I created for a different group. I do like to mix it up though with music I’ve recently accumulated. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I uploaded my entire music library before leaving Seattle, into a portable drive. So I’ve got about 60,000 tunes in a little box I carry with me. Anyone for a dance? What do you want to hear.

I’m in Mill Valley sitting in a Starbucks (Just for the wifi, not the coffee), and will attend a five rhythms dance tonight. I’ll be talking with you again soon. Till then,

Love and Blessings,
Franklin

Thurs. at Studio Z with Ruth

12 Apr

This dance is new. Ruth and friends are rotating holding space on Thurs. mornings with the intention of adding a weekday morning opportunity while encouraging a meld of all dance forms. There were just five of us present and still, we had a really good time. What a wonderful way to start the day. The only drawback for me was that I’d have to wait till Friday night for the next dance.

Studio Z is at the same address as Open Hearts but right behind it and this dance starts at 9:00 AM.

I used to think I could only dance twice a week. I thought my body couldn’t sustain the energy for more than that. I was wrong! The more often I dance, the more energy I seem to have to dance some more.

I recommend dancing as often as possible. Forget all those other things that seem necessary, like shopping for food, cooking food, eating, working for a living, going to school, meetings. Replace them all with dance, and if there’s not enough dance available, start a new one.

All joking aside, I feel healthier and more energetic than at any other time in my life, and I’m dancing five and six times a week.

Again I say to you, if you’re in Ashland, or you can come to Ashland, attend all the dances, and support this new one on Thurs. mornings.

Love and Blessings,

Franklin

 

Wed. April 10th, 2013 at Open Hearts with Jerry Soloman

12 Apr

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After spending the morning with my son Ilian, I left Portland for the short ride to Ashland OR. I wanted to attend the Wed. night Open Hearts dance that evening and it was a five hour drive. I listened to some of my old mixes and kept just above the speed limit. The rain which came in torrents and drizzles became hardly noticeable, other than my having to adjust the wipers every five minutes.

I long ago discovered that listening to books on CD, or one of my own mixes is the quickest way to get from one point to another. The road slips by practically unnoticed and those times when my consciousness is present to the distance I’ve yet to travel, road meditation fills in the gap. I’m reminded of what they say in London when standing on the platform in the tube, ”Mind The Gap”. This statement takes on a whole new meaning for me while traversing our beautiful countryside. When I become aware of my mind, I know it’s time to let any conscious thought go and receive whatever information is waiting to come in. I’ve had some amazing realizations in this way.

Coming down the hill from Grants Pass I begin to feel the energy of the Alpine village just ahead. Ashland, besides being home to our country’s best Shakespeare festival, is a wonderfully serene medium size town. The inordinately large dance community is truly wondrous. They have at least five dances each week. There is dance on Wed. evening, Thurs. morning, Friday evening, and two on Sunday morning. I’ll be attending and writing about all of these, and because I’ve been here numerous times before, Ashland too feels like coming home.

I arrive early enough to check in with one of my oldest friends. Lenny Goldberg and I go back over forty years, and have shared the common experience of being in the record business. We even shared a store in Eugene OR. many years ago, where I handled the records and he had all the accessories. We had one of the best record stores on the west coast. It’s always a great joy to see him and his family again.

After a brief visit, I head off to the studio. I’m purposefully arriving early to talk with and photograph Jerry Soloman who will be the facilitator/DJ tonight. Jerry is also the producer of electric bicycles at his shop here in Ashland. You can check out his excellent bikes at ashlandelectricbikes.com.

People begin to arrive for dance and I’m delighted to see my Seattle friend Michael (AKA Rain). The mix is very good and I dance through the entire set. My regular readers will remember that I am highly aware and sometimes critical of mixing styles. I say this knowing that this is definitely personal. I know I’m opinionated on this topic but at least I know what I like. My feeling is that if the music MAKES me dance, the mix is good. If I find myself searching for the rhythm or the beat then I usually find the mix lacking. Jerry had a nice mix, albeit in my opinion with too much pop at the beginning and end. Of course this is just my opinion. Everyone present appeared to have a great time.

Open Hearts is second and fourth Wed. at Dance Space, 280 Hersey St., # 10, 8:00 PM. The first and third Wed. also have dances here with another DJ/Facilitator.

We had about thirty people and Jerry told me later that this was a light crowd. He said there were usually about forty or so. The space is nice. A good wood floor with a very nice sound system. As is my usual norm, I danced mostly by myself, though I was drawn into dancing with two women, as well as a short spin with Michael. I don’t easily step into dancing with people unless they make eye contact and hold it for a few seconds. As a facilitator I feel that too often men step into a woman’s space without an invitation. I wait for the eye contact and then I feel welcomed. Alexis and Judit welcomed me and each of these dances was powerful and connected.

Well, I’ve rambled on and it’s time to say goodbye. I can heartily recommend both this dance and the community. You will feel welcome here, so don’t hesitate as you drive down I-5 to stop and stay in Ashland, and attend as many dances as you can.

Love and Blessings,

Franklin

Tuesday April 9th, 2013- Shedding Skins with Eugene Hedlund

11 Apr

Tuesday night in Portland and I leave for the south in the morning. Perhaps the highlight of my stay here is tonight’s dance, Shedding Skins with DJ Eugene Hedland at the helm. Eugene and I met last year in Laguna Beach as he was preparing for his move to PDX. We shared great conversation and I had an amazing evening of dancing to his mix that night. So I was very happy to hear that he was doing a Tuesday night dance at Refuge.

Refuge at 116 SE Yamhill is a recently renovated warehouse with a nice (if smallish) dance floor and a great sound system. Eugene rocked it! His mix was really good, and considering he’d just flown in from San Diego and was mixing live, it was great. Many friends were there and though I retained my norm of mostly dancing by myself, I was drawn in by a few of the dancers even though  my body cried for rest. I’d danced six of the previous eight days and hardly noticed how tired I was

The highlight of the night came near the end of the mix when Eugene chose to play a cut by my friend Rafe Pearlman. When Eugene and I had talked many months ago, music was central to our conversation. We talked about favorite artists, mixing, and how to tailor a mix to the crowd. Depending on where you are and what the dancers are used to, the mix has to come close to what they’re used to. As I found out in Seattle when I tried to introduce heavy beats to my community, they weren’t ready for that yet. Today all the DJ’s in Seattle use them, but ten years ago the people weren‘t ready.

So Eugene and I had an animated talk and I spoke of Rafe and his version of Hallelujah, the Leonard Cohen gem. He later emailed me to thank me for the suggestion saying that indeed it was the best version he’d heard. Look Rafe up on youtube. Rafe Pearlman at Seattle Unity will get you there. Rafe was so animated during his performance that he disconnected his mike cord jumping up and down. He calmly picked it up and reconnected it, moving on with the song as if nothing had happened. He did apologize for messing up at the end, but if it wasn’t a video you’d think it was just a pause in the song.

Back to Tuesday’s dance with Eugene searching through his library for a closing piece, and he comes upon Rafe and Hallelujah. At the first notes my ears perked up, I looked at Eugene and he had a wide smile on his face. I gave him a thumbs up and as I passed Donna, a woman I’d danced with earlier I said, “This is a friend of mine. Dance with me”. She stepped into it and we danced as if the music possessed us. It was the highlight of this journey so far, and it’s going to take a lot to surpass it. Thank you Donna.

Eugene told me later that as he scrolled through his library, he saw the tune and thought he had to play it for me. He said he saves this tune for special occasions. Thank you Eugene.

Portland is a dancers paradise, with so many great dances, so when you’re there be sure to take in Tuesday night at Refuge. I give it three thumbs up.

Love and Blessings,

Franklin