After Dark: Freestyle

Thursday, August 1, 2013 | 6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m.

Exploratorium, Pier 15

Note: A ticket to Thursday evening adult-only hours does not guarantee admission to special programs with limited seating. Tickets for limited-capacity programs will be made available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.

Find your rhythm at After Dark: Freestyle. Create your own cocktails with SeaGlass mixologists, immerse yourself in improvisational traditions, and riff off a range of experiments and activities. Meet with music ethnologist, musician, instrument maker, and educator Michael Bradke for a hands-on, earson, full-body exploration of musical cultures from every continent. A longtime friend of the Exploratorium, Bradke is the founder of the Mobile Music Museum based in Düsseldorf, Germany, and a 2013 Osher Fellow.

Cocktails are available all night at bars and in the SeaGlass Restaurant. Cash only at the bars; credit cards accepted in the restaurant.

Schedule of Events:


Hand Music with Michael Bradke
7:30 p.m.

In this program, flamenco clap-trap, Balinese quick-clap, Moroccan slow-clap, and the hand movements of Polynesian dance beckon you to participate in a freestyle experience of hand-percussion from across the world. Hear the stories behind these various clapping forms, and join in to learn 15 different applause techniques from the musical cultures of every continent.

Mouth Music with Michael Bradke
9:00 p.m.

Across the world, cultures make use of the human voice in creative ways. Come hear the sounds of the human beatbox, shriek choir, human piano, talking drum, and Inuit throat singing. Explore Bradke’s collection of mouth noises, from cheek pops and lip drumming to the mouth pop. Then try some mouth and voice acrobatics yourself, and see how such curious noises can turn into astonishing music.

Freestyle's Influence on Hip Hop Culture with Davey D and Aisha Fukishima
7:00 p.m.

Within hip hop culture, "Freestyle" means that stories, messages and rhymes are improvised and performed extemporaneously, without previously composed lyrics. Like jazz soloists, these artists showcase their unique skills and talents in the moment. A Freestyle rapper’s instruments: a mind, a message, a beat, and a hefty vocabulary. The concert hall is the "cypher," a circle of artists with a set order to who rhymes next. With these simple ingredients, Freestyle changed the sound of popular culture, communicating powerful ideas about race, culture, and identity in the inner city to a much wider world.

Five Words Or Less (Freestyle Sewing) with Paul Nosa (
Outdoor Gallery
6:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Think up a scenario. Say it in five words or less. And watch as, before your eyes, artist Paul Nosa interprets your words using his sewing machine to draw the image onto fabric.

Outdoor Gallery
8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.

Breakdancing, also called breaking, is a style of street dance that originated among the youths in New York City during the early 1970s. Breaking combines flexibility, acrobatics, and a culture of positive challenge that encourages each dancer to develop his or her own style. Join some of our local b-boys and b-girls in a cypher and freestyle some of your own moves and creativity.

Metamorphosis, a kinetic sculpture by Alex Andre (
Outdoor Gallery
6:00 – 10:00 p.m.

This interactive art piece creates an effect via its spinning disk that inspires users to move, pose, invent, and mimic as their images combine and reflect. Join a friend or a stranger and let the disk free your collaborative and improvisational spirits.

Defining Life with Charlie Carlson
Central Gallery Classroom
7:00 p.m.

Life runs an inherently freestyle path, embedded in the very nature of the universe. It’s chemistry gone wild, with its structural components as evidence. There's non-cellularity, single cellularity, multicellularity—and that’s just for starters. Life embodies complexity, with simple things combined into complicated things and with emergent properties at every turn. This talk will explore the seemingly crazy, fascinating thing we call life, with lots of examples and an activity or two.

Mixin' It Up with DNA with Karen Kalumuck
Central Gallery Classroom
8:30 p.m.

What do sex, evolution, and influenza have in common? Join Exploratorium biologist Karen Kalumuck for a lively discussion of how DNA "mixes it up" and what such genetic changes mean to us and to all life on Earth.


Scratch Animation Workshop
West Gallery
6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Premier in the Forum, 9:30 p.m.

Join the ranks of cameraless animation pioneers like Len Lye, Stan Brakhage, and Norman McLaren at Cinema Art’s scratch animation workshop. Armed with nails, dental tools, sandpaper, paint, and a host of other impromptu tools, burgeoning filmmakers can commit their vision to a few feet of 16mm film, contributing to a brand-new cameraless animation made collaboratively over the course of the evening.

Assemble at 9:30 in the Forum to see the world premiere of the final product on the big screen, with an improvised soundtrack.

Explorable Activities
Central Gallery
6:30-9:30 p.m.

Topsy Turvy
Tops come in all shapes and sizes. Try building some, and see how different materials change the way your top spins. (This classic toy was one of Exploratorium founder Frank Oppenheimer's favorites.)

Breakin’ Down Color
For centuries, scientists, artists, and engineers have mixed pigments to create a variety of colors. Use chromatography to discover which pigments make up your favorite shade of colored marker.

Freestyle Bar
Observatory Terrace
6:00 - 9:30 p.m.

Hang out with two of our SeaGlass bartenders and watch them freestyle a cocktail for you. Choose a base spirit and two additional ingredients from their list and they’ll use their knowledge and creativity to mix up a kickin’ new drink. All cocktails are $9.00 and paid in advance.

Circles of Engagement: Why Does Music Move Us?
Black Box Theatre
8:00 p.m.

Studies show music can make us run faster, learn better, buy more, recover from surgery sooner, and even live longer. But what is music, anyway? Why does it matter to us? How might biologists, neurologists, ethnographers, and musicians answer this question, and what can its exploration teach us about the human condition?

In collaboration with the radio series The Really Big Questions, the Exploratorium is exploring complex topics at the intersection of science, philosophy, and culture. Come eavesdrop on a unique facilitated conversation, and join in the discussion with #explocircles on Twitter.


Scratch Animation Classics
West Gallery
6:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Made by committing images directly to film stock, cameraless animation is a creative filmmaking craft. Although the final films can feel off-the-cuff, the creation process is slow and painstaking. The filmmaker draws or scratches out each individual film frame—24 of them in a single second—one by one. Be inspired by some classics of the genre, then join in the Scratch Animation Workshop! Films include: Free Radicals by Len Lye, and Boogie-Doodle and Fiddle-de-dee by Norman McLaren.

Scratch Animations (Film Premier)
9:30 p.m.

View the world premiere of the evening’s Scratch Animation Workshop efforts on the big screen. (See workshop description under Activities.)