CALIFORNIA! The WEST SIDE! I’ve been out here for almost two weeks and I can truly say that it’s a different world than where I come from.

My experience in California has been a good one for the most part.  Being able to spend time in both Northern and Southern Cali, I’ve experienced the differences between both places.  A good friend of mines who has lived in both areas told me that everyone in Southern Cali wants to be a super star, while everyone up in Northern Cali wants to be an activist!  An interesting comparison, but one that holds true from a cultural aspect.

My time in Oakland California was brief due to that freak Snow Storm back on the East Coast last week. I was able to make into town to participate in some dance classes at the Malonga Center in downtown Oakland.  If you’ve never been there before, it’s worth the time and the trip to check it out. In this one location, you can find any and every type of dance/drum class in ONE building!  The sheer size of the facility allows for a plethora of classes that I have yet to find anywhere else in the Untied States.  This past weekend was also the weekend of Diamanou Coura’s 18th annual Dance Conference and Concert. Although there are several West African dance and drum conferences around the country, Diamanou Coura has done a good job of holding it down here on the West Coast.  The highlight of the weekend was the concert, which not only featured Diamanou Coura’s dance company, but several other performing arts organizations from the Bay Area. My personal favorite was the Haitian Folkloric dance company Rara Tou Limen, which premiered is new piece entitled Zanset Ibo/Nago: Nasyon DECHENNEN! The Rara Tou Limen piece had a lot of layers to it, which kept the audience at the edge of their seats waiting for more! Leaving Oakland was bittersweet since my trip was shortened due to things beyond my control. I love the Bay Area and I visit often, so maybe they’ll see me again for San Francisco Carnival season!

Southern Cali has been an interesting experience.  This is my first time coming to Los Angeles and I have to say that I do like it.  I don’t think that I could live with the immense amount of traffic on the regular, but it is a nice place to visit. I’ve been able to catch up with a lot of people and performing artists while I’ve been here (Shout out to Kara Jenell Wade and Tanda Mercer – Two women doing it big up on the Hollywood scene! Proud of both of them and what they’re doing), as well as check out some dance classes while still getting work done for EO Inc. One of the things that I will admit is that I like to eat good/healthy food.  L.A. has an amazing selection of places where good and healthy food is always around the corner.  Surprisingly, the seafood her has been amazing!  There’s a spot called California Fish Grille, where I’ve gone to several times simply because the food is that damned good!

I’m in LAX writing this blog, but I’m already thinking about how I can make the next trip happen! Until then, Cali is always on my mind! LOL!