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.
San Francisco Fire Engine Tours & Adventures’ sparkling 1950's Mack Fire Engine carries passengers on themed adventures that combine the excitement of racing toward a fire with the fun of outwitting time. From the vantage point of the "Big Red Shiny Mack Fire Engine," guests catch views of the Bay Area while pretending to be important pieces of firefighting equipment. Tours run year round, and the crew outfits patrons with authentic fire gear to keep them warm while they explore the city on one of the themed tours. Winery tours cruise to Treasure Island, where guests enjoy tastes of signature varietals, while the Golden Gate bridge tour begins in Fisherman's Wharf before heading across the iconic bridge, through the village of Sausalito. Holiday-lights tours capture some of the city's most festive and decorated locations, and Halloween tours creep through Historic Presidio where ghosts are rumored to vacation.
Mexico City native Ricardo T?llez began dancing when he was 12, shimmying his way through styles such as cumbia and guaracha. In 1995, he packed up his dancing shoes and moved to the Bay area, accelerating his salsa study not only by studying under Gabriel Romero, but also by trying out his footwork in clubs. Armed with a passion for dance, Ricardo founded RicaSalsa Dance Company in 1999 to share his love of the art. Today, he and dance partner Tianne Frias?with whom he placed third in the World Latin Dance Cup?teach private lessons and group classes that impart new and advanced dancers with the steps, partnership skills, and medallions filled with glowworms needed to light up the floor. By focusing on social dance skills and the ability to follow the rhythm, they help their students adapt easily to different songs and settings.
An alumna of New York City’s Actors Studio, Shelley Mitchell won acclaim for her one-woman performance of Talking with Angels: Budapest 1943, which Los Angeles Weekly lauded for its “leisurely, lifelike timing” and “excruciating beauty.” Shelley draws on her extensive teaching and acting experience at institutions such as The Dublin Fringe Theatre Festival to teach dramatic acting to film, television, and theater thespians at the Arts Center of San Francisco. Three-hour classes develop individual concentration and emotional response through sense memory exercises before students partner up for scripted scene work or practice tumbling into the orchestra pit. Eight-week courses introduce pupils to acting fundamentals, while three or ten-month intensive training grants unlimited studio access, weekly or biweekly lessons, and private sessions with Shelley to dedicated participants.
The Dark Room is a 50-seat performance space plunked in the Mission’s exact center, serving as a powerhouse of stand-up and underground theater for years. While not a black box, student-run space per se, guests definitely shouldn’t expect any frills at this former bar. Far from bad drapes and the standard comedy club’s brick wall background, this eccentric space pops with personality, including bathrooms plastered in historical tidbits from the SF theater scene from years past. Frequent shows include indie stand up sets, local talent shows and, lately, live renditions of classic TV episodes and a Sunday Bad Movie Night, which is something of a local tradition. For those looking to inquire, The Dark Room also doubles as a rentable space for rehearsals or shows.