The Dance Palace
The Dance Palace Community Center is a vital, multi-purpose, non-profit community center providing a wide variety of educational, recreational, cultural and community services for people of all ages and backgrounds in West Marin, with a focus on improving the quality of life and responding to the changing needs of the community.
History of the Dance Palace Community Center
In 1971 seven young people came to West Marin to look for a personal and artistic home including Carol Friedman who is the current Executive Director. Another of founders says, “seven idealistic dreamers who found we were capable of doing wonderful crazy things and getting people in cahoots with us." Originally founded in 1971 as a studio for dance, in an historical building referred to locally as the "Old Palace", the Dance Palace has developed over the past 37 years into one of the most active community facilities in the Bay Area. The Dance Palace’s early events included movies, dances, folk dancing classes and the very first Holiday Crafts Fair. Since then performances and events have included locally and nationally known musicians, actors, authors, and political commentators. Community workshops and events make the Dance Palace a beloved organization, not only necessary to the community, but one that community feels it could not do without. The Dance Palace has grown to include programs and classes for children, seniors, a growing Latino population and has fostered meaningful collaboration with other Marin organizations. In 1975, the group established the Friends of Dance Palace, a membership organization that supports Dance Palace programs and they received a grant from the California Arts Council The Dance Palace incorporated as a fully tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit community organization in 1977, and a year later formed its first board of directors. That year, 175 people joined as members. The Dance Palace Today Attendance in the Dance Palace’s 35 classes, 140 events and 200 meetings is now over 30,000 per year. Over 850 people have become members and last year there were 2,670 volunteer hours logged. They have a mailing list of 5700 people coming from twelve towns and countless states and even countries. The Dance Palace is certified as a Bay Area Green business, installing solar panels and focusing on sustainability for itself as well as offering education and classes to the community. Though 37 years old, the Dance Palace’ success is evidence that the staff, board and community work together to keep it current with the trends, needs and desires of the times.
The Dance Palace offers over 35 classes and programs for groups as varied as seniors, young people, pre-schoolers, and young adults. Classes range from the arts, including dance and theatre, to health/fitness, including yoga and chi’ gung, to green classes on solar energy, plus recreational activities such as aerobics and basketball. A Summer Kid's Camp has been providing summer fun for children since 1980. Community services include a holiday gift & food program, low-income tax assistance, an annual bilingual health fair, legal aid assessments, and scholarships & ticket vouchers for low-income residents.