Before she founded her eponymous ballroom school, Rhona Pick represented the United States at world dance championships in Berlin and London at famed venues such as Royal Albert Hall. Although she has since retired from dancing competitively, she culls from her experience to manage her school in accordance with the framed Code of Ethics that hangs on the office door. The code mandates that each teacher on her team holds professional teaching qualifications, a standard that guarantees the quality of the school’s private and group classes, in styles that range from salsa to tango and swing. Instructors can also choreograph wedding dances, ensuring that couples don’t have to spend their reception’s first song hiding in the supply closet.
Your gym might have a trampoline and climbing ropes, but what about Chinese poles and a flying trapeze rig? Circus Center has all of the above, plus other equipment necessary for doing "anything in the air, upside down, backwards, and seemingly impossible."
The nonprofit center welcomes students to defy gravity with a diverse class curriculum and seasoned instructors from circuses in several countries. Though some offerings, such as Aerial Doubles, require a certain level of experience, many are geared toward total beginners. Circus newbies can experiment with juggling and tightrope walking or practice Mongolian-based contortion techniques and learn how to fit inside a stubborn pickle jar and open it from there. Trapeze classes even allow students to attempt a catch during their first-ever class.
Circus Center is also home to a Clown Conservatory, where workshops focus on slapstick humor, comedic timing, and show creation. Additionally, on Wednesdays and Fridays, the gym opens up for a free two-hour Circus Skills Jam—a practice session for students of all ages.
Before the dinner begins, each diner moves their drink to their left hand and lines up, placing their free hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them. That person could be a loved one or a stranger, but very shortly, trusting them will become important. A host walks the line to make sure everyone is ready, then pulls aside a heavy, canvas curtain flap, revealing a room of pitch darkness. The group of people file in, led by the waitstaff?blind people lending others their expertise at moving sightlessly?who help the group to their tables.
In the absence of sight, other senses take over at the meal; diners focus on the aroma and flavor of the plates of food that come before them. Local chefs craft purely vegetarian meals, forgoing elements of presentation to instead create interesting textures and tastes. As the evening commences, the meal pairs with an original soundtrack composed expressly for the event before turning into a Q&A with the blind waitstaff. The event doesn't just excite senses, but aims to educate visitors about life as a blind person. Yet for all the good it does, the event doesn't stick around forever: as a pop-up based in San Francisco, the organizers bring this experience to cities around the country for special temporary engagements.