Since 2008, dancers, musicians and vocalists have been coming together for a one of a kind jam session in a magical space simply known as THE FLOOR. Born from the concept of blending diverse artists together, where they fuse their talents in an improvisational setting, a unique forum was born, attracting some of the most eclectic talent from around the globe.
Directed by Sascha Escandon and Carolina Cerisola, THE FLOOR is a fundraiser for the 501(c)(3) non-profit, THE OPEN FLOOR SOCIETY, whose goal is to galvanize disadvantaged youth by way of improvisation with music and dance in a multi-cultural community setting. The Floor’s Improv sessions have expanded to include special afternoon summer sessions held one Sunday a month outdoors, and open to all ages. While the legendary Monday night improv sessions are back up and running since moving from its original Hollywood home to a new space in downtown LA.
Once a month these creative artists gather together for an all out dance til you drop, sweat til you’re dry type of session. This is not one of those clubs where there are just as many people hanging out at the bar or along the walls of the room not moving. Everywhere you look people are dancing, and I mean dancing hard. Some dance in pairs, while many dance in groups, and some even dance alone. You can commonly find several individuals doing solo hip-hop or whacking movements, while couples simultaneously dance salsa or other partner dances together. Then there is always the inevitable, ubiquitous dance circle, with an infinite number of spectators bringing the energy and intensity to a fever pitch as many of them await their own turn inside the circle. From the villages in West Africa to the urban streets of New York during the birth of hip-hop, the dance circle has been a benchmark of cultural expression and tradition for countless generations. While in many places, only the very best dancers dare to enter the circle, at THE FLOOR, with its supportive, WARM, friendly environment, anyone who shows heart and passion is welcome to enter the circles center, where they are then uplifted with encouragement and positivity from the surrounding crowd.
While musicians accompany an emcee, Santa gets his groove on alongside Hip-Hop, freestyle and Latin dancers in the sacred circle. This is just a taste of a typical Improv night at THE FLOOR!
I still recall my very first time there, dancing so hard that I could hardly walk the next day – literally. I was sore for several days, and that rarely happens, as I regularly do a mix of weight training, dance, martial arts and other high intensity movements. I was deeply inspired and subsequently felt on fire by the range of incredible sounds, diversity of talent and warmth of the community. In one night, within a span of an hour or so, I once experienced the most epic mashup ever. I recall dancing a combination of salsa, hip-hop, foxtrot, zouk, tango, crump, samba, swing, Bollywood and 80’s pop moves to a mind-blowing mix of Latin beats, rap, jazz, (EDM) electronic music, funk, world beats and even a mash up of 1980’s hits like the theme song from the cult film “Flashdance” – (which is when a group of leotard, leg warmer, head band wearing dancers burst out front and center doing the infamous running in place move from the movie)! No matter your taste, there truly is something here for everyone. You saw it yourself in the video, even Santa couldn’t help but get in on the action!
This is a place where the phrase “dance like no ones watching” truly takes on new meaning, as most people do dance as if no one is watching, yet there are hundreds of peers not only watching, but cheering, clapping and awaiting their turn to enter the circle to outdo you in a friendly albeit intense battle.
Much like the circle, incredible amounts of energy are also exchanged near the main stage where the DJ (aptly named DJ Unique), becomes one with the band. The live musicians and DJ join forces to create an invigorating mix of digital and live music that is simply refreshing. The neat part (yes, I said that! I’m bringing that word back from the grave!), is that the musicians aren’t necessarily part of the same band, rather, they come together for this special event and play an improvised set, where various singers and rappers spontaneously jump onto the stage at random and freestyle along with the musicians. It’s really a beautiful thing to witness.
In addition to the mesh of independent live musicians collaborating with surprise singers, there are other special treats that regularly await patrons of THE FLOOR’s Improv nights. From the to time, a small wooden floor is carried out onto the stage. Regulars know that this is a call for the resident tap dancers to change into their tap shoes and make some noise. THE FLOORS directors Carolina and Sascha, along with other dancers proceed to show us how true artists collaborate with each other on the fly. When the musicians call out to the dancers with their synchronize sounds then the dancers respond with their rhythmic, syncopated steps, an improv session is born. It is such a treat to witness and experience such raw talent, passion and unity from so many different places all in one room, at one time. There aren’t a lot of other places where you can be entertained with a live concert of eclectic sounds, while watching an army of performers displaying an array of styles, while also being part of the show simultaneously!
So even if you aren’t an artist or performer, come by if nothing else to take in the diverse sights, sounds and flavors that is THE one and only FLOOR!