Ellington Hall instructors David and Cirkl lead would-be jitterbuggers through the simple steps necessary for an evening of on-tempo fun. The rug-cuttery begins with a class aimed at beginners and more advanced dancers alike, who can arrive partnered or fly solo to join the crowd of two-steppers. Students arrive dressed in whatever makes them feel comfortable; after the one-hour seminar in fancy footwork, the evening's dance begins. Swing students spin, jump, and twirl on the expansive hardwood dance floor, pausing for breaths and Great Gatsby impersonations on the garden terrace. An all-brick fireplace dominates the dance space, adding a note of elegance and an easy place to store extra left feet.
Couples can tap their toes to triple-rhythms or swivel their shoulders in silver foxtrots during one-hour classes taught by nurturing instructors during the course of five weeks. Offering a safe and supportive environment in which couples of all dancing dexterities can follow their rug-cutting inclinations, The Ballroom specializes in social dancing and restoring mislaid grooves to their rightful owners. A bimonthly class schedule features several spicy levels of hip-swinging salsa classes and a popular East Coast–swing series that will have students lindy hopping over the competition at Jay Gatsby’s next lawn party. Heartland dances such as the line dance give feet a taste of American pie and nightclub dances such as salsa and cha-cha ensure perfect street-credit scores of 850. A series of social-ballroom classes survey traditional waltzes and foxtrots for formal occasions.
At Bay West Ballroom, students learn how to tango alongside their identical twin, whether they were actually born with one or not. The studio's eastern wall of mirrors stretches for 60 feet, ensuring that students’ reflections are always visible as they spin on the sprung beech-wood floor. On the opposite side, windows admit sunlight and scenic views of the hills, creating an ethereal space where seasoned instructors demonstrate ballroom, Latin, and swing dance styles. Drawing from a diverse curriculum, these instructors cover a broad spectrum of disciplines that range from the cha-cha to the country two-step, encouraging practice in both the classroom and social settings. For example, lessons on popular salsa steps prepare pupils to spin at nightclubs, and wedding courses customize choreography to match a chosen song at elegant receptions.
Directors Mark and Andrea Nelson-Novak have both earned championship titles, and Andrea draws on a degree in biology to better inform her protégés on anatomy, movement, and the location of the body’s rhythm glands. The pair enlists other experts—including US Country and Swing Champion Tony Gutsch and Grand National Latin Finalists Dima and Olga Sukachov—to helm specialized and regular classes. The team also hosts holiday parties each year.
At Marin Murder Mysteries, dinner mates may ask you to pass the rolls just before they begin chipping away at your alibi. That’s because guests are both suspects and sleuths during the theater troupe’s interactive performances, attempting to tally the clues and pinpoint the culprit's motive. Each year, the cast and crew serve up three to four different shows that inject generous portions of slapstick into the familiar detective genre. The writers and directors have a particular fondness for the noir-soaked era of the 1950s, with such past plays as Remains to be Seen, Murder Me, Always, and Death of a Doornail. During the show, guests have the option to dine on a gourmet dinner or sip cocktails from a cash bar.
Dance Arts Studios' instructors get fleet feet flying with a panoply of dance classes set within a studio that Pacific Sun named the best place for dance lessons in 2007 and 2008. The accommodating schedule of ballroom, Latin, and swing dances lets beginners and more sure-footed students build stepping and twirling skills with social dance classes. The Dance for Fitness course centers around fun, upbeat routines that strengthen cores and improve flexibility, teaching students to stylishly retrieve fallen items with a graceful dip. Although not included in today's Groupon, guest instructors and 2011 U.S. Argentine-tango stage champions Gustavo Hornos and Jesica Salomon help to inspire more seasoned dancers to take their tango to the next level in an intermediate/advanced Argentine-tango class.
Renowned Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, who has received four Grammy awards and six Billboard awards, lacquers his audience's eardrums with genre-hopping performances that range from classical to bebob. After mastering the classical style during the beginning stages of his career, Sandoval repurposed his horn for jazz, using the valves to create improvisational glissandos and adding a Mustang-V8 engine to the bell. Revel in the expansive soundscape as he exemplifies these jazz chops and peforms an eclectic range of other tunes, including Afro-Cuban creations inspired by his homeland and some of Mozart's concertos. Unsatisfied with relying upon just a single instrument, the artist will also tickle the piano keys and flugel-horn valves, which yield much nicer sounds than tickling a bobcat.