Ecstatic Dance - Temple of Now Fridays at The Center SF
So The Center SF is quite something. In the spiritual community, many think of this place as the heart of San Francisco - many people hang out at the tea lounge to work and they have all kinds of events there. The event of interest for this page though is called Temple of Now which is certain Friday nights (~7pm-10pm) at the The Center SF in Alamo Square/Hayes Valley (map). The first hour is usually some type of contact improv lesson in one room or sound-healing in the other (you can pick).
- What: A contact improv / sound healing and ecstatic dance event
- Cost: $30 at the door (or $25 if you register early online)
- When: Sporatic Fridays 7pm-10pm (check the Center SF website for which Fridays).
- Where: The Center SF, 548 St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (map), tucked in next to the Church of Eight Wheels.
- What to wear: Suitable dance attire, you'll be bear foot... see more here.
- Website: thecentersf.com/ecstaticdance (facebook)
What is Ecstatic Dance
I think the best thing you can do, for a full explanation, is to read my Ecstatic Dance article. It explains things in depth. In a nutshell: wonderful tribal music where you are free to dance however you want (no instructions) and no shoes. In the dance, the only real rule is to be respectful to others, consent and no photos. Remember that putting your hands together in a pray like position is saying "thanks, but I want to dance by myself now".
The Center SF always attracts a relatively young crowd or working professions and exists in the lower level of a building which spans three distinct rooms in a line. One room is exclusively for workshops, which is where most of the dancing occurs, then a middle room where people are allowed to talk, chat and order tea... and then on the other side a room with rugs and pillows where people can also dance and has a little more space. The main workshop room gets crowded during the dance, when it builds up to over a hundred people it can get pretty sweaty in there. If you arrive before 7pm you'll also be sure to get the very start of the sound healing in one room, or the ecstatic dance lesson in the other. Both valuable and magical in different ways. Then there's opening circle and the lights dim low and dancing commences. Compared to other ecstatic dances I would say more people just dance with themselves for the whole time. It will depend also on the music, but just don't be disappointed if you come looking to connect with people and find that there isn't a huge amount of eye-contact. It's best when you come with people you know for sure!
PS: I highly suggest arriving a bit early to get a lay of the land, and talk to the very friendly people behind the bar to put you at ease. Maybe order a tea if there is time. They have an area to leave all your shoes, and it's pretty safe to leave your valuables there to as they have someone at the front checking people in, plus the entrance itself is though a little cute alley, so you don't get any riff-raff.
PSS: If you're a first time ecstatic dancer I would probably suggest you start with the Sunday morning event next door at the Church of Eight wheels..... after the Sunday event lots of people wander into the center just to hang around. If you hang around the center long enough and start to know a few people you might have a few amazing conversations. It's also know as a kind of time vacuum, because often when I head there just to "pop my head in" I might chat to anyone I recognize there and suddenly 2-3 hours have passed!
- The Center SF - Friday Nights Temple of Now. The official website.