Friday nights at Chattaqua Hall in Pacific Grove, people don’t just kick off their Sunday shoes—they kick off all inhibitions too.
An opportunity for community members around the peninsula to express themselves through dance, Dance Jam invites dancers of all shapes, sizes, ages and levels of experience to dance their hearts out in whatever manner they see fit.
“[Dance Jam] is about having a dance space where you can let go of all those social expectations,” says Donna Linda, who co-founded Dance Jam ten years ago. “You get to dance out all those bits of life and all those surprises that happen throughout the week.”
Dance Jam takes place every Friday night, each week hosting a different DJ or music group.
“Every week the energy is different,” Linda comments.
The DJs set the tone for the night, be it up-beat, funky or introspective—one week a DJ who requested complete silence on the dance floor in order to broaden the consciousness through dance. On May 17, Dance Jam hosted an improvisational band which creates music based off of the dancers’ movements.
People come to dance out their grief, to dance out their joy, to make a complete fool of themselves without the fear of being judged or, as one dancer comments, “to dance like a macho robot.”
The idea behind Dance Jam is that anyone can dance in any way he or she wants, without technical training being an issue.
“What if you could take the dancing you do in your living room when nobody’s home and bring it out to a public setting?” Linda says.
Junai, who has been attending Dance Jam every week for the past ten years, yet has never taken a dance class in his life, says, “I’ve always loved to dance, but I was a little tightly wound… now Dance Jam has become the highlight of my week.”
“I’ve always sought a connection with myself and my body,” says Jeannie Walker, a Dance Jam regular, “so when I came to Dance Jam it felt like home.”
It’s clear that Dance Jam is more than just a place to go on Friday nights. For some, it has become a welcoming community where everyone has a shared love for dancing.
“I’ve made several friends through Dance Jam,” Junai says, “and we’re completely different politically, in the way we view certain things, but we share a bond through dance.”
“It’s not moving how something’s prescribed,” Walker adds.” It’s free. If you want to move a certain way or not move a certain way, you have full permission.”
Dance Jam is open to the public of all ages from 8-10 p.m. at Chattaqua Hall in P.G. First-time attendance is free.