The Center SF Celebrates Their One Year Anniversary!
By Keegan Mills
One year ago, The Center SF opened its doors with a dream. A dream to bring together seekers and storytellers, healers and tea wayfarers, movers and shakers. The evening of Thursday, September 29 was a gathering of that dream, seeing that dream in its full reality.
The Center was filled to the brim with ecstatic energy of those who have walked through the doors previously to take a consciousness raising workshop, gather with friends for tea time or attend one of The Center’s myriad of movement classes like yoga and capoeira. The crowd gathered around the small stage, filling every nook and cranny of this well decorated venue that makes you feel at home from the meditation cushions on the floor to the antique lighting found on each shelf. Ksenia Shulzhenko, General Manager for The Center, opened the evening by first recognizing and showing gratitude to those who gathered and how they supported to make The Center come alive over the past year. Her graceful and warm welcome was heartfelt honoring how The Center is a community, not just a space. A space that transforms with those who are transformed. She honored and recognized her colleagues, Michael Latronica and Tess Zeito who were essential to crafting this space to what it is today, and without this team, this tribe, including the TeaJs and those who show up to support the space, the community of The Center would not exist so vibrantly as it does.
After these beautiful words of gratitude, a Cacao Ceremony began with a blessing by Phillip Scott from Ancestral Voice. He invited everyone to contribute to The Center, sharing that this space was a form of ceremony and continues on with each of our contributions, what we offer when we arrive and how we engage with the space. His heartfelt ceremony blessed the three leaders, Ksenia, Michael and Tess honoring the weight they have carried to allow for this space to be birthed, to continue to grow and evolve. Phillip continued with ceremonial chanting and invited each one of the over 100 people in attendance to speak out loud our prayers and wishes for The Center and our loved ones. The ceremony was representative of what has grown in this space and the community that has developed over the course of this past year. As I looked around at each face, I saw a sense of gratitude and renewal. Gratitude for what The Center has inspired within them and renewal from instilling a sense of peace inside.
Following this heart-opening Cacao Ceremony, Graham Patzner bellowed out soulful serenades from the piano while the cacao began its work for heartfelt, intimate connections to continue between guests. Tarot card readings and tea ceremonies filled the space while guests munched on Love Bites, offered by Bernadette Trubatisky. As the music continued, people swayed to the strums of the ukulele while Iemanjo’s melodic voice tickled our ears with his unique fusion of South American shamanic music and Afro-Latin rhythms. A shift from the musical performances, with speed talking storytelling by Clyde Always spouting off the hipster particulars of San Francisco. The evening ended with a sweet Sitar Jam by Benny Langfur while guests danced to the rhythms of this classical Indian instrument and beats on the drum. As people hugged each other upon departure and took in the last few breaths of the evening’s celebration, you could feel and see the gratitude on everyone’s faces.
The Center is not just a teahouse. It’s not just a movement arts space. It’s not just a venue that artists and presenters come in and rent. The Center is a community that thrives on each person who walks through the door. And this community transforms with those that are transformed. It is a community of seekers, seeking for a higher consciousness, hoping to connect with each other on a deeper level than how we may get stuck in from the daily ongoings of life. The Center has been described as a sacred space, a gem in this city that is slowly losing its sacredness. This night of celebration was just that-- celebrating the sacredness that we all bring and can create if we have a dream and see it through, in community.
To find out more about The Center SF visit thecentersf.com.