Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Than One: Saint City Session

We've written a brief post earlier on Saint City Session in Santa Ana. But we'd like to follow up and share more about how this burgeoning street dance and arts culture community in Orange County is spreading. This community gets together during every other Thursday night at the 511 Spot (511 East Santa Ana Blvd, Santa Ana, CA) with the help of local DJs, bboys, bgirls, spoken word poets, graff writers, and emcees. It's rare to see all these hip hop elements under one roof, but Saint City has fostered a welcome cross-elemental vibe. Underlying this setup is the desire to build meaningful relationships among the attendees, knowing that providing this space is creating a refuge for our sometimes turbulent personal lives. It's a home away from home for many Orange County street dancers and hip hop artists. (Photo above is from the Facebook Image Archive for Saint City Session.)

You can see the Facebook website for Saint City Session here:

And here is a website for affiliated Urban Arts Outreach:

Saint City Session shows how quickly a community can form when there's a need. Originally at a different location than the 511 Spot, the current session now finds itself in the heart of downtown Santa Ana. The surrounding community has found their neighborhood energized by the Saint City family through their community outreach and volunteer service, outside of their regular dance sessions. Clearly, street dancers in the OC needed a place to go to where they wouldn't have to burn gas commuting to LA or the Inland Empire. Now, they have a place that is just a stone's throw away from their house. Well, maybe it is longer than a stone's throw, but it makes commuting more bearable, which is saying a lot in this area of southern California. Now, the regular sessions and the staff's ongoing media communication efforts have given Saint City Session a visible identity in the local OC scene.

Having a venue is extremely important to create community. The 511 Spot for Saint City is a prime example. It's a gorgeous small warehouse space with brick walls, smooth floor, and an outdoor courtyard that feels like it would be the perfect place for a jam. No wonder that bboys, graff writers, emcees, and DJs can co-exist under one roof in this spacious place. Parking is accessible in a nearby lot. When you attend the session, you get the feeling that these dancers care about their venue. Folks help out at the end to stack chairs, sweep the floor, and move DJ equipment. There's little attitude displayed by the session regulars. While many local bboys are starting to make Saint City Session their own, there even have been street dancers from Homeland and the hip hop choreo scene who've appeared.

The staff at Saint City is dedicated. Their story is still at its early stages with respect to this new venue. But the potential for expanding community is promising. So many practice spots have come and gone through the past few years. Some are rarely remembered. But the home that Saint City is providing for different artists, not just dancers, bodes well for its longevity. They've created a place where anyone can feel free to express themselves in various creative mediums. As it's often said at the session, "you are the session." That mantra places value on every person that enters the doors at the 511 Spot. With the wealth of different artists under one roof, will we see a creative renaissance coming from Santa Ana and Orange County? Only time will tell.

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