Entangle & Sway's encouraging instructors motivate ladies of all shapes and experience levels to discover confidence in their femininity while sculpting lean muscles in pole-dancing lessons. Within the dimly lit, windowless studio, gals can feel comfortable shimmying and twirling at one of six poles in the noncompetitive, supportive environment. All ladies must begin their journeys to pole-dancing prowess in the Passage to Pole series, a five-week workshop that meets once a week to familiarize beginners with basic tricks and safety tips. Upon finishing the set, gals can embark on another series, including Pole Connection—which incorporates tantalizing floor work into pole routines while donning heels or snowshoes for an added challenge—or opt for drop-in classes. Drop-in classes grant the opportunity for students to explore varied aspects of pole dancing, perfecting techniques, integrating props, or conditioning muscles for powerful inversions. To celebrate occasions such as birthdays or bachelorette parties, ladies can bring along friends for instructor-led private parties, where they learn a personalized routine while enjoying time for playing around on the poles and posing for photos.
The Dance Brigade’s Dance Mission Theater, on the second-floor overlooking the bustle of 24th and Mission Streets, is both a workshop and a venue. While equipped with a 140-seat black box theater, the main studio space is practically a solarium, open to all the sunlight of San Francisco’s Banana Belt. Here, aspiring dancers can tone up and acquire the moves in samba, reggaetón fusion and Haitian drumming, or, in classes such as Vogue and Tone, they can get a workout while cat-walking, posing and re-learning how to navigate the world in heels. There are more than 50 classes each week, plus summer programs for youth – and it’s open for rehearsal rentals. On the performance side, it’s the home of the Dance Mission Brigade, which bridges high-concept choreography with the movement of the streets. Community-driven and diverse in its programming, this is San Francisco’s home for socially-conscious modern dance.
For almost 40 years, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts has had a full dance card, acting as the omnibus educational center for a thriving, bilingual Latin American community far beyond the immediate neighborhood. Whether it’s murals, graphic arts, Carnaval floats, capoeira classes, salsa-merengue classes, mentoring to at-risk youth or simply renting out gallery space for the community’s own purposes, MCCLA’s calendar is bursting with programming for everyone. In an era without state support for the arts and amidst an ever-gentrifying Mission, MCCLA enjoys a magical combination of paid staff and volunteers who keeps this treasured institution relevant and ahead of the curve. It’s part summer camp, part Kennedy Center.
The staccato beat of conga drums rises over the deep voice of a bass guitar and the higher trills of the timbales and piano. Head dancer Evan Margolin and his bevy of experienced instructors lead students in classes that take beginners through basic footwork and salsa rhythms, with intermediate and advanced sessions offering salsa aficionados more challenging instruction. The social class structure—partners rotate throughout every session—creates a low-pressure learning environment and keeps dancers from scrambling to locate a partner or human-shaped tupperware container. The one-hour beginner classes are mostly filled with salsa novices and new dancers, and Dance SF's experienced and engaging local salsateers are patient and friendly when showing new students how to bust well-timed moves. During intermediate classes, which require six months or more of social dancing experience, students focus on timing and cross-body leads with turns. After some evening classes, new dancers are invited to join an all-night salsa party where they can put their new moves in practice. Students should wear comfortable clothing, which includes dancing shoes, but does not include rear-flapped onesie pajamas.
When Sheila Kelley broke into the fitness scene, fitness pole-dancing classes were unheard of. However, in just a few years, the S Factor—her unique fusion of yoga, ballet, Pilates, and striptease—became renowned for its physical benefits and confidence-boosting ability. Due to this focus on both mind and body, the S Factor garnered widespread acclaim, with endorsements from Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and Martha Stewart. The workout's mission is clear: engendering female empowerment, confidence, and respect through sultry pole dancing. The S Factor's healthful impact on its students' bodies can be attributed to its combination of diverse workout methods, all of which build lean muscle mass. The course's six levels build on one another, relying on stretches, pole work, and traditional dance to get students twirling around the pole safely regardless of their athletic experience.