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Word Dancing

I was enjoying a double latté decaf at the newly opened Andalusia Café when Naser Al-mualla said, "We should have poetry here every week." "Naser," I said, "You already have a reading series at Notes From Underground." "Yes, but we need one here at Andalusia, too." Who am I to disagree with a hardworking entrepreneur who finds time to read the poet Rumi?

Word Dancing is a concept I first utilized in November 1997 as part of Café Arts Month for the National Poetry Association -- continuous features every week at a coffee house in the Mission. This time around, at Andalusia, Word Dancing is continuous performance with no features; every artist has five minutes for poetry, prose, music or mime.

Each spoken word series is somewhat different in origin and style. Clearly, physical location has an impact as well. Andalusia Café graces an intersection which is a miniature shopping center for locals, with lots of foot traffic, small stores and a variety of subcultures. An informal open mic with rotating hosts seemed to fit the neighborhood. No advance signup is required. Simply bring your portable art form and enjoy the forum.

Named after a colorful Mediterranean region in the south of Spain, Andalusia Café transforms a tiny space. Wide wooden frames showcase the work of a local photographer along the left wall. Standard café chairs with small round tables create an intimate atmosphere next to the windows, which extend from ceiling to floor. Other tables frame a lighted display case filled with oranges, soy milk and rich desserts. Additional tables and chairs line the far wall near the computer, which has a DSL link. Outside, in the spacious entrance way, protected from the elements, is seating for smokers and cell phone users.

What can you expect at this open mic? Wit and welcoming words, along with appreciative listening. Rotating hosts include Leonard King, a Scots poet and retired merchant mariner, and Yves, a poet of Catalonian background. A well-known editor/poet, and a visiting professor who is also a novelist and poet, will be among the guest hosts. Performers have included a young staff writer for a daily newspaper attending her first open mic, 25 talented students/poets from an alternative high school with their dedicated teachers, and two visiting performance poets from Toronto.

Tuesday evenings, before the late show at the nearby cineplex, try Andalusia for the expresso and oranges, poetry and prose, scones and tea, word dancing -- and on quiet nights, good conversation with the affable owner. Add a new word to your A-list.

Word Dancing: Continuous Open Mic
Tuesdays at 7 pm
Andalusia Café
1209 Sutter St., SF, 415.928.8904