The new venue of SAFEhouse Arts is a former porn theater. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

The new venue of SAFEhouse Arts is a former porn theater. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

SAFEhouse sets the stage at new Tenderloin home

Dance aficionados wondering where to find cutting-edge performances need look no further than a Tenderloin storefront that, for 40 years, housed a gay porn theater. While the electric sign for the infamous Tea Room still glows brightly over the entrance at 145 Eddy St., the interior has been remodeled, and it’s the new home of SAFEhouse Arts.

SAFEhouse (Saving Arts From Extinction), a 10-year-old artist collective dedicated to creating new work, is celebrating the space, and a 15-year lease, with a “Tea Extravaganza” grand opening Saturday night featuring refreshments, pop-up performances by Ariana Hunter, Anandha Ray, Annie Kahane, Heidi Carlsen, Jeanna Pfieffer, Itoro Udofia and Joslynn Mathis Reed, and a dance party with DJ Mawaha.

Joe Landini, executive director of SAFEhouse, was a lone wolf dancer when he opened the first location in 2007 in an abandoned garage South of Market. Four locations later, it has evolved into cooperative community group that specializes in subsidizing and providing rehearsal and performance space for new and experimental artists.

“As San Francisco becomes more expensive, we’re one of the last places where that’s happening,” he says.

The new venue of SAFEhouse Arts is a former porn theater. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Landini points out that SAFEhouse is open to all. Applications for the Resident Artist Workshop (RAW) program are accepted four times a year, and whoever applies gets in. About 80 groups of artists annually get use of the theater for free, and they split the ticket money from their shows with SAFEhouse.

To help jump-start the next decade and a half, Landini himself is taking the stage in shows called “5 on 25” in December.

He invited some of his favorite choreographers to create dances that celebrate his 25-year career, and that, he says, “sort of dig deep and explore what happened with this City, through my history.”

The connecting thread between the program of four new dances and one revival is the artists’ resiliency during dramatic economic changes in San Francisco. He says, “Each of these choreographers has made the difficult decision to stay, and to make the sacrifices that were needed to contribute to The City’s character.”

SAFEhouse’s opening events are marking an effort to reach new audiences in what is becoming one of The City’s trendiest neighborhoods.
Landini says, “On this block there’s a bar where a round of drinks is 60 bucks. That’s what we’re competing with. Our tickets are what, $15?”

For those who check out the new SAFEhouse, Landini promises, “There’s a really interesting story to be told, and we’re excited about telling the story.”

IF YOU GO

SAFEhouse Arts Grand Opening
Where: 145 Eddy St., S.F.
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 18
Tickets: $10 to $100
Contact: www.safehousearts.org

5 on 25
Dec. 7-9: Works by Joe Landini, Alma Cuningham
Dec. 14-16: Works by Landini, Nina Haft, Ronja Ver, Amy Lewis
When: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $30
145 Eddy St.5 on 25AFEhouse ArtsDanceJoe Landiniopening

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to The City's streets including Slow Streets closures to increase open space access and the Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to use public right-of-ways for dining, retail and services. (Examiner illustration)
COVID is reshaping the streets of San Francisco

Walk down Page Street, which is closed to thru-traffic, and you might… Continue reading

At a rally in February, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, left, and Eric Lawson remember Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who died after he was pushed to the pavement in San Francisco. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/Examiner file photo)
The criminal justice system can’t fix what’s wrong in our community

My 87-year-old mother walks gingerly, slowly, deliberately, one step in front of… Continue reading

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said some students and families who want to return will not be able to do so at this time. “We truly wish we could reopen schools for everyone,” he said. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD sets April reopening date after reaching tentative agreement with teachers union

San Francisco Unified School District has set April 12 as its reopening… Continue reading

José Victor Luna and Maria Anabella Ochoa, who cite health reasons for continuing distance learning, say they have been enjoying walking in Golden Gate Park with their daughters Jazmin, a first grader, and Jessica, a third grader. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Some SFUSD families prefer distance learning

Health issues, classroom uncertainties among reasons for staying home

Most Read