That Guy Who Was Magically Balancing Rocks at the Bridgeway Promenade!
It isn’t magic, it’s physics and experience, but many days (especially during the Holiday season and summer) you’ll find Sausalito rock balancer Bill Dan on the Bridgeway Promenade near the intersection with Princess St. balancing rocks for passers-by to enjoy. (Scroll down for a map of the location.)
A video from 2007 is below and a photo from 2015 is above. I get to watch him work every so often if I’m enjoying an Italian House Special sandwich at Venice Gourmet Deli, and he seems just as skillful now as ten years ago. He also does rock balancing along Fisherman’s Wharf.
OK, I admit that when I first saw him years ago I thought it was rigged, that there were magnets or hooks or that he was just repeating the same patterns over and over. I now realize that the guy has incredibly soft hands, makes small adjustments to the rocks with a chisel (a step you get to watch him do while you stand above him on the sidewalk of the Bridgeway Promenade, really understands physics, and knows how to take those slightly altered rocks and stack them in ways that seem impossible.
You can see how the people in the photo above are just as skeptical, as they peer at each new rock he stacks to see what the “trick” is that he’s using to fool us!
Originally from Indonesia, Mr. Dan worked in a warehouse before discovering that he had a natural talent for these amazing performance sculptures. He’s been featured on San Francisco’s public TV station KQED (Channel 9) on a show titled “Collaborations with Nature”, and been interviewed by news crews from Korea, Japan and the Philippines, as well as many from the U.S..
Photos of his work have been published in “Coast and Ocean” by the California Coastal Commission, as well as websites, magazines, etc. He has appeared as part of science programs at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, and has been the subject of various videos.
Here’s where you’ll find him balancing rocks if he’s in town: