First Person Experience – GirlFly

First Person Experience – GirlFly

First Person Experience – GIRLFLY 7/22/16

Even though I have a years’ long history of seeing shows, and performing in a variety of public venues, I can be a bit a bit of a wall flower, at times (Confession: I have been sidelined due to an injury, and GirlFly is the first live show I have seen in five years- truth) Thankfully vacuuming the carpet before opening the house always grounds me, and gets me off the wall. Vacuuming in general grounds me. The trick is to match your humming to the drone the vacuum cleaner makes. I learned this at a Simone Forti workshop.

Ostensibly, I was there to work on the front of house crew. As a recently minted Community Engagement Fellow, I came ready to engage the community, only to have the community engage me first. The performers were charmers. It’s so easy to fall in love with the work of young artists. Meeting their friends and families in the lobby before the show was a pleasure. I’m sure, I spent a lot of the night with a goofy smile plastered on my face and I felt great. The lobby was thick with a sense of love, support and anticipation. One of the best moments was using a young woman’s cellphone to take a group portrait of her and friends – nonstop giggling. Second best moment were a couple of young guys who confided their girlfriends were performing with GIRLFLY. Really sweet.

Youth were on display that. What was really inspiring was the independence and spirit displayed by these high school age, coming to the scary TL to see and support their friends’ performance.

Most inspiring of al, was the cadre of young women who threw themselves into a half hour of feminism, activism, dance, aerial work, and storytelling. AS I said I love the work of young artists. They are gawky, earnest, fresh and so sincere.

Through the moniker GIRLFLY, the cast members reclaim and empower the word girl. The name is also a subtle homage to aerial aspect of their work.
As a queer man, I have had my share of creepy comments from other guys Hearing the cast of GIRLFLY recount their experiences with unwelcome comments from men, told through episodes of rhythmic chanting, was chilling. Remember these are very young women. I am of an age and from a part of the country where that sort of harassment was the exception, not the norm. I don’t think guys ever really understand, or even care about impact of casual catcalls on women and girls. WTF guys.

During the post-performance question and answer, one of the dancers shared her challenges performing the work while pregnant. (I didn’t see that comment coming). I could feel her pride being part of this project, and her joy as a young mother to be. Likewise, the support the other dancers felt for her and each other was palatable. I got stuck for a moment, thinking what a wonderful mother/child moment she was having with her unborn baby, through this project. It would be awesome to meet the two of them, (mom and child) 16 years from now. Can you imagine?

Post show, the scene in the lobby was chummy. The dry wit of the new CounterPulse House Manager, in combination with a giant cake, and a sense by all, of a show well done, was rare air. If you haven’t seen a CounterPulse show, you owe to yourself to check one out.

In general the new 80 Turk Street building is gem inside. For now the façade looks like the set from SAW. Once the remake is complete, and the scaffolding goes away, the façade will bring a lot to the neighborhood.

I walk awkwardly and use a cane. With that said, going home on my own was a breeze. (I should disclose here that I have been living and working in the TL for 20 plus years, so I feel comfortable in the area). Every scary thing you hear about the TL is rooted in fact. Regardless, getting to a CounterPulse Show and leaving a CounterPulse show is safer than popular Tenderloin lore would have us believe.

Walk one block down to Union Square – Fifth Street and Market. Catch the Bart or MUNI underground or one of several MUNI Bus lines, running along Market Street, or the bike lane. Using a cane the past five years has made me pretty cautious enough to say unless you know the neighborhood, or you are a hardy woman, consider the buddy system. With that said, in comparison the 19 Polk bus stop serving Lines Ballet and the newly rebuilt ACT Theater is much sketchier.

Girl Fly is a project of Jo Kreiter‘s FLYAWAY PRODUCTIONS.



GirlFly Rehearsal

GirlFly Rehearsal



Rick Darnell is the CounterPulse Community Engagement Fellow.  Rick is a long time Tenderloin resident.  In his spare time, Rick is the Project Coordinator for TAll, the Tenderloin Art Lending Library.


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