Tuesday, January 10, 2017

"A little sweat ain't never hurt nobody": Meet Kafi Payne of Dogpatch Dance & Yoga

Kafi Payne of Dogpatch Dance and Yoga in her studio in Dogpatch. Kafi's studio has classes in many diverse programs like roller dance, twerk and Bollywood. 
When prominent San Francisco industrialist Claus Spreckles built his California Sugar Refinery along what is now 23rd Street along the waterfront in 1881 -- we are certain he never dreamed that one day one of the last two remaining sugar warehouses would be home to a dance studio.

Especially a studio that offers unusual ways to get you moving including such classes as After Work Twerk, Dance Hall, Roller Dancing, Heels (dance in your high heels!), Burlesque, Bollywood dancing and so much more.  Yet that is what you will find at Dogpatch Dance & Yoga now opened for business on the second floor of the building now known as Storage San Francisco at 435 23rd Street.

And what a gem of a space it is.  The 3,500 square foot space now outfitted with full-length mirrors is full of light and has an amazing view of the bay.  Owner Kafi Payne opened the studio in August 2016 and her goal is for the studio to be busy morning to night.  Sounds like a sweet plan to us.

Why do you do what you do?

I find joy in movement and that is what I want for everyone.  I think dance is healing.

We have busy lives. We grow up, we go to school and we work. And work! We may love the work but not the working.  And then we come home and we have family responsibilities.

When I was a kid there wasn't much money for dance classes so I took dance classes whenever I could.  I never really thought of myself as a dancer.  It was just something I loved to do. After college I took all kinds of dance classes as a way to relax after a long day at work.  I also took yoga classes -- I think yoga helps dancers be able to dance longer!  I eventually trained with Annie Carpenter to become a Yoga instructor.

I'm from the Caribbean but grew up in New York and Atlanta.  I met my husband who is from the Bay Area at college -- Emory University.  We moved to this area after college.  We both became educators.  I worked for the Oakland School District training teachers and also as a Spanish teacher. And I still work in the education field.  I also received my Masters in Education from SFSU and I'm working on my Doctor of Education from Berkeley.  I know what learning looks like!

I have two young boys and one day one of my sons asked me if I could do anything I wanted to do what would that be.  I told him I wanted to open a dance studio!  He was surprised.  My kids thought of me as serious -- they even said that I never laughed. That is NOT how I wanted to be remembered by them!

My kids are so proud that I'm realizing my dream.  I love showing them that you can work towards a goal and make it happen.

The studio is still a work in progress of course.  When I decided to open the studio I asked several of the dance instructors that I knew if they would join me.  They agreed but then dropped out when the studio became a reality.  That forced me to step out of my comfort zone and approach instructors I admired but didn't know. That experience also reminded me that is ok to ask for help.  We should all remember that!

I love being able to work with these amazing instructors and help them realize their artistic vision as well.  Instructors such as Richard Humphrey who is known as the father of Rollerdance and who taught Dr. Oz to roller dance is teaching at my studio!  A good teacher is everything and we have the best.

Why Dogpatch?

After I decided to open a studio I did my research about the best location for it.  I live and work in Oakland but it seemed to me that Oakland was saturated with dance and performance spaces.

Not San Francisco -- I was amazed how few dance studios there are in SF.  There are places where you can rent space for dance groups but not that many places where you can book a class.

I saw a listing for this space on Craigslist and it was the first spot I looked at and I knew it would be perfect.  I just knew that dancing needed to happen here.  I knew that Beyonce would be ok rehearsing here!

I met and spoke with many community leaders in Dogpatch.  Everyone was so welcoming and I felt like they wanted me to be successful and would help me in any way that they could to make that happen.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?

I will always be dancing and teaching!

*thanks to Beyonce for the lyric: "A little sweat ain't never hurt nobody"

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