Imagine walking into a nightclub, the music is playing loudly and the dance floor is packed. In front of you is Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street. To the right is Catwoman dancing with Ichabod Crane. To your left is Edward Scissorhands trying desperately to hold his martini in between his shiny and sharp fingers. This is no ordinary club and you are not in Alice's Wonderland anymore.
Hosted by San Francisco-based company Swing Goth, Wonderland: A Tim Burton Ball is what happens when swing dance meets goth sprinkled with a dash of blues, rock-a-billy and steampunk served over a stylish nightclub. The result is surely a magical night to remember.
Wonderland aims to unite people with shared love for the acclaimed director Tim Burton, elaborate costumes and dance, and encourages them to form relationships based on synchronized body movements.
"[My goal is] to make it okay to dance with each other again, to teach people how to connect and interact in a way that isn't verbal, to listen to each other," said Swing Goth founder Brian Gardner, who believes that dancing should be a connection between partners, not just "grinding up against each other. I teach my lessons so that the footwork is largely unimportant. What is important is moving with your partner to the music and having fun."
While it may seem that swing dance is a thing of the past, Swing Goth's recent events have proved that swing dance is coming back with a vengeance. Last year's Bowie Ball catered to 320 dancers alone, and this month's Wonderland Ball is expected to sell out.
Local favorite Vagabondage and world-premiere steampunk band Abney Park will be playing a live set. To keep the energy flowing, DJ Skip, Shatter and MzSamantha will be playing upbeat swing, polka, and folk music that's sure to keep everybody's feet moving.
"It's an amazing feeling to be able to connect to people on a different level, even if it's just dancing," said Jennifer Lee, who attended last year's Bowie Ball and is planning on attending Wonderland dressed as Violet Beauregarde from Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." "I'm really looking forward to seeing everybody get down in their favorite Tim Burton characters. I just hope no one dresses up as Edward Scissorhands!"
Taking inspirations from Sleepy Hollow, Beetlejuice, Big Fish, PeeWee's Big Adventure, Sweeney Todd and Nightmare Before Christmas, Wonderland is pulling out all the stops to ensure dancers feel like they're in a different world, according to Art Director Astra Kim. Dancers can expect hanging garlands of flowers, chess pieces, playing cards and even scenes from Burton's past movies projected on the walls.
Wonderland will be held at San Francisco's DNA Lounge on Friday, Feb. 5. Tickets are $16 in advance, $18 in costume, and $20 otherwise. All ages are welcome. Dancers can arrive early to take polka and swing dance lessons an hour before the event for an additional $5.