This is part of the Dance Spot series highlighting different places to go dancing in SF Bay Area.

Dance Spot: Wednesday Night Hop
Price:
* Drop-in: $16 for 1 class; $24 for 2 classes; $8-12 dance party only
* 4-week series: $60 / $30 under 25 or 65+ (discounts online for advanced purchase)
Time: Wednesdays
* 7:15pm Level 2 & Level 3 Classes
* 8:15pm Level 1 & Elective Classes
* 9:30pm Dance Party
Location: First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

After hearing about Wednesday Night Hop from multiple people, I finally gave it a try! At $16 for drop-in, it’s slightly more expensive than $10 for Salsa at Alberto’s or Contra or $12 for Friday Night Waltz. But I quickly saw why when I walked in: everything seems well-organized and thought-out for a large customer base. They had different lines for pre-registered students and drop-in students, were using Square to take payments in addition to cash, had different wristbands for different class times, shoe covers black shoe bottoms that may mark the floor, and clear signs for class locations. In addition to all the in-person organization, WNH also have a very well-organized YouTube channel with video reviews for all the classes.

Arriving at 8pm, it was too late for me to take the Level 2 class. So I signed up for the Level 1 class since the Elective class required knowing Balboa already. While I was watiting for class to begin at 8:15pm, I took a peak at the Level 3 class and admired their skills.

At 8:15pm, the Level 1 class gathered in a large circle around the room to do some warm ups.  After the warm ups, the instructor announced that this is the last of a 4-week series, and asked the drop-in students to follow another instructor downstairs to learn the basics.1  One person told me that even though she was here last week, she prefers to take the drop-in class because they go slower than the series class. This is one of the most beginner-friendly class I’ve ever taken, and we took a picture together at the end of class:

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After class ends, social dancing begins upstairs. Armed with just a few moves, some leads from this class thought dancing a whole song becomes repetitive. So many watched from the side or left early. On the other hand, there were no lack of experienced dancers on the dance floor.

Part way through the night was the birthday jam! This jam was not limited those with birthdays, the party also celebrated two first-timers and one person leaving for far-away lands. It turns out there was a sheet for listing names and reasons, then the announcer called those people out to the center of the dance floor. Then everyone else took turns dancing with them.

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The night is followed by more dancing, including Doing the Jive and Balboa. The crowd got smaller around 11pm, but there were still music and dancing going on past the 11:45pm end time indicated on the website.

 

1 The drop-in Level 1 class started with pulsing (moving body down) to the beat. Then we learned to step back and forth to the beat. Next, the instructor used a horse stick analogy to have us shuffle around, and turn it into triple-steps. Put them together, we got the triple-step basic for Swing. We then learned the tuck outside turn, inside turn (aka passover), and anchor (inside turn but returning to closed position).

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