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As we pulled into the West Sacramento Community Center at 8:30 on Saturday night, I thought at first we may have been too late. The food vendors were packing up, and the last sizzle of the employee food was just hitting the fryer.  As John Klaiber and I walked into the sliding glass doors that held West Sac’s first ever Second Saturday event, the women at the front desk of the community center smiled at me. I talked to Delia Garcia and Lucy Ramos, who have worked at the community center since February 2011, about tonight’s events. They said that they appreciated the “mellow crowd” of nearly 400 people and told me that “the hallways had been packed all night with people enjoying the good food and fantastic entertainment”. They hoped to see more events like tonight’s in the future.

We journeyed upstairs, following the sound of live music, and were treated to the electrified wonderment of the West Sac band, “Ancient Astronaut”. The energy from the music poured out into the crowd and everyone seemed warmed from the enthusiastic effort that this talented group was lending to the atmosphere. 

Artist’s tables were melding into the background beyond the dance floor. Bailey Ostrom of Bee Bop Bags appreciated the indoor venue now that the weather is turning blustery cold. I had an opportunity to talk with Arman Nobari, whose pen and ink drawings bring to mind the art of lithography. He began making art in 2010 as a way to share his appreciation of life after overcoming cancer at a young age. His eyes light up as he talks about how he “would do anything to give back and inspire others.” He has portrayed the singing face of Bob Marley in a graffiti style that is truly unique. Nobari is a man true to his word, as he donates 15% of all profits to local charities such as Goodwill and The Sacramento Food Bank.

After getting my free Hoppy Brewing Co. beer from the helpful and smiling bartenders at the hallway keg table (courtesy of Joseph, who considered tonight’s events ”awesome”) we meandered our way back downstairs, observing the skillful and beautifully lit art on our way down.  Here, I had a chance to talk to one of the event coordinators, Jessica Smith, who helped to organized tonight’s events for a class project at Sacramento State University.

The Event Planning and Coordinating class sorted through many great ideas, including a sock hop, and decided to embrace the concept of a Second Saturday in West Sacramento. After choosing the perfect location, they booked six musicians, several psychics, a fully automated fire-breathing monkey, as well as several talented local artists and makers of dandy gifts and such. In a true expression of Sacramento existentialism, they combined their efforts with the ALS Association, the only non-profit focused on fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease, to help promote research and patient care programs. Amy Sigamoto of the ALS association said that she considered this to be “the perfect event to help celebrate West Sac’s artistic, musical, and culinary successes.”

As Las Vegas vacation raffle winners were being called, we walked back out through the same sliding glass door. I reflected on the stark difference of tonight’s events from the ramshackle, beautiful, mess that transpires monthly on the streets of midtown Sacramento. Far were we from the drunken rambles, the under-dressed teenagers, and the weaving bicyclists making their way through the downtown Sacramento grid tonight. But, on the other side of the bridge, the combined effort of many talented friends and neighbors was successfully winding down.  We can hope for more of this excellent effort within the incredible venue.

Words by Shannon King
Photos courtesy of John Klaiber 

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