One year ago, Janelle Rodriguez bought Masala Raks dance studio, renamed it Pleasure Point Fitness and Dance Center, and continued with the original owners’ (Ray's and Naomi’s) excellent dance programming. Their emphasis is still bellydance but they now offer ballet, Spanish sevilliana, nia, zumba (Brazilian-based aerobics), and four varieties of yoga. Janelle and her business partner, Jennifer Moore, celebrated their anniversary by holding a dance party (called a hafla). As Ray and Naomi had done at Masala, the dancing took place outside the studio in the parking lot with a shade tent and carpet for the dancers. And lots of traffic stopping to ogle from 41st Avenue.
In performance were Pleasure Point dance instructors, their students, and a few old friends of Janelle’s who came in for the event. Like Santa Cruz more generally, PPFDC boasts a wide array of bellydance varieties from traditional to modern. We saw cabaret with and without veil, Egyptian-style cane dance, and gothic tribal. It was a wonderful way to see what the instructors are up to, but also for students to experience performing in public. In fact, my first public performance as a bellydancer took place at one of Masala’s haflas (American Tribal Style with Kim Okrant). The general casualness of these haflas makes it a welcoming environment for beginners.
So congratulations to all the beginner performers and many thanks to Janelle and Jennifer. We all appreciate your efforts and look forward to the next year of classes and workshops.