Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Adventure Wednesday at Dance Downtown

We were so happy to welcome Shrinking Kenz and her formidable pal Kent to our home yesterday - we've had an excellent time hanging out with them since their arrival, including a trip to Slimmons (a photo of which you can see on her blog.)  She'll post more about the experience once she is able to summon the words, so keep your eye out for it.  Today looks to be an equally lovely one.  And, of course, today is Wednesday, which means adventure is on the horizon.

This Adventure Wednesday, the adventure is also on the horizon behind us.  I'm trying to get ahead of my blog schedule, so I'm working on writing pieces in advance.  Today, I got as far as taking photos in advance.

This week's adventure is an outing we took downtown. Where all the lights are bright.  Downtown.

And one of the gems downtown is the complex of fine arts buildings known as The Music Center.  We've seen a lot of theater and music performed here - we're happy arts patrons whenever we can afford it - but there's a program run by the center that we've never managed to attend before, called Dance Downtown.  Every other Friday night during summer, The Music Center has a live band and a dance floor, and welcome people to come and enjoy themselves for free.

We arrived shortly after the program started, at 6:30 PM.  It was still light out, and the first of three half-hour dance lessons was underway.  The night's theme was Cumbia, a European and South American dance style that I'd never heard of before.

Our dance teacher for the evening leads the group in some introductory steps.

We grabbed an open spot on the dance floor and quickly learned the basics of the dance, which was fun but surprisingly aerobic!  We were both sweating and feeling the burn.

There's a lovely view of City Hall from the dance floor.

I thought that the paper lanterns hanging above the dance floor
were elegant, but I had no idea how pretty they'd be after nightfall.

After the lesson, the band started up and the floor became filled with dancers cutting a proverbial rug in the breezy, open air.  After an hour of open dance (or open sit, as we indulged in) they came back with another half-hour lesson teaching a few more turns and steps to build on the basics we had learned.  Then, open dance again!

See how beautiful!? Imagine stepping out with your loved one - or your gang of friends -
in the evening summer breeze?  It was completely lovely.

The final half-hour lesson of the night was a preview of the next Dance Downtown theme, Salsa.  (It reminded me of some of the steps we do with Richard!  In fact, we kept commenting throughout the night how lucky it was that we were working out and dancing with Richard, because we were less tired and quicker to catch on than we might have been this time last year.   It's a very playful and fun way to be active and burn some calories.

We definitely burned our calories for the day.

We certainly sweated, at the very least.  Phew!

It's a very welcoming and open atmosphere at Dance Downtown.  It was attended by people of all age, ethnicity, size, orientation...  and so terrific to see them all communing on the dance floor.

We think we'll be back for as many sessions this summer as we can attend.  Are you kidding?  Free dance lessons? Cheerful live music under the stars? Feeling like part of the larger Los Angeles community?  I think we'll try to attend them all.  Here's the schedule:

May 20 - Salsa/Cha Cha Cha
June 03 - Line Dance/Two-Step
June 17 - Lindy Hop/Swing
July 01 - Bollywood/Bhangra
July 15 - Argentine Tango
July 29 - Disco
Aug 12 - 60s Night
Aug 26 - Zydeco
Sept 09 - Samba

A few tips for attending:
  • Wear danceable shoes. We saw some women in spiked heels and they looked miserable by the end of the night.
  • If you bring a bag, it should be small and somehow hands-free (I like cross-body bags for this purpose)... or you should plan to check it in at the bag check.
  • You can take public transportation, but don't overdo it dancing if you have a long way to walk afterward!
  • You can park at the Center for $9 - so carpool if you can, and split the parking fee.
  • If you take all 90 minutes of the offered classes, and if you dance any beyond that, you will be quite thirsty.  Water and snacks are sold in the courtyard, at the various outdoor stands, but it's pretty pricey.  Come with cash, or with bottles already in hand(s-free bag.)
Dance Downtown is part of the Music Center's program to encourage non-professional artists/dancers/musicians to express themselves creatively - called Active Arts.  It has a bunch of very cool, creative, and inexpensive offerings, including some summer sing-alongs at Disney Hall, a photo exhibit by non-pro photogs, and sessions to help former instrument-players brush up on their old saxophone/violin/etc skills.  You should definitely check it out if you're in the area - or if you're visiting.  And let us know if you go... we'll probably be there, too!


  1. You both look stunning. Thank you for posting the pictures.

  2. do you need a partner?

  3. Le sigh. This is right up my alley. But, alas, my bf and I completely agree that gay boy couples look absolutely ridiculous doing any kind of dance that dates back beyond 1960.

    Anything but ultra-modern (i.e., bodies technically apart) dancing is one of the things I miss most from my "straight" life - - but, eh, I'm getting a little old anyway - and about 20 minutes of dancing wears me out these days.

    Enjoy your every-other-Friday-nights. This is a great find, and I hope you cut a rug there all summer long!

  4. Aw, thank you Diane. And thank you for the request.

    Always, Rochelle!

    Are you kidding, Steve? Gay boy couples look adorable doing latin dances. (Most of the weeks have latin themes.)

    Also, what's wrong with coming on 60s week, or disco week, or line dancing week? Those aren't solely couple weeks. Plus, the classes are 30 minutes and spread apart throughout the evening, so you could hang out with us as we sit and enjoy the evening air and watch the goings-on. You would love it. You know it.

  5. I can't wait to visit! I'd love to come for the swing dancing!

  6. I'm going to try to get there for the swing night (of course). I attended this once several years ago and there was a good crowd.

  7. Your pictures look amazing! I wish I lived closer so I could see it in person. I would also LOVE to be able to work out with Richard, but it is a long commute from Alabama.