A night of bands, belly dancing

The official title of Sunday's show at Golden West College is Bands and Bellies VIII.

To a scorekeeper, though, it's more like Bands and Bellies 1, Community 7.

Over the last two years, producers Alec C. Marken and Sarah "al Nour" Baxter have hosted seven Bands and Bellies shows, which bring together musicians, dancers and other artists. Of those shows, only one was a for-profit endeavor. The rest of the time, Marken and Baxter have diverted all of their net proceeds to nonprofits or charitable causes.

Sunday at Golden West, that will be the case again. The profits from Bands and Bellies VIII will go to Living Ubuntu, a Newport Beach-based nonprofit that offers trauma-prevention workshops and raises awareness about humanitarian crises around the world.

"I've always taken an interest in mixing activism and art," said Marken, who teaches swing and ballroom dancing for a living.

The lineup for Sunday's show includes two bands — Deep Stirrings, a folk-rock ensemble led by Baxter and Marken, and the alternative punk group the Channeling — along with solo acoustic rocker Shafi Rajput, seven belly-dancing acts and one hoop-dancing act. The event also includes face-painting, body art, vendor booths and vegetarian food.

Marken and Barbara English, the founder of Living Ubuntu, scheduled the show to nearly coincide with the International Day of Peace, a United Nations-declared holiday celebrated Sept. 21 every year. Golden West's Peace, Mind & Body Club is helping to organize and promote the event.

Living Ubuntu, which oversees the grass-roots group Orange County for Darfur, plans to use the proceeds to fund a trauma-recovery program for refugees, immigrants and domestic violence victims in Orange and San Diego counties.

The first-year budget for the program, according to English, would be $101,000, which would cover renting venue space, hiring part-time staff and translating materials into other languages. The program would likely operate out of churches, community centers and other spots in neighborhoods with high immigrant populations.

"There's a lot of different stories, and a lot of them are very challenging stories," English said.

Despite the benefit nature of Sunday's show, Baxter said the songs and dances won't necessarily be political in theme. A belly dancer for 11 years who studied at Golden West, she invites only professional peers to the Bands and Bellies shows. Global Groove, a music-and-dance duo consisting of her and Marken, is in Sunday's lineup.

"A lot of people are really floored when they see our shows for the first time, how good these dancers are," Baxter said. "They really are the best."


Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

If You Go

What: Bands and Bellies VIII

Where: Student Center, Golden West College, 15744 Goldenwest St., Huntington Beach

When: 5 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $10 suggested donation

Information: (949) 370-0523 or http://www.bandsandbellies.com

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