I just love 848 Community Space, San Francisco?s tiny arts venue that could. And now the theater is moving, and getting bigger. Today I report in the Chronicle on a dance benefit to fund the new 848?s sprung dance floor:
?The dancing was scrappy and determined, a fitting reflection of 848’s spirit. The space is one of those only-in-San Francisco stories, a tale of three anarchist pagans who believed that if you claimed a cramped apartment for the community, the art would come.
It started in 1991 when dancer Hennessy, sculptor Todd Eugene and saxophonist Michael “Med-O” Whitson needed a place to live. Whitson and Hennessy were the creators of “Mud People” street theater, staging social protests in which participants doused themselves in dirt and crawled among the skyscrapers of the Financial District scantily clad and speaking only in grunts. Hennessy saw the live-work unit at 848 Divisadero St. and knew his politically rebellious brand of expression could find a home there.
The place had limitations: a rickety platform for a tech loft and just 49 seats. A hulking heating unit hung from the stage’s far corner, necessitating some crafty choreographic maneuvers, and performers entered and exited through the back door leading to the kitchen.
The art that followed was free-spirited and eclectic, as the co-founders wanted. Sex-positive clothing-optional nights shared the schedule with Contact Improvisation jams and Winter Solstice celebrations. Within a decade, 848 had two problems: Overwhelmingly large audiences and the threat of eviction during the dot-com boom. The eviction threat faded; the audiences did not. The company got serious about moving and merged with the Bay Area Center for Art and Technology to form CounterPULSE.?