The Intersection Folk Arts Center
Dancers' Comments

Compiled by Dick Oakes

Here are comments from dancers about their experiences at the Intersection. Some will have have come from E-mails we've received; others from message postings on the World Wide Web. –Dick Oakes

Anne Gani Sirota "Did we KNOW what a wonderful place we had? That it was a moment in time not to be repeated? I miss having a place you can just go to when you feel like it, knowing that there would be people to talk to no matter what night it was... It was so European in that way . . . and yet, so universal."

–Anne Gani Sirota, 8/16/2002. From an e-mail.

Joan Friedberg "Louise [Bilman] has regaled some of us with amusing stories of how they would go down to the Long Beach harbor, recruit sailors from Greek ships, and bring them up to the Intersection to dance with them. The confluence of different cultural traditions found a home at the Intersection, and, in its heyday during the decade of the '70s, the mob was so big that we used to complain there was no room to dance. All I can say is, those were the days."

–Joan Friedberg, 12/19/1997. From a posting on the EEFC discussion list.

Anne Gani Sirota "Ah, those days! The confluence of Greeks, international folk dancing, and counterculture really was something else at the Intersection. For many of us, the Intersection was home. I was there at least 4 times a week and sometimes all 7 nights. Many of us moved to live near it, so we could "stop" by easily. One of the 2 Greek nights was so packed you could not move till close to midnight. We danced till 2 a.m. or later and still went to work. But the dances, both Greek and what-was-then-named-Balkan, were highly choreographed and structured and the Greek regional dances were very few in number. But there was a wide age range, and a variety of cultures, of people, and of music."

–Anne Gani Sirota, 12/19/1997. From a posting on the EEFC discussion list.

Paul Sheldon "One summer, while I was still in high school, a friend invited my sister Hunter and me to go to "The Intersection," the original folk dance coffeehouse in Los Angeles owned by Rudy Dannes and Athan Karras. That evening was one of the many peak experiences in my life. I was so scared I almost didn't go. Then I was scared to go in the place when we got there. I had never been in a place like that – a little storefront bar, with barrel tables, old steamer trunks to sit on, a tiny dance floor, and lots of adults. It felt like what I had imagined going into a bar would feel like, though it wasn't really a bar (Rudy always felt strongly that there should be no alcohol served at The Intersection). The little room was crammed with people – mostly young adults – doing dances from Greece, the Balkans, Scandinavia, Hungary, Israel, Armenia, The Ukraine, and probably lots of other places I couldn't recognize. I was completely intimidated yet inspired."

–Paul Sheldon, Jr. From his article "I Remember."

Helen Chester Mauer "There was that night at a weekly meeting of Balkan Co-op when somebody said, "Hey, let's all go down to the Intersection afterwards!" And I asked, "What intersection?" And later, when the dancing ended, I followed someone down the freeway to Alvarado Street and found out that it wasn't just any old intersection, but the Intersection Folk Dance Center. We'd sit and talk far into the night . . . we'd cook breakfast right at the Intersection."

–Helen Chester, 7/1967. From her article "The Way it Was."

"An old friend, run into at the 2004 Intersection Reunion, suggested that I check out your website. I did, and I'm impressed. While investigating, I came across a couple of pieces I'd written decades ago, which you'd posted. I thought you ought to know that one of the pieces, which you call "An Intersection Dancer Speaks," was written when the Intersection was still on Alvarado. Although I can no longer say *exactly* when it was written, it pre-dates "The Way It Was," which was written in anticipation of the move to Temple Street. About the only other thing I have to go on in dating it is that the original flier in which it appeared mentions rehearsal time for the Intersection Dancers "now being formed" on Sunday evenings. At any rate, the piece was regularly used in the Intersection's fliers, and after the move to Temple Street it was named "A Letter."

–Helen Chester Maurer, 3/2/2004, from an e-mail.