Underbelly - San Francisco
Underbelly - "Discover your Slow Dance" started in Sep 2018 by a dear friend of mine, Amy Rogg. I remember years ago she talked about her dream of Underbelly - the idea was to combine the essence and best common parts of ecstatic dance, 5 rhythms, contact improv and all these other great dances, but focus on "slow". In a place where everything seems urgent, this dance is about decompressing, and slowing down enough to notice the subtle wonders of the world... or in this case, connection, touch and human movement.
What is Underbelly
So here's the beautifully written official Facebook page explanation of what Underbelly is:
Underbelly is a conscious dance experience and embodied movement inquiry. Explore The Art of Slowing Down with music, movement, presence, and human contact to reveal unique states of connection and authenticity. Invite movement from feeling the intimate spaces of your body, breath and being. Cultivate deeper awareness, listening and attunement as you relate to self, other, and the environment. Voyage beneath the surface of our fast culture and dive into a slow sanctuary for unearthing what is alive, tender, honest, and real for you in every moment.
Amy's commentary is insightful, and she emphasizes that your dance itself doesn't need to always be slow. In certain moments, you might find yourself move quite rapidly - I certainly did - which makes it even more sweet to just come back to very slow movement and meditation. I've been to many dance events, and in this, more than any other, it feels natural an encouraged to sit and witness others dancing every once in a while. Even though you are moving slowly, it can still be a workout and it's great to take little breaks.
Amy also has a big emphasis on making the experience non sexualized. This isn't to say that your dance can't be sensual - in fact when you slow down you might feel every hair on your body move - but it is to imply that dances should have no goal or agenda or make other people uncomfortable with public displays. Amy's music choice is incredible, and for the first part of the session, once everybody drops in we sit in a "circleish" formation, she has great guidance to "slow the f**k down", dance by yourself, dance with others, and then eventually the free dance session. Finally another "circleish" to close and chat. It's a beautiful thing. :)
The Venue: Little Boxes Theater
The venue, "Little Boxes Theater", is a wonderful space creative space in the industrial Dogpatch area of San Francisco, little boxes facebook
Getting in is tricky, your ride share might drop you off at the wrong side of this huge factory shaped building... you'll have to walk around to the "Tennessee St" side and there's a glass door where people will let you in. I think if you arrive too late (8:30) you might not get in, so be on time. :-P
If you drive you'll want to park with good street lighting. Break-ins and bike theft can happen in the area, which maybe adds to the character. Once in the door, you'll be created, you might sign a basic agreement for code of conduct, then you have to go to the 1st level and follow the signs through what feels like a old factory to discover a beautiful friendly homely art space with great photos everything (the two lovely people who own this space live here take photos), incredible lighting, nice big dance floor area, high ceilings and... well just come experience it for yourself. The people there are what make it of course - fairly young crowd, many with dance experience, but there to decompress and making incredible connection with themselves and others.
They have a lovely little kitchen with filtered water where you can pat the cats and chat to people (no chatting on the dance floor), and only one toilet stall, so you might want to change before coming. :)
Here are some more photos:
The Facilitator: Amy Rogg
Amy Rogg is a Bay Area artist, dancer, yogi, singer/actor/model, movement facilitator, and professional goofball. Yup, she's the creative type, inventor of comedy improv and most recently Underbelly. Amy is the best people. She really is. She has a long history in acting, as well as teaching yoga and teaching dance. She is all kinds of playful, regularly breaking out in accents and always authentically herself. This is my favorite video of her. :) She's also an incredible friend, and can always make you smile. She has a way of making everyone welcome, even if you're brand new to mindfulness and freeform dance.
Every Friday evening come slow the f**k down, breathe, move, feel, connect with yourself and listen with every cell you are made of.
- Underbelly (official facebook page)... follow and keep up to date!