Farewell To, The Floor, My Favorite Place To Dance For The Past 10 Years!

The Floor Improv Night - www.TofuAlan.net

Most people dread Mondays! I totally understand. As a kid, on Sunday nights, it felt as if there was a dark, stormy cloud looming over my head, preparing to eclipse the sun and the weekend fun… Unless it was a summer vacation day, then Sundays were just another day linking to a HAPPY Monday of frivolity and adventure.

THE FLOOR, was my favorite dance event of the month. It usually took place on the 3rd Monday of the month and it was a like a summer vacation day in the middle of my work month. I missed many Monday night dance events at THE FLOOR over the past 10 years, but I attended more than I missed.

It was akin to summer camp, where I made new friends and I was sure to see many of my favorite people. THE FLOOR, was COMMUNITY. THE FLOOR was FAMILY. THE FLOOR was unbridled energy packed into a hot room full of LA’s most talented musicians and dancers expressing their art in many beautiful and compelling ways. THE FLOOR felt like HOME!

I love swing dancing! In fact, I want to swing dance every night of the week like I did when I first caught the dancing bug. Mondays were one of my normal swing dance nights, unless it was the 3rd Monday of the month, then I knew I would be going to THE FLOOR instead. Every once in a while I would pull a double header and go swing dancing, then leave that venue early to dance until the wee hours of morning at THE FLOOR.

Many of my friends wanted me to describe THE FLOOR and why I was so passionate about it. Usually, I would just invite them to see it and feel it for themselves. In a nutshell, it’s a musicians and dancers improvisation night. If you’re a musician, you sign up with the band leader and you’ll find out which set(s) you’ll be playing. If you’re a dancer, you express yourself in anyway the music moves you.

The music would morph and change as the musicians were added and moved around the stage. The tempo would speed up and slow down depending on the mood of the collective band. The flavor would alter slightly, or sometimes drastically, depending on various individual musicians’ proclivity towards a genre or style of music. Some people would say this was a recipe for disaster, but somehow it all worked out in gorgeous and mystifying ways.

The dancers would move and groove to the energy the band was creating, and in turn, the band would feed off the energy of the dancers. This would continue to feed back and forth and the energy in the room would continue to elevate with each note from the stage and every dance step on the floor. The joy which I felt could be seen reflected in the smiles of everyone present.

When the band took a break, the DJ’s kept the room moving and grooving. Whether the band or the DJ was working the room, the dancers were there dancing the way they felt the music. It was amazing to see a room full of dancers strutting their stuff as the music filled them with energy. Depending where you looked, there might be a jam circle with a couple dancing the tango followed by Lindy Hoppers throwing air. Or a salsa dancer working the shines, followed by a tap dancer accenting the beats. There were no rules at THE FLOOR, except to dance!

In the words of Jennifer Lopez:

"If you go hard, you gotta get on the floor...
If you're a party freak ,then step on the floor...
If you're an animal, then tear up the floor...
Break a sweat on the floor...
Yeah we work on the floor !

Carolina Cerisola and Sascha Escandon brought an idea to Los Angeles which was incubated, nourished and flourished over the past 10 years. I am forever thankful to have crossed paths with both of you and this beautiful experiment. I am forever grateful for every person I met at THE FLOOR and the many friends I have danced with there. I wish you both the best, and if there’s an anniversary or special event for THE FLOOR, I’ll be there with my dance shoes ready to dance, dance, dance!

If you want to experience THE FLOOR for the last time, it will be held at: Los Globos, 3040 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90026 on Monday, January 21, 2019 from 9 PM – 2 AM. Here’s the Facebook Event Link. I hope to see you there!



Accidental Wedding Hack and the Benefits of Thinking Outside of the Box

I absolutely LOVE weddings! A friend of mine makes fun of me because I attend so many weddings throughout the calendar year. On average I go to about one wedding a month. I think my record was 7 weddings in the month of June a few years ago.

There are 5 siblings in my family of which I am the eldest. My brother is the youngest and we have 3 lovely sisters  sandwiched between us. My brother was the first of the “boys” to get married and he and his wife had a lovely outdoor wedding at a hidden garden oasis in Pasadena, CA.

I never asked him how much he spent on his wedding because frankly, it’s none of my business. It was definitely a classy and gorgeous wedding with all the beautiful perks, so I’m guessing it was in the ballpark of the average wedding in America. According to a 2016 poll of 13,000 wedding couples conducted by The Knot, the average American wedding cost was $35,329. Wow! No wonder this is such a huge industry.

I grew up within the wedding industry so I never realized how indoctrinated I was. I was an altar boy growing up and weddings were a treat because we received some pocket money for “serving” at the Saturday weddings. My mother usually sang at the wedding ceremony so it was easy to catch a ride to the church.

My mother was also a florist and specialized in balloon decorating. (Yes, there was a time when balloons were a huge part of wedding decor). Most of my childhood weekends were spent helping my mom and the neighbors decorate for wedding receptions. The neighborhood trio included a florist, a cake maker and a balloonist.

As a teenager I had helped decorate so many weddings, anniversaries and birthday parties that I started to help coordinate weddings and parties. It gave me a good perspective of what is needed to have a wonderful party and reception.

The  eldest of my 3 sisters was engaged in October 2017 and my thoughts started imagining what kind of wedding would be perfect for her. I knew she wanted easy and simple with minimal fuss. They were leaning towards a backyard reception so my dad started prepping the yard by building a dance floor, building a bar, cutting down trees and turning a few of the remaining stumps into bar tables and benches, hanging lights and transforming a nice backyard into an amazing backyard. My dad is really handy. I’m really proud of him!

I would have chats with my sister about what she wanted. What she didn’t want. What she knew her husband to be wanted or didn’t want. What certain other family members needed or wanted and the puzzle started to take shape.

A Saturday date was finally picked which worked with everyone’s schedule and February 10th, 2018 was going to be the day of the wedding. Things were starting to fall into place, but my sister was having second thoughts about the church venue. We were experiencing some interesting weather patterns and as the wedding date approached, rain was predicted for the day of the wedding.

With the expectation of rain, the backyard wedding plan needed some adjustment. We started pricing tents and elevated flooring and heating lamps. The budget easily doubled in price with these new expenses. The idea of renting a hall was back on the table, but unfortunately the Banquet Hall I manage was already booked and so were several of the local banquet halls I had helped design.

We started looking at lots of local restaurants and fraternal organizations which had banquet rooms. The wheels started turning and at this point the wedding was less than 10 days away. My dad was getting frustrated with my sister’s indecision and was getting ready to book a hall which was recommended by the neighbor.

A week before the wedding my sister had a work meeting at St. Peter’s Italian Church on the northern edge of Chinatown near downtown LA. After the meeting, she peeked inside the church and fell in love with the quaintness and simplicity of the church. She gave me a call and excitingly told me how much she loved it. I told her to check with the rectory to see if it was available because the wedding was only a few days away.

She called me back and said she had good news and bad news. The good news was that the church WAS available, but the hall across the parking lot was already booked. I jokingly told her to inquire about the event. Maybe they would be willing to switch dates with her.

To make a long story slightly shorter, although the church was available, a Valentine’s Day Dance Fundraiser was scheduled for 6:30 pm the same day as the wedding. This is where the story becomes more interesting. I think because my sister and I were already thinking outside the box and exploring various options, some different questions popped into the conversation.

The hall is rather large and could accommodate over 400 people. It turned out they had already sold about 100 tickets, so it would be impossible to change the date. The Valentine’s Dance included a live band, DJ, a sizable dance floor, a coffee/espresso/cappuccino bar, 2 bottles of wine and 1 bottle of champagne per table, a 5 course meal and a cash bar.

The tickets were a great price for everything included. They even offered a discount if you bought the full table of 10 seats. With some out of the box thinking, and flexibility of expectations, my sister ended up buying 210 tickets at the discounted price and because she had made their fundraiser so successful they included dedicated time for their first dance and speeches, a song list for the DJ to play and they opened the hall & bar 90 minutes early so we could have a private reception with our family & friends immediately following the wedding before the dance began.

The dance was spectacular and the 400+ guests all got along swimmingly. There was so much dancing and eating and laughter it was almost as if the whole event was planned this way from the start. It ended up being the perfect weather for a wedding and the photographer took some beautiful family photos outside the church.

Just remember, keep an open mind and you open yourself up to even greater opportunities. My sister was able to have the perfect wedding for a small fraction of the American average, PLUS the check she wrote for the venue was 100% tax deductible. =)



Hello 2018! Inspiration Point, Bite Sized Goals & Infinity Abundance!

Hello 2018! I’m super EXCITED for this year and ecstatic about the next 365 days!

For the past several years, it’s been my tradition to hike to Inspiration Point to start off the year with some great exercise and to write out my goals & intentions at the top of this mountain. The view is always breathtaking and the effort to get there is rewarding. It’s not the highest peak in the neighborhood, but it’s no easy breeze either with an elevation gain of about 2,700 feet.

I love that on a clear day you can see Catalina Island and most days you’re looking down at the local clouds. When I arrived, there were 2 other people already there scrolling through their phones, possibly doing the same thing I was there for? It was super quiet and felt sort of like church or a library. I was almost afraid to talk because I didn’t want to disturb the peaceful silence.

I made several goals, many of which had a bite-sized component to them. In 2017, I think I barely squeezed in 4-6 books all year long. In 2018, I want to read 4-6 books a month. This seemed nearly impossible at first glance because I’ll probably be more busy this year than last year. After doing the math though, if I set aside an hour a day to read, I think I can easily get through a book a week.

I love my fitbit because it gives me a fair assessment of how much I’m moving on a daily basis. My monthly goal is 400,000 steps a month with a high end goal of 500,000 steps for the month. Ideally, I would love to hit 100,000 steps a week which is always a great accomplishment. This past week I worked so much, I hit less than 2,000 steps a day several days in a row. (That was slightly embarrassing). I understand it’s more about my daily activity than cramming it all in on the weekends, so I’m setting a 10,000 step goal minimum for each day, but I would LOVE to hit 20,000 steps per day. If I can hit the higher daily goal, I can easily hit my big monthly goal. It’s all about the bite sized activity.

With dancing at last night’s NYE party combined with the Inspiration Point Hike today, I jump started my year, month and week with a 41,000+ step day. I’m excited to get this year’s fitness started.

I love numbers and one of my favorite numbers is the number 8. I love it because it looks like an infinity sign. I am planning to launch 3 new businesses this year and with any new business, it’s probably similar to another business in the neighborhood.

I have really been focusing on the  idea of abundance. There’s more than enough for everyone and if I offer excellent service and quality, then I know there’s a chance to succeed. My focus is to provide the best value possible for my clients. If they win, then I win too.

I love that there’s an “8” in this year. It’s yet another sign to me of a prosperous year full of infinite abundance!

Cheers to you!


Happy Anniversary 16th Anniversary Lindy Groove

WOW! Time passes so quickly! I remember swing dancing at Lindy Groove the first year they opened their doors. This has been my favorite place to dance on Thursdays for the past decade and a half.

I congratulate the Lindy Groove TEAM on their very successful 16 years of providing a wonderful place to swing dance. Lance & Vicky have been steadfast in providing a fun place for the swing dance community to learn and practice their social dancing skills.

I have been honored to join the wonderful and talented teaching staff at Lindy Groove. I teach the Lindy Challenge class with my lovely sister, Marlene, on the 2nd Thursday of the month.

Included with admission is a FREE beginning class at 7:30pm. You are also welcome to join the Lindy Challenge class which incorporates your basics into more advanced movements, combinations and styling.

There is also an amazing dance class series for an additional cost. (If I had to start all over again from scratch, this is the dance class series I would take).

Be sure to check the website listed below for parking information. There is parking validation provided in specific parking lots. Street parking is free in the evening, but be sure to check the posted signage just to be sure.

For more information, you can always visit: www.LindyGroove.com so you can find out about this amazing Thursday night Swing Dance venue in Pasadena, CA.

As an extra perk, come celebrate your birthday at Lindy Groove. You’ll get a reserved table, your choice of cupcakes and you can invite up to 10 of your friends to join you for FREE with your birthday guest list.

For the 16th anniversary celebration, there was live music provided by Jonathan Stout & his Campus Five featuring Hilary Alexander PLUS The Grand Slam Sextet. This was also the release party for their new CD “Spreadin’ Rhythm Around.”

There was a Photo Booth and some very refreshing frozen treats provided by Nomad Ice Pops!

Thank you for a fantastic evening of dancing. See you on the dance floor!

– TofuAlan –