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

Dance Spot: South Bay Fusion
Price: $8 before 7pm; $12 lesson + dance; $10 dance only
Time: Thursdays 7pm beginner; 8pm guest instructor; 9pm dancing
Location: Napa Dance Club (above Napa Auto Parts), 560 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94063

After hearing about South Bay Fusion from dancers at Wednesday Night Hop and Friday Night Waltz, I finally made my way there last week. Like many good dance spots, the location was not easy to find — the entrance is towards the back of Napa Auto Parts’ parking. There were many cute signs and decorations leading to the dancefloor.

My husband and I arrived just before 7pm to get the $8 discounted pricing. We were the only students there at that time, and essentially had 15 min of private lesson with Bob Free, the founder, before other students showed up. The class slowly grew to eight students at the end of the hour.

During beginner class, Bob taught us how Blues-Fusion dancing moves from the core instead of the feet. We practiced isolations to move correctly.1 While we took a dance series on Blues at Tuesday Night Couples Dancing that taught many different variations, Bob’s teachings went into more details of the basic concepts instead. At 8pm, guest instructors Grace and Mark taught the “Yes, but” lead/follow dynamic. They started with “Yes, yes” lead/follow dynamic in an underarm turn, letting the follow dance the same style as the lead. Then they covered “Yes, and” where the follow varies the style but still matched the lead. Finally, “Yes, but” was more for experienced Blues-Fusion dancers so my husband and I were a bit overwhelmed by then.

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In contrast to the small beginner class, social dance was full of people! Tom, the owner of Napa Dance Club, would routinely walk to move people’s stuff into the storage closet by the door. This ensures all the seats are empty and available for dancers to sit. There were also food and water by the entrance for us to take breaks. I even got to meet their cute mascot dog!

Part way through the night was the Birthday Jam. Having seen this at Wednesday Night Hop and Friday Night Waltz, I wasn’t surprised to see people taking turns to dance with those with birthdays. What I didn’t expect was bringing out a cake and singing happy birthday to them afterwards. This was followed by a series of announcements on other upcoming dance events.

Originally, I’d been a bit apprehensive about Blues because I found online that it is often danced with close embrace.2 Coming from dances with more personal space, I wasn’t sure if I’d be comfortable. It turns out I didn’t have to worry. Bob first asked his follow for permission to demonstrate dancing in close embrace, and also showed how to indicate our preference through our arms in the beginner class. While social dancing later, leads always asked me for permission to dance close embrace as well, and no is an option.

Bob emphasizes the community wants to welcome everyone by ensuring they feel safe and comfortable. This emphasize is reiterited to me when another dancer told me he’s made some very close friends in this community, including visiting dancers from other places that he’s kept in touch.

1 Isolations are exercises that move only a single part of your body. I first learned about this concept when learning hip hop. Bob was having us practice only moving our chest/sternum — basically isolations of the Emotive Core. Read more on South Bay Fusion FAQ.

2 Close embrace “involves a firm compressive connection between the Follow’s sternum and the Lead’s chest.” Read more on South Bay Fusion FAQ or watch video below: