Last night I headed out to the Russian Center in San Francisco for the weekly "9:20 Special" lindy hop dance held there every Thursday. The 9:20 takes place in a beautiful old ballroom with a gorgeous sprung wooden dancefloor that packs a couple hundred dancers from complete newbies to oldsters like myself. Classes at various levels take place prior to the dance, then two DJs take over and get everyone hopping until the wee hours.
I always have a really fun time at the 9:20, which has a friendly and open vibe. Folks always introduce themselves, ask if I'm visiting, and thank me after a dance. This week I was one of the many folks who were part of their regular "welcome jam" held during the mid-point of the dance.
In lindy hop and other social dances, it's typical to honor people who are celebrating special occasions with a "jam" where they go in the middle of the circle and dance with various people in the crowd. In most places, this is reserved for birthdays, engagements and other big occasions. At 9:20 Special, you get pulled into the jam if (1) it's your birthday, (2) you are a visitor from outside the city, (3) you are celebrating your first year as a dancer, (4) you passed your biochem quiz, or any number of other minor occasions. I find it disconcertingly friendly and nice. I suppose I'll get used to it.
The 9:20 is a deceptively simple setup that hides the huge amount of organization it takes to pull off a successful dance venture like this. Organizers Kirk, Iris, Allen, Manu and Nicole, along with many volunteers and guest instructors and DJs, work hard to keep alive and growing this mainstay of the San Francisco lindy hop scene. I was impressed by their online sign-up system, their variety of class offerings, and how many new folks they manage to get into their beginner classes. Last night I counted nearly 50 people for the basic class!
A nice start to my dancing adventures in the Bay Area.
The 9:20 Special occurs every Thursday from 9:20PM to 12:30am. Classes at 7:20 and 8:20. 2460 Sutter Street at Divisadero in San Francisco. See http://920special.com.