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If you’ve ever lived in New York, you understand that when you first leave to seek out the rest of the world, the rest of the world seems lacking — in so many ways. My big shocker when I moved to San Diego was that there wasn’t an abundance of schools teaching African dance. In NY, it was nearly impossible to find a class that wasn’t crowded with dancers of all shapes, sizes, colors, and income levels. It was obviously such a major money-maker, I assumed the same would be true everywhere I went. Alas, no.

The WorldBeat Cultural Center (a non-profit “dedicated to promoting, presenting & preserving the African & Indigenous cultures of the world through Music, Art, Dance, Education & Technology,” as stated on the website) in Balboa Park is pretty much it.

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During off-hours, although the shop and the café (which sells vegetarian fare) are open for business, the center feels mostly deserted. But during class and event times, the place comes to life. Yesterday, during the 2:00 p.m. West African class taught by Makeeda, the rhythms were enough to make a girl work up a sweat in her boots — even from the sidelines.

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One World Cafe

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The lovely Julia works at the center on weekends.

Aside from the dance and drum classes, the center also hosts events.

On Tuesday, February 7, they’ll host the Bob Marley Reggae Film Festival. On Friday, February 10, you can see Nat, (a one-man play about Nat Turner) in the center. And on February 18 and 19, the organization is putting on a two-day reggae festival at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier.

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