Dance

Sex & Romance

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BEST RESTAURANT TO SPARK ROMANCE

Café Jacqueline

Small, chic, and oh so French, this North Beach gem is an ideal spot to sip wine with your candlelit date while waiting for your made-to-order soufflé.

1454 Grant, SF. (415) 981-5565

BEST ONLINE PERSONALS

Eros-guide.com

Like Craigslist but without all those pesky non-sex-related categories, Eros is the definitive guide to escorts, strippers, BDSM partners, and “adult” dating.

www.eros-guide.com

BEST PLACE FOR SINGLES TO MEET SOMEONE

The Cellar

This small subterranean dance club features reasonably priced drinks, theme parties, and singles nights.

685 Sutter, SF. (415) 441-5678, www.cellarsf.com

BEST FIRST DATE SPOT

Foreign Cinema

Upscale cuisine, excellent cocktails, an adjacent art gallery, and a backdrop of films projected onto the wall in the outdoor patio make this a classy choice for a first night out.

2534 Mission, SF. (415) 648-7600, www.foreigncinema.com

BEST PLACE FOR AN ILLICIT TRYST

Bathrooms at the Lexington Club

Girls like going to the loo together — especially at the Lexington, SF’s favorite lesbian bar.

3464 19th St., SF. (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com

BEST BREAKUP SPOT; BEST CRUISING SPOT

Dolores Park

On a sunny day, this sprawling, multifaceted public park is jam-packed with people. Once you finish the breakup talk, just hop to the next blanket over to find your rebound.

Dolores, between 18th and 20th Sts., SF

BEST PLACE TO BUY WEDDING WEAR

Dark Garden

This versatile shop offers quality custom corsets for all your costume, special occasion, and seduction needs.

321 Linden, SF. (415) 431-7684, www.darkgarden.net

BEST PLACE TO HAVE YOUR WEDDING CEREMONY

San Francisco City Hall

Say your vows with simple sophistication in the rotunda of this gorgeous historic building.

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, SF. (415) 554-4933, www.sfgov.org/cityhall

BEST HOT TUB RENTAL

The Hot Tubs on Van Ness

Clean, comfortable, and calming, each room at the Hot Tubs offers a redwood sauna, a hot tub, a seating area, and controlled lighting and music.

2200 Van Ness, SF. (415) 441-8827, www.thehottubs.com

BEST FLOWER SHOP

Church Street Flowers

Friendly petal peddlers offer a selection of quality blooms in traditional and creative arrangements.

212 Church, SF. (415) 553-7762, www.churchstreetflowers.com

BEST COUPLES COUNSELOR

Marriage Prep 101

This husband-and-wife team hosts informative, proactive, practical sessions to help your relationship succeed.

417 Spruce, SF. (415) 905-8830, www.marriageprep101.com

BEST PLACE TO BUY LINGERIE


My Boudoir: Best Place to Buy Lingerie
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY BRANDON JOSEPH BAKER

My Boudoir Lingerie

The exquisite yet low-key purveyor of intimate finery delights shoppers with a diverse selection of reasonably priced, well-crafted bras, panties, teddies, and more.

2029 Fillmore, SF. (415) 346-1502, www.myboudoir.net

BEST PLACE TO BUY SEX TOYS; BEST CONDOM SELECTION

Good Vibrations

It’s famous for a reason: a great selection of toys, books, and accessories; helpful staff; and a comfortable atmosphere.

603 Valencia, SF. (415) 552-5460; 1620 Polk, SF. (415) 345-0400; 2504 San Pablo, Berk. (510) 841-

8987; www.goodvibes.com

BEST PLACE TO BUY FETISH GEAR

Mr. S Leather/Madame S Boutique

Between the two of them, Mr. and Madame S can satisfy any of your leather or latex needs, be it for bondage clothing, kinky sex toys, or sexy bedroom hardware.

385 Eighth St., SF. (415) 863-7764, www.mr-s-leather.com, www.madame-s.com

BEST ADULT VIDEO STORE

Superstar Satellite

Home of independent, gay-themed, and top Hollywood movie releases, Superstar is also beloved for its collection of gay adult films.

474 Castro, SF. (415) 863-3333, www.castromoviestore.com

BEST STRIP CLUB

Lusty Lady

The world’s only unionized, worker-owned peep show, the Lusty is a perennial award winner.

1033 Kearny, SF. (415) 391-3991, www.lustyladysf.com

BEST SEX CLUB

Eros

Spa by day and sex club by night, this clean Castro locale provides steam, saunas, showers, lube and condoms, and a diverse selection of music and porn for its male clientele.

2051 Market, SF. (415) 255-4921, www.erossf.com

BEST SEX EDUCATION RESOURCE

Center for Sex and Culture

Is there anything the center doesn’t do? Workshops, classes, social gatherings, a library, archives, and special events are all part of its mission of providing the public with nonjudgmental, sex-positive education and support.

(415) 255-1155, www.sexandculture.org

BEST SEX WRITER

Virgie Tovar

This sex educator, sexual enhancement coach, phone sex operator, and former radio host titillates readers with Destination DD: Adventures of a Breast Fetishist.

www.myspace.com/thevirgieshow, www.breastfetishist.com

Sex & Romance

BEST SWEET PIECE OF ASS


Cake Gallery: Best Sweet Piece of Ass
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY BRANDON JOSEPH BAKER

Scoring a sweet piece of ass in SoMa has never been difficult, but finding it gushing with chocolate or vanilla? And in a box? For that you’ll have to head to the Cake Gallery, where a three dimensional ass-cake is actually one of the tamer selections on the menu. The policy here is to quickly whip up “anything your demented mind can imagine.” A giant penis spurting Bavarian jizz? Pssh. If you can’t conjure anything crazier than that for your sister’s Quinceañera, you can peruse an album of past creations for ideas: trannies swimming in rivers of piss, clam bumpin’ lesbians, and iconic cartoon characters engaged in bizarre sex acts are just the tip of the iceberg here. Think big! The only order that might get you a sidewise glance is a “normal” one.

290 Ninth St., SF. (415) 861-2253, www.thecakegallerysf.com

BEST APHRODISIAC WITH ADMISSION

Most San Francisco foodies worth their salt wouldn’t consider dating someone who didn’t like oysters. Obvious body-part references aside, oysters are supposedly one of the saltiest, slipperiest, juiciest aphrodisiacs on the planet (due to high levels of libido-increasing zinc) — plus there’s something both sexy and classy about the whole process of eating them. The largest oyster festival on the West Coast, O’Reilly’s Oyster Festival, then, seems like a good place to take someone if you’ve got ulterior motives. With attractions like the “Shuck and Suck Competition” (winner gets innuendo-filled bragging rights for a whole year), cooking demonstrations, an oyster history exhibition, and live music, North Beach’s oystery weekend pretty much completely rocks. Add that other great aphrodisiac — beer — to the equation, and you’d better have some smooth moves planned for when the sun goes down.

Second weekend in May, Fort Mason’s Great Meadow, SF. www.oreillysoysterfestival.com

BEST DAREDEVIL FIRST DATE

Let’s face it: San Francisco’s dating scene is exhausting. The excess of attractive, successful single people who live and date within the city limits practically guarantees that whoever you’re dating is probably dating someone else; and if someone wants to settle down with you, you’re not quite ready because your three other options are just too good to discard. That means there are a lot of first dates happening all over the city. And how many times can you go for a cup of coffee at an anarchist café, or dinner at a new trendy restaurant, or an indie show at a tiny dive? For an out-of-the-ordinary meet-and-greet, trek your asses up Diamond Heights (specifically, to Douglass Street between 19th and 20th) to the Seward Slides, sit on the empty pizza box you brought with you, and get ready to shoot headfirst down the awesomest hidden hillside slides in San Francisco. Plus, you’re less likely to run into your date’s other poly partners.

Seward and Douglass Sts., SF.

BEST ROMANTIC ACTIVISM

What’s more romantic than equality? A place to celebrate it right in the center of one of our favorite neighborhoods. That’s what we’ve got with Heart of the Castro Wedding Chapel, a charming locale for commitment ceremonies that opened on the heels of the California Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriage. The chapel is run by a collective of friends and activists striving to keep the institution legal while also providing dream weddings for couples who never thought they’d have one. Want something simple and elegant? Something crazy and kooky? The folks at Heart will help you plan it, and then they’ll host it in their lovely Victorian suite. Want a big party in December? Or quickie nuptials tomorrow afternoon? Either way, they’ll try to accommodate you. Indeed, they’re so dedicated to your happiness, they’ll even help you find a different venue if theirs doesn’t work for you. With reasonable prices and a great mission, we love Heart of the Castro so much it makes us want to marry them.

4052 18th St., SF. (415) 626-7743, www.heartofthecastro.com

BEST DOGGIE STYLE

Forget the Hallmark cards and expensive rings. Valentine’s Day was made for one thing only: boning. You know it, we know it, and all the animals on God’s green earth know it. If you need proof, book a spot at the SF Zoo’s annual Woo at the Zoo for a multimedia, champagne-soaked rundown of the myriad fornication styles the Coital Creator has bestowed upon Her beastly children. Gasp at the site of a horse’s schlong as it enters an unsuspecting mare. Wince at the violent lovemaking rituals of sharks. Imagine penguin orgies and simian BDSM parties. By the time the show’s over, your animal-loving date will be hornier than a bonobo and ready to get down, monkey-style, in the backseat of your Jaguar (or VW Rabbit, if that’s how you roll). If you hear screams of ecstasy in the parking lot after the show, listen closely — we bet some of ’em are human.

1 Zoo, SF. (415) 753-7080, www.sfzoo.org

BEST FLOATING LAP DANCE

OK, so the dancers on the Mermaids Cruise don’t actually dress like Disney’s Ariel, but they still do a pretty good job of satisfying whatever deep and dirty fetish you have for that under-the-sea siren. Book a spot for you and your friends any Friday or Saturday — or charter a private ride on another night of the week — and you’ll find yourself trapped on a boat for a two hours with an open bar and randy strippers like goth girl Candy, Brazilian kitten Cheetah, Southern belle Trillian, or hip-hop hottie Vanity. They may not have fish scales, but we bet men and women alike won’t be able to keep their eyes off the mermaids’ tails. Heteros, homos, singles, and couples are all welcome on the restored classic motor vessel. And if women aren’t your thing, the company has a Merman Cruise too.

(415) 859-7052, www.mermaidscruise.com

BEST HIPSTER HOOKUP HANGOUT

Want to pick up a hipster punk but can’t handle another night in the Mission. Your best bet is Hemlock Tavern, run by the same folks responsible for Valencia Street favorite Casanova. Located in Polk Gulch (otherwise known as the Tenderloin with higher rent), the Hemlock has a 360-degree bar, plenty of PBR, a pool table, an enclosed and heated smoking room, and bags of peanuts for a dollar — all well worth riding a fixed gear across town for. Plus, there’s often live music in a side room. When the giant red arrow on the wall lights up, you can pay a small cover to see the music or simply stay in the larger bar area and watch music-lovers in tight jeans and studded belts parade past you. Another bonus: this might be the only non-gay bar in San Francisco where the line for the men’s room is longer than the one for the ladies’, which means plenty of opportunity for hitting on cute hipster boys.

1131 Polk, SF. (415) 596-7777, www.hemlocktavern.com

BEST NEXT STEP IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP


Filbert Street Steps: Best Next Step in Your Relationship
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY BRANDON JOSEPH BAKER

It’s quite possible that the only thing cuter than twosomes of cooing birds are the cooing couples who watch them. For your own chance to go “awwww” with your amore, head over to the Filbert Steps. Yes, this is the locale for feel-good-movie-of-all-time The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, featuring the tiny cherry-headed conures that make their homes in the trees lining the steps for most of the year. To get there, take your sweetie and your fixie through the Broadway Tunnel to Washington Square Park, and head up Telegraph Hill to the base of Coit Tower. Check out the WPA murals on the way, then descend 28 stories down the wooden stairs until you hear distinctive squawks from the flock. Next? Look. Listen. Lock lips. What you do after that is between you, the birds, and the bees.

Filbert and Telegraph Hill Blvd., SF. www.coittower.org

BEST BEER GOGGLES DOWN BELOW

The thing about shelling out for drinks when you aim to impress a hottie is that they go away so quickly (the drinks, definitely; the hottie, possibly). By the time your crush is rattling ice in the base of their empty vodka-cran-lime glass, the object of your financed affections may have moved on to the other end of the bar. But strike up a good rapport with someone at the Lucky 13, Zeitgeist, the R Bar, or Ace’s, and you can spend your hard-earned bucks on a longer-lasting investment with clearer purpose — and a better chance of big returns. The answer? Underwear bearing the bar’s logo. If your paramour accepts the gift, you know you’re on the same page — and possibly on your way to a private, postbar fashion show. Just make sure you get ones you like. After all, both rejection and romance can end with you having to wear them.

BEST BAR FOR A BOOTY CALL

Smooth-talking, heavy-handed bartenders and a packed house of good-looking, hormonal twenty- and thirtysomethings boozing it up in muted, raucous style are part of what make Solstice a classic among booty-call bars. If you’ve already got a FWB, this place will get you in the mood — and do it in style. And if you’re simply looking for a bed buddy, you’ll have your pick of young execs with flushed cheeks, loosened ties, and skirts deliberately pushed up high-thigh. The menu’s got classy down-home bar food like Kobe beef sliders with sweet potato fries or gorgonzola mac ‘n’ cheese, so you can satisfy any “not before you buy me dinner” roadblocks. Add in that happy hour that starts at 5 p.m. and food is available until midnight (that’s seven hours to score), and you’re looking at pretty good odds. Speaking of looking good, everyone does after a bottle of wine, so take advantage of Monday’s half-off special.

2801 California, SF. (415) 359-1222, www.solsticelounge.com

BEST VIOLET BLUE


Violet Blue: Best Violet Blue
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY BRANDON JOSEPH BAKER

Beloved San Francisco sex writer Violet Blue recently started seeing red when she realized porn actress Ada Mae Johnson had adopted her moniker in 2001 — using it to make 300 films, which earned her the coveted “Best New Starlet” award from Adult Video News in 2002. The conflict came to a head at the 2006 Exotic Erotic Ball, where confusion ensued when SF Violet Blue (her given name) and porn star Violet Blue both attended. Last year the writer of sex books and columnist for SFGate.com sued her doppelgänger to get Johnson to change her stage name. After the writer won an initial victory in the courts earlier this year, the porn star finally changed her name — first to Violetta Blue, then to Noname Jane. We’re happy for Blue, though we assume Noname doesn’t feel the same. She’s probably green with envy.

www.tinynibbles.com, www.myspace.com/nonamejane

BEST DISNEY WITH LUBE

Whoever thinks a DVD is the best way to see gay porn never watched it on 8mm. The undoctored color, the absence of grunting, the lurid, jumpy detail … how could you not prefer that to the glossy, homogenous automatons in contemporary adult films? Of course, finding gay porn by way of the DVD’s lasered predecessor isn’t easy — which is where Super8Man comes in. This 8mm-afficionado has collected an impressive number of such films, exhibiting the grainy fantasies at various clubs and venues — like Artists’ Television Access — throughout the city. So keep an eyeball out for this showman and his varied and nuanced delights. Perhaps you’ll even get to see his personal favorite: a madcap vignette of two guys fucking in a van while a wheel man zips them through town with the back doors swinging open. It’s like Disney’s North Avenue Irregulars with lube!

www.super8men.com, www.handbookmen.com

BEST MÉNAGE À MEATLESS

It’s said that vegetarians have the freshest smelling genitals around. But the folks at Millennium seem to know something about the way a flesh deficit affects a vegetarian’s sex life in other ways. Apparently, noncarnivores feel an intense yearning for a four-course meal and an all-night session of cruelty-free lovemaking every month. That’s why they host an Aphrodisiac Dinner and optional accompanying overnight package in a Love Suite at The Hotel California every Sunday closest to the full moon. Gone are the days of curry-scented, low-budget establishments and a grabass session in the VW bus — high-rolling horny vegans can now feast and fornicate in upscale style. You can opt only for the meal ($45), but we suggest the full package ($192) for a more satisfying dessert.

580 Geary, SF. (415) 345-3900, www.millenniumrestaurant.com

BEST SWINGIN’ SEX CLUB

It isn’t just the jazz bands that are swingin’ in North Beach. Private club Twist offers couples the opportunity to engage in that other kind of swinging, away from home. Located in a two-story commercial space, Twist provides a club atmosphere for adults who want to play you-show-me-yours-I’ll-show-you-mine with style, sophistication, and secrecy — the club is invitation-only (apply online), very big on etiquette, and very specific about not giving away details about its patrons. No drugs are allowed, but unlike many sex clubs, there is a bar, though it’s BYO wine and beer (no hard alcohol). Visitors like the art on the walls; the washable black covers on couches and beds; and the supply of fluffy towels, condoms, and lube in every room. Voyeurs and exhibitionists love transparent room dividers, while shyer types like the downstairs dance floor and DJ. No single men are allowed, and couples are asked to arrive, participate, and leave together, so this is an especially appealing and safe place for single ladies. Plus, they get in free!

(415) 812-7221, www.twist-sf.com

BEST GALLERY-WORTHY GLAMOUR SHOTS

Looking for a sexy gift? Or maybe a titillating mantelpiece? We suggest photos of you naked, in your favorite corset, or wrapped around your lover, taken at Erosfoto, the boudoir photography studio run by gallery-exhibited artist Suzanne Jameson. A far cry from mall-quality glamour photos, Jameson’s prints fuse fine art principles with her subjects’ ideas, making the result of each private session tasteful and uniquely sexy. Even better, Jameson’s an expert in helping the women and couples she works with feel comfortable. She encourages models to bring their own music, clothing, lingerie, jewelry, and props — or to borrow some from her extensive collection. She also can provide makeup and hair artists upon request — indeed, many brides-to-be kill two birds with one erotic stone by using portraits as nuptial gifts for their spouses and a chance to test out wedding day hair and makeup. The pictures aren’t cheap — it costs $600 for a two-hour session — but you’re welcome to split the cost with a friend who wants to pose too. You get a DVD with digital negatives, and you keep all rights to the photos.

1483 Guerrero, SF. (415) 706-5237, www.erosfoto.net

BEST DARING DRESS-UP CLOTHES


Stormy Leather: Best Daring Dress-Up Clothes
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY BRANDON JOSEPH BAKER

While roses and rosé may do it for some, others need latex and leather to get them in the mood. The latter lotharios need look no further than Stormy Leather. This SoMa warehouse is a dream for playing daring dress-up, carrying everything from sweet silk corsets to sadistic leather whips — and everything in between. We especially like its line of latex clothing, with styles ranging from Cat Woman to Marilyn Monroe–esque, and the selection of corsets, including the ruffled Colette and military-themed Sergeant. Since Stormy’s a manufacturer as well as a retailer, you can have items custom made to fit your size and preferences (yellow extra small? red silk 5X?) — and the knowledgeable staff to help you figure out what, exactly, those preferences are. What’s even sexier is how involved Stormy is in the community, providing classes in fetish play, hosting art shows, and sponsoring burlesque troupe Twilight Vixen Revue.

1158 Howard, SF. (415) 626-1672, www.stormyleather.com

Classics

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BEST RESTAURANT

Zuni

This mid-Market foodie haven proves that industrial-chic decor, organic ingredients, and a kick-ass oyster bar are a timeless combo.

1658 Market, SF. (415) 552-2522, www.zunicafe.com

BEST BAR

Gold Dust Lounge

World-class jazz, absurdly low happy hour prices, and a storied history have kept the Gold Dust a Union Square mainstay since 1933.

247 Powell, SF. (415) 397-1695

BEST MUSIC ORGANIZATION

Community Music Center

With campuses in the Richmond and Mission districts, the Community Music Center has been making music education accessible to all since 1921.

544 Capp, SF. (415) 647-6015, www.sfcmc.org

BEST ARTS ORGANIZATION

Intersection for the Arts

The Bay Area’s original alternative arts venue, Intersection for the Arts, has been going against the grain since 1965.

446 Valencia, SF. (415) 626-2787, www.theintersection.org

BEST RETAIL SHOP


City Lights Bookstore: Best Classic Retail Shop
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY ARLENE ROMANA

City Lights Bookstore

Responsible for legitimizing the paperback and making San Francisco the center of the literary universe, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s North Beach shop remains fiercely independent.

261 Columbus, SF. (415) 362-8193, www.citylights.com

BEST LANDMARK

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco’s postcard perfect landmark, only northern exit, and beacon for destination suicides, this iconic suspension bridge has been rockin’ that orange vermillion hue since 1937.

Hwys. 101 and 1, SF. www.goldengate.org

BEST HISTORICAL BUILDING

Coit Tower

Coit Tower, the art deco phallic symbol on Telegraph Hill, has been proudly crowning San Francisco since 1933.

1 Telegraph Hill, SF. (415) 362-0808

BEST RESOURCE FOR BAY AREA HISTORY

San Francisco City Guides

This all-volunteer army of local history buffs doles out free walking tours that delve deep into the heart of San Francisco’s past.

100 Larkin, SF. (415) 557-4266, www.sfcityguides.org

BEST CLASSIC AUTHOR

Armistead Maupin

Armistead “Teddy Bear” Maupin’s iconic Tales of the City newspaper series has been published in novel form, turned into a television series, and translated into 10 languages.

www.armisteadmaupin.com

BEST CLASSIC ARTIST

Richard Diebenkorn

The driving force behind the West Coast’s flirtation with figurative painting by way of abstract impressionism, Diebenkorn found inspiration in his Berkeley surroundings.

www.diebenkorn.org

BEST CLASSIC MUSICIAN

Carlos Santana

Revered by guitar buffs, fusion enthusiasts, and stoners everywhere, Santana began his career during the peak of the ’60s rock era and produced the last No. 1 single of the 20th century (“Smooth”).

www.santana.com

BEST CLASSIC ACTIVIST

Wavy Gravy

With his tie-dyed armor, clown nose, and perpetual force field of bubbles, Wavy Gravy — living ice cream flavor, Woodstock MC, and ’60s impresario — now flies his activist freak flag over Camp Winnarainbow.

www.wavygravy.net

BEST CLASSIC POLITICIAN

Harvey Milk

As the first openly gay man elected to public office, Milk helped usher in a new politics — smashing glass ceilings for minority candidates everywhere, igniting the local LGBT rights movement, and establishing San Francisco as a town without closet doors.

BEST SONG ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO

“I Left My Heart in San Francisco”

Whether it’s Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra crooning about the fog that chills the air and the little cable cars climbing halfway to the stars, there’s nary a dry eye when this tune climaxes.

BEST FILM MADE OR SET IN SAN FRANCISCO

Vertigo

In this 1958 gumshoe thriller, Hitchcock introduced the world to San Francisco the character, complete with impossibly steep hills, panoramic views, and gorgeous architecture.

Classics — Editors Picks

BEST LAST OF THE RED-HOT DADAS

Alternative theater is a precarious vocation at best, even in an alternative kind of town. Venues come and go, companies founder and fold, everyone wants to move to New York, and hardly anyone breaks even. Despite the tough climate, one stalwart survivor of the downtown downturn continues to expand — and celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The EXIT Theatre has been a haven for experimental small productions since its 1983 inaugural performance in the lobby of a nearby residential hotel, and has supported the advancing artistic endeavors of a host of Bay Area faves including mugwumpin, RIPE, Cutting Ball, Art Street Theatre, Crowded Fire, Banana Bag and Bodice, foolsFURY, stealth DIVA Sean Owens, and master illusionist Christian Cagigal. Founder and host of the annual San Francisco Fringe Festival, the EXIT attracts performers and audiences from around the world. Additional festivals such as the DIVAfest, Labor Fest, and the fondly remembered Absurdity Theatre Festival keep them coming back for more.

EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF. (415) 673-3847, www.theexit.org

BEST BAND-AIDS FOR BRUISED FANS

In a mega-festival concert world where a bottle of water can cost more than $5, we’re lucky to have Rock Medicine, a nonprofit emergency response service celebrating its 35th anniversary that hands out earplugs, patches up cuts and scrapes, and gets over-excited and dehydrated kids back to the show — all for free. Made up of volunteer paramedics, doctors, and other helpful, rockin’ citizens, the Rock Medicine program is run by the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, part of the free love legacy of the 1960s. As the concerts of the famous era got bigger and more and more kids flocked to the Bay Area, concert mogul Bill Graham contacted clinic head Skip Gaye, and Rock Medicine was born. Now the organization tries to be present at every humongous musical shindig that takes place, with representatives usually located at a table bearing a giant jug of Gatorade. Rest assured, you’ll never surf the mosh pit without some helpful medical back-up.

www.rockmed.org

BEST PLACE TO SCORE CRANK


Laughing Sal at Musée Mécanique:
Best Place to Score Crank
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY ARLENE ROMANA

In the style of London’s Madame Tussauds or the Musée de la Magie of Paris, San Francisco’s own Musée Mécanique is dedicated to exhibiting the beauty of childhood esoterica. Dan Zelinsky’s private collection of hand-cranked musical instruments, antique arcade machines, and automated guignols — many that date from the turn of the century — give visitors a wondrous pre-digital toy experience. Among the many objets d’art, highlights include the automated Drinking Man, who imbibes spirits at the drop of a quarter only to have the liquid recirculate to the cup through his arm; Naughty Marietta, who is seen through the hand-cranked Cail-O-Scope in various states of undress; Laffing Sal, one of the most famous and frightening exhibits purely because of her laugh, and the Orchestrion, a mechanical orchestra that plays a hideously enchanting racket. While some may find these strange machines and life-like dolls less entertaining than disturbing, the Tim Burton weirdo in us adores them.

Pier 45, shed A, Fisherman’s Wharf, SF. (415) 346-2000, www.museemechanique.org

BEST REHAB TRACK RECORD

Most rehab centers are cushy, designed for spoiled brats whose parents, managers, or partners are so sick of desperate phone calls and missing jewelry they’ll pay any price for a month of addict-free peace. But what addicts really need is a place that takes no shit and offers real results, providing a path to self-sustenance and a community dedicated to change. That’s what the Delancey Street Foundation, a privately-funded rehab center, has been supplying to San Francisco’s hard life crowd for more than three decades. Unlike many other such facilities where the failure rate is as hopeless as Britney Spears’ attempt to raise children, Delancey Street boasts a 98 percent success rate. And it’s free. All you have to do is show up and prove your dedication to self-improvement. If you pass the test, you’re given a room and an apprenticeship at one of the organization’s 12 former-addict-run enterprises. Selling Christmas trees, frothing lattes, and moving furniture may not be a catered month by the ocean, but it works.

600 Embarcadero, SF. (415) 957-9800, www.delanceystreetfoundation.org

BEST PANGLOBAL WHIRL

Where can you see a hip-hop dance troupe, a moving human sculpture in Indian classical style, and a Scottish highland romp dedicated to the Celtic god of fire, all in the same short weekend? The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival was founded in 1978, the first city-funded multicultural dance event in the country. Since then it’s played host to some 14,000 artists performing in more than 100 genres at various locales. This year the festival celebrated its 30th anniversary with flair, expanding its season to four weekends and adding new programming, like film screenings and dance classes. A $100,000 grant enabled festival directors to fly artists in from overseas for the first time. Sadly, Ethnic Dance Fest comes but once a year, but the auditions held in January at the Palace of Fine Arts are open to the public — audience members can expect a standing-room-only, casual atmosphere, and a different act every 10 minutes.

(415) 474-3914, www.ethnicdancefestival.org

BEST MONUMENTAL URINAL

There is much to celebrate about the ever-static interior of the beloved House of Shields as it begins its second century of operation. The yellowing Charles McCabe clipping on the wall tells no lies when it proclaims, “Time Stands Still at the House of Shields.” But our favorite relic is not the ruggedly handsome Victorian back bar, the ornate wood paneling, or even the long closed tunnel connecting the old basement speakeasy to the Palace Hotel across the street. And although we enjoy the quirky music programming at this downtown live venue (everything from live blues standards to “twee pop punk”), there’s something more. Discreetly tucked away in the men’s room is the largest single-user urinal we’ve ever seen. No chance of missing the mark with this one. Laid on its back, the mammoth porcelain plumbing fixture could double as a short bathtub. They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

39 New Montgomery, SF. (415) 392-7732, www.houseofshields.com

BEST CRYSTAL COVER-UP


Jeff Fairclough of Mark Harrington Glass:
Best Crystal Cover-up
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY ARLENE ROMANA

So you’re house-sitting at a friend’s swank Noe Valley Victorian, and you decide it couldn’t do any harm to have a few people over and crack a few beers. Before you know it, a misfired attempt to crowd-surf off the billiard table knocks a priceless Wedgwood bowl on the floor, dashing it to pieces. You may not be as screwed as you think. Mark Harrington Glass in the Mission has been repairing glass, crystal, and china by hand since 1932. Co-owner Linda Gotelli says they stay afloat because they’ve cultivated a “niche” in glasswork: they do everything by hand. This is safer for the glass and allows them to take on odd-sized objects, like a five-foot tall antique Italian olive oil jar. Gotelli says she expects her customers to be honest, but admits that the company offers “invisible repairs” capable of fooling all but the most knowledgeable antiquers.

286 Sanchez, SF. (415) 931-6809, www.markharrington.com

BEST STOCKHOLM SYNDROME

The Swedes get to take credit for Ikea and H&M; Legos and modern furniture go to the Danish; the Norwegian cruise around glorious fjords. Finns export Finlandia, while the Icelandic claim Björk and ram scrota soup as their own. If these many accomplishments don’t make Bay-transplanted natives of those consonant-heavy countries lucky enough, they also get a shared cabin in Tahoe (replete with ski boats), a cabin in Clear Lake, and a loft in the city that hosts fabulous parties. All this comes with membership in the Young Scandinavians Club, a 58-year-old organization that encourages pride in Nordic heritage and tons of drinking and wakeboarding with tall, tan, white-toothed, blonde people. So dig into your family genealogy and find old Swedish grandpa Gustaf, or marry Henrik, that green-card-seeking Norwegian, to join. People who have lived in a Scandinavian country for more than six months are also invited into the club. Just say ja.

(415) 346-7450, www.ysc.org

BEST DETOUR TO UTAH

The Hotel Utah Saloon looks like it was hastily assembled out of whatever was lying around — a giant stuffed deer thrusts its head and shoulders through the wall near the door, while the second floor gallery seems to float on the stern of a small wooden boat. You get the feeling that if you came back the next day you might find it completely rearranged, or vanished altogether. This isn’t surprising in a place as old as the Utah, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year. In the early evening, the bar fills with regulars trading anecdotes with tattooed, comely, competence-oozing barmaidens. Around 9 p.m., the music starts and a younger set drifts in. Over the years, the unpretentious Utah has hosted Robin Williams, musical outfit Cake, and countless local bands — yet the door will rarely set you back more than $8. The food runs a tad pricey, but the fried cheese sandwich (“fried cheese” sandwich or “fried” cheese sandwich? Our lips are sealed) is worth it and ample enough for two.

500 Fourth St., SF. (415) 546-6300, www.hotelutah.com

BEST LITTLE WAREHOUSE IN PORT COSTA

A daytrip to Port Costa is not usually on anyone’s must-do list, unless you ride a Harley, in which case you’re probably already there. This Best of the Bay pick aims to change that. Tucked along the lazy meander of the Carquinez Strait, Port Costa (pop. 250) is exactly the sort of place time forgets. What isn’t forgotten in Port Costa is the art of having a good time — most evident when bellied up to the bar at the Warehouse Café. Filled to bursting with the fanciful detritus of saloon decor such as leather booths, elegantly fringed lampshades, a campy tribute altar to Marilyn Monroe, 1980s-era video games, and a 9-foot tall polar bear in a glass case, the 100+ year-old former grain warehouse also features live music and barbeque on summer Sundays and an everyday list of more than 400 international beers, which you get to pick out of an enormous walk-in cooler on your own — if you ask nicely first.

Warehouse Café, 5 Canyon Lake, Port Costa. (510) 787-1827

BEST SHROOMIN’

Forget that shady dude in the Haight: the best people to score shrooms with are the members of the Mycological Society of San Francisco, a nonprofit formed in 1950 to promote an exchange of information about gathering and eating mushrooms. (Sorry, but we’re not talking about the mushrooms that go with psychedelic felt posters.) The society welcomes any newcomers interested in moving past the white button salad staple to learn about where to gather mushrooms and how to detect poisonous specimens. Lectures and meetings held by professional mycologists are held monthly, and group gathering expeditions provide a chance to bond in the outdoors with your fellow enoki enthusiasts. An adjunct culinary society hosts potluck dinners every month, with every dish, from the chanterelle salad to the candy cap mushroom cookies (trust us, they’re delish) featuring the fungi among us. And don’t forget the biannual fungus fairs, which help the public learn more-l (groan) about mushrooming and mycology.

www.mssf.org

BEST SUBCULTURAL CIRCULATION

Skateboarding may have been born on the streets of Los Angeles, but the sport and/or lifestyle would’ve been destined to a future of irrelevance — remember Rollerbladers? — had it not been hijacked more than 25 years ago by the San Franciscan gangstas who run Thrasher Magazine. The founders of the lo-fi zine — now a globally distributed glossy — dedicated themselves to defining what it meant to be a skateboarder as opposed to a surfer bro who occasionally rode around on a piece of wood. The current editorial team, headed by local legend Jake Phelps, carries on that tradition today, infusing a distinct SF feel into modern global skate culture. Thanks to Thrasher‘s coverage of underground music, fashion, and events, skateboarding has grown into a full-fledged subculture with its own set of rules, a truly bizarre crew of nonconformist leaders, and an indisputable spot at the top of the pop culture food chain.

www.thrashermagazine.com

BEST SLICES OF HISTORY

For 30 years the Inner Sunset’s Milano Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant has been helping folks get their piece of the pie. It’s a real-deal mom-and-pop pizza joint where an old TV flickers above the clinking of plates and glasses and the rumbling of the streetcar. The staff buzzes about while friends sit at tables eating heartily, drinking $5 pitchers of IPA, and conversing amiably. Photos line the walls — and this is what really makes Milano special: three decades’ worth of San Francisco memories. Old-time regulars hold up Milano T-shirts, athletes show off regional title trophies, and would-be actors and actresses stare with dramatic intent. There are sepia-toned shots of the owners’ family and a loving memorial to Jack and Dolores, namesakes of the Jack and Dolores Special (Canadian bacon, garlic, onions, feta, and pesto). Many autographed pics of local music acts whose members have worked at Milano are also displayed, including one of DJ Shadow, taken at Milano by Annie Leibovitz for Rolling Stone. But even if you never become quite that famous, at least there’s a hot slice waiting for you.

1390 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 665-3773

BEST DREAM FACTORY

No other Bay Area film production house possesses the charm, history, and long-term awesomeness of Francis Ford Coppola’s 39-year-old art collective turned premier cinematic dream factory, American Zoetrope. The legendary company has put out some of the world’s most acclaimed titles (the Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now, Lost in Translation), nurtures local up-and-coming directors and screenwriters, and represents the apex of the classy side of San Francisco’s movie industry. Coppola’s reach doesn’t stop with film, of course. His empire has grown to include an award-winning literary magazine, a distinguished winery, and a restaurant and bar called Café Zoetrope in the fabulously triangular and historic Sentinel Building, American Zoetrope’s operational home base (and also where the Kingston Trio recorded many of their hits, the Caesar salad was reportedly invented, and the Coppola family has its pied-à-terre). Coppola’s team congregates at the bar after work to drink with other esteemed locals like Lawrence Ferlinghetti or chat with legendary tale-spinning bartender Peter.

www.zoetrope.com

BEST VIVACIOUS UNDERGROUND VENUE

Café Du Nord turned 100 this year, but the roster of live performers that enlivens this well-appointed, intimate, literally underground music venue remains anything but musty. Forward-thinking (if history-respecting) music makers Rykarda Parasol, Nada Surf, and Raised by Robots joined spunky old-schoolers like Rickie Lee Jones, Was (Not Was), and the Lady Tigra on the schedule this year, and the sometimes raucous Porch Light storytelling series, organized by writers Beth Lisick and Arline Klatte, keeps San Francisco’s literary scene on its toes. Located beneath the Swedish American Hall, Du Nord features several holdovers from its speakeasy days, including trapdoors and an elaborate system of tunnels, and the ghosts of illicit-grog-swilling artists, working girls, and con men are said to sometimes join in the modern-day revelry. Yet updates abound: owner Guy Carson is building a daytime café and gallery adjacent to the music hall; featuring musicians’ art in exhibits that tie in with shows, it’s slated to open in mid-September.

2170 Market, SF. (415) 861-5016, www.cafedunord.com

BEST PAPER CLIPS WITH A PAST

Need staples? Forget Staples — or any of those other impersonal office supply Borgs from Planet Big Box. For every kind, shape, size, and width of pencil, pen, notebook, or eraser you need, we have Patrick and Company, a 135-year-old purveyor of business necessities that’s been providing all manner of indispensable items since San Francisco was a set of tin shacks in the sand dunes (well, at least the outer reaches of it). Long before the Great Quake hit, the Patrick family was keeping lowly company clerks up to their visors in ticker tape and hand-cranked calculators. But the five Bay Area Patrick’s locations don’t limit themselves to stocking the manila-tinged totems of daily drudgery — they also feature a wide variety of colorful and collectible stickers and other yummy must-wants that add a splash of color to your beige cubicle. Plus: office furnishings! OK, we know, office supplies may not be the most exciting things in the world (to some), but at Patrick and Company they at least come with a history.

Various locations. www.patco.net

Nightlife and Entertainment

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BEST REP FILM HOUSE

Red Vic

From rock docs to cult classics, this Upper Haight co-op’s schedule has kept its cozy couches filled with popcorn-munching film buffs since 1980.

1727 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3994, www.redvicmoviehouse.com

Runners up: Castro, Roxie

BEST MOVIE THEATER

Balboa Theater

Packing the house with film festivals, second-run faves, indie darlings, and carefully chosen new releases, this Richmond gem offers old-school charm with a cozy neighborhood vibe.

3630 Balboa, SF. (415) 221-8184, www.balboamovies.com

Runners up: Castro, Kabuki Sundance

BEST THEATER COMPANY

Un-Scripted Theater Company

The Un-Scripted improv troupe elevates comedy from one-liners and shtick to full-fledged theatrical productions with a talented cast and eccentric sensibilities.

533 Sutter, SF. (415) 869-5384, www.un-scripted.com

Runners up: ACT, Shotgun Players

BEST DANCE COMPANY

Hot Pink Feathers

Blurring the line between cabaret and Carnaval, this burlesque troupe drips with samba flavor (and feathers, of course).

www.hotpinkfeathers.com

Runners up: DholRhythms, Fou Fou Ha!

BEST ART GALLERY

Creativity Explored

The cherished nonprofit provides a safe haven for artists of all ages, abilities, and skill levels while making sure that great works remain accessible to art lovers without trust funds.

3245 16th St., SF. (415) 863-2108, www.creativityexplored.org

Runners up: 111 Minna, Hang

BEST MUSEUM

De Young

Golden Gate Park’s copper jewel boasts stunning architecture, one hell of a permanent collection, and an impressive schedule of rotating exhibitions.

50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, SF. (415) 750-3600, www.famsf.org/deyoung

Runners up: Asian Art Museum, SF MOMA

BEST MIXED-USE ARTS SPACE

CellSPACE

From aerial circus arts to metalsmithing, fire dancing to roller-skating parties, CellSPACE has had its fingers all over San Francisco’s alternative art scene.

2050 Bryant, SF. (415) 648-7562, www.cellspace.org

Runners up: SomArts, 111 Minna

BEST DANCE CLUB

DNA Lounge

DNA scratches just about every strange dance floor itch imaginable — from ’80s new wave and glam-goth to transvestite mashups and humongous lesbian dance parties.

375 11th St., SF. (415) 626-1409, www.dnalounge.com

Runners up: Temple, 1015 Folsom

BEST ROCK CLUB

Bottom of the Hill

San Francisco’s quintessential “I saw ’em here first” dive, Bottom of the Hill consistently delivers stellar booking, cheap drinks, and great sound.

1233 17th St., SF. (415) 621-4455, www.bottomofthehill.com

Runners up: Slim’s, The Independent

BEST HIP-HOP CLUB

Club Six

Six blurs the line between high and low, offering an upstairs lounge in which to see and be seen and a basement dance floor for those who want to show off their b-boy prowess.

60 Sixth St., SF. (415) 531-6593, www.clubsix1.com

Runners up: Poleng, Milk

BEST JAZZ CLUB

Yoshi’s

Nothing says “Bay Area” quite like Yoshi’s masterful combo of classic cocktails, inventive maki rolls, and world-class jazz acts.

510 Embarcadero West, Jack London Square, Oakl. (510) 238-9200; 1330 Fillmore, SF. (415) 655-5600; www.yoshis.com

Runners up: Jazz at Pearl’s, Biscuits and Blues

BEST SALSA CLUB

Cafe Cocomo

Smartly dressed regulars, smoking-hot entertainment, and plenty of classes keep the Cocomo’s floor packed with sweaty salsa enthusiasts year-round.

650 Indiana, SF. (415) 824-6910, www.cafecocomo.com

Runners up: El Rio, Roccapulco

BEST PUNK CLUB

Annie’s Social Club

The club maintains its cred by presciently booking on-the-rise punk and hardcore bands and adding a sprinkle of punk rock karaoke, photo-booth antics, and ’80s dance parties.

917 Folsom, SF. (415) 974-1585, www.anniessocialclub.com

Runners up: Thee Parkside, 924 Gilman

BEST AFTER-HOURS CLUB

Endup

Where the drunken masses head after last call, the aptly named Endup is probably the only club left where you can rub up against a fishnetted transvestite until the sun comes up. And after.

401 Sixth St., SF. (415) 646-0999, www.theendup.com

Runners up: Mighty, DNA Lounge

BEST HAPPY HOUR

El Rio

“Cash is queen” at this Mission haunt, but you won’t need much of it. El Rio’s infamous happy hour — which lasts five hours and begins at 4 p.m. — consists of dirt cheap drinks and yummy freebies.

3158 Mission, SF. (415) 282-3325, www.elriosf.com

Runners up: Midnight Sun, Olive

BEST DIVE BAR

500 Club

A mean manhattan might not be the hallmark of a typical dive, but just add in ridiculously low prices, well-worn booths, and legions of scruffy hipsters.

500 Guerrero, SF. (415) 861-2500

Runners up: Broken Record, Phone Booth

BEST SWANKY BAR

Bourbon and Branch

Mirrored tables, exclusive entry, fancy specialty cocktails, and a well-appointed library root this speakeasy firmly in “upscale” territory.

501 Jones, SF. (415) 346-1735, www.bourbonandbranch.com

Runners up: Red Room, Bubble Lounge

BEST TRIVIA NIGHT

Brain Farts at the Lookout

“Are you smarter than a drag queen?” Brain Fart hostesses BeBe Sweetbriar and Pollo del Mar ask every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at this gay hot spot. Maybe.

3600 16th St., SF. (415) 431-0306

Runners up: Castle Quiz (Edinburgh Castle), Trivia Night (Board Room)

BEST JUKEBOX

Lucky 13

Bargain drinks, a popcorn machine, and Thin Lizzy, Hank 3, Motörhead, and Iggy on heavy rotation: Lucky 13 never disappoints.

2140 Market, SF. (415) 487-1313

Runners up: Phone Booth, Lexington Club

BEST KARAOKE BAR

The Mint

It may be nigh impossible to get mic time at this mid-Market mainstay, but once you do, there are hordes of adoring (read: delightfully catty) patrons to applaud you.

942 Market, SF. (415) 626-4726, www.themint.net

Runners up: Encore, Annie’s Social Club

BEST CLUB FOR QUEER MEN

Bearracuda at Deco

Bears at the free buffet, bears on the massage table — bears, bears everywhere, but mostly on the dance floor at this big gay biweekly hair affair in the Tenderloin.

510 Larkin, SF. (415) 346-2025, www.bearracuda.com

Runners up: The Cinch, The Stud

BEST CLUB FOR QUEER WOMEN

Lexington Club

With a pool table, a rotating gallery of kick-ass art, and regular rock DJ nights, this beer-and-shot Mission dive has been proving that dykes drink harder for more than a decade.

3464 19th St., SF. (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com

Runners up: Cockblock, Wild Side West

BEST CLUB FOR TRANNIES

Trannyshack

Say hello, wave good-bye: Heklina’s legendary trash drag mecca hangs up its bloody boa in August, but it’s still the best bang for your tranny buck right now.

Stud, 399 Ninth St., SF. (415) 252-7883, www.trannyshack.com

Runners up: AsiaSF, Diva’s

BEST SINGER-SONGWRITER

Curt Yagi

Multi-instrumentalist Curt Yagi has been making the rounds at local venues, strumming with the swagger of Lenny Kravitz and the lyrical prowess of Jack Johnson.

www.curtyagi.com

Runners up: Jill Tracy, Kitten on the Keys

BEST METAL BAND

A Band Called Pain

If you didn’t get the hint from their name, the Oakland-based A Band Called Pain bring it hard and heavy and have lent their distinct brooding metal sound to the Saw II soundtrack and Austin’s SXSW.

www.abandcalledpain.com

Runners up: Thumper, Death Angel

BEST ELECTRONIC MUSIC ACT

Lazer Sword

Rooted in hip-hop but pulling influences from every genre under the sun, the laptop composers seamlessly meld grime and glitch sensibilities with ever-pervasive bass.

www.myspace.com/lazersword

Runners up: Kush Arora, Gooferman

BEST HIP-HOP ACT

Beeda Weeda

Murder Dubs producer and rapper Beeda Weeda may make stuntin’ look easy, but he makes it sound even better: case in point, his upcoming album Da Thizzness.

www.myspace.com/beedaweeda

Runners up: Deep Dickollective, Zion I

BEST INDIE BAND

Ex-Boyfriends

San Francisco outfit and Absolutely Kosher artists the Ex-Boyfriends dole out catchy power pop with a shiny Brit veneer and a dab of emo for good measure.

www.myspace.com/exboyfriends

Runners up: Gooferman, Making Dinner

BEST COVER BAND

ZooStation

A mainstay at festivals, parties, and Slim’s cover-band nights, ZooStation storm through the U2 catalog (they take on more than 140 of the band’s tunes).

www.zoostation-online.com

Runners up: AC/DShe, Interchords

BEST BAND NAME

The Fucking Ocean

Fuck Buttons, Holy Fuck, Fucked Up, Fuck, indeed: the time is ripe for band names that can’t be uttered on the airwaves, and the Fucking Ocean leads the pack. George Carlin would be so proud.

www.myspace.com/thefuckingocean

Runners up: Stung, Gooferman

BEST DJ

Smoove

Ian Chang, aka DJ Smoove, keeps late hours at the Endup, DNA Lounge, 111 Minna, Mighty, and underground parties all over, pumping out power-funk breaks.

www.myspace.com/smoovethedirtypunk

Runners up: Jimmy Love, Maneesh the Twister

BEST PARTY PRODUCERS

Adrian and the Mysterious D, Bootie

Five years in, the Bay’s groundbreaking original mashup party, Bootie, has expanded coast-to-coast and to three continents. This duo displays the power of tight promotion and superb party skills.

DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF. (415) 626-1409, www.bootiesf.com

Runners up: NonStop Bhangra crew, Mike Gaines (Bohemian Carnival)

BEST BURLESQUE ACT

Twilight Vixen Revue

Finally, someone thinks to combine pirates, wenches, classic burlesque, and foxy lesbians. This all-queer burlesque troupe has been waving its fans (and fannies) since 2003.

www.twilightvixen.com

Runners up: Sparkly Devil, Hot Pink Feathers

BEST DRAG ACT

Katya Ludmilla Smirnoff-Skyy

Gorgeous costumes, a glamorous backstory, and a jam-packed social calendar are reasons enough to catch this opera diva, but it’s her flawless mezzo that keeps fans hurling roses.

www.russianoperadiva.com

Runners up: Charlie Horse, Cookie Dough

BEST COMEDIAN

Marga Gomez

One of America’s first openly gay comics, San Francisco’s Marga Gomez is a Latina firebrand who’s equally at home performing at Yankee Stadium or Theatre Rhinoceros.

www.margagomez.com

Runners up: Robert Strong, Paco Romane

BEST CIRCUS TROUPE

Vau de Vire Society

Offering a full-on circus assault, the wildly talented and freakishly flexible troupe’s live show delivers plenty of fire performances, aerial stunts, and contortionism.

www.vaudeviresociety.com

Runners up: Teatro Zinzani, Pickle Family Circus

BEST OPEN MIC NIGHT

Hotel Utah

One of the city’s strongest breeding grounds for new musical talent, Hotel Utah’s open mic series opens the floor for all genres (and abilities).

500 Fourth St., SF. (415) 546-6300, www.hotelutah.com

Runners up: Queer Open Mic (3 Dollar Bill), Brain Wash

BEST CABARET/VARIETY SHOW


Hubba Hubba Review: Best Cabaret/Variety Show
PHOTO BY PATRICK MCCARTHY

Hubba Hubba Revue

Vaudeville comedy, tassled titties, and over-the-top burlesque teasing make the Hubba Hubba Revue the scene’s bawdiest purveyor of impropriety.

www.hubbahubbarevue.com

Runners up: Bohemian Carnival, Bijou (Martuni’s)

BEST LITERARY NIGHT

Writers with Drinks

This roving monthly literary night takes it on faith that writers like to drink. Sex workers, children’s book authors, and bar-stool prophets all mingle seamlessly, with social lubrication.

www.writerswithdrinks.com

Runners up: Porchlight Reading Series, Litquake

BEST CRUSHWORTHY BARTENDER

Laura at Hotel Utah

Whether you just bombed onstage at open mic night or are bellied up to the Hotel Utah bar to drink your sorrows away, the ever-so-crushworthy Laura is there with a heavy-handed pour and a smile. She’s even nice to tourists — imagine!

500 Fourth St., SF. (415) 546-6300, www.hotelutah.com

Runners up: Chupa at DNA Lounge, Vegas at Cha Cha Cha

Nightlife and Entertainment — Editors Picks

BEST CREEP-SHOW CHANTEUSE

There’s just something about the inimitable Jill Tracy that makes us swoon like a passel of naive gothic horror heroines in too-tight corsets. Is it her husky midnight lover’s croon, her deceptively delicate visage, her vintage sensibilities? Who else could have written the definitive elegy on the “fine art of poisoning,” composed a hauntingly lush live score for F.W. Murnau’s classic silent film Nosferatu, joined forces with that merry band of bloodthirsty malcontents, Thrillpeddlers, and still somehow remain a shining beacon of almost beatific grace? Part tough-as-nails film fatale, part funeral parlor pianist, Tracy manages to adopt many facades yet remain ever and only herself — a precarious and delicious balancing act. Her newest CD, The Bittersweet Constrain, glides the gamut from gloom to glamour, encapsulating her haunted highness at her beguiling best.

www.jilltracy.com

BEST CINEMATIC REFUGE FOR GERMANIACS

Can’t wait for the annual Berlin and Beyond film fest to get your Teuton on? The San Francisco Goethe-Institut screens a select handful of German-language films throughout the year at its Bush Street language-school location. For a $5 suggested donation, you can treat yourself to a klassische F.W. Murnau movie or something slightly more contemporary from Margarethe von Trotta. Flicks are subtitled, so there’s no need to brush up on verb conjugations ahead of time. And the Bush Street location is within respectable stumbling distance of many Tendernob bars, not to mention the Euro-chic Café de la Presse, should your cinematic adventure turn into an unexpected Liebesabenteuer. Unlike SF filmic events offering free popcorn, free-for-all heckling, or staged reenactments of the action, Goethe-Institut screenings need no gimmickry to attract their audiences — a respectable singularity perhaps alone worth the price of admission.

530 Bush, SF. (415) 263-8760, www.goethe.de

BEST UNFORCED BAY AREA BALKANIZATION

Despite all the countless reasons to give in to despair — the weight of the world, the headline news, those endless measured teaspoons — sometimes you just have to say fuck it and get your freak on. No party in town exemplifies this reckless surrender to the muse of moving on better than the frenetic, freewheeling proslava that is Kafana Balkan. No hideaway this for the too-cool-for-school, hands-slung-deep-in-pockets, head-bobber crowd. The brass-and-beer-fueled mayhem that generally ensues at Kafana Balkan, often held at 12 Galaxies, is a much more primitive and fundamental form of bacchanal. Clowns! Accordions! Brass bands! Romany rarities! Unfurled hankies! The unlikely combination of high-stepping grannies and high-spirited hipsters is joined together by the thread that truly binds: a raucous good time. Plus, all proceeds support the Bread and Cheese Circus’s attempts to bring succor and good cheer to orphans in Kosovo. Your attendance will help alleviate angst in more ways than one.

www.myspace.com/kafanabalkan

BEST GOREY BALL

There’s no doubt about it — we San Franciscans love to play dress-up. From the towering Beach Blanket Babylon–esque bonnets at the annual Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Easter Sunday to the costumed free-for-all of All Hallows Eve, the more elaborate the excuse to throw on some gay apparel, the more elaborate the apparel. This makes the annual Edwardian Ball tailor-made for San Francisco’s tailored maids and madcap chaps. An eager homage to the off-kilter imaginings of Edward Gorey, whose oft-pseudonymous picture books delved into the exotic, the erotic, and the diabolic within prim and proper, vaguely British settings, the Edwardian Ball is a midwinter ode to woe. From the haunting disharmonies of Rosin Coven to the voluptuous vigor of the Vau de Vire Society’s reenactment of Gorey tales, the ball — which now encompasses an entire three-day weekend — is a veritable bastion of dark-hued revelry and unfettered fetish.

www.myspace.com/edwardianball

BEST PROGRESSIVE LOUD ‘N’ PROUD

We love Stephen Elliott. The fearless writer, merciless poker opponent, and unrepentant romantic’s well-documented fall from political innocence — recounted in Looking Forward to It (Picador, 2004) and Politically Inspired (MacAdam/Cage, 2003) — has kept him plunged into the fray ever since. Like most other ongoing literary salons, Elliott’s monthly Progressive Reading Series offers a thrilling showcase of local and luminary talent, highlighting up-and-comers along with seasoned pros — shaken, stirred, and poured over ice by the unflappable bar staff at host venue the Make-Out Room. All of the proceeds from the door benefit selected progressive causes — such as, most recently, fighting the good fight against California state proposition 98. Books, booze, and ballot boxing — a good deed never went down more smoothly or with such earnest verbiage and charm.

www.progressivereadingseries.org

BEST UNDERAGE SANDWICH

When it comes to opportunities to see live independent music, most Bay Area venues hang kids under 21 out to dry. Outside of 924 Gilman in Berkeley and the occasional all-ages show at Bottom of the Hill, the opportunities are painfully sparse. But thanks to members of Bay Area show promotion collective Club Sandwich, the underground music scene is becoming more accessible. Committed to hosting exclusively all-ages shows featuring under-the-radar local and national touring bands, Club Sandwich has booked more than a hundred of them since 2006, ranging from better-known groups like No Age, Marnie Stern, and Lightning Bolt to more obscure acts like South Seas Queen and Sexy Prison. Club Sandwich shows tend to cross traditional genre boundary lines (noise, punk, folk, etc.), bringing together different subcultures within the Bay Area’s underground music scene that don’t usually overlap. And the collective organizes shows at wildly diverse venues: from legitimate art spaces like ATA in San Francisco and Lobot in Oakland to warehouse spaces and swimming pools.

www.clubsandwichbayarea.com

BEST BEER PONG PALACE

Pabst Blue Ribbon, American Spirits, track bikes, tattoos, stretchy jeans, slip-ons, facial hair, Wayfarers. Blah, blah, blah. If you live in the Mission — and happen to be between 22 and 33 years old — you see it all, every night, at every bar in the hood. Boooring. If you’re sick of all the hipster shit, but not quite ready to abandon the scene entirely, take a baby step over to the Broken Record, a roomy dive bar in the Excelsior that serves gourmet game sausage, gives away free beer every Friday(!), rents out Scrabble boards, and isn’t afraid to drop the attitude and get down with a goofy night of beer pong or a bar-wide foosball match. The cheap swill, loud music, and street art will make you feel right at home, but the Broken Record’s decidedly Outer Mission vibe will give you a much-needed respite from the glam rockers, bike messengers, “artists,” and cokeheads you have to hang out with back in cool country.

1166 Geneva, SF. (415) 255-3100

BEST VOLUPTUOUS VISIBILITY

Every June, the Brava Theater quietly morphs into the center of the known universe for queer women of color. And what a delectable center it is. Over the course of three days, the Queer Women of Color Film Festival, produced by the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, screens more than 30 works by emerging filmmakers for a raucously supportive audience — an audience that happens to be cute as all hell. In fact, some would call the festival the cruising event of the year for queer women of color. Of course, the films are worth scoping too. Students of QWOCMAP’s no-cost Filmmaker Training Program create most of the festival’s incredible array of humorous and sensitive films, which explore topics such as romance and family ties. For festivalgoers, this heady mixture of authentic representation, massive visibility, and community pride (all screenings are copresented with social justice groups) is breathtakingly potent. It’s no wonder a few love connections are made each fest. Want just a little more icing on that cake? All screenings are free.

(415) 752-0868, www.qwocmap.org

BEST DANCE-FLOOR FLICKS FIX

The San Francisco Film Society is best known for putting on America’s oldest film fest, the San Francisco Film Festival. But the organization also hosts a TV show, publishes an amazingly vibrant online magazine, and throws a slew of events throughout the year under its SF360 umbrella, a collection of organizations dedicated to covering film in San Francisco from all angles. There’s SF360 movie nights held in homes across the city, Live at the Apple Store film discussions, and special screenings of hard-to-see films held at theaters throughout the Bay Area. But our favorite SF360 shindig is its monthly SF360 Film+Club Night at Mezzanine, which screens underground films to a room of intoxicated cinephiles who are encouraged to hoot, holler, and at times — like during the annual R. Kelly Trapped in tha Closet Singalong — flex their vocal cords. Past Film+Club screenings have included a B-movie skate-film retrospective, prescreenings of Dave Eggers’s Wholphin compilations, and an Icelandic music documentary night, at which, we’ll admit, we dressed up like Björk.

www.sf360.org

BEST HORIZONTAL MAMBO ON HIGH


Project Bandaloop: Best Horizontal Mambo on High
PHOTO BY TODD LABY

Normally when one mentions doing the horizontal mambo, nudges and winks ensue. But when Project Bandaloop gets together to actually do it, the group isn’t getting freaky, it’s getting wildly artistic — hundreds of feet up in the air. The aerial dance company creates an exhilarating blend of kinetics, sport, and environmental awareness, hanging from bungee cords perpendicular to tall building walls. The troupe is composed of climbers and dancers, who rappel, jump, pas de deux, and generally do incredibly graceful things while hoisted hundreds of feet up in the air. Founded in 1991 and currently under the artistic direction of Amelia Rudolph, Project Bandaloop’s company of dancer-athletes explores the cultural possibilities of simulated weightlessness, drawing on a complete circumferential vocabulary of movement to craft site-specific dances, including pieces for Seattle’s Space Needle and Yosemite’s El Capitan. (Once it even performed for the sheikh of Oman.) Now, if there were only a way to watch the rapturous results without getting a stiff neck.

(415) 421-5667, www.projectbandaloop.org

BEST YODELALCOHOL

From the sidewalk, Bacchus Kirk looks like so many other dimly lit San Francisco bars. Yet to walk inside is to step into a little bit of Lake Tahoe or the Haute-Savoie on the unlikely slopes of lower Nob Hill. With its raftered A-frame ceiling, warm wood-paneled walls, and inviting fireplace, the alpine Bacchus Kirk only needs a pack of bellowing snowboarders to pass as a ski lodge — albeit one that provides chocolate martinis, raspberry drops, and mellow mango cocktails rather than hot cocoa, vertiginous funicular rides, and views of alpenhorn-wielding shepherds. This San Francisco simulation of the après-ski scene is populated by a friendly, low-key crowd of art students, Euro hostelers, and diverse locals — no frosty snow bunnies here — drawn by the congenial atmosphere, the pool table, and that current nightlife rarity, a smoking room. Tasty drinks and lofty conversation flow freely: if you leave feeling light-headed, you won’t be able to blame it on the altitude.

925 Bush, SF. (415) 474-4056, www.bacchuskirk.org

BEST COCKTAILS WITH CANINES

Plenty of bars around town call themselves pooch-friendly — as if a pampered shih tzu housed in a Paris Hilton wannabe’s purse, its exquisitely painted paw-nails barely deigning to rest atop the bar, represents the be-all and end-all of canine cocktail companionship. The Homestead, however, goes the extra mile to make four-legged patrons of all shapes and sizes at home with its “open dog” policy. Permanently stationed below the piano is a water dish, and the bar is stocked with an ample supply of doggie treats. At slack times, the bartenders will even come out from behind the bar to dispense said treats directly to their panting customers. Talk about service! As for the bipeds, they will undoubtedly appreciate the Homestead’s well-worn 19th-century working-class-bar decor (complete with a potbellied stove!) and relaxed modern-day atmosphere. It’s the perfect spot to catch up with old friends — either furry or slightly slurry — and make a few new ones.

2301 Folsom, SF. (415) 282-4663

BEST VISA TO MARTINI VICTORY


Bartender Visa Victor: Best Visa to Martini Victory
PHOTO BY NEIL MOTTERAM

When überfancy personalized cocktails started popping up all over town, it was only a matter of time before we of the plebeian class started demanding our fair share. Looking to be poured something special, but can’t afford a drink at Absinthe? Want to sample a few stupendously constructed tipples in the Bourbon and Branch vein with limited ducats? Score: Visa Victor the bartender has what you want. Once a journeyman slinger, Visa has started filling regular shifts — typically Wednesdays and Sundays — at Argus Lounge on Mission Street. What he offers: his own DJ, a well-populated e-mail list of fans, and an array of unique ingredients including rare berries, savory herbs, and meat. Yes, meat — his recent bacon martini turned out to be not just an attempt to tap into the city’s growing “meat consciousness” but damn good to boot. And hey, we didn’t have to take out a phony second mortgage to down it.

BEST JAZZ JUKE

Pesky Internet jukeboxes are everywhere: any decent night out can be ruined by some freshly 21-year-old princess bumping her “birthday jam” incessantly. The old-school jukebox, on the other hand, has the oft-undervalued ability to maintain a mood, or at least ensure that you won’t be “bringing sexy back” 27 times in one evening. Aub Zam Zam in the Upper Haight maintains an exceptional jukebox chock-full of timeless blues, jazz, and R&B slices. Selections include Robert Johnson, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Taj Mahal … the list of smooth crooners and delicate instrumentalists goes on and on. This is in perfect keeping with Aub Zam Zam’s rep as a mighty fine cocktail lounge, established in the 1940s. New owner Bob Clarke has made the place a lot more welcoming than it was in the days of notoriously tyrannical founder Bruno, who proudly boasted of 86ing 80 percent of the Zam Zam’s would-be customers. But Clarke’s kept at least one thing from Bruno’s days besides mouthwatering drinks: his favorite juke jams.

1633 Haight, SF. (415) 861-2545

BEST FUNNY UH-OH

It’s hard to tell if the entity known as Something with Genitals is a comedy act or a cultural experiment designed to monitor human behavior under unusual circumstances. Take, for example, the night one member of this duo, sometimes trio, of dudes made his way through the crowded Hemlock Tavern on cross-country skis. When he finally maneuvered himself onto the stage, the lights went out and the show was over. Sometimes no one gets onstage at all. Instead the audience gets treated to one of the group’s ingeniously simple short films, which are way better at summing up every one-night stand you’ve had than a regular joke with a punch line. Check out their video on MySpace of a guy who strikes up a conversation with a shrub on some Mission District street, invites it to a party, offers it a beer, asks it to dance, shares some personal secrets and heartfelt dreams, then proceeds to drunkenly fuck it, and you’ll wonder if they’ve been reading your diary. Funny uh-oh, not funny ha-ha.

www.myspace.com/somethingwithgenitals

BEST WEIRD EYE FOR WEIRD TIMES

Even if you’re not in the market for stock footage — the chief focus of Oddball Film + Video, which maintains an archive crammed with everything from World War II clips to glamour shots of TV dinners circa 1960 to images of vintage San Francisco street scenes — you can still take advantage of this incredible resource. Director and founder Stephen Parr loves film, and he loves the unusual; lucky for us, he also loves sharing his collection with the public. RSVPs are essential to attend screenings at the small space, which in recent months has hosted such programs as “Shock! Cinema,” a collection of hygiene and safety films (Narcotics: Pit of Despair) from bygone but no less hysterical eras, and “Strange Sinema,” featuring yet-to-be-cataloged finds from Oddball’s ever-growing library (a 1950s dude ranch promo, an extended trailer for 1972 porn classic Behind the Green Door). Other past highlights have included programs on sex, monkeys, India, and avant-gardists and nights with guest curators like Los Angeles “media ecologist” Gerry Fialka.

275 Capp, SF. (415) 558-8117, www.oddballfilm.com

BEST SWEET ISLE OF ROCK

It doesn’t get much sweeter, in terms of massive multistage music gatherings soaked with mucho cerveza and plenty of sunshine: looking out over the bay at our sparkling city from the top of a Ferris wheel as Spoon gets out the jittery indie rock on the main stage below. That was the scene at last year’s inaugural two-day Treasure Island Music Festival, a smooth-sailing dream of a musical event presented by the Noise Pop crew and Another Planet Entertainment. The locale was special — how often do music fans who don’t live or work on the isle ever get out to that human-made spot, a relic from the utopian era of “We can do it!” engineering and World’s Fairs. The shuttles were plentiful and zero emission. The food was reasonably priced, varied, and at times vegetarian. About 72 percent of the waste generated by the fest was diverted to recycling and composting. Most important, the music was stellar: primo critical picks all the way. This year’s gathering, featuring Justice, Hot Chip, and the Raconteurs, looks to do even better.

www.treasureislandfestival.com

BEST WHITE-HOT WALLS

Pristine walls couldn’t get much more white-hot than at Ratio 3 gallery. Chris Perez has a nose for talent — and an eye for cool — when it comes to programming the new space on Stevenson near SoMa. The curator has been on a particular roll of late with exhibitions by such varied artists as psychedelia-drenched video installationist Takeshi Murata, resurgent abstractionist Ruth Laskey, and utopian beautiful-people photog Ryan McGinley, while drawing attendees such as Mayor Gavin Newsom and sundry celebs to openings. Perez also has a worthy stable of gallery artists on hand, including local legend Barry McGee (whose works slip surprisingly well among recent abstract shows at the space), rough-and-ready sculptor Mitzi Pederson, op-art woodworker Ara Peterson, and hallucinatory dreamscape creator Jose Alvarez. Catch ’em while the ratio is in your favor.

1447 Stevenson, SF. (415) 821-3371, www.ratio3.org

BEST ON-SCREEN MIND WARP

When edgy director of programming Bruce Fletcher left the San Francisco Independent Film Festival (IndieFest), fans who’d relied on his horror and sci-fi picks were understandably a little worried. Fortunately, Fletcher’s Dead Channels: The San Francisco Festival of Fantastic Film proved there’s room enough in this town for multiple fests with an eye for sleazy, gory, gruesome, unsettling, and offbeat films, indie and otherwise. There’s more: this summer Dead Channels teamed up with Thrillpeddlers to host weekly screenings at the Grand Guignol theater company’s space, the Hypnodrome. “White Hot ‘N’ Warped Wednesdays” are exactly that — showcasing all manner of psychotronica, from Pakistani gore flick Hell’s Ground to culty grind house classics like She-Freak (1967). Come this October, will the Dead Channels fest be able to top its utterly warped Hump Day series? Fear not for the programming, dark-dwelling weirdos — fear only what’s on the screen.

www.deadchannels.com

BEST BACKROOM SHENANIGANS

Everyone knows when Adobe Books’ backroom art openings are in full swing: the bookstore is brightly lit and buzzing at an hour when most other literature peddlers are safely tucked in bed, the crowd is spilling onto the 16th Street sidewalk, and music might be wafting into the night. Deep within, in the microscopic backroom gallery, you might discover future art stars like Colter Jacobsen, Barbra Garber, and Matt Furie, as well as their works. Call the space and its soirees the last living relic of Mission District bohemia or dub it a San Francisco institution — just don’t try to clean it up or bring order to its stacks. Wanderers, seekers, artists, and musicians have found a home of sorts here, checking out art, bickering over the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the time line of Mission hipster connections that runs along the upper walls, sinking into the old chairs to hang, and maybe even picking up a book and paging through.

3166 16th St., SF. (415) 864-3936, adobebooksbackroomgallery.blogspot.com

BEST HELLO MUMBAI


DJ Cheb i Sabbah at Bollyhood Café: Best Hello Mumbai
PHOTO BY NEIL MOTTERAM

India produces more movies than any other place on the planet, although you’d scarcely know it from the few that make it stateside. But the American Bollywood cult is growing, and Indian pop culture is dancing its eye-popping way into San Francisco’s heart with invigorating bhangra club nights and piquant variations on traditional cuisine. Bollywood-themed Bollyhood Café, a colorful dance lounge, restaurant, and bar on 19th Street, serves beloved Indian street food–style favorites, with tweaked names like Something to Chaat About, Bhel “Hood” Puri, and Daal-Icious. The joint also delights fans of the subcontinent with nonstop Bollywood screenings and parties featuring DJs Cheb i Sabbah and Jimmy Love of NonStop Bhangra. The crowd’s cute, too: knock back a few mango changos or a lychee martini and prepare to kick up your heels with some of the warmest daals and smoothest lassis (har, har) this side of Mumbai.

3372 19th St., SF. (415) 970-0362, www.bollyhoodcafe.com

BEST POP ‘N’ CHILL


Sheila Marie Ang at Bubble Lounge: Best Pop ‘N’ Chill
PHOTO BY NEIL MOTTERAM

When people get older and perhaps wiser, they begin to feel out of place in hipstery dive bars and tend to lose the desire to rage all night in sweaty dance clubs. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to party; it just means they’d rather do it in a more sophisticated setting. Thank goddess, then, for Bubble Lounge, the Financial District’s premier purveyor of sparkling social lubricant. For a decade, this superswanky champagne parlor has dazzled with its 10 candlelit salons, each decked out with satin couches, overstuffed chairs, and mahogany tables. BL specializes in tasters, flights, and full-size flutes of light and full-bodied sparkling wines and champagnes. But if poppin’ bub ain’t your style, you can always go the martini route and order a specialty cocktail like the Rasmatini or the French tickler — whatever it takes to make you forget about the office and just chill.

714 Montgomery, SF. (415) 434-4204, www.bubblelounge.com

BEST REGGAE ON BOTH SIDES

Reggae may not be the hippest or newest music in town, but there are few other genres that can inspire revolutionary political thought, erase color lines, and make you shake your ass all at the same time. Grind away your daily worries and appreciate the unity of humanity all night long on both sides of the bay — second Saturdays of the month at the Endup and fourth Saturdays at Oakland’s Karibbean City — at Reggae Gold, the Bay Area’s smoothest-packed party for irie folk and dance machines. Resident DJs Polo Moquuz, Daddy Rolo, and Mendoja spin riddim, dancehall, soca, and hip-hop mashup faves as a unified nation of dub heads rocks steady on the dance floor. Special dress-up nights include Flag Party, Army Fatigue Night, and the Black Ball, but otherwise Reggae Gold keeps things on the classy side with a strict dress policy: no sneakers, no baseball caps, no sports attire, and for Jah’s sake, no white T-shirts. This isn’t the Dirty South, you know.

www.reggaegoldsf.com

BEST MEGACLUB REINCARNATION

Its a wonder no one thought of it before. Why not combine green business practices with a keen sense of after-hours dance floor mayhem, inject the whole enchilada with shots of mystical spirituality (giant antique Buddha statues, a holistic healing center) and social justice activism (political speaker engagements, issue awareness campaigns), attach a yummy Thai restaurant, serve some fancy drinks, and call it a groundbreaking megaclub? That’s a serviceably bare-bones description of Temple in SoMa, but this multilevel, generously laid out mecca for dance music lovers is so much more. Cynical clubgoers like ourselves, burnt out on the steroidal ultralounge excesses of the Internet boom, cast a wary eye when it was announced that Temple would set up shop in defunct-but-still-beloved club DV8’s old space, and feared a mainstream supastar DJ onslaught to cover the costs. Temple brings in the big names, all right, but it also shows much love for the local scene, giving faves like DJ David Harness and the Compression crew room to do their thing. The sound is impeccable, the staff exceedingly friendly, and even if we have to wade politely but firmly through some bridge and tunnel crowd to get to the dance floor, we can use the extra karma points.

540 Howard, SF. www.templesf.com

BEST BANGERS AND FLASH


Blow Up: Best Bangers and Flash
PHOTO BY MELEKSAH DAVID

Disco, house, techno, rave, hip-hop, electroclash … all well and good for us old-timers who like to stash our pimped-out aluminum walkers in the coat check and “get wild” on the dance floor. But what about the youth? With what new genre are they to leave their neon mark upon nightlife? Which party style will mark their generation for endless send-ups and retro nights 30 years hence? The banger scene, of course, fronting a hardcore electro sound tinged with sweet silvery linings and stuttery vocals that’s captured the earbuds and bass bins of a new crop of clubbers. Nowhere are the bangers hotter (or younger) than at the sort-of weekly 18-and-over party Blow Up at the Rickshaw Stop, now entering its third year of booming rapaciousness. Blow Up, with resident DJs Jeffrey Paradise and Richie Panic and a mindblowing slew of globe-trotting guests, doesn’t just stop with killer tunes — almost all of its fabulously sweat-drenched, half-dressed attendees seem to come equipped with a digital camera and a camera-ready look, as befits the ever-online youth of today. Yet Blow Up somehow leaves hipper-than-thou attitude behind. Hangovers, however, often lie ahead.

www.myspace.com/blow_up_415

BEST SCRIBBLER SMACKDOWN

It may not be the Saudi tradition of dueling poets, in which two men swap lines until one can’t think of any more couplets (and is severely punished), but the Literary Death Match series, put on by Opium magazine, is San Francisco’s excellent equivalent, though perhaps less civilized. Try to remember the last poetry reading you attended. Tweedy professors and be-sweatered Mary Oliver acolytes, right? Literary Death Match is not this mind-numbing affair. It’s competitive. It’s freaking edge-of-your-seat. And everyone’s drunk. Readers from four featured publications, either online or in print, do their thing for less than 10 minutes, and guest “celebrity” judges rip participants apart based on three categories: literary merit, performance, and “intangibles” (everything in between). Two finalists duke it out to the literary death until one hero is left standing, unless she or he’s been hitting up the bar between sets. Who needs reality television when we’ve got San Francisco’s version — one in which literary aspirations breed public humiliation, with the possibility of geeky bragging rights afterward?

Various locations. www.literarydeathmatch.com

BEST MISTRESS OF MOTOWN

Drag queens — is there nothing they can’t make a little brighter with their glittering presence? Squeeze a piece of coal hard enough between a perma-smiley tranny’s clenched cheeks and out pops cubic zirconium, dripping with sparkling bon mots. Yet not all gender illusionists go straight for ditzy comic gold or its silver-tongued twin, cattiness. Some “perform.” Others perform. And here we must pause to tip our feathery fedora to she who reps the platinum standard of awe-inspiring cross-dressing performance: Miss Juanita More. No mere Streisand-syncher, class-act Juanita dusts off overlooked musical nuggets of the past and gives them their shiny due. Despite punk-rock tribute trends and goth night explosions, Juanita’s focus stays primarily, perfectly, on that sublime subcultural slice of sonic history known formerly as “race music” and currently as R&B. Her dazzling production numbers utilize large casts of extras, several acts, and impeccable costumery that pays tribute to everything from Scott Joplin’s ragtime to Motown’s spangled sizzle, dirty underground ’70s funk to Patti LaBelle’s roof-raising histrionics. When she’s on spliff-passing point, as she so often is, her numbers open up a pulse-pounding window into other, more bootyful, worlds.

www.juanitamore.com

BEST AMBASSADORS OF DREAD BASS

That cracked and funky dubstep sound surged through Clubland’s speakers last year, an irresistible combination of breakbeats energy, dub wooziness, sly grime, intel glitch, and ragga relaxation. Many parties took the sound into uncharted waters, infusing it with hip-hop hooks, Bollywood extravaganza, roots rock swing, or “world music” folksiness. But only one included all those variations simultaneously, while pumping local and international live acts, fierce visuals, multimedia blowouts, and an ever-smiling crowd of rainbow-flavored fans: Surya Dub, a monthly lowdown hoedown at Club Six. The Surya crew, including perennial Bay favorites DJ Maneesh the Twister and Jimmy Love, and wondrous up-and-comers like Kush Arora, Kid Kameleon, DJ Amar, Ripley, and MC Daddy Frank on the mic, describes its ass-thumping sound as “dread bass,” which moves beyond wordy genre description into a cosmic territory the rumble in your eardrums can surely attest to. Surya Dub keeps it in the community, too, helping to promote a growing network of citywide dubstep events and spreading their dread bass gospel with parties in India.

www.suryadub.com

BEST HELLA GAY BEST OF THE BAY

Very few things in this world are gay enough to warrant the Nor Cal Barney modifier “hella,” but for tattooed karaoke-master Porkchop’s sort-of-monthly series at Thee Parkside, Porkchop Presents, the term seems an understatement. At least three times a season, the mysterious Porkchop gathers her posse of scruffy boozehounds and butt-rockin’ hipsters to the best little dive bar in Potrero for a daylong celebration of the gayest shit on earth. Past events have included Hella Gay Karaoke, Hella Gay Jell-O Wrestling, a Hella Gay Beer Bust, and the all-encompassing nod to gaydom, Something Hella Gay, an ongoing event during which gay folks go drink-for-drink to see who’s the gayest of them all. Join Porkchop and her crew of lowbrow beer snobs at Thee Parkside for arm wrestling competitions, tattoo-offs, and hella gay sing-along battles. You probably won’t win anything because the competition is so stiff and the rules are so lax, but you can rest assured that the smell of stale cigarettes, cheap beer, and sweaty ass will stay in your clothes for at least a week after the show. And that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?

Best of the Bay 2008

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“Best of the Bay? I’m anxiously awaiting the results, as our fair city appears to be on the decline. Please help rekindle my love for SF!” wrote Seamus of Sunnyside when we asked Guardian readers to tell us about their own bests of the Bay. OK, Seamus, here goes …

Welcome to the San Francisco Bay Guardian‘s Best of the Bay 2008! This is our 34th annual celebration of the people, places, and things that make living here awesome with a capital “yay,” a megastellar shout-out to everything Baylicious — from Best Vietnamese Sandwich to Best Quirky Specialty Store, to Best Burlesque Troupe and beyond.

As we worked on this year’s issue, we couldn’t help but notice a few things. Change is in the air. A major election is right around the corner. Freedom is on everyone’s lips — and people are making their voices heard. We’re finally having that malevolent weed in the Oval Office removed! Seriously, it was totally messing up our lawn. Gross.

In honor of this spirit of liberty and choice, we chose as our theme “A Celebration of Bay Area Independence.” Not just independents — all local businesses honored here are independently owned and operated. But also independence, as in get out there and vote. Speak out! It’s not too late to do something about the global situation, and the individuals and organizations you’ll read about inside are doing their best to turn this mess around and make the world a little lovelier.

We’ve also changed up a few things ourselves, like adding a bunch of new categories in our readers poll and placing your choices above the Editors Picks in each section for easier reference. Thanks to the more than 7,000 of you who voted in our Best of the Bay readers poll this year, there were several stunning upsets — change is in the air indeed! Due to popular demand, we’ve published the top two runners-up in the hotly contested Food and Drink, Shopping, and Nightlife and Entertainment categories online at www.bestofthebay.com. We wish everyone could win. We’re mushy like that.

More change: we asked you to tell us in your own words about what you love most about the Bay — and received a sparkling tsunami of responses. We’ve printed some of our favorites throughout. Our Editors Picks (Best Cerebral Workout, Best Floating Lap Dance, Best Monumental Urinal, etc.) attempt to shine a little light into the brilliant corners of the Bay experience. And as for Seamus’ fear of the Bay’s decline, well, we can only say that we found way too much evidence of mind-blowing vitality to include here.

In 1974 Esquire magazine asked us for ideas for its Best of the USA issue, and the Guardian responded by publishing the original Best of the Bay. Made by the people of the Bay Area for the people of the Bay Area, its our annual chance to celebrate the people and places that make this city great. We were the first weekly paper to print a regular “best of” issue. Thirty-four years on — and 42 years after we opened our doors — we’re still going strong.

Editing this year’s installment was something no one could possibly do alone. I had the extreme privilege of working with the frabjous Guardian staff and an amazing smorgasbord of local talent to get 2008’s Best of the Bay out the conceptual door.

I shower grateful smooches on them all, especially my right-hand cheese puff Molly Freedenberg, creative wizard Mirissa Neff, amazing illustrator Caitlin Kuhwald, our steadfast advertisers, and the ever-supportive Hunky Beau, my own personal Best of the Bay.

But most of all we thank you, dear reader, for pouring your unique pluck and zing into this great community, for keeping the doors of hope open, and for never giving up the fight. Peace.

BEST OF THE BAY STAFF

BEST OF THE BAY EDITOR

Marke B.

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Mirissa Neff

ASSISTANT EDITOR

Molly Freedenberg

ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR

Ben Hopfer

LOCAL HEROES EDITOR

Tim Redmond

CONTRIBUTING DESIGNER

Jake Balakoohi

COVER AND ILLUSTRATIONS

Caitlin Kuhwald

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Jon Beckhardt, Bruce B. Brugmann, Kimberly Chun, Paula Connelly, Duncan Scott Davidson, Sam Devine, Cheryl Eddy, Deborah Giattina, Marcia Gagliardi, Nicole Gluckstern, Johnny Ray Huston, Chris Jasmin, Steven T. Jones, Justin Juul, Laurie Koh, Ella Lawrence, Erik Morse, Scott Owen, Sarah Phelan, Tim Redmond, Paul Reidinger, Julie Ross Godar, G.W. Schulz, Stephen Torres, Amanda Witherell

 

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Brandon Joseph Baker, Samantha Berg, Pat Mazzera, Rory McNamara, Neil Motteram, Arlene Romana, Charles Russo

SENIOR COPY EDITOR

Diane Sussman

COPY EDITORS

Laura Neil, Lynn Rapaport, M.P. Klier

INTERNS

Dona Bridges, Vanessa Carr, Candice Chan, Philip Eil, Colleen McCaffery, Marianne Moore, Ailene Sankur

CELEBRATE WITH US!

The Guardian‘s annual Best of the Bay party is legendary — and this one’s gonna be a doozy. Jello Biafra MCs! 1015 Folsom hosts! It’s free! Shmooze with all the winners. Dig performances by Ahmad Raashan, Hot Tub, and many more. Plus a “Freedom to Undress” burlesque extravaganza. Thursday, Aug. 7, 8 p.m., 1015 Folsom, SF. www.sfbg.com/bobparty *

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

All illustrations in this issue were hand-painted by Oakland artist Caitlin Kuhwald, who honed her skill for depicting everyday people with humor and sweetness while earning her BA in illustration at California College of the Arts and her MFA at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She now teaches illustration at CCA and has published her work in a number of newspapers and magazines, including Rolling Stone, Spin, and Nylon. See more of Kuhwald’s paintings, drawings, and illustrations at www.caitlinkuhwald.com

Best of the Bay 2009: Sports and Outdoors

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Editors Picks: Outdoors and Sports

BEST “HOLY SH*T!”

Although it has only been a mere season and a half since Barry Bonds went loudly into a toxic sunset, the San Francisco Giants have already refocused with a formidable team of unlikely upstarts that boasts one of the best records in the National League. Built around a colorful but humble lineup of players with nicknames like the Freak, Big Unit, and Kung Fu Panda, the current Giants roster is everything that Bonds was not — egoless, team-oriented, and free of baggage. And just as the Tim Lincecum-<\d>led pitching staff was shaping up as the team’s best asset for a successful playoff bid, along comes 26-year-old left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, from a demotion in the bullpen, to throw a masterpiece of a pitching performance. The Sanchez no-hitter against the Padres on July 10 was the team’s first since 1976. It provided an up-from-the-ashes victory that invoked tremendous optimism for the future, to the point where you can already hear it, clear with conviction and confidence: “Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!”

BEST KID-FRIENDLY SUICIDE RUN

Never underestimate the urge — especially in somber, grizzle-haired grown-ups and perfectly sensible adults — to jam shiny, decal-stickered helmets on one’s head before shrieking downhill in plastic toy vehicles, playfully jockeying with others all the way to the bottom. Having just completed its triumphant ninth annual run this past Easter, the annual Bring Your Own Big Wheel race is spastic, daredevil fun. Any form of transport is legal, as long as it’s human-powered and about a third your size. Past races have seen some imaginative entries: office chairs figured in one racer’s wobbly run, while others constructed iffy rides from wood planks, masking tape, and a few ingeniously placed nails. Outlandish costumes never hurt, either: Big Bird, bunnies, and aliens run rampant. Once held on Lombard Street, the event now careens down Potrero Hill’s twistier Vermont Street. The only thing you can’t bring is alcohol. Shucks.

www.jonbrumit.com/byobw

BEST WORKOUT WITH A TWIST

Is it wrong to be kind of turned on by the Victorian-bondage-looking machines at San Francisco Gyrotonic? Even the word “Gyrotonic” makes us gyrate suggestively in our minds. (Pervs!) Intimately connected to the dance community, the Gyrotonic exercise program is an intriguing new approach to working out. The Gyrotonic Expansion System was invented in the 1950s by ballet dancer Juliu Horvath after an Achilles injury left him unable to dance. The workout uses a contraption with raised pulleys, similar to a Pilates machine, but moves your joints in a circular rather than linear motion, training the body to be more flexible. Classes are taught by former ballerinas who’ve danced in companies such as the San Francisco Ballet, New York’s School of American Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera’s American Ballet Theatre, and San Francisco’s Alonzo King’s LINES. In terms of dance workouts, nothing could be further from Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo. The studio attracts a fleet of nimble, limber dance-types, but beginners should not be intimidated, nor overexcited.

26 Seventh St. # 4, SF. (415) 863-3719, www.sfgyrotonic.com

BEST YO-YO WHAT’S UP

If we’ve learned anything from the most recent technological revolution, it’s that nerds are way cooler than we thought they were. “I’m a music nerd,” people will proudly say, or “I’m an art nerd.” Identifying as a nerd grants substantial cultural capital — and not just in a lame hipster sense, like when people wear glasses without lenses or pretend to appreciate B-movies. Skateboarders, cyclists, and gamers are good examples of this phenomenon, but none of these subcultures has a more nonconformist, fuck-you attitude than that of the gonzo yo-yo enthusiast. It’s true that yo-yo champion David Capurro and the other members of his local club, the Spin Doctors, probably spend their weekends practicing barrel rolls and smashers instead of drinking, dancing, and posing. But, well, come on, that shit’s for nerds. Cool people have better things to do … like winning tournaments, inventing new tricks, and traveling the world to battle other crews.

www.spindox.org

BEST WAY TO GET BLOWN AWAY

Perhaps you’ve seen kiteboarders skimming across the water like wakeboarders and flittering aloft, gliding like skydivers. If you’ve yearned to partake in the strange but intriguing sport of kiteboarding, but didn’t know where to start, look no further than Boardsports School and Shop. With three locations and plenty of certified instructors, it’s the most facilitative wind and board shop on the bay. Whether it’s kitesurfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding on land, or even stand-up paddle boarding, the staff can help you find what you’re after (don’t be put off by the dude-bro locutions) and teach you how to catch some major air safely. Boardsports has exclusive teaching rights in two of the bay’s best beginner spots, Alameda’s Crown Beach and Coyote Point in San Mateo, and offers lessons for first-time kite flyers or can arrange pro instruction for experienced boarders looking to push their skills to the next level. Boardsports also offers tidy deals on kite packages and equipment to help you lift off without lifting your wallet.

(415) 385-1224, www.boardsportsschool.com

BEST WET PUCKS

The Brits have started some internationally contagious sports, like football (soccer) and cricket. Now underwater hockey, which English divers created in the 1950s, is grabbing Americans’ attention. Locals are quickly jumping into the game with the San Francisco Underwater Hockey club. If you like swimming, dip your toes in new water and give it a shot. Sean Avent of the San Francisco Sea Lions club team explains its appeal: “Holding your breath, wearing a Speedo, and swimming after a lead puck on the bottom of a swimming pool is no more obtuse than trying to pummel a guy who is carrying a pigskin ball and armored in high-tech plastic. People, in general, are just more familiar with the latter of the two obtuse sports. And the first is just way more fun.” Pay $4 at the door of one of the games to try it out, or join the club and play in the Presidio or Bayview pools at a low cost.

www.underwater-society.org/uwhockey/sanfran

BEST YOGA WITH THE FISHES

Million Fishes Gallery, one of our favorite artist collectives in San Francisco, isn’t just an awesome place to see great exhibits by a revolving door of local artists and to catch raging late-night shows featuring bands like Jonas Reinhardt, Erase Errata, Tussle, and Lemonade. It also provides an effective and inexpensive way to get your rejuvenating twice-weekly yoga fix. Instructor Beth Hurley teaches a 90-minute vinyasa yoga class from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the gallery’s yoga studio (yeah, this artist space comes with its own yoga studio) that draws a nice mix of artists, Mission locals, yoga enthusiasts, and those who see the benefit in working out before hitting up El Metate next door. Hurley’s sessions are $7 to $11, which firmly places them among the least expensive yoga classes in San Francisco, and safeguards you from having to deal with yuppie yogis in head-to-toe Lululemon.

2829 23rd St., SF. www.millionfishes.com

BEST EYE-WATERING MEMORABILIA

Mission restaurateur Scott Youkilis has turned out quality American fare at Maverick for a few years now, while his brother Kevin continues to play at an MVP pace for the Boston Red Sox. Scott bottles a great homemade hot sauce; Kevin hits two-out home runs in the bottom of the ninth against the New York Yankees. Could there possibly be a way to merge these exceptional fraternal talents? Voilà: Youk’s Hot Sauce, a condiment that attempts to bottle the potency of Kevin’s hitting abilities with the flavor of Scott’s Southern-tinged cuisine. Available at Maverick or online, bottles go for $10 each, or $25 with Kevin’s autograph, and portions of all proceeds go to Kevin’s charity, Youk’s Hits for Kids. It’s a hot souvenir from a future Hall of Famer for the legions of Red Sox fans that make the Bay Area their home away from Fenway.

3316 17th St., SF. (415) 863-3061, www.sfmaverick.com, www.youkshotsauce.com

BEST NATIVE WORKOUT

When it comes to getting in shape, it’s almost a crime to have a gym membership in San Francisco. We live in the almost perpetually golden state of California, not Wisconsin in the third week of January. So get the hell outside and tackle some hills or run along the beaches. Better yet, do both with the Baker Beach Sand Ladder. Long known to local triathletes as an endurance-crushing beast, the sand ladder is 400 sheer steps of pulse-pounding “I think I’m gonna die” workout, set against the spectacular backdrop of the Pacfic Ocean flowing into the Golden Gate. Minus the cardiac arrest, it sure beats the fluorescent lighting, smelly funk, and steroidal carnival music of your local gym. The simple fact of the matter is that when you can run nonstop to the top of the sand ladder you’re officially in good shape. And best of all, it’s free.

25th Ave. and El Camino del Mar, SF. www.nps.gov

BEST BITCH-SLAP FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Chevron has always been one of the Bay Area’s more vile corporations, whether it’s lobbying aggressively against global warming legislation or polluting communities from Richmond to Ecuador, all the while greenwashing its image with warm and fuzzy (and highly deceptive) advertising campaigns. That’s why we love to see groups such as the rainforest-protecting Amazon Watch and its anti-Chevron allies giving a little something back. Before this year’s Chevron shareholders meeting in San Francisco, activists plastered fake Chevron ads (“I will not complain about my asthma” and “I will give my baby contaminated water”) all over the city and staged creative protests outside the event. Ditto when Chevron CEO David O’Reilly spoke at the Commonwealth Club in May, sending Chevron goons into a paranoid frenzy. Amazon Watch and other groups are winning some key battles — voters recently approved steep tax increases on Chevron’s Richmond refinery, and a judge rejected plans to expand the facility. To which we can only say, “Hit ’em again!”

www.amazonwatch.org

BEST PUBLIC ACOUSTIC COCOON

Ear-piercing squeals, gut-rumbling skronks, the occasional wet fart sound — these are the unfortunate hallmarks of beginning brass instrumentalists. Those living in a city as dense and sensitive as our own have it rough when they want to work out their kinks: neighbors who sleep during the day or get up early yell at them, passersby take none too kindly to the squawking on busy sidewalks, and soundproofed studio space is economically out of reach. For all who need a place to practice, there’s the blessing of the Conservatory Drive tunnel, which passes under John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park. An array of practicing jazz combos and amateur tooters take up residence at the tunnel’s entrance during the day, providing entertainment to nearby Conservatory of Flowers visitors. The tunnel actually seems to crave music pouring into and echoing through its abyss — it forms a protective acoustic cocoon around performers that amplifies mellifluous passages and somehow blurs out less felicitous ones. Spontaneous jam sessions are common, so don’t sit on the grass — pick up your brass.

Conservatory Dr. and John F. Kennedy Dr., Golden Gate Park, SF

BEST MOUSETRAP FOR MINOTAURS

Little-known and charmingly miniscule, the Eagle Point Labyrinth is a jumble of twisty turns perched on the lip of a cliff near an offshoot of Lands End Trail. To reach it, you must set out with a compass in hand, hope in your heart, and fingers crossed. The labyrinth, one of three outdoor mazes known to exist in San Francisco, is a mysterious wonder that has so far avoided being marked on any map (although it can be glimpsed via a Google satellite image for those too faint to blindly wander in search of it). The superlative views it affords of the Golden Gate certainly justify hiking, sometimes panicked, through yards of unpruned foliage. The stone-heaped maze is handmade, and while we speculate about its mysterious origins — a mousetrap for Minotaurs, perhaps? — we can’t help but appreciate the karmic offerings of those who have reached the center before us, leaving a small pile of baubles. Mythic etiquette mandates you scoop up one of these and leave something of your own behind.

Lands End, Sutro Heights Park, SF.

BEST COMMUNITY STRETCH

Yearning to try yoga but needing to stretch your dollar? Every Monday through Thursday from 7:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., YogaKula packs its San Francisco location with eager newcomers for its affordable community class, available on a sliding scale ($8 to $16). Especially lively are the Monday and Wednesday classes with quirky and entertaining instructor Skeeter Barker, who offers genuine, palatable optimism and inspiration along with some much-needed recentering. Barker is an inspirational teacher who, as her Web profile says, “welcomes you to your mat, however you find yourself there.” Along with the community classes, YogaKula offers Anusara, a therapeutic style of yoga, in addition to a variety of other wellness practices. Its two locations — one at 16th Street and Mission, and one in North Berkeley — offer courses in yoga training, yoga philosophy, specialized workshops, Pilates, massage, and one-on-one yoga instruction.

3030A 16th St., SF. (415) 934-0000; 1700 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 486-0264, www.yogakula.com

BEST PLACE TO HIDE A JET

To be precise, the best place to hide a jet is behind Door 14 on the Alameda Naval Air Station. While many of the buildings on the former military base have been converted to civilian uses, such as sports clubs and distilleries, some continue to serve military functions, like storing the jet that used to be on display at the base’s portside entrance (until high winds blew it off its pedestal two winters ago). The naval station is also the perfect place to hide domesticated bunnies. A herd of them live in and around a tumbledown shed opposite the Port of Oakland. Then there are the jackrabbits, which flash across the base’s open spaces at night, hind legs glinting in the moonlight. It’s easy to miss the flock of black-crowned night herons, which pose one-legged every winter on the lawns of “The Great Whites”-<\d>houses where the naval officers once lived. But who could forget the hawk that roosts atop the Hangar One distillery and periodically swoops to grab a tasty, unsuspecting victim off the otherwise empty runways where The Matrix Reloaded was shot?

1190 W. Tower, Alameda

BEST PUTT-PUTT ON THE ‘CIDE

Since 1998, Cyclecide has been enchanting — and sometimes scaring — audiences with its punk rock-<\d>inspired, pedal-powered mayhem. But after 11 years of taking its bicycle-themed carnival rides, rodeo games, and live band to places like Coachella, Tour de Fat, and Multnomah County Bike Fair, the bicycle club is putting down roots, or rather, fake grass. This year the crew famous for tall bikes, bicycle jousting, and denim jackets with a cackling clown on the back is building Funland, an 18-hole mini golf course in the Bayview. Though sure to be fun for the whole family, rest assured that Funland will retain all of Cyclecide’s boundary-pushing humor and lo-fi sensibility. Yes, there will be a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge built by master welder Jay Broemmel, but you can also putt through Closeupofmyass, a landscape of rubber tubes springing from brown Astroturf. What else would you expect from a crew whose interests are “bikes, beer, and building stuff”?

www.cyclecide.com

BEST NO FRILLS FIRST AID

It’s nice for big companies to notice that women buy things other than cleaning supplies and facial cream. But do they have to make everything targeted toward the female demographic so freakin’ floral and pink and cloyingly girlie? Adventure Medical Kits — the Oakland-based company famous in sports circles for outfitting everyone from backcountry skiers to weekend car-campers with durable, complete first-aid packages — says a resounding no. Its women’s edition outdoor medical kit comes jam-packed with all the fixings adventurous boys get — wound care materials, mini tweezers, insect-bite salve, a variety of medications, and a first-aid booklet — plus a couple things only ladies need, like tampons, leak-safe tampon bags, menstrual relief meds, and compact expands-in-water disposable towels. And it’s all packaged in a sporty blue nylon bag that weighs less than a pound. No lipstick? No diet pills? No frilly, lacy case made to look like a purse or a bra or a tiny dog? We’re buying it.

www.adventuremedicalkits.com

BEST PLACE TO GET ROLLIN’

When one thinks of skate shops these days, one’s thoughts travel naturally to wicked Bloodwizard decks, Heartless Creeper wheels, and Venture trucks — everything you’d need to trick out your board before you cruise to Potrero de Sol. All those goodies are available at Cruz Skate Shop, as well as Lowcard tees, recycled skateboard earrings, Protec helmets, and much more. But boarding is boring. You’ve done it since you were 13. Isn’t it time to ditch that deck and take up a real sport like, say, roller skating? Hell, yes. And Cruz has everything you need to get started down that sparkly, disco-bumpy Yellow Brick Road to eight-wheelin’ Oz. From the fiercest derby-ready model to mudflap girl bootie shorts, this store will kit you up in the best way for your Sunday afternoon Golden Gate Park debut. We’re partial to the Sure-Grip Rock Flame set of wheels with, you guessed it, pink flames streaming up the toes. But an enticing array of more professional-looking speed skates is available, as is a knowledgeable staff to get you rollin’.

3165 Mission, SF. (415) 285-8833, www.cruzskateshop.com

BEST OF THE BAY ON THE BAY

If you’re looking to get on the water without getting wet, Ruby Sailing is an affordable option for you and your friends to get a taste of adventure. The Ruby sailboat has been taking guests around the bay for 25 years. For just $40 per person, owner and operator Captain Josh Pryor will lead you on a two and a half hour tour of the bay, passing Alcatraz and looping around Sausalito. Snacks are provided, and the skipper sells wine and beer by the glass for cheap. The Ruby is also available for fishing expeditions, including poles, bait, and tackle; for private parties up to 30 guests; for weddings; and even for funerals at sea. And since the boat boards at the Ramp restaurant on the Dogpatch waterfront, you’re covered for pre- and post-splash food and drink, if you have the stomach. No prior sailing experience is required, but, in the words of the skipper, “no two trips are the same,” so be ready to hang on.

855 Terry Francois, SF. (415) 272-0631, www.rubysailing.com

Best of the Bay 2009: Sex and Romance

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Editors Picks: Sex and Romance

BEST FAIR THAT’S UP YOURS

While the Folsom Street Fair has grown into an international destination for kinksters and the tourists who ogle them, the Up Your Alley Fair has become increasingly important as a more intimate oasis for local leatherheads who remember the scene’s old days. The fair — better known as Dore Alley Fair, though the event was named when it started in 1985 on a different street — has brought much-needed attention to the oft-overlooked SoMa neighborhood. We love the organization’s dedication to supporting groups and charities like the Episcopal Community Services, AIDS Emergency Fund, and Transgender Law Center. What we don’t love is that this event may be the next target on the Police Department’s Death of Fun Crusade. Show your support this year so that Up Your Alley doesn’t go the way of Castro Halloween.

Last Sunday in July, Dore Alley, between Folsom and Howard. www.folsomstreetevents.org/alley

BEST SEX AND SERVICE

Having sex doesn’t take much: a partner (or not), a place, a modicum of desire. But feeling sexy isn’t always so easy — especially if you’re in a relationship that has reached the sweatpants, TV–dinner, oral-sex-what? stage. Enter Intima Girl, the Marina’s boudoir of a boutique. The small, upscale shop stocks a variety of items meant to up the ante in the bedroom, from sex toys to lotions to lingerie, most geared toward girls (and their partners) who want a little class in their kink. Think sleek vibrators, high-end candles, silk bondage ropes, and sex books that could sit on your coffee table. But Intima Girl doesn’t skimp on the fun. Adventurous types can head home with an edible candy bra, assless panties, and metallic condom compacts for stylish safe-sex on the go. Best of all, the owner and staff are as knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful as you always wished your big sister would be.

3047 Fillmore, SF. (415) 563-1202, www.intima-online.com

BEST SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES

Dim, crimson lighting. The Stones on the sound system. Attractive youngsomethings lounging languidly on plush couches. And there, across the room, a tall, lean brunette, sipping a PBR, staring through the haze. Will Amber, the worker-owned watering hole with stiff drinks and legal cigarette smoking (thanks to labor law loopholes), be the setting of your “How We Met” story? Are those the tears of love at first sight? If you’re not a smoker, your eyes might just be irritated or you might be frustrated knowing tonight’s bar clothes will smell when you wear them to work tomorrow. But for those brave (stupid? nah) few who still toke the tobacco stick, this Duboce Triangle destination is a sexy, sultry, smoky oasis in a world that’s become increasingly cold (literally) to the dwindling minority. Just for this moment, in this beautiful bar out of time, nothing exists but you and your beloved. Not work. Not cancer. Maybe not even a future for your relationship. But what does it matter? Since the first release of studies on the dangers of smoking, people who continue to puff have lived in the here and now. And at Amber, there’s no better place to be now than here.

718 14th St., SF. (415) 626-7827

BEST WEDDING SINGERS WHO AREN’T ADAM SANDLER

You’re getting married to the love of your life, and every member of your extended families will be in attendance, including your Aunt Jolene, who lives in an RV in the Nevada desert and talks to inanimate objects, and your future spouse’s Harvard-educated litter, all flying in from Martha’s Vineyard. How are you going to pick a wedding band that will get everyone — from your lumpy litigator father-in-law-to-be to your own Crazy Uncle Cletus — on their feet dancing? Tainted Love, the best ’80s tribute band since The Wedding Singer, is the answer. This talented seven-piece act regularly draws sold-out crowds to venues like Bimbo’s and Red Devil Lounge, while also happily playing private parties, corporate events, and, yes, weddings. Now that ’80s music is almost the golden oldies, you can count on the fact that Love’s renditions of “Purple Rain,” “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” and, of course, “White Wedding” will appeal to all the guests on your list — no matter how far they traveled (or how much they put in for the ceremony).

(510) 655-7926, www.taintedlove.com

BEST COCK RING FOR THE CREATIVE CLASS

What’s wrong with loving a product for its design? That’s really why Apple fanatics love all things “i.” And that’s why we lust after sex toys from Jimmyjane, the Potrero Hill pleasure purveyors whose vibes, games, and accessories would look as natural in a museum gift shop as they would in your minimalist, modern bedroom. The Form 6 vibrator looks like a cross between a stylized pen and a high-end electric toothbrush, while the Little Chromas model has the sleek grace of a bullet, or a small cigar (we refuse to make that joke). And Jimmyjane’s Usual Suspects line is nothing short of inspired — celebrating both form and function by interpreting classic toys, in flawless white. Yes, the company does seem to cater to Audi drivers and iPhone users — collaborating on expensive special editions with well-known designers and bragging about appearances on cable TV shows. But we can’t argue with the nontoxic materials and the unprecedented one-year warranty. And the fact that they just look so cool.

www.jimmyjane.com. Available at Good Vibrations, various locations. www.goodvibrations.com

BEST QUEER PORN

The problem with mainstream porn is that most of it is made in the San Fernando Valley by brainless douche bags and lazy ex-cheerleaders looking for a quick buck. But this is San Francisco. This is the art capital of the world, the home of the free thinker, the land of the awesome. Can’t we get some porn made for us? Yes, we can! Yes, we can! If you’re as sick of Barbie Doll smut as we are, then you should know about local filmmaker-producer-writer-artist Courtney Trouble. Trouble is the founder of a queer porn site called Nofauxxx.com (“queer” as in not just homo, but alternative as well). She’s the final word when it comes to smut with attitude, character, and soul. Not only is No Fauxxx the oldest running queer porn site on the Internet, it’s also the only spot that mixes alt, gay, lesbian, straight, trans, kink, and BBW content. It’s sexy, artsy, entertaining, all-inclusive, and totally DIY. In a word: ours.

www.nofauxxx.com

BEST CONTEST FOR WANKERS

The Masturbate-a-thon is an annual pledge drive for the Center for Sex and Culture during which people gang up in a hot and sweaty room to watch each other jerk off for an entire day. Sounds like fun, right? But what if you’re not an exhibitionist? No worries. The whole show (held in May, which is Masturbation Month) is broadcast live on the Internet so that shy people can join in too. Categories include “Most Money Raised,” “Most Orgasms,” and “Longest Squirt,” and the winners in each division receive sexy prizes from Good Vibrations (and perhaps a lifetime of wishing Google and YouTube were never invented). Score! Exhibitionists, porn addicts, and the rest of us are encouraged to ogle, vote, and even participate alongside certified wank-masters such as Dr. Carol Queen, Fellatio Brown, and Masanobu Sato, a Japanese toymaker who holds the world record for “Longest Time Spent Masturbating” (to be fair, it should be noted that his company, Tenga, makes masturbation cups for men). The time to beat next year is nine hours and 58 minutes, so fire up Fleshbot.com now and start practicing. You can be sure that’s what Masanobu is doing.

www.masturbate-a-thon.com

BEST PLACE TO PARK WITH YOUR PARAMOUR

The place where Broadway meets Lyon and dead-ends into the edge of the Presidio is almost always empty. Here, the steep angle of the land affords swoon-inducing vistas of the Marina, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the bay, and tranquility hovers amid the perfectly manicured gardens and the improbably large and ornate houses to which they are attached. The drawback? If you’re not in the mood for a workout on the Lyon steps, there’s not really anything to do here except park, which, if you’ve brought an attractive friend along for the ride, is no drawback at all. If there’s an ounce of chemistry, the solitude and stunning view will have you two making out in the backseat of your car. In fact, come here with someone for whom you have feelings that run deeper than lust, and you may just be inspired to make things official. There are few better spectacular, proposal-inducing viewpoints in our spectacular, proposal-inducing city that haven’t been completely co-opted by tourists. Relationship-phobes and impulsive romantics, consider yourself forewarned.

Broadway at Lyon

BEST TASSELS WITH TALENT

Burlesque is bawdy. It’s lowbrow. It’s often political, and always boundary- pushing. But sexy? Not necessarily. As the new burlesque movement merges with circus and performance arts, it sometimes sacrifices the delight of the tease in favor of mere shock and awe. But Rose Pistola knows how to balance her solo performances so they get your panties wet and in a bunch. The classic beauty has graced stages in an octopus skirt, an Elvis costume, a mullet, a Victorian mime outfit, and a full tulle gown (that she rolled out of) — always mastering a blend of humor and class. But it’s not just her performances at places like Hubba Hubba Revue and Bohemian Carnival that rev our engines — Pistola also designs costumes, including tiny hats, vinyl corsets, and almost all of her fabulous stage get-ups. What could be sexier than a woman with pasties and a pincushion? How about one who plays with fire? Oh yeah, Pistola does that too.

www.myspace.com/rosepistola

BEST MEETING GROUND FOR SWINGERS

Not big on commitment? At Lindy in the Park, the weekly swing dance party that’s been uniting partners with fancy footwork since 1996, change companions as often as you change your mind. With free lessons starting at 11 a.m. and open to the public, it’s the perfect place to flirt with fellow Lindy Hop fans and then flee. But this outdoor event near the de Young Museum isn’t just for eternally happy singles. Couples know the best thing about the swingout is the swing-back-in. And once you’ve seen your honey doing the sugar push, you might just find that your hip-to-hip leads to lip to lip.

JFK Dr. (between 8th and 10th avenues), Golden Gate Park, SF. www.lindyinthepark.com

BEST PLACE TO PICK UP CHICKS (WHO LIKE CHICKS)

Whatever your definition of cockblocking — whether it’s using a friend to pose as a lover to deter unwanted advances, or stopping a fellow suitor from stealing your paramour with their charm and free drinks — the idea is clear: there’s a third-party penis, and its plans must be thwarted. What better name, then, for a dance night geared toward girl-on-girl love? But it’s not just clever nomenclature that fuels our love for Cockblock, the monthly lesbian dance party at the Rickshaw Stop. It’s the fact that these get-togethers feature infectious music, cheap drinks, good vibes, and that rare chance for girls-who-like-girls to get together without sweaty heteros trying to get in the way (or cast them in their personal porn fantasies). Plus, queer ladies should have at least one surefire place other than the Lex to scope out a hottie.

Second Saturdays, Rickshaw Stop,155 Fell, SF. www.cockblocksf.com

BEST CIRCLE TO JOIN AND JERK

Masturbation need not be a covert mission reserved for solo artists behind bedroom doors or within shower stalls. If you’re the type who is more of a team player, you might like SF Jacks, a group of like-minded men who appreciate a good circle jerk. The group has been perfecting its “loose and goofy environment” for 26 years, regularly drawing as many as 70 Jacks and Joes who want to lose their clothes — and their inhibitions — together. Meetings are held every second and fourth Monday at the Center for Sex and Culture, where lube and refreshments are provided. Just show up with your $7 donation (though no one’s turned away for lack of funds), ready to do the hand jive. But just remember to follow the rules. You can touch your dick, but don’t be one.

Second and fourth Mondays, 7:30-<\d>8:30 p.m. $7. Center for Sex and Culture, 1519 Mission, SF. (415) 267-6999, www.sfjacks.com

BEST WAY TO GET YOUR DATE SWEATY

Dinner and a movie, a night at the bar, a drive down the coast — all these date options have their merits. But when you’re trying to plan a partner activity that’s off the beaten path, consider renting bikes from Golden Gate Park Bike and Skate and exploring less charted territory (especially on Sundays, when Golden Gate is closed to car traffic). For just $5 an hour, you can check out hidden trails, watch the legendary bison do whatever it is bison do, and take a breather by the ocean. Not only will you get beautiful views (of park and partner), but the chemicals you release while exercising will bring you and your paramour closer together. This is an especially good thing if you’re looking to take your relationship to the next level, because producing endorphins together might just lead to … uh … producing endorphins together.

3038 Fulton, SF. (415) 668-1117, www.goldengateparkbikeandskate.com

BEST PLACE TO PARTY LIKE A PORN STAR

Unbeknownst to pretty much everyone, Dogpatch Studios, the nondescript warehouse on Tennessee Street marked by a benign and vaguely cutesy flag featuring a black Labrador, is where the Mitchell Brothers filmed Behind the Green Door, the first feature-length hardcore porn film to be widely released in the United States. Today, with enough green of your own, you can host a private event inside this historic sex landmark. While the venue still welcomes movie shoots, your options are unlimited. Dogpatch Studios will provide you with flexible floor plans, kitchen facilities, wireless internet, lighting services, staffing, and just about anything else you require, whether it’s for a sedate corporate retreat, a no-holds-barred bacchanal, or even a wedding. Because nothing says everlasting love quite like tying the knot where Marilyn Chambers (R.I.P.) filmed money shots.

991 Tennessee, SF. (415) 641-3017, www.dogpatchstudios.com

BEST XXX XX IN THE CASTRO

Remember when the Castro was just a big boys’ club? That’s changed somewhat, thanks in no small part to Femina Potens, the nonprofit art gallery dedicated to women, transgendered folk, kink, and the sex worker community that anchors the corner of Market and Sanchez. Cofounded by renaissance porn star and queer BDSM queen Madison Young, the cozy spot has been hosting exhibits, workshops, spoken word performances, film screenings, and readings by queer literary and artistic legends like Michelle Tea, Annie Sprinkle, and Inga Muscio since 2001 — and recently has added health and wellness programming into the mix. With showcases tackling topics from body image to safer sex, suicide prevention, and breast cancer awareness, there’s no question that what Femina Potens does is important. But we think art shows about bondage and performances about breasts are also just damn sexy. Plus, it’s about time the Castro got a little more double-X (chromosome) action.

2199 Market, SF. (415) 864-1558, www.feminapotens.org

BEST KINKY DINNER

Dark Tasting is the most unintentionally kinky thing to happen to dining since the invention of the hot dog. The very concept sounds like something out of a Marquis de Sade novel. The San Francisco group believes that sight deprivation heightens the sensory experience of having a meal, from the taste, smell, and feel of your food, to the sound of your company’s voices. Before the meal is served, diners are blindfolded and rendered submissive. (Doesn’t that alone sound like something out of a deliciously depraved Japanese bondage flick involving nyotaimori?) Sponsored by TasteTV and held at a different venue once every two months, Dark Tasting events offer gourmet multicourse meals with wine parings, with the caveat that you have to pay $95 per person and can’t see what you’re eating. Events are described as a “sensual dining experience,” and given that no one can see what a pervert you are, you can freely grope your partner under the table without eliciting “Get a room!” remarks from fellow diners. If you’re into BDSM, we highly recommend Dark Tasting as a romantic prelude to being hog-tied in a cage (where the real fun begins).

www.darktasting.com

Best of the Bay 2009: Shopping

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Shopping

BEST NEW NECESSITIES

Sure, you can buy anything you want on the Internet, but there’s still a certain charm in entering a store whose items have been carefully chosen to delight the eye in three dimensions. That’s the idea behind Perch, Zoel Fages’s homage to all things charming and cheeky, from gifts to home décor. Do you need a set of bird feet salt-and-pepper shakers? A rhinoceros-head shot glass? A ceramic skull-shaped candleholder that grows “hair” as the wax drips? Of course not. But do you want them? The minute you enter the sunny, sweet Glen Park shop, the obvious answer will be yes. And for those gifty items you do need — scented candles and soaps, letterpress greeting cards, handprinted wrapping paper — Perch is perfect too. We’d recommend you stop by just to window-shop, but who are we kidding? You can’t visit here without taking something home.

654 Chenery, SF. (415) 586-9000, www.perchsf.com

BEST PENNYSAVERS FOR EARTHSAVERS

How many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb? None: LED light bulbs last longer than environmentalists. If you think that joke’s funny — or at least get why it’s supposed to be — you might just be the target market for Green Zebra. Based on the idea that environmentally aware consumers like to save money as much as their Costco-loving neighbors, this book melds the concept of a coupon book with the creed of environmental responsibility. It’s a virtual directory of deals at local businesses trying to work outside the world of pesticidal veggies and gas-guzzling SUVs. Anne Vollen and Sheryl Cohen’s vision now comes in two volumes — one for San Francisco, and one for the Peninsula and Silicon Valley — featuring more than 275 exclusive offers from indie bookstores, art museums, coffee houses, organic restaurants, pet food stores, and just about anywhere else you probably already spend your money (and wouldn’t mind spending less).

(415) 346-2361, www.thegreenzebra.org

BEST ONE-STOP SHOP

So you need a salad spinner, some kitty litter, a birthday card for your sister, and a skein of yarn, but you don’t feel like going to four different stores to check everything off the list? Face it, you’re lazy. But, you’re also in luck. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Standard 5 and 10, a one-stop wonderland in Laurel Village that caters to just about every imaginable whim, need, and desire of serious shoppers and procrastinators alike. Don’t be fooled by the large red Ace sign on the storefront — this is not merely a hardware store (although it can fulfill your hardware needs, of course). It’s an everything store. Walking the aisles here is a journey through consumerism at its most diverse. Greeting cards and tabletop tchotchkes fade into rice cookers then shower curtains, iron-on patches, Webkinz, motor oil…. It’s a dizzying array of stuff you need and stuff you simply want.

3545 California, SF. (415) 751-5767, www.standard5n10.com

BEST PLACE TO SINK A BATTLESHIP

Maybe we don’t have flying cars yet, but with video chatting, iPhones, and automated vacuum cleaners, we’re pretty close to living in the imaginary future The Jetsons made magical. Is it any wonder that, while loving our new technologies (hello, Kindle), we’ve also developed a culturewide nostalgia for simpler times? A perfect example is the emergence of steampunk — perhaps familiar to the mainstream as jewelry made of watch parts and cars crafted to look like locomotives. There also seems to be a less expensive, less industrial trend for the pastimes of yore: Croquet. Talk radio. And board games. The last of which is the basis of Just Awesome, the Diamond Heights shop opened by Portland escapee Erik Macsh as a temple to old-fashioned charms. Here you can pick up a myriad of boxes full of dice, cards, and plastic pieces. Head home with Clue, one of the Monopoly iterations (was Chocolate-opoly really necessary?), or a new game that came out while you were distracted by Nintendo Wii. You can even open the box and try a round or two in the shop. How’s that for old-world service?

816 Diamond, SF. (415) 970-1484, www.justawesomegames.com

BEST BORROWED CLOTHES

The nice thing about having a sister, a roommate, or a tolerable neighbor who’s exactly your size is that there’s always someone else’s closet to raid when your own is looking dismal. But what to do when you live alone, your neighbor’s not answering your calls, and you desperately need an attention-getting outfit right now? Make a new best friend: Shaye McKenney of La Library. The friendly fashionista will let you borrow a pair of leather hot pants for a Beauty Bar boogie or a German knit couture gown for that gold-digging date to the opera, all for a small pay-by-the-day price. You can even bring your makeup and get ready for the evening in front of the antique mirrors in her socialist street shop. It’s all the fun of sharing, without having to lend out any of your stuff.

380 Guerrero, SF. (415) 558-9481, www.la-library.com

BEST ROCKSTAR STYLES

Need clothes a rockstar would wear but a starving musician can afford? Look no further than Shotwell, whose blend of designer duds and vintage finds are worthy of the limelight and (relatively) easy on your budget. Think jeans with pockets the size of guitar picks, sculptural black dresses, handpicked grandpa sweaters, and reconstructed ’80s rompers that can be paired with lizard skin belts or dollar sign boots, all for less than the cutting-edge designer labels would suggest they should cost. And it’s not just for the ladies. Michael and Holly Weaver stock their adorable boutique with clothing and accessories for all chromosomal combinations. The concept’s become such a success that Shotwell’s moving from its old locale to a bigger, better space. All we can say is, rock on.

320 Grant, SF. (415) 399-9898, www.shotwellsf.com

BEST LOOKIN’

The best stores are like mini-museums, displaying interesting wares in such a way that they’re almost as fun to peruse as they are to take home. Park Life takes this concept one step further by being a store (wares in the front are for sale) and a gallery (featuring a rotating selection of local contemporary artists’ work). No need to feel guilty for window-shopping: you’re simply checking out the Rubik’s Cube alarm clock, USB flash drive shaped like a fist, and set of “heroin” and “cocaine” salt-and-pepper shakers on your way to appreciating the paintings in the back, right? And if you happen to leave with an arty coffee-table book, an ironic silk-screen T-shirt, or a Gangsta Rap Coloring Book, that’s just a bonus.

220 Clement, SF. (415) 386-7275, www.parklifestore.com

BEST LITTLE COOKING STORE THAT COULD

In a world replete with crates, barrels, Williams, and Sonomas, it’s easy to forget there’s such a thing as an independent cooking store. But Cooks Boulevard is just that: an adorable, one-stop shop for reasonably priced cooking paraphernalia, from a pastry scale or Le Creuset to a candy mold or stash of wooden spoons. And if the shop doesn’t have what you need, the friendly staff will order it for you. In fact, this Noe Valley gem has everything the big stores have, including online ordering, nationwide shipping, and a well-kept blog of missives about the foodie universe. It even offers cooking classes, on-site knife sharpening, community events such as food drives and book clubs, and CSA boxes of local organic produce delivered to neighborhood clientele. With knowledgeable service and well-stocked shelves, the Boulevard makes it easy for home cooks and professional chefs to shop local.

1309 Castro, SF. (415) 647-2665, www.cooksboulevard.com

BEST BROOKLYN ALTERNATIVE

No sleep ’til Brooklyn? Fine. But no style ’til you reach the Big Apple? We just can’t give you license for that kind of ill, especially since the Brooklyn Circus came to town last July. With its East Coast–style awning, living room vibe, and indie hip-hop style, this boutique might just be the thing to keep those homesick for NYC from buying that JetBlue ticket for one … more … week. Want to save your cash just in case? You’re welcome to chill out on the leather sofas and listen to Mos Def mixtapes. At the store you can soak in the charm of the Fillmore’s colorful energy and history, while checking out the trends that blend Frank Sinatra and Kanye West almost seamlessly. Sure, you could visit the Chicago outpost before going to the original in the store’s namesake city, but why bother? Next year’s selection will include an expanded line of locally produced goodies — all available without having to brave a sweltering Big City summer.

1525 Fillmore, SF. (415) 359-1999, www.thebkcircus.com

BEST YEAR-ROUND HOLIDAY GIFT BASKET

I know. It’s July. The last thing you want to do is think about that stupid holiday shopping season that’ll dominate the entire universe in about three months. But the gift baskets at La Cocina are worth talking about year-round, not only because purchasing one supports a fantastic organization (dedicated to helping low-income entrepreneurs develop, grow, and establish their businesses) but because the delightful packages really are great gifts for any occasion. Whether it’s your boss’s birthday, your friend’s dinner party, or simply time to remind your grandmother in the nursing home that you’re thinking of her, these baskets full of San Francisco goodness are a thoughtful alternative to flower bouquets and fruit collections ordered through corporations. Orders might include dark chocolate-<\d>covered graham crackers from Kika’s Treats, spicy yucca sticks, toffee cookies from Sinful Sweets, roasted pumpkin seeds, or shortbread from Clairesquare, starting at $23. Everything will come with a handwritten note and a whole lot of love.

www.lacocinasf.org

BEST UNDERWATERSCAPING

Aqua Forest Aquarium has reinvented the concept of fish in a bowl. The only store in the nation dedicated to a style of decorating aquariums like natural environments, Aqua Forest boasts an amazing display of live aquatic landscapes that seem directly transplanted from more idyllic waters. With good prices, knowledgeable staff, a focus on freshwater life, and a unique selection of tropical fish, the shop is not only proof that aquarium stores need not be weird and dingy, but that your home fish tank can be a thriving ecosystem rather than a plastic environment with a bubbling castle (OK, a thriving ecosystem with a bubbling castle). Part pet store, part live art gallery, Aqua Forest is worth a visit even if you’re not in the market for a sailfin leopard pleco.

1718 Fillmore, SF. (415) 929-8883, www.adana-usa.com

BEST FRIDGE FILLERS ON A BUDGET

Remember when we all joked that Whole Foods should be called Whole Paycheck? Little did we realize the joke would be on us when the only paper in our purses would be a Whole Pink Slip. In the new economy, some of us can’t afford the luxury of deciding between organic bananas or regular ones — we’re trying to figure out which flavor of ramen keeps us full the longest. Luckily, Duc Loi Supermarket opened in the Mission just in time. This neighborhood shop is big, bright, clean, well stocked, cheap, and diverse, with a focus on Asian and Latino foods. Here you can get your pork chops and pig snouts, salmon and daikon, tofu and tortilla chips — and still have bus fare for the ride home. In fact, young coconut milk is only 99 cents a can, a whole dollar less than at Whole Foods.

2200 Mission, SF. (415) 551-1772

BEST PLACE TO DISS THE TUBE

Some people go their entire lives buying replacement 20-packs of tube socks from Costco, socks whose suspicious blend of elastic, petroleum products, and God-knows-what signals to wearers and viewers alike: Warm, shwarm! Fit, shmit! Style, shmyle! Other people, even if they keep their socks encased in boots or shoes, want to know that their foot coverings are just one more indicator of their fashion — and common — sense. Those people go to Rabat in Noe Valley, where the sock racks look like a conjuring of the chorus of “Hair”: “curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty, oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen, knotted, polka-dotted, twisted, beaded, braided, powdered, flowered, and confettied; bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied.” Furthermore, the socks are mostly made from recognizable materials like wool, cotton, or fleece. As for you sensible-shoe and wingtip types, not to worry. Rabat also stocks black and white anklets and nude-colored peds.

4001 24th St., SF (415) 282-7861. www.rabatshoes.com

BEST BOOKS FOR KIDS YOU DON’T KNOW

Don’t let the small storefront at Alexander Book Company deter you — this three-story, independent bookstore is packed with stuff that you won’t find at Wal-Mart or the book malls. We’re particularly impressed with the children’s collection — and with the friendly, knowledgeable staff. If you’re looking for a birthday present for your kid’s classmate, or one for an out-of-town niece or nephew — or you just generally want to know what 10-year-old boys who like science fiction are reading these days — ask for Bonnie. She’s the children’s books buyer, and not only does she have an uncanny knack for figuring out what makes an appropriate gift, chances are whatever the book is, she’s already read it.

50 Second St., SF. (415) 495-2992, www.alexanderbook.com

BEST PLACE TO SELL THE CLOTHES OFF YOUR BACK

If you think Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads are the only places to trade your Diors for dollars, you’re missing out. Urbanity, Angela Cadogan’s North Berkeley boutique, is hands down the best place to consign in the Bay. The spot is classy but not uppity, your commission is 30 percent of what your item pulls in, and, best of all, you’d actually want to shop there. Cadogan has a careful eye for fashion, choosing pieces that deserve a spot in your closet for prices that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. Want an even better deal on those Miu Miu pumps or that YSL dress? Return every 30 days, when items that haven’t sold yet are reduced by 40 percent. But good luck playing the waiting game against Urbanity’s savvy regulars — they’ve been eyeing those Pradas longer than you have.

1887 Solano, Berk. (510) 524-7467, www.shopurbanity.com

BEST TIME MACHINE

Ever wish you could be a character in a period piece, writing love letters on a typewriter to your distant paramour while perched upon a baroque upholstered chair? We can’t get you a role in a movie, but we can send you to the Perish Trust, where you’ll find everything you need to create a funky antique film set of your very own. Proprietor-curator team Rod Hipskind and Kelly Ishikawa have dedicated themselves to making their wares as fun to browse through as to buy, carefully selecting original artwork, vintage folding rulers, taxidermied fowl, out-of-print books, and myriad other antique odds-and-ends from across the nation. As if that weren’t enough, this Divisadero shop also carries Hooker’s Sweet Treats old world-<\d>style gourmet chocolate caramels — and that’s definitely something to write home about.

728 Divisadero, SF. www.theperishtrust.com

BEST MISSION MAKEOVER

If Hayes Valley’s indie-retailer RAG (Residents Apparel Gallery) bedded the Lower Haight’s design co-op Trunk, their love child might look (and act) a lot like Mission Statement. With a focus on local designers and a philosophy of getting artists involved with the store, the 18th Street shop has all the eclectic style of RAG and all the collaborative spirit of Trunk — all with a distinctly Mission District vibe. Much like its namesake neighborhood, this shop has a little of everything: mineral makeup, fedoras adorned with spray-painted designs, multiwrap dresses, graphic tees, and more. Between the wares of the eight designers who work and play at the co-op, you might find everything you need for a head-to-toe makeover — including accessorizing advice, custom designing, and tailoring by co-owner Estrella Tadeo. You may never need to leave the Valencia corridor again.

3458-A 18th St., SF. (415) 255-7457, www.missionstatementsf.com

BEST WALL OF BEER

Beer-shopping at Healthy Spirits might ruin you. Never again will you be able to stroll into a regular suds shop, eye the refrigerated walk-in, and feign glee: “Oh, wow, they have Wolaver’s and Fat Tire.” The selection at Healthy Spirits makes the inventory at almost all other beer shops in San Francisco — nay, the fermented universe — look pedestrian. First-time customers sometimes experience sticker shock, but most quickly understand that while hops and yeast and grain are cheap, hops and yeast and grain and genius are not. Should you require assistance in navigating the intriguing and eclectic wall of beer, owner Rami Barqawi and his staff will guide you and your palate to the perfect brew. Once you’ve got the right tipple, you can choose from the standard corner-store sundries, including coffee, wine, ice cream, and snacks. Chief among them is the housemade hummus (strong on the lemon juice, just the way we like it). Being ruined never tasted so good.

2299 15th St., SF. (415) 255-0610, healthy-spirits.blogspot.com

BEST PLACE TO CHANNEL YOUR INNER BOB VILLA

When is a junkyard not just a junkyard? When you wander through its labyrinth of plywood, bicycle tires, and window panes only to stumble upon an intricately carved and perfectly preserved fireplace mantle which, according to a handwritten note taped to it, is “circa 1900.” This is the kind of thing that happens at Building Resources, an open air, DIY-er’s dream on the outskirts of Dogpatch, which just happens to be the city’s only source for recycled building and landscape materials. Maybe you’ll come here looking for something simple: a light fixture, a doorknob, a few pieces of tile. You’ll find all that. You’ll also find things you never knew you coveted, like a beautiful (and dirt cheap) claw-foot bathtub that makes you long to redo your own bathroom, even though you don’t own tools and know nothing about plumbing. No worries. That’s what HGTV is for.

701 Amador, SF. (415) 285-7814, www.buildingresources.org

BEST WAY TO SHOP LOCAL

It’s impossible not to be impressed with the selection at Collage, the tiny jewel-box of a shop perched atop Potrero Hill. The home décor store and gallery specializes in typography and signage, refurbished clocks and cameras, clothing, unique furniture, and all kinds of objects reinvented and repurposed to fit in a hip, happy home. But what we like best is owner Delisa Sage’s commitment to supporting the local community and economy. Not only does she host workshops on the art of fine-art collage, she carries a gorgeous selection of jewelry made exclusively by local woman artists. Whether you’re looking for knit necklaces, Scrabble pieces, typewriter keys, or an antiqued kitchen island, you’ll find ’em here. And every dollar you spend supports San Francisco, going toward a sandwich at Hazel’s, or a cup of joe at Farley’s, or an artist’s SoMa warehouse rent. Maybe capitalism can work.

1345 18th St., SF. (415) 282-4401, www.collage-gallery.com

BEST BRAND-NEW VINTAGE STYLE

There’s something grandmothers seem to understand that the Forever 21, H&M, Gap generation (not to mention the hippies in between) often miss: the value of elegant, tailored, designer classics that last a lifetime. Plus, thanks to living through the Great Depression, they know a good bargain. Luckily, White Rose got grandma’s memo. This tiny, jam-packed West Portal shop is dedicated to classy, timeless, well-made style, from boiled wool-<\d>embroidered black coats to Dolce handbags. Though the shelves (stacked with sweaters) and racks (overhung with black pants) may resemble those in a consignment or thrift store, White Rose is stocked full of new fashions collected from international travels, catalog sales, or American fabricators. In fact, it’s all part of the plan of the owner — who is reputed to have been a fashion model in the ’50s — to bring elegant chemises, tailored blouses, and dresses for all sizes and ages to the masses. The real price? You must have the patience to sort through the remarkable inventory.

242 W. Portal, SF. (415) 681-5411

BEST BOUTIQUE FOR BUNHEADS

It seems you can get yoga pants or Lycra leotards just about anywhere these days (hello, American Apparel). But elastic waists and spaghetti straps alone do not make for good sportswear. SF Dancewear knows that having clothes and footwear designed specifically for your craft — whether ballroom dance, gymnastics, theater, contact improv, or one of the good old standards like tap, jazz, or ballet — makes all the difference. This is why they’ve been selling everything from Capezio tap shoes to performance bras since 1975. The shop is lovely. There are clear boxes of pointe shoes nestled together like clean, shiny baby pigs; glittering displays of ballroom dance pumps; racks of colorful tulle, ruched nylon, patterned Lycra; and a rope draped with the cutest, tiniest tutus you ever did see. The store is staffed by professional dancers who’re not only trained to find the perfect fit but have tested most products on a major stage. And though your salesclerk may dance with Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet or have a regular gig at the S.F. Opera, they won’t scoff at middle-aged novice salsa dancers or plus-size burlesqueteers looking for fishnets and character shoes. Unlike the competitive world of dance studios, this retail shop is friendly and open to anyone who likes to move.

659 Mission, SF. (415) 882-7087; 5900 College, Oakl. (510) 655-3608,

www.sfdancewear.com

BEST GIFTS FOR YESTERYEAR’S KIDS

We weren’t sure it could get any better — or weirder — than Paxton Gate, that Mission District palace of science, nature, and dead things. But then the owner, whose first trade was landscape architecture, opened up Paxton Gate Curiosities for Kids down the street, and lo and behold, ever more awesomeness was achieved. Keeping the original store’s naturalist vibe but leaving behind some of its adults-only potential creepiness, this shop focuses on educational toys, vintage games, art supplies, and an eclectic selection of books sure to delight the twisted child in all of us. From handblown marbles to wooden puzzles, agate keychains to stop-motion booklets, and Lucite insects to Charlie Chaplin paper doll kits, everything here seems to be made for shorties from another time — an arguably better one, when kids rooted around in the dirt and made up rules for imaginary games and didn’t wear G-string underwear.

766 Valencia, SF. (415) 252-9990, www.paxtongate.com

BEST DAILY TRUNK SHOW

San Francisco sure does love its trunk shows: all those funky people hawking their one-of-a-kind wares at one-of-a-kind prices. The only problem? Shows happen intermittently (though with increasing frequency in the pre-<\d>Burning Man frenzy). Lucky for us, Miranda Caroligne — the goddess who makes magic with fabric scraps and a surger — co-founded Trunk, an eclectic indie designer showcase with a permanent address. The Lower Haight shop not only features creative dresses, hoodies, jewelry, and menswear by a number of artists, but also functions as an official California Cooperative Corporation, managed and run by all its 23 members. That means when you purchase your Kayo Anime one-piece, Ghetto Goldilocks vest, or Lucid Dawn corset, you’re supporting an independent business and the independent local artists who call it home.

544 Haight, SF. (415) 861-5310, www.trunksf.com

BEST PLACE TO GET IRIE WITH YOUR OLLIE

Skate culture has come a long way since its early surfer punk days. Now what used to be its own subculture encompasses a whole spectrum of subs, including dreadheaded, jah-lovin’, reggae pumpin’ riders. And Culture Skate is just the store for those who lean more toward Bob Marley than Jello Biafra. The Rasta-colored Mission shop features bamboo skate boards, hemp clothing, glass pipes, a whole slew of products by companies such as Creation and Satori, and vinyl records spanning genres like ska, reggaeton, dub, and, of course, good old reggae. Stop by to catch a glimpse of local pros — such as Ron Allen, Matt Pailes, and Karl Watson. But don’t think you have to be a skater to shop here: plenty of people stop by simply for the environmentally-friendly duds made with irie style.

214 Valencia, SF. (415) 437-4758, www.cultureskate.com

Best of the Bay 2009: Arts and Nightlife

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Editors Picks: Arts and Nightlife

BEST BLOODY QUEEN

A gut-spewing zombie drag queen roller derby in honor of Evil Dead 2. An interview with The Exorcist‘s Linda Blair preceded by a rap number that includes the line, “I don’t care if they suck their mother’s cock, as long as they line up around the block!” A virtual wig-pulling catfight with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. All this and more have graced the proscenium of the Bridge Theater as part of the jaw-dropping (literally) Midnight Mass summertime B-movie fun series, brought to us by the always perfectly horrific Peaches Christ. Her wigs alone are usually enough to scare the jellybean-bejeezus out of us, but Peaches combines live craziness with wince-worthy flicks to take everything over the top. After this, her 12th season of disembowelled joy, Peaches is moving on from Midnight Mass to become a director in her own right — she just wrapped up filming All About Evil with Natasha Lyonne and a cast of local fleshbots. Look for it in your googleplex soon, and know that Peaches still stumbles among us.

www.peacheschrist.com

BEST FLAMIN’ FUN

Kids, really, don’t try this at home. Don’t hook up your two-player Dance Dance Revolution game to a row of flamethrowers. Don’t rig said game to blast your dance competitior with a faceful of fire in front of an adoring crowd if they miss a step. Don’t invest in enough propane to fuel a small jet, a flaming movie screen for projecting all those awkward dance moves onto, and a booming sound system to play all the Japanese bubblegum techno you could ever hope to hear. Leave the setup to Interpretive Arson, whose Dance Dance Immolation game has wowed participants and spectators alike from Black Rock City to Oaktown — and will scorch Denmark’s footsies this fall. Do, however, seek out these intrepid firestarters, and don a giant silver fireproof suit with a Robby the Robot hood. Do the hippie shake to the mellifluous tones of Fatboy Slim and Smile.dk, and prepare yourself to get flamed, both figuratively and literally.

www.interpretivearson.com

BEST PENGUIN PARTY, PLANETARIUM INCLUDED

Penguins are damn funny when you’re drunk. They’re pretty entertaining animals to begin with, but after a couple martinis those little bastards bring better slapstick than Will Ferrell or Jack Black. But tipsily peeping innocent flightless birds — plus bats, butterflies, sea turtles, and manta rays — is just one of many reasons to attend Nightlife, the stunningly rebuilt California Academy of Sciences’ weekly Thursday evening affair. This outrageously popular (get there early) and ingenious party pairs gonzo lineups of internationally renowned DJs and live bands with intellectual talks by some of the world’s best-known natural scientists. Cocktails are served, the floor is packed, intellects are high — and where else can you order cosmos before visiting the planetarium? Another perk: the cost of admission, which includes most of the academy’s exhibits, is less than half the regular price, although you must be 21 or older to attend. Come for the inebriated entertainment, stay for the personal enrichment.

Thursdays, 6 p.m., $8-<\d>$10. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Dr., Golden Gate Park, SF. (415) 379-8000, www.calacademy.org/events/nightlife

BEST LINDY HOP TO LIL’ WAYNE

Retain a fond nostalgia for the 1990s swing revival scene? Swing Goth is the event you’ve been waiting for. Not quite swing and not even remotely goth, Swing Goth gives swing enthusiasts the go-ahead to boogie-woogie to modern tunes at El Rio. This isn’t your grandmother’s fox trot: rock, rap, ’80s, alternative, Madchester, Gypsy punk, and almost anything else gets swung. Held on the first and third Tuesday of each month and tailored for beginners, this event draws an eclectic crowd that includes dudes who call themselves “hep cats,” Mission hipsters, and folks who rock unironic mom jeans and Reebok trainers. If you’re new to swing, arrive at 7:30 and take a one-hour group lesson with ringleader Brian Gardner, who orchestrates the event, to get a quick introduction to swing basics before the free dance. Lessons are $5, but no extra charge for ogling the cute dykes who call El Rio their local watering hole. Swing? Schwing!

First and third Tuesdays, 7 p.m., free. El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF. (415) 282-3325, www.swinggoth.com

BEST CELESTIAL TRAJECTORISTS

Who can take a sunburst of boomer rock inspirations — like The Notorious Byrd Brothers-<\d>era Byrds and Meddle-some Pink Floyd — sprinkle it with dew, and cover it with chocolaty nouveau-hippie-hipster blues-rock and a miracle or two? The fresh-eyed, positive-minded folks of Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound can, ’cause they mix it with love and make a world many believed had grown hack and stale taste good. Riding a wave of local ensembles with a hankering for classic rock, hard-edged Cali psych, Japanese noise, and wild-eyed film scores, the San Francisco band is the latest to make the city safe once more for musical adventurers with open minds and big ears. What’s more, the Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound’s inspired new third album, When Sweet Sleep Returned (Tee Pee) — recorded with help from Tim Green at Louder Studios — has fielded much press praise for space-traveling fuzzbox boogie blowouts like “Drunken Leaves” and blissed-out, sitar-touched jangle rambles such as “Kolob Canyon.” Consider your mind burst.

www.myspace.com/theassembleheadinsunburstsound

BEST DANCE DYNAMO

You can’t miss him. He has legs like tree trunks and arm muscles that ripple like lava. When he leaps you think he’ll never come down, and his turns suggest the power of a hurricane. He is dancer Ramón Ramos Alayo, Six years ago he founded the CubaCaribe Festival that now packs in dance aficionados of all stripes, and he’s one of the shaping forces behind the wild San Francisco Carnaval celebration. He runs Alayo Dance Company, for which he choreographs contemporary works with Afro-Cuban roots, and he teaches all over the Bay Area — as many as 60 people show up for his Friday salsa classes at Dance Mission Theater. But Ramos is most strikingly unique as a performer. Ramos is as comfortable embodying Oshoshi, the forest hunter in the Yoruba mythology, as he is taking on “Grace Notes,” a jazz improvisation with bassist Jeff Chambers. No wonder Bay Area choreographers as radically different as Joanna Haigood, Sara Shelton Mann, and Robert Moses have wanted to work with him.

www.cubacaribe.org

BEST BLUEGRASS AMNESIAC

Toshio Hirano packs a mean sucker punch. At first glance he’s a wonderfully eccentric Bay Area novelty, a yodeling Japanese cowboy playing native songs of the American heartland. Yet upon further inspection, it becomes as clear as the skies of Kentucky that Toshio is the real deal when it comes to getting deep into the Mississippi muck of Jimmie Rodgers-<\d>style bluegrass. Enchanted by the sound of American folk music as a Japanese college student, Toshio soon ventured stateside to spend years traveling and playing from Georgia to Nashville to Austin before finally settling in the Bay Area. Today, Toshio plays once a month at Amnesia’s free Bluegrass Mondays to standing-room-only crowds. Stay awhile to hear him play Hank Williams’s “Ramblin’ Man” or Rodgers’s “Blue Yodel No. 1(T for Texas).” It’ll clear that Toshio’s novelty is merely a hook — his true appeal lies in his ability to show that there’s a cowboy lurking inside all of us.

www.toshiohirano.com

BEST COMMUNITY CHOREOGRAPHERS

A collective howl went up in 1995 when it was announced that the annual festival Black Choreographers: Moving into the 21st Century at Theater Artaud was ending due in part to lack of funding. But two East Bay dancers, Laura Elaine Ellis and Kendra Kimbrough Barnes, actually did something about it, working to ensure that African-American dancers and dance-makers received attention for the range and spirit of their work. It took 10 years, but in 2005, Ellis and Kimbrough Barnes helped launch Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now, which takes place every February in San Francisco and Oakland. The three-week event is a fabulous way for a community to celebrate itself and to invite everyone to the party. While the choreographers’ range of talent and imagination has been impressive — and getting better every year — the performances are merely the icing on the cake. Master classes, mentoring opportunites for emerging artists, and a technical theater-training program for local high school and college students are building a dance infrastructure the next generation can plug into.

www.bcfhereandnow.com

BEST MADCAP POP MAIDENS

San Francisco can always use another all-female band — and Grass Widow satisfies that need beautifully, cackling with brisk, madcap rhythms and rolling out a happy, crazy quilt of dissonant wails. Drummer-vocalist Lillian Maring, guitarist-vocalist Raven Mahon, and bassist-vocalist Hannah Lew are punk as fuck, of course — in the classic, pre-pre-packaged noncodified mode — though many will instead compare the trio’s inspired, decentered pop to dyed-in-the-bluestockings lo-fi riot grrrl. Still, there’s a highly conscious intensity to Grass Widow’s questioning of the digital givens that dominate life in the late ’00s, as they sing wistfully then rage raggedly amid accelerating rhythms and a roughly tumbling guitar line on “Green Screen,” from their self-titled debut on Make a Mess: “Flying low into trees. We exist on the screen. Computer can you hear me? Understand more than 1s and 0s?” Grass Widow may sweetly entreat the listener, “Don’t make a scene,” but if we’re lucky, these ladies will kick off a new generation of estrogen-enhanced music-making.

www.myspace.com/grasswidowmusic

BEST PURPLE SING-ALONG

Karaoke is one of those silly-but-fun nightlife activities that always has the potential to be awesome but usually isn’t. The song lists at most karaoke bars suck, the sound systems are underwhelming, and no matter where you go there’s always some asshole bumming everyone out with painful renditions of Neil Diamond tearjerkers. Well, not anymore! Steve Hays, a.k.a. DJ Purple, is a karaoke DJ — or KJ — who has single-handedly turned the Bay Area’s once tired sing-along scene into a mother funkin’ party y’all. DJ Purple’s Karaoke Dance Party happens every Thursday night at Jack’s Club. Forget the sloppy drunks half-assing their way through Aerosmith and Beyoncé songs. DJ Purple’s Karaoke Dance Party is all about Iron Maiden, Snoop Dogg, Led Zeppelin, and Riskay. No slow songs allowed. An actual experienced DJ, Hays keeps the beats running smooth, fading and blending as each person stumbles onstage, and even stepping in for saxophone solos and backup vocals when a song calls for it. And sometimes even when it doesn’t.

Thursdays, 9 p.m., free. Jack’s Club, 2545 24th St., SF. (415) 641-5371, www.djpurple.com

BEST FLANNEL REVIVAL

In this age of continual retro, it comes as a surprise that listening to mainstream ’90s alternative rock can give you, under the right inebriated circumstances, the kind of pleasure not experienced since heroin went out of vogue. Debaser at the Knockout has become one of the best monthly parties in San Francisco, largely because it gives ’80s babies, who were stuck playing Oregon Trail in computer class while Courtney Love and Kat Bjelland were rocking it out in Portland, the chance to live out their Nirvana-era dreams. Debaser promoter Jamie Jams is the only DJ in San Francisco who will spin the Cranberries after a Pavement song, and his inspired mixology is empirically proven to induce moshing en masse until last call, an enticingly dangerous sport now that lead-footed Doc Martens are back in style. Sporting flannel gets you comped, so for those still hung up over Jordan Catalano and the way he leans, Debaser is rife with contemporary, albeit less angsty, equivalents.

First Saturdays, 9 p.m., Knockout, 3223 Mission, SF. (415) 550-6994, www.myspace.com/debaser90s

BEST CRANIUM MONOPOLY SCRABBLE RISK

The shaky economy’s probably put your $60 concert plans on hold and relegated those high-rolling VIP nights to the back burner. So it’s a great time to return to the simpler forms of social interaction, such as shaking some dice and screaming, “Yahtzee, bitches!” or guffawing maniacally every time some poor fool attempts to pass your two hotels on Boardwalk. Fortunately, game night at On the Corner café on Divisadero fills your staid Wednesday evenings with enough card-shuffling, Pop-o-matic popping, I-want-to-be-the-thimble classics to sink your battleship blues. Plus, there’s coffee and beer. Working in collusion with the colossal collection of neighboring Gamescape, On the Corner provides a plethora of gaming options to fit its large tables and vibrant atmosphere. Stratego, Scattergories, and other trivial pursuits are all available, and the 7 p.m.-<\d>to-<\d>closing happy hour includes $2.50 draft beers and sangria specials. The tables fill up quickly, though — arrive early so you won’t be sorry.

Wednesdays, 7–10 p.m., free. 359 Divisadero, SF. (415) 522-1101, www.sfcorner.com

BEST PARTY OF ONE

Perfect moments are never the ones you work hard to create. Too much effort kills the magic. Instead, the moments we treasure are those that steal up on us, slipping past our defenses to reveal, for just an instant, the sublime wonder of the universe. This is precisely what happens during one’s first encounter with the Lexington Street disco ball, innocuously spinning its multifaceted heart out on a quiet neighborly block in the heart of the Mission District. One moment you’re just walking down the street minding your own business — perhaps rehashing the “should have saids” or the “could have beens” in the muddled disquiet of your mind — when suddenly you spot it, the incongruously located disco ball suspended from a low-hanging branch, throwing a carpet of stars across the sidewalk for anyone to enjoy. All is still, but the music in your heart will lead you. Hold your hands in the air, walk into the light, and dance.

Lexington between 20th and 21st streets, SF

BEST BLOCK-ROCKIN’ BIKE

Amandeep Jawa’s bright blue, sound-rigged party-cycle — Trikeasaurus — is our bestest Critical Mass compadre and bike lane buddy, and an essential component of his impromptu FlashDance parties. This three-wheelin’, free-wheelin’, pedal-and-battery-powered funk machine has been bringing the party to the people — and leading spontaneous Michael Jackson tributes — from the Embarcadero to the Broadway tunnel for the past two years. Even if you’re just out for a stroll or a bit of that ephemeral San Francisco “sun”-bathing, when Trikeasaurus comes rolling along you just have to boogie on down the road, bust a move, get your groove thing on, let your freak flag fly, and insert ecstatic cliché here. We can pretend all we want in the privacy of our own hip sancta sanctorum that Destiny’s Child or OutKast will never move us, but somehow when Trikeasaurus comes bumping by, we just can’t help but bump right back. Don’t fight the feeling! Join the 500-watt, 150-decibel velolution today.

www.deeptrouble.com

BEST HOLES FOR YOUR KRAUTROCK SOUL

If you’ve done ketamine, you know what it’s like to get lost in the cosmic K-hole. To those who have entered the mystical D-hole, however, your ketamine story is child’s play. The Donuts dance party, thrown at various times and locations throughout the year by DJ Pickpocket and visual artist AC, provides adventurous club-goers with that most delicious of drugs: donuts, given away free. First timers, be careful: these potent little sugar bombs are highly addictive and can often lead to an all-night binge of ecstatic power-boogie, which can result in terrible withdrawal symptoms. Like many other popular club drugs, donuts are offered in powdered form, though they can also be glazed, which leaves no tell-tale residue around the mouth. But as long as you indulge responsibly, entering the Hole of the Donut is perfectly safe. Amp up your experience to fever-pitch perfection with Donuts’ pulse-pumping Krautrock, new wave, retro disco, and dance punk live acts and beats.

www.myspace.com/donutparty

BEST PLACE TO PARTY LIKE A SLOVENIAN

If there’s one thing all Slovenians have in common, it’s that they know how to deck a muthafunkin’ hall, y’all. It stands to reason then that Slovenians run one of the biggest and best halls in town. The Slovenian Hall in Potrero Hill is available for all your partying needs — birthdays, anniversary bashes, coming-out fests, etc. The rooms inside the hall are spacious and clean, the kitchen and bar spaces are outfitted to serve an entire army, and there are plenty of tables and chairs. But it’s the decor that makes this place unique: Soviet-era and vintage tourism advertisements are sprinkled throughout the place and banners promoting Slovenian pride hang from the ceiling. The hall also hosts live music events — recently an Argentine tango troupe took up residence there, making things border-fuzzingly interesting, to say the least.

2101 Mariposa, SF. (415) 864-9629

BEST FUTURE RAP CEO

Odds are you’ve not yet heard of East Bay teen hip-hop talent Yung Nittlz — but one day soon you will. The ambitious, gifted Berkeley High student has already amassed five albums worth of smooth and funky material that he wrote, produced, and rapped and sang on. In August 2007, when he was just 13, the rapper born Nyles Roberson scored media attention when Showtime at the Apollo auditions came to town and he was spotted very first in line, having camped out the night before. And while Yung Nittlz wasn’t among the lucky final few to be picked, he did make a lasting impression on the judges with his strong performance of the song “Money in the Air” and choreography that included him strategically tossing custom-made promo dollars that he designed and made. The gifted artist also designed the professional-looking cover for his latest demo CD, which suggests fans should request the hit-sounding “Feelin’ U” on KMEL 106 FM. Stay tuned. You’ll likely be hearing it soon.

www.myspace.com/yungnittlz

BEST B-MOVIE SURVIVOR

The crappy economy has ruined many things. It’s the reason both the Parkway and the Cerrito Speakeasy theaters — where you could openly drink a beer you’d actually purchased at the concession stand, not smuggled in under your sweatshirt — closed their doors this year. But even a bummer cash crunch can’t dampen a true cult movie fan’s love of all things B. Deprived of a permanent venue for his long-running “Thrillville,” programmer and host Will “The Thrill” Viharo adjusted his fez, brushed off his velvet lapels, and started booking his popular film ‘n’ cabaret extravaganzas at other Bay Area movie houses, including the 4-Star and the Balboa in San Francisco, and San Jose’s Camera 3. Fear not, devotees of film noir, tiki culture, the swingin’ ’60s, big-haired babes, Aztec mummies, William Shatner, the Rat Pack, Elvis, creature features, Japanese monsters, and zombies — the Thrill ain’t never gonna be gone.

www.thrillville.net

BEST GAY FLIPPER ACTION

Much like travel agents, beepers, and modesty, pinball machines are slowly becoming relics of the past. But it’s difficult to understand why these quarter-fed games would fall by the wayside, since they’re especially fun in a bar atmosphere. What else is there to do besides stare at your drink, hopelessly chat up the bartender, constantly check your phone, and try to catch that one cute patron’s eye. At the Castro’s Moby Dick, pinball saves you from such doldrums. Sure, the place has the requisite video screens blaring Snap! and Cathy Dennis chestnuts, and plenty of hunky drunkies to serve as distractions. But its quarter-action collection — unfortunately whittled down to three machines, ever since Theater of Magic was retired due to the difficulty of finding replacement parts — is a delightful retro rarity in this gay day and age. So tilt not, World Cup Soccer, Addams Family, and Attack from Mars fans. There’s still a queer home for your lightning-quick flipping.

4049 18th St., SF. www.mobydicksf.com

BEST BLAST OF JUSTICE

Founded in 2002, the many-membered Brass Liberation Orchestra has been blowing their horns for social justice all over the Bay Area — from the San Francisco May Day March and Oakland rallies for Oscar Grant, to protests against city budget cuts and jam sessions at the 16th Street BART station. Trombones out and bass drums at the ready, this tight-knit organization of funky folk recently returned from New Orleans, where they played to support community rebuilding projects in the Lower Ninth Ward. With a membership as diverse as they come, the BLO toots their horns specifically to “support political causes with particular emphasis on peace, and racial and social justice” — especially concerning immigrants’ rights and anti-gentrification issues. But the most joyful part of their practice is the spontaneous street parties they engender wherever they pop up, and their seemingly impromptu romps through neighborhoods and street festivals. Viva la tuba-lution!

www.brassliberation.org

BEST WITTY WONG

Is your idea of hell being trapped in a room with a white, collegiate, spoken-word “artist” — or worse yet, being forced to wear an Ed Hardy t-shirt? Are you a veteran of the 30 Stockton and the 38 Geary, with the wounds and the stories to prove it? Can you just not help but stare at someone who somehow can’t resist an act of street corner masturbation? Then you’re ready to lend an ear to Ali Wong, the funniest comedian to stomp onto a San Francisco stage in a long time. Some people get offended by Wong, which is one reason she’s funny — comedy isn’t about making friends, and she’s not sentimental. She draws on her family history and writing and performing experience in implicit rather than overt ways while remaining as blunt as your funniest friend on a bender.

www.aliwong.com

BEST SITE FOR SHUTTERBUGS

Take a picture, it’ll last longer. Especially if you take it to — or even at — RayKo Photo Center, a large SoMA space that boasts a studio, a shop stocked with new and used cameras, a variety of black-and-white and color darkrooms, a digital imaging lab (with discount last-Friday-of-the-month nighttime hours), and classes where one can learn the latest digital skills as well as older and arcane processes such as Ambrotype (glass plate) and Tintype (metal plate) image-making. Devoted in part to local photographers, RayKo’s gallery has showcased Bill Daniel’s panoramic yet raw shots of a post-Katrina Louisiana and has likely influenced a new generation of shutterbugs affiliated with groups and sites like Cutter Photozine and Photo Epicenter. One of its coolest and truly one-of-a-kind features is the Art*O*Mat Vending Machine, an old ciggie vendor converted into a $5-a-piece art dispenser. And of course RayKo has an old photo booth, so you can take some quick candid snapshots with or without a honey.

428 Third St., SF. (415) 495-3773, www.raykophoto.com

BEST RAPPING CABBIE

The great myth about cab drivers is that they’re a bunch of underappreciated geniuses who write poetry and paint masterpieces when they’re not busy shuttling drunks around. Most cabbies, however, aren’t Picassos with pine-scent air fresheners. They clock in and out just like we all do, and then they go home and watch reality TV. There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule: true artists who have deliberately chosen the cabbie lifestyle because it allows them the freedom to pursue their passions on the side. MC Mars is such a cabbie. A 20-year veteran on the taxi scene, Mars is also a hip-hop performer, a published author, and an HIV activist. You can check his flow every Wednesday night at the Royale’s open-mic sessions. Or, if you’re lucky enough to hail his DeSoto, you can get a free backseat show on weekends. And don’t forget to pick up his latest CD, “Letz Cabalaborate,” available on Mars’ Web site.

www.mcmars.net

BEST FRESH POETICS

The Bay Area knows poetry. And people in the Bay Area who know poetry today realize that the San Francisco Renaissance, the Beats, the Language poets, and even the New Brutalists might inspire contemporary writers, but they don’t own them. You can encounter proof in places like Books and Bookshelves, and read it in publications like Try. As the Bay Area Poetics anthology edited by Stephanie Young made clear in 2006, Bay Area verse is enormous and ever-changing. One year earlier, David Larsen established a space for it in Oakland with his New Yipes Reading Series, which frequently paired poets with filmmakers. He’s since moved to the East Coast, but Ali Warren and Brandon Brown re-energized the concept, simplifying its name to The New Reading Series and refining its content to readings with musical interludes. It’s the best place around to hear Tan Lin and Ariana Reines and confront notions of the self through Heath Ledger. It’s also hosted a kissing booth, for all you wordsmiths who aren’t above romantic trappings.

416 25th St., Oakl. www.newyipes.blogspot.com

BEST HOUSE OUTSIDE

For 15 years, the much-loved and lovable warm weather Sunset parties have shaken various hills, isles, parks, patios, and boats with funky, techy house sounds. Launched by underground hero DJ Galen in 1994, the outdoor Sunset gigs have amassed a huge following of excited party newbies and familiar old-school ravers — and now even their kids. Early on in the game, Galen was soon joined by fellow Bay favorite DJs Solar and J-Bird, and the three — collectively known as Pacific Sound — have kept the vibe strong ever since. This year saw a remarkable expansion on the Sunset fan base: attendance at the season opener at Stafford Lake reached almost 4,000, and Pacific Sound just launched an annual — and truly moving — party on Treasure Island that had multiple generations putting their hands in the air. The recent Sunset Campout in Belden drew hundreds for an all-weekend romp with some of the biggest names in electronic music — true fresh air freshness.

www.pacificsound.net

BEST SECRET OF ETERNAL RAVE

According to murky local legend, sometime in the early ’90s a Finnish archaeologist named Mr. Floppy passed through Oakland on a quest to find an inverted pyramid rumored to hold the secret to eternal life. He didn’t find anything like that, of course, but he did discover a really cool apartment complex run by an obsessive builder named George Rowan. The sprawling place, which housed multiple dwelling units as well as an outdoor dance area and an out-of-use bordello and saloon famously frequented by Jack London in the 1800s, was an interconnected maze of rooms decorated with found objects and outsider art. It was a perfect spot to throw underground raves, which is exactly what Floppy and Rowan did until the day they got slapped with a fire-hazard citation. Nobody really knows what happened to the psychedelic archaeologist after that, although his spirit lives on: Mr. Floppy’s Flophouse has recently re-opened as a venue for noise shows, freaky circuses, and all-night moonlit orgies.

1247 E. 12th St., Oakl

Best of the Bay 2009: Classics

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Editors Picks: Classics

BEST LEFTOVER HEROES

Hey, are you gonna eat that? If the answer is “no,” and you have a commercial kitchen of any kind, call Food Runners, the nonprofit associated with Tante Marie’s Cooking School and its matriarch at the helm, Mary Risley. The volunteer-powered organization picks up leftovers from caterers, delis, festival vendors, hotels, farmers markets, cafeterias, restaurants, and elsewhere, and delivers still-fresh edibles to about 300 soup kitchens and homeless shelters. For more than 30 years, everything from fresh and frozen foods such as produce, meat, and dairy, to uneaten boxed lunches and trays of salads and hot food, to pantry staples ordered overzealously and nearing expiration has been saved from the compost heap and delivered to those who could use a free meal or some gratis groceries. The result has yielded untold thousands of meals and a complete cycle that reduces food waste, feeds the hungry, and preserves resources all around.

(415) 929-1866, www.foodrunners.org

BEST DARKEST KISS

Remember those freaky goth kids your church leaders warned you against in high school? The ones who wore black lipstick, shaved off all their eyebrows, and worshipped Darkness? Well, they grew up, moved to San Francisco, and got really effin’ hot. If you don’t believe it, head to the comfortingly named Death Guild party at DNA Lounge. Every Monday night, San Francisco’s sexiest goths (and baby goths — this party is 18+) climb out of their coffins and don their snazziest black vinyl bondage pants for this beastly bacchanal, which has decorated our nightlife with leather corsets and studded belts since 1992. And even if you dress more like Humbert Humbert than Gothic Lolita, the Guild’s resident DJs will have you industrial-grinding to Sisters of Mercy, Front 242, Bauhaus, Throbbing Gristle, and Ministry. Death Guild’s Web site advises: “Bring a dead stiff squirrel and get in free.” Free for you, maybe, but not for the squirrel.

Mondays, 9:30 p.m., $5. DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF. (415) 626-1409. www.deathguild.com

BEST BLACKBOARD THESPIANS

A completely adorable acting troupe made up of schoolteachers and schoolteacher look-alikes, the Children’s Theatre Association of San Francisco — a cooperative project of the Junior League of San Francisco, the San Francisco Board of Education, and the San Francisco Opera and Ballet companies — has been stomping the boards for 75 years. What the players may lack in Broadway-caliber showmanship, they widely make up for with enthusiasm, handcrafted costumes and sets, and heart. For decades, the troupe has entertained thousands of public school students during its seasonal run every January and February at the Florence Gould Theater in the Palace of Legion of Honor. This year’s production was a zany take on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” which included a wisecracking mirror and rousing original songs. We applaud the CTASF’s bravery for taking on some of the toughest critics in the business — those who will squirm and squawk if the show can’t hold their eye.

www.ctasf.org

BEST AUTO REPAIR QUOTES

We’re not sure if you can get a lube job at Kahn and Keville Tire and Auto Service, located on the moderately sketchy corner of Turk and Larkin. And if you can, we can’t vouch for the overall quality, or relative price point of the procedure. But the main reason we can’t say is also why we love the place so much. Instead of sensibly using the giant Kahn and Keville marquee to advertise its sales and services, the 97-year-old business has been using it since 1959 to educate the community with an array of quotations culled from authors as varied as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Gore Vidal — plus occasional shout-outs to groups it admires, such as the Quakers during their peace vigils a block away. Originally collected by founder Hugh Keville, the quotes range in tone from the political to the inspirational and tongue-in-cheek, and the eye-catching marquee was once described by Herb Caen as the city’s “biggest fortune cookie.”

500 Turk, SF. (415) 673-0200, www.kk1912.com

BEST EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE

The cozy Molinari Delicatessen in North Beach has been in business since 1896, just enough time to figure out that the secret to a really kick-ass sandwich is keeping it simple — but not too simple. The little piece of heaven known as the Molinari Special starts with tasty scraps, all the odds and ends of salamis, hams, and mortadella left over from the less adventurous sandwiches ordered by the customers who came before you. The cheese of your choice comes next, topped generously with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, roasted red peppers, and even pepperoncini, if you ask nicely. As for bread: we’re partial to Dutch crunch, but rosemary, soft white, and seeded rolls are available. Ecco panino: you get a sandwich approximately as big as a baby’s head — for only $6.25. It’s never quite the same item twice, but always sublime.

Molinari Delicatessan, 373 Columbus, SF. (415) 421-2337

BEST PASSED-ON JEANS

Most clothes turn to garbage over time — but there are a few notable exceptions, timeless garments that actually gain value after being used up, tossed aside, and then rediscovered. Leather jackets are like that, so are cowgirl dresses and butt rock T-shirts. But none of that stuff maintains its integrity, or becomes more appealing when salvaged, like a great pair of jeans. And there’s no place more in tune with this concept than the Bay Area. Why? Well, it’s easy to say that we lead the thrifting pack simply because denim apparel was born here, but the truth is that we wouldn’t be anywhere without Berkeley’s denim guru, Carla Bell, who’s been reselling Levi’s and other denim products for 30 years. What began as a side project in Bell’s garage has grown into a palace of fine thrifting: Slash Denim the first and last stop when it comes to pre-worn pants and other new and used articles of awesome.

2840 College, Berk. (510) 841-7803, www.slashdenim.com

BEST BALLER’S PARADISE

When you think about baseball and food, hot dogs inevitably come to mind, but that’s just because marketers have been pumping them at stadiums for decades. Real baseball fans can see through the bull. Sure, they might shove a wiener in their mouth every now and again out of respect for tradition. But when a true fan gets hungry, she or he wants real food, not mystery meat. Baseball-themed restaurant and bar Double Play — which sits across from the former site of Seals Stadium and is celebrating its 100th birthday this year — makes a point of thinking outside the bun. D.P.’s menu features everything from pancakes and burritos to seafood fettuccine and steak, with nary a dog in sight. Otherwise, the place is as hardcore balling as it gets. Ancient memorabilia decks the walls, television sets hang from the ceiling, and the backroom contains a huge mural depicting a Seals versus Oakland Oaks game — you can eat lunch on home plate.

2401 16th St., SF. (415) 621-9859

BEST TSUNAMI OF SWEETS

Most small businesses fail within the first year of operation, so you know if a spot’s been around a while it must be doing something right. For Schubert’s Bakery that something is cakes and they’ve been doing them for almost 100 years. To say they’re the best, then, is a bit of an understatement. When you purchase a cake from the sweet staff at Schubert’s, what you’re really getting is 98 years’ worth of cake-making wisdom brought to life with eggs, sugar, flour, and some good old S.F. magic. Schubert’s doesn’t stop with cakes — no way. There are cherry and apple tarts, pies, coffee cakes, Danish pastries, croissants, puff pastries, scones, muffins, and more. If it’s sinfully delicious, Schubert’s has your back. Just be careful not to peruse their menu in the aftermath of a breakup or following the loss of a job. Schubert’s may seem nice and sugary on the outside, but it gets a sick thrill out of sticking you where it hurts: your gut.

521 Clement, SF. (415) 752-1580, www.schuberts-bakery.com

BEST ARCHITECTURAL XANADU

If you compete in a category where you’re the only contestant, does it still matter if you win? In the case of the Xanadu Gallery building, yes, it does. The building that houses the gallery is Frank Lloyd Wright’s only work in San Francisco and provides a fascinating glimpse of him evolving into a legendary architect. The structure’s most prominent feature is the spiral ramp connecting its two floors, a surprisingly organic structure that reminds viewers of the cochlear rotunda of a seashell and presages Wright’s famous design for New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Visitors are delighted and surprised upon entering the Maiden Lane building, as a rather small and cramped walkway into the gallery expands into an airy, sun-filled dome: the effect is like walking out from a dark tunnel into a puff of light. The Xanadu Gallery itself features an extensive collection of international antiquities, which perfectly complements this ambitious yet classic gem.

140 Maiden Lane, SF. (415) 392-9999, www.xanadugallery.us

BEST FIRST CUP OF COFFEE

As the poor departed King of Pop would say, “Just beat it” — to ultimate Beat hangout Caffe Trieste in North beach, that is. And while Pepsi was the caffeinated beverage that set Michael Jackson aflame, we’re hot for Trieste’s lovingly created coffee drinks. Founded in 1956 by Giovanni “Papa Gianni” Giotta, who had recently moved here from Italy, Trieste was the first place in our then low-energy burg to offer espresso, fueling many a late night poetry session, snaps and bongos included. Still a favored haunt of artists and writers, Trieste — which claims to be the oldest coffeehouse in San Francisco — augments the strident personal dramas of its Beat ghosts with generous helpings of live opera, jazz, and Italian folk music. You may even catch a member of the lively Giotta family crooning at the mic, or pumping a flashy accordion as part of Trieste’s long-running Thursday night or Saturday afternoon concert series. Trieste just opened a satellite café in the mid-Market Street area, which could use a tasty artistic renaissance of its own.

601 Vallejo, SF. (415) 392-6739; 1667 Market, SF. (415) 551-1000, www.caffetrieste.com

BEST ON POINT EN POINTE

We’re fans of the entire range of incredible dance offerings in the Bay, from new and struggling companies to the older, more established ones (which are also perpetually struggling.) But we’ve got to give tutu thumbs up to the San Francisco Ballet for making it for 76 years and still inspiring the city to get up on its toes and applaud. Those who think the SF Ballet is hopelessly encrusted in fustiness have overlooked its contemporary choreography programs as well as its outreach to the young and queer via its Nite Out! events. For those who complain about the price of tickets, check out the ballet’s free performance at Stern Grove Aug. 16. This year the company brought down the house when it performed Balanchine’s “Jewels” (a repertory mainstay) in New York. We also have to give it up for one of the most important (yet taken for granted) element of the ballet’s productions: the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, which provides the entrancing accompaniment to the oldest ballet company in America.

www.sfballet.org

BEST INTENTIONAL MISNOMER

If the Spinsters of San Francisco have anything to say about it, spinsterhood isn’t the realm of old women who cultivate cat tribes and emit billows of dust when they sneeze. Instead it’s all about stylish young girls who throw sparkling galas, plan happy hours, organize potlucks, and do everything in their power to have a grand ol’ time in the name of charitable good. Founded alongside the Bachelors of San Francisco, the Spinsters first meeting was held in 1929. In the eight decades that followed, the Spinsters evolved into a philanthropic nonprofit that supports aid organizations and channels funds back to the community. Specifications for prospective spinsters are quite rigorous: applicants must be college-educated, unmarried, and somewhere in the prized age bracket of 21 to 35. At the end of the year, members decide by ballot vote to heap their wealth and plenty into the coffers of a single chosen charity. Past recipients include City of Dreams, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, and the Center for the Education of the Infant Deaf.

www.sfspinsters.com

BEST GHOSTS IN THE WOODWORK

Situated on the shore of Lake Merritt in Oakland, the Scottish Rite Center boasts hand-carved ceilings, grand staircases, and opulent furnishings — hardly the typical ambiance of your average convention center. But if the ornate woodwork isn’t enough to distract you from whatever you came to the center to learn about, its history should: following San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake, the East Bay saw a population explosion that quickly outgrew Oakland’s first Masonic temple and led to cornerstone laying ceremonies at this shoreline site in 1927. Today the center’s ballroom, catering facilities, and full-service kitchens — along with an upstairs main auditorium and one of the deepest stages in the East Bay — make it a favorite setting for weddings and seminars. It’s also the perfect place to wonder how many ghosts crawl out of the woodwork at night, and trace the carved wooden petals that decorate the hallways with the tip of a chilly finger.

1547 Lakeside Dr., Oakl. (510) 451-1903, www.scottish-rite.org

BEST GEM OF A FAMILY

For more than seven decades, the name Manis has meant that a jewel of a jewelry store was in the neighborhood. Lou Manis opened Manis Jewelers in l937 at l856 Mission St. Three months after the Kennedy assassination in l963, he moved the store to 258 West Portal Ave. Manis Jewelers is still at this location, still a classic family-owned store with an excellent line of watches and jewelry, and still offers expert watch and clock repair, custom design, and reliable service. Best of all, that service is always provided by a Manis. Lou, now 89, retired six years ago, but his son Steve operates the store and provides service so friendly that people drop by regularly just to chat. Steve’s daughter, Nicole, works in the store on Saturdays, changing batteries in watches and waiting on customers. She was preceded in the store by her two older sisters, Anna and Kathleen, and Steve’s niece and nephew.

258 West Portal Ave., SF. (415) 681-6434

BEST NEVER FORGET

Since 1984, the Holocaust Memorial at the Palace of the Legion of Honor has been a contemplative and sad reminder of one of the biggest genocides in human history. The grouping of sculptures — heart-wrenching painted bronze figures trapped and collapsed behind a barbed-wire fence — sits alongside one of the city’s most breathtaking views and greatest example of European-style architecture. Yet it has never, in our opinion, fully received its due as an important art piece and historical marker. The memorial was designed by George Segal, a highly decorated artist awarded numerous honorary degrees and a National Medal of Honor in 1999. Chances are that many Legion of Honor patrons — plus the myriad brides posed in front of the palace’s pillars for their photo shoot — overlook this stark homage to the six million people exterminated by the Nazis during World War II. But it’s always there as a reminder that as we look to the future, we must remember the past.

100 34th Ave., SF. www.famsf.org/legion

Best of the Bay 2009: Readers Poll Winners

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Readers Poll — Food and Drink

BEST OVERALL RESTAURANT

Chez Panisse

1517 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 548-5525, www.chezpanisse.com

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Sidebar

542 Grand, Oakl. (510) 452-9500, www.sidebar-oakland.com

BEST CAFÉ

Cafe Flore

2298 Market, SF. (415) 621-8579, www.cafeflore.com

BEST BOWL OF NOODLES

King of Thai

Various locations

BEST TAQUERIA

Taqueria Cancun

Various locations

BEST SMALL PLATES

Cha Cha Cha

1801 Haight, SF. (415) 386-7670; 2327 Mission, SF. (415) 824-1502, www.cha3.com

BEST SUSHI

Blowfish Sushi to Die For

2170 Bryant, SF. (415) 285-3848, www.blowfishsushi.com

BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT

Delfina

3621 18th St., SF. (415) 552-4055, www.delfinasf.com

BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT

La Mediterranee

Various locations, www.cafelamed.com

BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT

Dosa

955 Valencia, SF. (415) 642-3672; 1700 Fillmore, SF. (415) 441-3672, www.dosasf.com

BEST LATIN AMERICAN RESTAURANT

La Mar Cebicheria

Pier 1 ½, SF. (415) 397-8880, www.lamarcebicheria.com

BEST ASIAN RESTAURANT

Slanted Door

1 Ferry Building, Suite 5, SF. (415) 861-8032, www.slanteddoor.com

BEST PIZZA

Little Star

846 Divisadero, SF. (415) 441-1118; 400 Valencia, SF. (415) 551-7827, www.littlestarpizza.com

BEST SANDWICH

Mr. Pickles

Various locations, www.mrpicklesinc.com

BEST BRUNCH

Ella’s

500 Presidio, SF. (415) 441-5669, www.ellassanfrancisco.com

BEST LUNCH

San Francisco Soup Company

Various locations, www.sfsoupco.com

BEST BURGER AND FRIES

BurgerMeister

Various locations, www.burgermeistersf.com

BEST BARBECUE

Big Nate’s

1665 Folsom, SF. (415) 861-4242

BEST RESTAURANT WITH A VIEW

Green’s

Building A, Fort Mason Center, SF. (415) 771-6222, www.greensrestaurant.com

BEST LATE-NIGHT RESTAURANT

Grubstake

1525 Pine, SF. (415) 673-8268, www.sfgrubstake.com

BEST SPLURGE RESTAURANT (MORE THAN $20 PER PERSON)

Boulevard

1 Mission, SF. (415) 543-6084, www.boulevardrestaurant.com

BEST CHEAP RESTAURANT (LESS THAN $6 PER PERSON)

Tu Lan

8 Sixth St., SF. (415) 626-0927, tulansf.blogspot.com

BEST APPETIZERS

Kokkari

200 Jackson, SF. (415) 981-0983, www.kokkari.com

BEST DESSERT

Mission Pie

2901 Mission, SF. (415) 282-1500, www.missionpie.com

BEST SERVICE

Gary Danko

800 North Point, SF. (415) 749-2060, www.garydanko.com

BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT

Millenium

580 Geary, SF. (415) 345-3900, www.millenniumrestaurant.com

BEST VEGAN RESTAURANT

Café Gratitude

Various locations, www.cafegratitude.com

BEST COFFEEHOUSE

Blue Bottle

Various locations, www.bluebottlecoffee.net

BEST TEA SHOP

Lovejoy’s

1351 Church, SF. (415) 648-5895, www.lovejoystearoom.com

BEST OVERALL BAR

Broken Record

1166 Geneva, SF. (415) 963-1713, www.brokenrecordsf.com

BEST WINE BAR

Yield

2490 Third Street, SF. (415) 401-8984, www.yieldsf.com

BEST SELECTION OF BEERS

Toronado

547 Haight, SF. (415) 863-2276, www.toronado.com

BEST COCKTAILS

Alembic

1725 Haight, SF. (415) 666-0822, www.alembicbar.com

BEST BLOODY MARY

Zeitgeist

199 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-7505

BEST BAKERY

Tartine

600 Guerrero, SF. (415) 487-2600, www.tartinebakery.com

BEST BUTCHER SHOP

Drewes Bros. Meats

1706 Church, SF. (415) 821-0515, www.drewesbros.com

BEST CHEESE SHOP

Cheeseboard

1504 Shattuck, Berkeley. (510) 549-3183, www.cheeseboardcollective.coop

BEST CHOCOLATIER

Recchiuti

1 Ferry Building, Suite 30, SF. (415) 834-9494, www.recchiuti.com

BEST FARMERS MARKET

Ferry Plaza

1 Ferry Building, SF. (415) 983-8000, www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com

BEST LOCAL PRODUCE DELIVERY SERVICE/CSA

Farm Fresh to You

1 Ferry Building, Suite 9, SF. (415) 834-9981, www.farmfreshtoyou.com

Readers poll — Arts and Nightlife

BEST MOVIE THEATER

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF. (415) 621-6120, www.castrotheatre.com

BEST REP FILM HOUSE

Red Vic

1727 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3994, www.redvicmoviehouse.com

BEST THEATER COMPANY

American Conservatory Theater

405 Geary, SF. (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org

BEST DANCE COMPANY

ODC

351 Shotwell, SF. (415) 863-6606, www.odcdance.org

BEST ART GALLERY

City Art Gallery

828 Valencia, SF. (415) 970-9900, www.cityartgallery.org

BEST MUSEUM

California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Dr., SF. (415) 379-8000, www.calacademy.org

BEST EMERGING ARTIST

Jacinta Vlach

www.jacintavlach.com

BEST ART COLLECTIVE

Root Division

3175 17th St., SF. (415) 863-7668, www.rootdivision.org

BEST LOCAL WRITER

Stephen Elliot

www.stephenelliott.com

BEST LOCAL ZINE

Hamburger Eyes

www.hamburgereyes.com

BEST LOCAL PUBLISHING HOUSE

Last Gasp

777 Florida, SF. (415) 824-6636, www.lastgasp.com

BEST LOCAL RECORD LABEL

Six Degrees

www.sixdegreesrecords.com

BEST DANCE CLUB

DNA Lounge

375 11th St., SF. (415) 626-1409, www.dnalounge.com

BEST ROCK CLUB

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF. (415) 626-4455, www.bottomofthehill.com

BEST HIP-HOP CLUB

Club Six

60 Sixth St., SF. (415) 863-1221, www.clubsix1.com

BEST JAZZ CLUB

Yoshi’s

510 Embarcadero West, Oakl. (510) 238-9200; 1330 Fillmore, SF. (415) 655-5600, www.yoshis.com

BEST SALSA CLUB

Cafe Cocomo

650 Indiana, SF. (415) 824-6910, www.cafecocomo.com

BEST PUNK CLUB

Thee Parkside

1600 17th St., SF. (415) 252-1330, www.theeparkside.com

BEST AFTER-HOURS CLUB

Endup

401 Sixth St., SF. (415) 646-0999, www.theendup.com

BEST HAPPY HOUR

El Rio

3158 Mission, SF. (415) 282-3325, www.elriosf.com

BEST DIVE BAR

500 Club

500 Guerrero, SF. (415) 861-2500, www.fivehundredclub.com

BEST SWANKY BAR

Bourbon and Branch

501 Jones, SF. (415) 931-7292, www.bourbonandbranch.com

BEST TRIVIA NIGHT

Edinburgh Castle

950 Geary, SF. (415) 885-4074, www.castlenews.com

BEST JUKEBOX

Lucky 13

2140 Market, SF. (415) 487-1313

BEST KARAOKE BAR

The Mint

1942 Market, SF. (415) 626-4726, www.themint.net

BEST CLUB FOR QUEER MEN

Bearracuda

www.bearracuda.com

BEST CLUB FOR QUEER WOMEN

Lexington Club

3464 19th St., SF. (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com

BEST CLUB FOR TRANNIES

Divas

1081 Post, SF. (415) 474-3482, www.divassf.com

BEST SINGER-SONGWRITER

Kitten on the Keys

www.suzanneramsey.net

BEST METAL ACT

Ludicra

www.myspace.com/ludicra

BEST ELECTRONIC MUSIC ACT

DJ Earworm

www.djearworm.com

BEST HIP-HOP ACT

Trackademicks

www.myspace.com/trackademicks

BEST INDIE ACT

Loquat

www.loquatmusic.com

BEST COVER BAND

Smash-Up Derby

www.smashupderby.com

BEST DJ

Richie Panic

www.richiepanic.com

BEST BURLESQUE ACT

Twilight Vixen Revue

www.twilightvixen.com

BEST DRAG ACT

Fauxnique

www.fauxnique.net

BEST COMEDIAN

Marga Gomez

www.margagomez.com

BEST MAGICIAN

Chin-Chin

www.chin-chin.com

BEST OPEN MIC NIGHT

Mondays at Hotel Utah

500 Fourth St., SF. (415) 546-6300, www.hotelutah.com

BEST LITERARY NIGHT

Writers with Drinks

www.writerswithdrinks.com

Readers Poll — Outdoors and Sports

BEST PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM

San Francisco Giants

sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com

BEST NON-PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM

B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls

www.bayareaderbygirls.com

BEST GYM

Mission Cliffs

2295 Harrison, SF. (415) 550-0515, www.touchstoneclimbing.com/mc.html

BEST YOGA STUDIO

Yoga Tree

Various locations, www.yogatreesf.com

BEST DANCE STUDIO

Cheryl Burke

1830 17th St., SF. (415) 252-9000, www.cherylburkedance.com

BEST PUBLIC SPORTS FACILITY

AT&T Park

24 Willie Mays Plaza, SF. (415) 972-2000

BEST SPORTING GOODS STORE

Sports Basement

500 Bryant, SF. (415) 575-3000; 610 Old Mason, SF. (415) 437-0100, www.sportsbasement.com

BEST PLACE TO BUY CAMPING GEAR

REI

Various locations, www.rei.com

BEST PLACE TO BUY BIKES AND GEAR

Valencia Cyclery

1065 and 1077 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-6600, www.valenciacyclery.com

BEST PERSONAL TRAINER

Christabel Zamor

www.hoopgirl.com

BEST SKATE SPOT

Potrero del Sol

25th Street and Utah, SF

BEST PUBLIC POOL

Rossi Pool

600 Arguello, SF. (415) 666-7014

BEST SURF SPOT

Linda Mar

BEST PARK FOR HIKING

Land’s End

BEST NUDE BEACH

Baker Beach

BEST CLOTHED BEACH

Stinson Beach

BEST NATURE SPOT FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Crissy Field

BEST PICNIC SPOT

Dolores Park

BEST PUBLIC PARK

Golden Gate Park

BEST DOG PARK

Fort Funston

BEST CAMPGROUND

Angel Island

BEST PLACE TO WATCH THE SUNRISE

Twin Peaks

BEST PLACE TO WATCH THE SUNSET

Ocean Beach

BEST PLACE TO SEE THE STARS

Mt. Tamalpais

BEST CITY VISTA

Bernal Hill

Readers Poll — Shopping

BEST INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE

Green Apple Books and Music

506 Clement, SF. (415) 387-2272, www.greenapplebooks.com

BEST USED BOOKSTORE

Green Apple Books and Music

BEST SPECIALTY BOOKSTORE

Green Arcade

1680 Market, SF. (415) 431-6800, www.thegreenarcade.com

BEST COMIC BOOK STORE

Isotope

326 Fell, SF. (415) 621-6543, www.isotopecomics.com

BEST MAGAZINE SELECTION

Fog City News

455 Market, SF. (415) 543–7400, www.fogcitynews.com

BEST PLACE TO BUY VINYL

Amoeba

1855 Haight, SF. (415) 831-1200; 2455 Telegraph, Berk. (415) 549-1225, www.amoeba.com

BEST PLACE TO BUY CDS

Amoeba

BEST PLACE TO RENT MOVIES

Le Video

1231 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 566-3606, www.levideo.com

BEST CLOTHING STORE (WOMEN)

Ambiance

Various locations, www.ambiancesf.com

BEST CLOTHING STORE (MEN)

Sui Generis

2265 Market, SF. (415) 437-2265, www.suigenerisconsignment.com

BEST CLOTHING STORE (KIDS)

Peek-A-Boutique

1306 Castro, SF. (415) 641-6192, www.peekabootiquesf.com

BEST LOCAL DESIGNER

Colleen Mauer

3361 Mission, SF. (415) 637-7762, www.colleenmauerdesigns.com

BEST VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE

La Rosa

1711 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3744

BEST PLACE TO BUY EYEWEAR

City Optix

2145 Chestnut, SF. (415) 921-1188; 1685 Haight, SF. (415) 626-1188, www.cityoptix.com

BEST THRIFT STORE

Out of the Closet

Various locations, www.outofthecloset.org

BEST SHOE STORE

Shoe Biz

Various locations, www.shoebizsf.com

BEST NEW FURNITURE STORE

Propeller

555 Hayes, SF. (415) 701-7767, www.propellermodern.com

BEST SECOND-HAND FURNITURE STORE

Community Thrift

623 Valencia St. (415) 861-4910, www.communitythriftsf.org

BEST FLEA MARKET

Alameda Flea Market

2100 Ferry Point, Suite 100, Alameda. (510) 522-7500, www.antiquesbythebay.net

BEST HARDWARE STORE

Cole Hardware

Various locations, www.colehardware.com

BEST TOY STORE

The Ark

Various locations, www.thearktoys.com

BEST SHOP FOR PARENTS-TO-BE

Natural Resources

1367 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-2611, www.naturalresources-sf.com

BEST PET SHOP

B&B Pets

4820 Geary, SF. 1-866-476-7734, www.bandbpetsupplies.net

BEST QUIRKY SPECIALTY STORE

Five and Diamond

510 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-9747, www.fiveanddiamond.com

BEST ECO-FRIENDLY RETAILER

Rainbow Grocery

1745 Folsom, SF. (415) 863-0620, www.rainbow.coop

Readers Poll — Sex and Romance

BEST RESTAURANT TO SPARK ROMANCE

Chez Spencer

82 14th St., SF. (415) 864-2191, www.chezspencer.net

BEST ONLINE PERSONALS

Eros Guide

www.eros-guide.com

BEST PLACE TO MEET SOMEONE

Dolores Park Café

501 Dolores, SF. (415) 621-2936, www.doloresparkcafe.org

BEST FIRST DATE SPOT

Foreign Cinema

2534 Mission, SF. (415) 648-7600, www.foreigncinema.com

BEST PLACE FOR AN ILLICIT TRYST

Hot Tubs on Van Ness

2200 Van Ness, SF. (415) 441-8827, www.thehottubs.com

BEST BREAKUP SPOT

The Bitter End

441 Clement, SF. (415) 221-9538

BEST PLACE TO BUY WEDDING WEAR

Dark Garden

321 Linden, SF. (415) 431-7684, www.darkgarden.com

BEST PLACE TO GET HITCHED

City Hall

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, SF. (415) 554-6068, www.sfgov.org

BEST HOT TUB RENTAL

Piedmont Springs

3939 Piedmont, Oakland. (510) 652-9191, www.piedmontsprings.com

BEST FLOWER SHOP

Church Street Flowers

212 Church, SF. (415) 553-7762, www.churchstreetflowers.com

BEST COUPLES COUNSELOR

Dossie Easton

406 16th Ave., SF. (415) 752-7455, www.dossieeaston.com

BEST PLACE TO BUY LINGERIE

Dollhouse Bettie

1641 Haight, SF. (415) 252 7399, www.dollhousebettie.com

BEST PLACE TO BUY SEX TOYS

Good Vibrations

Various locations, www.goodvibes.com

BEST PLACE TO BUY FETISH GEAR

Mr. S and Madame S.

385 Eighth St., SF. (415) 863-9447, www.madame-s.com, www.mr-s-leather.com

BEST ADULT VIDEO STORE

Folsom Gulch

947 Folsom, (415) 495-6402

BEST STRIP CLUB

Lusty Lady

1033 Kearny, SF. (415) 391-3126, www.lustyladysf.com

BEST SEX CLUB

Eros

2051 Market, SF. (415) 255-4921, www.erossf.com

BEST CRUISING SPOT

Powerhouse

1347 Folsom, SF. (415) 552-8689, www.powerhouse-sf.com

BEST SEX-EDUCATION RESOURCE

Center for Sex and Culture

1519 Mission, SF. (415) 255-1155, www.centerforsexandculture.com

BEST SEX WRITER

Violet Blue

www.tinynibbles.com

Readers Poll — City Living

BEST LOCAL BLOG

Muni Diaries

www.munidiaries.com

BEST LOCAL WEB SITE

Broke Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website

www.brokeassstuart.com

BEST TATTOO ARTIST

Idexa at Black and Blue

381 Guerrero, SF. (415) 626-0770, www.blackandbluetattoo.com

BEST TATTOO SHOP

Black Heart

177 Valencia, SF. (415) 431-2100, www.blackhearttattoosf.com

BEST POLITICIAN YOU LOVE TO HATE

Gavin Newsom

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 200, SF. (415) 554-6141, www.sfgov.org

BEST POLITICIAN

Gavin Newsom

BEST LOCAL NONPROFIT

SF SPCA

2500 16th St., SF. (415) 554-3000, www.sfspca.org

BEST TV NEWSCASTER

Dana King, CBS 5

855 Battery St., SF. (415) 362-555, www.cbs5.com

BEST LOCALLY PRODUCED TV SHOW

Distortion 2 Static

570 Beale St, Suite 204, SF. www.distortion2static.com

BEST RADIO STATION

Energy, 92.7 FM

400 Second St., Suite 300, SF. (415) 356-1600, www.energy927fm.com

BEST STREET FAIR

Folsom Street Fair

965 Mission, Suite 200, SF. (415) 777-3247, www.folsomstreetfair.org

BEST DOG-WALKING SERVICE

Mighty Dog Walking

(415) 235-5151, www.mightydogwalking.com

BEST PET GROOMER

Little Ark

748 14th St., SF. (415) 626-7574

BEST VETERINARIAN

Especially Cats

1339 Taraval, SF. (415)-681-5553, www.especiallycats.com

BEST CAMP FOR KIDS

Camp Galileo

Various locations, www.galileo-learning.com

BEST DENTIST

Melissa Chavez, DDS

2460 Mission St. Suite 201, SF. (415) 821-0101

BEST DOCTOR

Erika Horowitz, ND

1615 20th St., SF. (415) 643-6600, www.somaacupuncture.com

BEST PLUMBER

ACE Plumbing and Rooter

945 Taraval, Suite 201, SF. (415) 824-6333, www.aceplumbingandrooter.com

BEST ELECTRICIAN

Wells Electrical

80 Duboce, SF. (415) 255-7831

BEST MOVING SERVICE

Delancey Street Movers

600 Embarcadero, SF. (415) 512-5110, www.delanceystreetfoundation.org

BEST MASSAGE THERAPIST

Joshua Alexander, CMT

29 Saturn, SF. www.joshuaalexandercmt.com

BEST ALTERNATIVE HEALING

Immune Enhancement Project

3450 16th St., SF. (415) 252-8711, www.iepclinic.com

BEST CAR MECHANICS

Art’s Automotive

2871 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. (510) 540-7093, www.artsautomotive.com

BEST BICYCLE MECHANICS

Box Dog Bikes

494 14th St., SF. (415) 431-9627, www.boxdogbikes.com

BEST SALON

Edo Salon

601 Haight, SF. (415) 861-0131, www.edosalon.com

BEST DAY SPA

Blue Turtle

57 West Portal, SF., 170 Columbus, SF. (415) 699-8494, www.blueturtlespa.com

BEST SHOE REPAIR

Haight Street Shoe Repair

1614 Haight, SF. (415) 565-6710

BEST TAILOR

San Francisco Tailors

109 Geary, Suite M, SF. (415) 392-6611

BEST LOCAL ANIMAL RESCUE

Rocket Dog Rescue

(415) 642-4786, www.rocketdogrescue.org

BEST LAUNDROMAT

Brain Wash

1122 Folsom, SF. (415) 431-9274, www.brainwash.com

Readers Poll — Classics

BEST CLASSIC RESTAURANT

Zuni

1658 Market, SF. (415) 552-2522, www.zunicafe.com

BEST CLASSIC BAR

Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum

12 William Saroyan Pl., SF. (415) 421-4112

BEST MUSIC ORGANIZATION

San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus

www.sfgmc.org

BEST ARTS ORGANIZATION

Intersection for the Arts

446 Valencia, SF. (415) 626-3311, www.theintersection.org

BEST CLASSIC RETAIL SHOP

City Lights

261 Columbus, SF. (415) 362-8193, www.citylights.com

BEST LANDMARK

Golden Gate Bridge

BEST HISTORICAL BUILDING

Ferry Building

BEST RESOURCE FOR BAY AREA HISTORY

California Historical Society

678 Mission, SF. (415) 357-1848, www.californiahistoricalsociety.org

BEST CLASSIC AUTHOR

Dashiell Hammett

BEST CLASSIC ARTIST

Ruth Asawa

BEST CLASSIC MUSICIAN

Carlos Santana

BEST CLASSIC ACTIVISTS

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon

BEST CLASSIC POLITICIAN

Harvey Milk

BEST CLASSIC SONG ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO

“I Left My Heart in San Francisco”

BEST FILM MADE OR SET IN SAN FRANCISCO

Milk

alt.sex.column: Clip show

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It’s a decade’s worth of last-week-of-the-year concerns!

1999

Q: Is it true that a small quantity of alcohol is increasing the sexual pleasure of the couple?

A It may be increasing the pleasure, but it may also be affecting the performance or making the sleep.

2000

Q: Felching, in fact, is the act of expelling flatus in another’s mouth. Surely you’ve already been notified by one of your other seven readers.

A: The word you actually want may be “eproctolagnia,” and it may not, but it certainly isn’t “felching.” We’ll ignore your last crack, which is unworthy even of you.

2001

Q: Male G-spot?

A: Words for female things and female people (including, of course, “female” itself) are traditionally back-formations of words for male things and male people. “Male G-spot” is an intrinsically ridiculous phrase, but it’s delightfully ass-backward. The proper term is “prostate gland,” but that doesn’t sound anywhere near as much fun.

2002

Q: Do I just tell my boyfriend I’ve been faking it?

A: There’s a sort of little half-lie that might work. (Oh, pleeaase people, don’t write and tell me that lying is always wrong. Nothing is always anything.) You could tell him that you thought you were coming all this time, and you guess you were, but this was some big breakthrough— you never thought it could feel like that!— and now you realize what you’d been missing, yada yada yada. This actually happens.

2003

Q: Should I try to share my boyfriend’s (he calls us best friends) hobbies: porn, strip clubs, and used panties?

A: I don’t think sharing his (formerly) secret life with him is the way to make him happy, not that I’ve dedicated my life to making your boyfriend happy or anything. I think he’s in the habit of pursuing a solitary sex life based on voyeurism and other people’s underwear, and that’s the way he likes it.

2004

Q: (Various opinions about the guy’s wife who blew an “alpha male” Chippendale in the parking lot)

A: Phrases like “alpha male,” with their shiny aura of scientific certainty, don’t mean nearly as much as people hope they do. Who is the alpha male? In the wolf pack, where the concept belongs, he’s probably easy enough to spot. (Not being one of those women who run with the wolves, I couldn’t tell you.) In human society, though? Is it the strong guy? The rich guy? The guy who is probably neither but looks good in a thong?

The writer’s wife didn’t blow the pretty-boy because he was the alpha Chippendale; she blew him because she was bored and had gotten drunk and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

2005

Q: “While going down on me he suddenly asked me to shit on his face.”

A: If one wrote me (oh, they have, they have) wondering how to broach the subject with a would-be partner, I’d probably say, “Whatever you do, don’t do what that girl’s date did.”

2006

Q: “Polyamory works for those committed to the hard personal work needed make it work. Of course, the same could be said of all other forms of relationships.”

A: Of course a good relationship requires attention and occasional maintenance — what living creature does not? — but the constant harping on work, work, work makes me tired and suspicious. The tired part needs no explanation; the suspicious part, well, what is paying a therapist if not “working on it?” I may be lazy (OK, I am lazy) but I maintain that you can tell you have a good relationship when it pretty much runs itself. “Oh, we work on our relationship constantly!” does not make me think, “Oh, good for you guys!” It makes me think, “Oh, bro-ther.”

2007

Q: Lap-dancing, etiquette, and feminism.

A: If you’re going to be a sex worker, you deserve to be treated with respect and decency, and what you say goes as far as who’s allowed to touch where with what and so forth. But come on. Into each stripper’s life a little semen must fall. If that’s absolutely not going to work for you, dance behind glass or get your Realtor’s license or something.

2008

Q: New Year’s resolutions.

A: Most of the “ew, yuck” reactions to your supposedly kinkier sexualities come from lack of information and fear of the unknown. So much of kink and fetish turns out to be harmless and often endearingly nerdly on closer inspection. Look behind the flames-of-hell clipart on any S–M information site and you’ll find a lot of software professionals and librarians earnestly comparing notes on how not to hurt each other playing with whips and chains.

2009

And so to bed. Happy New Year.

Hot sex events this week: Dec 30-Jan 5

0

Explore sensual intimacy at the Sacred Temple in Sebastopol this weekend.

————-

>> NYE with Carmen Milagro Band and Hot Pink Feathers
Celebrate the new year with a bit of burlesque to benefit the Mission Language and Vocational School and Culinary Academy.

Thurs, 8pm
$20 for show, $68 includes dinner
Florida Street Cafe
710 Florida, SF
www.partyatfloridastreetcafe.comfirst

————-

>> Underwear Party
It’s a special New Year’s Eve super party, complete with balloon drop, party favors, champagne toast, and, of course, a super wet underwear contest at 12:30am.

Thurs/24, 9pm
$5-$10
Powerhouse
1347 Folsom, SF
(415) 552-8689
www.powerhouse-sf.com

————-

>> First Friday Follies
Join host Margaret France for the first burlesque show of the year, featuring Bowie-themed performances by Kitty Von Quimm, Honey Penny, Twinkletoes McGee, Cupcake, and more.

Fri/1, 9pm
Free
Stork Club
2330 Telegraph Ave, Oakl
www.storkcluboakland.com

————-

>> Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond
Dive into the depths of adventurous sex and personal truth with Lee Harrington, who’ll lead a class and book party.

Sat/2, 1pm
$10-$30
Center for Sex and Culture
1519 Mission, SF
sexandculture.org

————-

>> Burlesque ‘n’ Brass
Join Hot Pink Feathers and Blue Bone Express for some hot cabaret showgirl dance and cool jazz.

Sat/2, 8:30pm
$10
Cafe Van Kleef
1621 Telegraph, Oakl
www.hotpinkfeathers.com

————-

>> Therapeutic and Tantric Massage for Couples
Learn a sensual language that naturally empowers couples into deeper and more intimate rapport in this non-sexual — but certainly sensual — workshop.

Sun/3, 2pm
$50
Sacred Arts Temple
Sebastopol
RSVP to snakedancer@earthlink.net
www.sacredtemplehealing.com

————-

>> Sexecological Walking Tour
Join Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens for a fun, kinky, and spiritually satisfying tour of the sexecological sites around the Castro.

Sun/3, 2pm
$15
Femina Potens Art Gallery
2199 Market, SF
(415) 864-1558
www.feminapotens.org

————-

>> Hubba Hubba Revue
Kingfish and Eddie host this weekly burlesque review, this time featuring Cherry Contrary of London and Seattle.

Mon/4, 9pm
$5
The Uptown Club
1928 Telegraph, Oakl
www.hubbahubbarevue.com

2k10 zonkers

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SUPER EGO Wherein we present an alphabetical rundown of New Year’s Eve nightlife diversions, sprees, galas, fetes, and carousals.

AFROLICIOUS Around the world! Ultimate Latin funk brothers Senor Oz and Pleasuremaker team up with DJ Jimmy Love of Non-Stop Bhangra and Trinidadian MC Fresh4Life for a global-groove blast.

9:30 p.m., $15–$25. Elbo Room, 647 Valencia, SF. www.elbo.com

BE It’s another glorious case of trance mania — perfect for our ADD times — at 1015 Folsom. Above and Beyond, Super8 and Tab, and DJ Taj keep the eve pumping wildly.

10 p.m.–8a.m., $50–$100. 1015 Folsom, SF. www.1015.com

BEARRACUDA Will large, hairy gay men still be in next year? Probably. DJ Ted Eiel of MegaWOOF sheds all over the tables at this rump-pumping free-for-all.

8 p.m.–4 a.m., $32 advance. Deco, 510 Larkin, SF. www.bearracuda.com

BEYOND BEYOND Find a queer hottie to kiss in the new as the wonderfully alt Stay Gold kids, DJs Rapid Fire and Pink Lightning, host Dr. Sleep, Bunny Style, and tons of shawties.

9 p.m., $15. Makeout Room, 3225 22nd St., SF. www.makeoutroom.com

BLOW YOUR WHISTLE Miss Juanita More! gathers a gaggle of queer underground superstars to pop your cork, including DJ Pee Play, Stanley Chilidog, Joshua J, Tiara Sensation, and Miss Honey.

9 p.m., $35. Bambuddha Lounge, 601 Eddy, SF. www.juanitamore.com

BOOTIE BOOTLEG BALL Mashup the decades at the city’s — possible world’s — biggest mashup club, with Adrian and Mysterious D, Smash Up Derby, and Freddy King of Pants.

8 p.m.–late, $40 advance only. DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF. www.dnalounge.com

CLUB 1994 Don’t let the name fool you — there’ll be classic jams pumped for sure, but with special electro guests Wallpaper the vibe will be pure 2010.

9 p.m.-3 a.m., $18.50 advance. Paradise Lounge, 1501 Folsom, SF. www.club1994.com

CLUB COCOMO NYE What would New Year’s be without a little salsa? Break out your cha cha heels and join live band Avance and KPFA DJ Luis Medina on the floor.

8 p.m., prices vary. 650 Indiana, SF. www.clubcocomo.com

CODA NYE Jazz it up for the next chapter of the millennium at the deluxe supper club, with the Mike Olmos Organ Combo, Dynamic, and Hot Bag.

6 p.m., prices vary. Coda, 1710 Mission, SF. www.codalive.com

COMEDY COUNTDOWN Ha ha ha — the naughts. It was to laugh! And still will be, with chuckleheads Greg Behrendt, Maria Bamford, Amy Schumer, Doug Benson, and loads more.

8:30 p.m., $49.50. Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, SF. www.livenation.com

DEBASER + BOOTY BASEMENT Party down ’90s style, when Debaser’s grunge meltdown meets Booty Basement’s hip-hop gangsta swagger. DJs Jamie Jams, Dimitri Dickenson, Emdee, and Ryan Poulsen bring it.

9 p.m.-4 a.m., $15. The Knockout, SF. 3223 Mission, www.knockoutsf.com

DECADANCE Acoustic rock meets electro-hop in the universe of headliner (and apparent hair model) Chris Clouse. Longtime dance favorites DJ Zhaldee and Chris Fox warm it all up.

9 p.m.–3 a.m., $99 advance. Mezzanine 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com

THE GLAMOROUS LIFE Omnivorously poppy-hoppy DJ White Mike pops the cork at the newly renovated (and quite lovely) Beauty Bar.

10 p.m., $10. Beauty Bar, 2299 Mission, SF. www.beautybar.com

MARGA GOMEZ NYE SPECTACULAR More hilariously hilarious queers (and friends) than you can count at the off-her-awesome-rocker comedian’s, yes, spectacular. With David Hawkins, Ben Lehrman, and Natasha Muse. Balloon drop!

7 p.m. and 9 p.m., $25/$30. Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., SF. www.therhino.org

OM 2010 Work it on out with the OM Records stable and some surprising talent, including techno Jesus Nikola Baytala, Lance DeSardi, Galen, M3, and Sammy D

9 p.m.-4 a.m., $20 advance. Triple Crown, 1760 Market, SF. www.triplecrownsf.com

OPEL NYE Bass-shaking goodness at the ever-bumping Opel’s year-end teardown, with Stanton Warriors, Syd Gris, Dex Stakker, and Melyss.

10 p.m.–4 a.m., $20–$50. Mighty, 119 Utah, SF. www.mighty119.com

PLANET ROCK Oh, Afrika Bambaata, “Amen Ra of Universal Hip-Hop Culture” — how could we not pop and lock it with you, and three floors of others, for 2k10?

8 p.m.–4 a.m., $25 advance. Club Six, 60 Sixth St., SF. www.clubsix1.com

REDLINE Dubstep took over in 2009 — celebrate the dominance with the Bay’s best steppers, like Sam Supa, Ultraviolet, Kozee, and Spacer.

8 p.m., $10. Matador, 10 Sixth St., SF. www.myspace.com/redlinedjs

SEA OF DREAMS The cavernous, Burnerish NYE joint celebrates 10 years with a stellar lineup — Glitch Mob, Ozomatli, Bassnectar, Ghostland Observatory, Sila and the Afrofunk Experience …

9 p.m.–5a.m., $75–$125. Concourse Center, 635 Eighth St., SF.

SOM NYE The turntablistic wonderfingers of Triple Threat meet the hiphop party cunning of Distortion 2 Static, with DJs Vinroc, Shortkut, and Prince Aries at this new hotspot.

9 p.m.- a.m., $25/$30. SOM, 2925 16th St., SF. www.som-bar.com

TEMPLE OF LIGHT Templekeepers Paul Hemming, Ben Tom, A2D, Jaswho?, Nacho Vega, and so many more ring in the new Zen.

9 p.m.–late, $40–$60. Temple, 540 Howard, SF. www.templesf.com

TRIGGER NYE The exquisite steroid pop of DJ Mykill is sugar rush enough to get you through a night of Trigger and the Castro as the balls drop

9 p.m., $15 advance. Trigger, 2344 Market, SF. www.clubtrigger.com

THE TUBESTEAK CONNECTION

DJ Bus Station John helps all the nice-naughty queers cruise into a dirty new decade of bathhouse disco indulgence.

9 p.m., $10. Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, 133 Turk, SF. www.auntcharlieslounge.com

QOOL NYE

The longest running happy hour dance party in SF joins with Honey Soundsystem and takes on the night, with DJs Silencefiction, Peeplay, Jondi & Spesh, Ken Vulsion, Derek Bobus, and Looq Records playmates.

9 p.m., $15–$50. 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna, SF. www.qoolsf.com

This Week’s Picks

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WEDNESDAY 30th

DANCE

Rhythm & Motion 30th Anniversary Dance Bash

If you’re really going to throw down on the dance floor this New Year’s Eve, it’s time to train, and there is no better time or place than the 30th birthday celebration of Rhythm and Motion, a center for global dance and dance workout created by Consuelo Faust. The events include team-taught, all-star master classes, an evening performance by the Rhythm and Motion teachers, and a dance party finale. Everyone is invited. (Johnny Ray Huston)

10 a.m.–midnight, free

ODC Dance Commons

351 Shotwell, SF

(415) 863-9830 x100

www.rhythmandmotion.com

MUSIC

X

Legendary Los Angeles punk rockers X distinguished themselves from other bands of their era by honing the same searing energy that propelled their counterparts and adding the rock solid rhythms of DJ Bonebrake, the guitar virtuosity of Billy Zoom, and the poetic lyrics and intimate vocal interplay of John Doe and Exene Cervenka. This holiday season finds the band celebrating a “Merry Xmas,” having recently released new recordings of holiday favorites “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” Despite Cervenka’s recent multiple sclerosis diagnosis, she and the band sound stronger than ever. They’re the perfect musical friends to help welcome in a rockin’ New Year. (Sean McCourt)

With Dave Gleason and the Golden Cadillacs (Wed.) and the Heavenly States (Thurs.)

9 p.m. (also Thurs/31), $31–$71

Slim’s

333 11th St., SF

(415) 255-0333

www.slims-sf.com.

THURSDAY 31st

MUSIC

Boyz IV Men

Don’t be fooled: you might think this band altered their name in parodic jest, but really, it was just an evasive maneuver to throw everyone off while they continue campaigning under their banner of complicit subjection to everything that is male. Boyz IV Men like to think of it as being in the closet — a closet inside an even bigger closet. Their sound is of equal subterfuge: two of them play children’s keyboards with pinky fingers while the third cranks out aggressive, tantrum-driven disco beats. This is all to say that I also grow my beard out for every one of their shows. Spending NYE with a bunch of sweaty, hairy-chested boys and men? Count. Me. Down. (Spencer Young)

With 1.2..3 … Knife!, DJ Summer Camp, and B4M DJ Set

9 p.m., free

Five Points Art House

72 Tehama, SF

(415) 989-1166

www.fivepointsarthouse.com

FILM

“Quintessential Chaplin”

Things you could do tonight at the movie theater: visit an overstuffed multiplex, and suffer through something with the word “Squeakquel” in its title. What you should do instead: head to gorgeous Grace Cathedral for three Charlie Chaplin shorts with live organ accompaniment by Dorothy Papadakos. The bill compiles three movies from 1917: The Cure, in which the Little Tramp is a drunk on the mend; The Immigrant, in which he encounters immediate money woes upon landing in America; and The Adventurer, in which he’s an escaped convict. Classic shenanigans all, with nary a chipmunk in sight. (Cheryl Eddy)

7 and 10 p.m., $10–$15

Grace Cathedral

1100 California, SF

(415) 392-4400

www.gracecathedral.org

MUSIC

Disco 2010 with Glass Candy

Mirror mirror, on the wall, which is the fairest disco NYE event of all? No question: it’s Disco 2010. Aside from some Popscene DJ spots, this is a showcase for the formidable Johnny Jewel, bringing two of his musical projects together on one bill. Most people know of Glass Candy and their aerobic appeal. Not as well-known and newer on the scene is Desire, whose debut recording on Italians Do it Better brought one of 2009’s catchiest and most haunting pop songs, “Don’t Call,” a four-minute breakup anthem that tapped into the “Billie Jean” backbeat before MJ’s death, adding a mournful but propulsive string arrangement to a tale of new independence. (Huston)

9 p.m., $45

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011

www.rickshawstop.com

FRIDAY 1st

EVENT

Supper Club’s Breakfast in Bed

I enjoy my bed. Comfortable, familiar, a place where everybody knows my name. But after this year’s fabulous New Year’s Eve carousing, how anticlimactic will it be to sink into the same old sheets? Luckily, I don’t have to, because Supper Club is planning a party. Breakfast in Bed includes a breakfast buffet, mimosas, the chain’s trademark mattress hangouts, and house beats that are respectful of the fact that this is probably not the first party you’ve gone to in the last 12 hours. For $140, you and three of your accomplices can even reserve your own bedstead, complete with pillow-side food and drink service. If you’re not a total hedonistic degenerate, you can go to bed when the ball drops and head out here sober to live vicariously through the hangovers of others. (Caitlin Donohue)

5–11 a.m., $10–$40

Supper Club

657 Harrison, SF

(415) 348-0900

www.supperclub.com

SATURDAY 2nd

VISUAL ART

“When Lives Become Form: Contemporary Brazilian Art, From the 1960s to the Present”

Kick off the new year with a blast of Technicolor via this traveling exhibition dedicated to the formidable and ever-morphing visual art and music phenom known as tropicália. With a range that extends from the Brazilian movement’s originator, Hélio Oiticica, to newer artists such as the pre-Ryan Trecartin and pre-Paper Rad color assaults of assume vivid astro focus, “When Lives Become Form” might make it a little easier to forgive Os Mutantes for that McDonald’s commercial. (Huston)

Noon-8 p.m. (through Jan. 31), $5–$7

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787

www.ybca.org

SUNDAY 3rd

FILM

You, the Living

“Be pleased then, you the living, in your delightfully warmed bed, before Lethe’s ice-cold wave will lick your escaping foot.” This Goethe quote opens Roy Andersson’s You, the Living, the sequel to his 2000 tragicomedy Songs From the Second Floor. Composed of 50 absurdist vignettes, You, the Living does not transcend existential ennui; neither does it wallow in angst. Rather, it couples pain with love, portraying a bleakly comic world where despair and happiness carry the same weight. The palette of drab blues and yellows mimic the color of pills, and one could say the film serves as an advertisement for Prozac. The dissonant noise of sousaphones, bass drums, and banjos create an artifice of comedic musicality set against a backdrop of frumpy bedrooms, bars, and office buildings, where nothing really happens. Just everyday life. (Lorian Long)

2, 4, 7:15 and 9:20 p.m. (also Mon/4, 7:15 and 9:20 p.m.)

Red Vic Movie House

1727 Haight, SF

(415) 668-3994

www.redvicmoviehouse.com

CLASS

Yoga and Ayurveda for Real Life

Here, tallied and totaled, is the approximate intake of the average festive individual over the last week: a cheese plate, a bite of questionable ham, three scoops of black-eyed peas, two pounds of turkey, 15 latkes with applesauce, 110 frosted cookies, a barely edible door off of some poor child’s gingerbread house, a carafe of mulled cider, six cups of eggnog, eight flutes of champagne, a half bottle of Jack Daniels, three trips to the mall after you said you weren’t going to go this year, and the guilt of getting a camera tripod from Aunt Sara when you sent her a very nice bar of soap. A few days late. Yes, your body hates you. Get back in its good graces with a class from one of the most affordable, least judging yoga/massage studios in the city. The Mindful Body’s Kate Lumsden is offering a tutorial on integrating yoga — back? — into your life for the new year, the perfect chance to feel centered again before Monday. (Donohue)

1–4 p.m., $35

The Mindful Body

2876 California, SF

(415) 931-2639

www.themindfulbody.com

MUSIC

Hunx and His Punx, Brilliant Colors

The world was in need of a true gay Teen Beat pin-up, not a closeted one. Luckily, the fun and sexy Hunx came to the rescue, posing in a jockstrap splayed out on a bed filled with pop culture treasures. He’s made some great clips with music video wunderkind Justin Kelly, and his new LP Gay Singles (True Panther/Matador) is great front and back — as evidenced by its cover, which presents crotch-and-ass close-ups of zebra bikini briefs. Do your makeup, and then do someone at this show, which doubles the pop appeal with Slumberland girls Brilliant Colors. (Huston)

With Gun Outfit

9 p.m., $6

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF

(415) 923-0923

www.hemlocktavern.com

TUESDAY 5th

MUSIC

Pirate Cat Radio Benefit Show

After 13 years of putting the “arr!” in radio (sorry, couldn’t resist), Pirate Cat Radio has officially been fucked by the FCC. The corporate whores slapped the unlicensed broadcast radio station with a $10,000 fine back in August, and gave founder Daniel K. Roberts (“Monkey”) 30 days to either pay up or challenge the fine. As Roberts fights to put Pirate back on the air, several benefit shows are being held to help save SF’s favorite renegade station. One such show will be at Bottom of the Hill, where local music cuties Hey Young Believer and Blood and Sunshine will play electropop alongside UK electronic artist Con Brio. (Long)

8:30 p.m., $9

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 621-4455

www.bottomofthehill.com

FILM

Rocky

SFMOMA’s “Museum Highs, Museum Lows” film series continues the binary theme of last year’s film series “Vegas Highs, Vegas Lows,” but shifts locales. The Italian stallion, Mr. Balboa, starts things off, not just because he’s everyone’s favorite underdog — and thus the perfect archetype for overcoming the terrible economy — but because he’s enshrined in bronze at the top of the Philadelphia MoMA’s steps. The thought behind this whole “High/Low” dichotomy is in line with camp — so bad it’s good — so perhaps SFMOMA’s is out to reverse Philly MoMA’s embarrassment about the statue. But who cares about that damned thing? It’s Rocky’s will to survive that we want to see. (Young)

Noon, free

Phyllis Wattis Theater

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

151 Third St., SF

(415) 357-4400

www.sfmoma.org

The halting dance of Sirron Norris and Fox TV

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By Caitlin Donohue

bobs burgers 1 1209.jpg
One more quirky animated show for FOX TV? Hey, at least it’s something to keep you busy in between episodes of The Cleveland Show!

Some may see it as a big leap to go from working on street murals in San Francisco to designing a pilot for Fox, but for painter Sirron Norris, it all comes down to the cheese. “Making a living is important to me,” says the Bay Area artist. Norris has been keeping busy working on the creative design for “Bob’s Burgers,” an animated series that the network just ordered 13 episodes of, set to debut in early 2011 with a cast of comedians in the vocal roles.

In our recent interview for this week’s SFBG Scene magazine, Norris leveled with me about the process his team went through to make “Bob’s Burgers” a TV series that was appropriate for the network home of the country’s first cartoon family.

Swans, symmetry, and sensations

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DANCE Looking back over a year’s dance performances feels like reading a horoscope backward. Were there surprises, disappointments, new loves, emerging trends, familiar encounters, and reasons for hope and despair? Of course. Perhaps the best part of this yearly exercise is that it allows works to bubble up that for one reason or another — quality, daring, perspective, innovation — stuck in the mind. You want to see them again. Some, you actually will. As for the not-that-again, forget-it, or please-don’t pieces, they already have sunk into the grand pool of oblivion. The following is a baker’s dozen of top picks, chosen roughly in the order in which they were seen.

Sean Dorsey’s dance-theater piece Lou, based on the writings of transgender pioneer Lou Sullivan and danced by Dorsey, Brian Fisher, Juan de la Rosa, and Nol Simonse, was a penetrating portrait of one man’s courage and lust for life. It also highlighted Dorsey’s increasingly fluid skill in fusing language and dance.

San Francisco Ballet’s most recent Swan Lake (to be reprised in January 2010) is an odd mix of traditional (the choreography) and edgy (the production). By using the bold design of a ballet neophyte, Broadway-credited Jonathan Fensom, Helgi Tomasson took a huge risk in offending traditionalists who like their swans pure. Danced fabulously well, this is a Swan Lake for our own time.

Pichet Klunchun and Myself was just a one-night stand, but what a night it was. To watch French super-theorist Jérôme Bel and classical Thai dancer Klunchun play their intellectual ping pong game about life, dance, culture, and everything in between was to watch two master performers at work.

The big deal about Jess Curtis/Gravity’s brainy and sensuous The Symmetry Project was not that Curtis and Maria Francesca Scaroni performed nude, but that they embodied the idea of relationships — physical, intellectual, emotional, erotic — as being constantly in play.

Presented by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in conjunction with their exhibit on William Kentridge, The Return of Ulysses was Kentridge’s translation of Monteverdi’s jewel into puppet theater. The multiple perspectives on time and place and the exquisite cooperation between puppets and singers were awe-inspiring.

ODC/Dance — just because of who they are. Sometimes we tend to take established hometown companies for granted. Yet these dancers have never looked better. Additionally, both Brenda Way’s In the Memory of the Forest and KT Nelson’s Grassland overflowed with commanding and beautifully shaped ideas.

We know Heidi Schweiker best as an interpreter of other people’s choreography. That’s why it was so gratifying to see her first full evening of work. Dreams of Speaking showed a choreographer of intelligence, imagination, and a fine sense of craft.

Ramón Ramos Alayo’s fifth annual Cuba Caribe Festival packed them in. It’s SoMa’s own ethnic dance festival sporting a highly partisan and knowledgeable audience and performers who compete — in a friendly way. High points were the sassy female Las Que Son Son and Alayo dancing up a storm with Silfredo La O Vigo.

Seen in a drizzly rain on a preview performance, Spirit of Place (to be reprised this spring), Anna Halprin’s tribute to husband Lawrence Halprin’s reimagined Stern Grove Theater, was a gorgeous response to a space where nature and art collaborate. The dancers looked like spirits emanating from this magisterial grass and granite environment.

Togetherness suits artistic and life partners Janice Garrett and Charles Moulton. For their second collaboration, The Illustrated Book of Invisible Stories (which returns in January 2010), they worked with two groups of completely different dancers. The result was mysterious, mesmerizing, and surprisingly fresh.

The big surprise at the San Francisco International Arts Festival was the extraordinarily skilled and theatrically vibrant The Angel and the Woodcutter, South Korea’s Cho-In Theatre’s eloquent retelling in movement of a popular Korean fairy tale. It deserved a larger audience.

Suzanne Farrell Ballet’s lecture-demonstration, The Balanchine Couple, served as a vivid reminder that Balanchine never ran out of ideas for pas de deux. The nine on this program could not have been more different — all of them first-rate. The program also brought home the painful truth that such finely detailed and musically phrased Balanchine interpretations are a rarity.

Sometimes it helps to look beyond the hook. The big deal about South African dancer Gregory Maqoma’s Beautiful Me was that he used material from three other (cooperating) artists for his own choreography. Fair enough, but what left this audience member speechless was the grace, virility, and technical and emotional virtuosity with which Maqoma realized this portrayal of self.

Finally, the Performing Diaspora Festival was an ambitious project “featuring traditional forms as a basis for experimentation and innovation.” It boasted an elaborate support structure of studio time, blogs, workshops, and symposia. In the two programs I saw, the work ranged from first rate to mediocre. Fortunately, this is a two-year project — so let’s toast to 2010.

Digging

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SUPER EGO This time of year, everyone’s showering their Top 10 lists down upon an eager, listless world. I’ll get to mine just as soon as I finish this bottomless pomosa, but I want to give a special shoutout to a couple recent local releases I’ve been digging that may have slipped past your Beatport. (Remember to always use a water-based lubricant with digital. Safety first!)

The first is the absolutely lovely Brick by Brick (Nightlight) by Alland Byallo which sounds excellent either on the dance floor or on a rainy Monday, chilling as you attempt to pour some bottomless pomosa into a giant thermos in your backpack without the waitress seeing, like I am now. As the title suggests, this is a minimal-techish release, building up numbers with a very limited set of elements. Those elements are impeccably produced snatches of sound that propel each track forward with an unfussy chug and even a few flashes of wry humor. Standout tracks like “Bebring” and “Casual Sax” break the minimal mold by giving us some good ol’ funk.

Also yummy: the recently released An-ten-nae Presents Acid Crunk Vol 2 (Muti) acts as a superb compendium of the still intriguing if increasingly in-jokey glitch hop sound. The mysterious An-ten-nae splits his time between L.A. and the Bay, spinning and promoting up a storm, and here he’s gathered a whirl of big names like Marty Party and ill.gates to follow up his first EP. Many seem on their best behavior, but tracks like Akira Kiteshi’s “Ulysses” and Robot Koch’s “Hard to Find” are more than just wobbly punchlines.

OK, my bottomless stocking’s full — let’s go find a party.

CHRISTMAS DAY COSTUME CALAMITY

At first I was going to write “Just try saying ‘Christmas Day Costume Calamity’ real fast three times,” but then I tried it and I could! Yay! The medication still works. A whole bunch of party kids staying in town for the holiday — Richie Panic, Kirin Rider, Willie Maze, Similak Chyld, more — are taking that whole Nightmare Before Christmas mashup seriously and throwing another Halloween for Noel. (Noelloween?) You don’t have to dress as Santa, just dress as something and rock out.

Dec 25, 10 p.m.–4 a.m., free. Som, 2925 16th St., SF. www.som-bar.com

STEVE FABUS

Direct from the past but wholly of the knees-deep-in-disco-revival present — and looking amazing, might I add — Steve Fabus, one of the city’s most admired DJs from some of San Francisco’s most storied clubs (including the Trocadero Transfer) joins the younger generation of groove-heads at the very fun Go Bang!

Sat/26, 9 p.m.late, $5. Deco Lounge, 510 Larkin, SF. www.decosf.com

FLOW THE FUNK

Vinyl. It is back. And not just in that fetishy backlash way where some people just hate everything new so they pretend nothing after 1995 happened. Avant-techno musicians like the Durian Brothers are wringing crazy textures from “prepared” turntables, much like composer John Cage did from prepared pianos in the 1940s. Underground dance music artists have released a flood of colored-vinyl rarities to increase their PR potential. And, on the more fun side of things, all-vinyl nights have taken off at such DJ-nurturing places as Triple Crown. Appropriate, then, that DJ M3, Triple Crown’s commander-in-chief, would be pulling out an all-vinyl marathon session from his bag of tricks at the new flapper-styley Eve. Five hours, no digital, all free.

Sat/26, 9 p.m., free. Eve, 575 Howard, SF. www.eveloungesf.com

FLOOR SCORE

Next week I’ll be laying down some New Year’s Eve party picks — and probably laying down a little myself in preparation. Bring Momma a little cocktail and a big Australian before her nap, sweetie. But not the toothy, manscaped kind. What? Impossible? Sheesh, just make him Italian, then. Somebody please take the clippers away from Down Under. Anyway, everyone knows that it’s actually the ability to party all the way through New Year’s Day that separates the hot wings from the boneless. Dragging yourself across the finish line (resolutions!) won’t be too hard this year, with promoter Ryan Robles’ Floor Score waiting at the front end of 2k10. Although queer-oriented, this party has enough going for all persuasions, including DJ Pee Play from Honey Soundsystem and Gemini Disco’s Nicky B. ringing in the future.

Jan. 1, 10 p.m.–4 a.m., $6. Siberia, 314 11th St., SF.

STOMPY + SUNSET

Another New Year’s Day secret, only for the sexy (and possibly addicted) people — this 12-hour rager from classic SF techno-house crews Stompy and Sunset. The frankly amazing Stanley Frank of Chilidog kicks things off with some sublime rare-cuts wackiness. Charles Webster from the U.K. headlines. Galen, Solar, Taj, and tons more join in. You make sure to carry some concealer in your purse.

Jan. 1, 2 p.m.–2 a.m., $10/$20. Cafe Cocomo, 650 Indiana, SF. www.pacificsound.net

NIMBY warehouse is fighting for its life

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By Steven T. Jones

Another East Bay workspace for Burning Man artists is being threatened by a code compliance crackdown. The operators at NIMBY warehouse – an amazing Oakland warehouse instrumental in the creation of artworks such as Streampunk Tree House, Colossus, and Dance Dance Immolation – have spent thousands of dollars getting up to code and are now have a hard time making rent.

The Shipyard, a workspace in Berkeley run by artist Jim Mason, barely survived a similar struggle two years ago, one that sidetracked his work on project using gasification technology that generates usable power from waste products such as coffee grounds and walnut shells. Mason says he’s donated $1,000 to NIMBY and he’s urging others in the Burning Man and artist communities to help out as well.

“Each of us has been here. Each of us is really still here in some manner. And each of us will most likely continue to be here in some manner or other forever,” Mason wrote. “I don’t really think these institutions are beatable. I’ve lost my idealism on this one. the best we can hope for is management of a chronic problem to a state of tolerable pain. And the next project we do, the creatives vs standards enforcement dance will start again, with blood soon flowing across the dance floor.”

For more information or to learn how to help, contact NIMBY’s Michael Snook – who was also involved with La Contessa — at snook@nimbyspace.org.

SCENE: N.I.C.E. Collective designs a community

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The N.I.C.E. boys. All photos by Spencer Hansen

Designers Joe Haller and Ian Hannula of burgeoning San Francisco fashion brand N.I.C.E. Collective (www.nicecollective.com) met in a club more than a decade ago and started collaborating on projects — the first one was repurposing an electric blanket into a jumper — complete with tag and plug. Their big idea was to fuel fashion with a musical and nightlife sensibility, enabling the duo to build a community of artists. N.I.C.E. (an acronym for “navigate, inform, create, explore”) rocked New York Fashion Week last spring with a show that felt more art installation/dance party than runway presentation, and whose backdrop included a 19th century carriage and much charred wood. The impeccably edgy Time Machine line they introduced there took off and now holds its own on the floors of retail boutiques next to editorial darlings Rag & Bone and more established brands like Comme des Garcons.

But what next? Between constant trips back and forth from New York to the site of their “live fashion installment” in Bolinas, we managed to snag Joe and Ian for a moment to ask them about the concept for their latest, “communal” clothing line.

DJ nice collective.jpg

SFBG When did you start cultivating the concept for a communal line launch?
N.I.C.E. We came across this stretch of land in Bolinas, and we looked over it and thought, “with the economy tanking, why don’t we just set up a little commune together?” This thought became the jump-off point for our design inspiration for spring 2010. We decided to name it the Gathering.

Then when we didn’t find what we were looking for to show the clothes in New York during Fashion Week this fall, we thought back to Bolinas and decided to go ahead and actually set up a temporary community there. Instead of art directing an outdoor photo-shoot, we would live it and take pictures of our line that way.

Spencer Hansen nice collective 409.jpg

SFBG How did it go? Were any of the models eaten by bears?

N.I.C.E. It was absolutely fantastic. We underestimated how difficult it would be. We could only drive so far, and had to carry everything to the site for a quarter mile. We didn’t finish unloading until 3 a.m. We were up there for four-and-a-half days, with perfect weather, building domes and tents and art installations.

The models were great: they were pitching tents and carrying sound equipment. Even models are creative: they were building visual platforms that had a good flow. We ended up chasing light a lot of the time to capture what was going on, and the images were not as haphazard as we had envisioned. But in the end, it was really a magical experience.

The biggest thing for us is to be able to share our thought process. The design is so close to our hearts, but I think oftentimes it’s missed by the customer. We want to give people a path to see it.

Spencer Hansen nice collective 383.jpg

SFBG Do tell a bit about the clothes, then.
N.I.C.E. The idea we’re focusing on is pioneering, which highlights utilitarian use. But we try to make the utilitarian component hidden, and clothes that fit and work no matter what environment you’re in. Nothing is too precious: everything is beautiful but still sturdy. Each garment has a little way of achieving a secondary use; technology is layered in to communicate that a little more. We have a fabric that has stainless steel woven into it, so it holds where you form it, creates a great wrinkle. And garments reconstructed from military tents that can be worn as either a parka or a skirt.

ENCOURAGEMENT nice colletive.jpg

SFBG Brilliant. So seems like you’ve entirely eschewed New York.
N.I.C.E. In New York, there is this typical fashion noise where everyone is kind of vibrating at the same pace. San Francisco lets us be apart from that and do our own thing. It is a challenge working here. The fashion industry is not here, but it’s such a great, inspiring city to work in that the benefits are worth it. When we came back from Fashion Week, we needed a month to recover. But since we’ve been back from the Gathering, we’ve still got an inspirational glow.

NIMBY warehouse is fighting for its life

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By Steven T. Jones

Another East Bay workspace for Burning Man artists is being threatened by a code compliance crackdown. The operators at NIMBY warehouse – an amazing Oakland warehouse instrumental in the creation of artworks such as Streampunk Tree House, Colossus, and Dance Dance Immolation – have spent thousands of dollars getting up to code and are now have a hard time making rent.

The Shipyard, a workspace in Berkeley run by artist Jim Mason, barely survived a similar struggle two years ago, one that sidetracked his work on project using gasification technology that generates usable power from waste products such as coffee grounds and walnut shells. Mason says he’s donated $1,000 to NIMBY and he’s urging others in the Burning Man and artist communities to help out as well.

“Each of us has been here. Each of us is really still here in some manner. And each of us will most likely continue to be here in some manner or other forever,” Mason wrote. “I don’t really think these institutions are beatable. I’ve lost my idealism on this one. the best we can hope for is management of a chronic problem to a state of tolerable pain. And the next project we do, the creatives vs standards enforcement dance will start again, with blood soon flowing across the dance floor.”

For more information or to learn how to help, contact NIMBY’s Michael Snook – who was also involved with La Contessa — at snook@nimbyspace.org.

SCENE: N.I.C.E. Collective designs a community

0

Interview by Laura Palmer. From SCENE: The Guardian Guide to Nightlife and Glamour on stands in the Guardian now

119-nice.jpg
The N.I.C.E. boys. All photos by Spencer Hansen

Designers Joe Haller and Ian Hannula of burgeoning San Francisco fashion brand N.I.C.E. Collective (www.nicecollective.com) met in a club more than a decade ago and started collaborating on projects — the first one was repurposing an electric blanket into a jumper — complete with tag and plug. Their big idea was to fuel fashion with a musical and nightlife sensibility, enabling the duo to build a community of artists. N.I.C.E. (an acronym for “navigate, inform, create, explore”) rocked New York Fashion Week last spring with a show that felt more art installation/dance party than runway presentation, and whose backdrop included a 19th century carriage and much charred wood. The impeccably edgy Time Machine line they introduced there took off and now holds its own on the floors of retail boutiques next to editorial darlings Rag & Bone and more established brands like Comme des Garcons.

But what next? Between constant trips back and forth from New York to the site of their “live fashion installment” in Bolinas, we managed to snag Joe and Ian for a moment to ask them about the concept for their latest, “communal” clothing line.

DJ nice collective.jpg

SFBG When did you start cultivating the concept for a communal line launch?
N.I.C.E. We came across this stretch of land in Bolinas, and we looked over it and thought, “with the economy tanking, why don’t we just set up a little commune together?” This thought became the jump-off point for our design inspiration for spring 2010. We decided to name it the Gathering.

Then when we didn’t find what we were looking for to show the clothes in New York during Fashion Week this fall, we thought back to Bolinas and decided to go ahead and actually set up a temporary community there. Instead of art directing an outdoor photo-shoot, we would live it and take pictures of our line that way.

Spencer Hansen nice collective 409.jpg

SFBG How did it go? Were any of the models eaten by bears?

SCENE: Lazer Sword zaps the boom-blap

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By Michael Krimper. From SC ENE: The Guardian Guide to Nightlife and Glamour, on stands in the Guardian now!

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Lazer Sword photo by Beryl Fine

San Francisco-bred electronic duo, Lazer Sword, has a secret weapon. Bryant Rutledge (a.k.a. Low Limit) and Antaeus Roy (a.k.a. Lando Kal) have developed a musically enhanced dehydration gun that zaps the sweat out of dance crowds like a soul-sonic Super Soaker. There’s no escaping it. Inside investigators report that this weapon emerged mysteriously from a Mission District apartment building in 2006, conceived from a reactive mixture of 1980s sci-fi psychedelia and a futuristic bass-rattling force unanticipated by even the most forward-thinking predictions of the oncoming 2010s. It’s manufactured out of grime-ridden computer technology and 8-bit video game parts, designed with the stuttering ferocity of electro-house synthetics and drum machines, and blessed by the hustlers and gangstas of swagger rap. Welcome to Lazer Sword’s boom blap.

And just like one of those vintage sci-fi films, Rutledge and Roy seem to be on their way to world domination. The duo just returned from their second European tour, slaying dance floors from London, England, to Bialystok, Poland. “Crowds overseas are pretty open to electronic music in general,” says Rutledge, “but I get the feeling that two guys jamming on their midi controllers making weird rap beats mixed with dolphin noises and Hanna Barbera samples is a little different and new for them.” Unabashed, Lazer Sword welcomes the challenge of converting unknowing club fiends, wallflowers, and beat heads alike to their leftfield, electro hip-hop bounce. “There’s always an awesome feeling when the crowd doesn’t know what to expect at first,” Roy weighs in, “then over time, cats are dripping in sweat and falling over themselves.”

Flashing lights

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Guardian illustration of DJ AM, Daft Punk, and Steve Aoki by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

DECADE IN MUSIC Good lord. Who can remember all the strobe-lit twists and turns that Bay Area nightlife slid down in the past decade? Even if I wasn’t utterly and gloriously hung over from 10 years of being 86ed, it would still be a sweat-drenched, dry-iced, hypnotic blear. That’s a lovely thing. The ABC crackdown on underground parties in the late 1990s still held strong — and lively licensed spaces like Café Du Nord, Slim’s, Buckshot, and DNA Lounge as well as many music-oriented street fairs are still feeling the pressure of the War on Fun. But you can’t stop the party. And, baby, we lived through it.

One point about nightlife in general this decade: no one could ignore it. From hip-pop’s odiously capitalist-utopian "da club" to the tourist-trap explosion of global dance music festivals, club culture was on everyone’s radar. Today’s pop stars blithely name-check underground nightlife legends like Leigh Bowery and Larry Levan, and middle-school kids fill their notebooks with fantasy club outfits. Oh yeah, edgy nightlife has been completely commodified — thank you, Steve Aoki and DJ AM — but it’s a testament to its amazing versatility that going out is still enormously subversive fun, and the onslaught of bottle service and stretch-limo-packed music vids have had little impact on a vibrant independent scene. (In fact, the independent scene has gotten a ton of mileage out of parodying and reinterpreting mainstream club dreams.)

The last 10 years of the local club scene certainly gave me a lot to write and think — and drink — about. That was probably nightlife’s most distinctive feature: it finally came into its own as an art form, one that welcomed multiple interpretations while devilishly playing with our heads. The best party promoters in the Bay worked hard not only to present immersive subcultural experiences but also to contextualize their parties in terms of global movements. You couldn’t just fly in a supastar DJ and set the light show on random anymore. Clubgoers rejected that kind of dollar-driven cynicism. They wanted to know how a party would plug them into something different, something relevant, something uniquely of the moment, something beyond.

In short, they wanted personality. At times, this meant that concept trumped music — how many times did you find yourself spazzing on the dance floor to someone’s hodgepodge iPod playlist in 2005, just because that someone was ironically amazing? But it sure was fun for a while, giving dance culture a kick in the fancy-pants and throwing open the door to a glittering array of musical styles. And everybody looked fantastic. Irony freed us from previous expectations like beat-matching, genre hegemony, fashion anxiety, and bland slickness. (It also introduced a flood of unicorns and neon accessories.) Deconstruction at last! For good or ill, but mostly for good, anyone could be a DJ, throw a party, design a flyer, work a look. All you needed was a little space, a big idea, and a sense of adventure. A crowd helped, too, but only if you worried about something as mundane as paying the bills. Reality? Oh, really.

That mid-period chemical peel of irony neatly divided the decade. We cruised and shmoozed into the new millennium on the Boom-bubble back of a lazy lounge wave — the sunny house-lite sighs of Naked Music and Miguel Migs, the mushroom jazz of Mark Farina, OM’s smooth-beats Kaskade, and the friendly turntablism of Triple Threat popping the pink Champagne. That wave soon crested, churning up a foam of pink-slip parties, when discount daytime raves and increasingly baby-powdered coke binges took over. Luckily, happy hour took credit cards. Clubland reverted to a pre-Internet sensibility, with small spaces ruling and breakbeats all the rage again.

Alongside the breaks (a sound the Bay actually had a big hand in developing) the club music menu was still hogged by chunky techno, diva house, Burner trance, retro overload, and sing-along hip-hop. Post-punk, electro-funk, radical eclecticism, and global-eared sounds popped their heads up at times: Joy at Liquid, Milkshake at Sno-Drift, Club KY at Amnesia, Knees Up at Hush Hush, Popscene at 330 Ritch, Step at An Sibin, Fake at Cat Club, roving Bardot-a-Go-Go, and one-offs at 26Mix, Blind Tiger, Jezebel’s Joint, Pow!, Annie’s, Tongue and Groove, Storyville, and Justice League. Electroclash had its brief moment, too — anyone remember Electro Rodeo at Galaxy? — and reggaeton made a thrilling brief appearance. But in general the Bay was a little late in breaking free from the ’90s.

That sounds absolutely pukey, but it wasn’t. Some beautiful nights came out of this period — I’m half-remembering Said’s Afro-house Atmosfere, David Harness’s deep-souled Taboo, and anything at the Top, EndUp, or the Cellar. And living in the ’90s wasn’t so bad considering primo parties like Qoöl, Wicked, Stompy, Thump, Death Guild, and New Wave City maintained a presence. Also, if you were looking for "exotic" sounds, you could easily find them at some of the best ethno-audio spaces, like Bissap Baobab and Café Cocomo. But yes, those four-four beats got tiresome.

Then, around late-2004, came a return of the repressed, an explosion of Day-Glo styles that had been incubating in a clutch of neon-oriented, omnivorous-eared parties like Le Freak Plastique at Hush Hush and DJ Jefrodesiac’s Sex With Machines (later Frisco Disco) at Arrow. Soon San Francisco was in the midst of a small-venue, independent promoter golden age — and a rosy flush of youth. Finally, more than the same four people were throwing parties! And you were never sure of what you’d hear.

After a few debauched months of those rag-tag iPod-oriented shindigs, things sorted out into a handful of heady genres. Technology spookily inserted itself — almost every dance floor was bathed in the light of a little half-eaten apple. Serrato and Ableton software made live edits and mind-boggling mashups, like those heard at Bootie, possible, and timelines fell away to reveal gleaming ahistorical sonic landscapes. Beat-matching gradually came back into vogue, but wittily revealing the seams between tracks became the ne plus ultra of DJ craftsmanship.

The French invaded in the form of Daft Punk- and Justice-inspired electro bangers, spraying young clubbers with American Apparel and shutter shades. To my ears, Richie Panic and Vin Sol were our best balls-out interpreters of this fuck-all party sound and spirit, and Blow Up at Rickshaw Stop its finest venue. Minimal techno made sure hot nerds with little glasses were still in control — Kontrol at EndUp, in fact, was the club that did the most to nurture the Berlin-based sound here, with venue Anu and now the near-perfect 222 Hyde offering various party backup. Genius local minimal players like Nikola Baytala and Alland Byallo worked hard to stretch the boundaries, while Claude Von Stroke and the Dirty Bird Records crew added some much-needed humor.

There was a backlash to all the technology, which revolutionized gay clubs. DJ Bus Station John’s all-vinyl, unmixed bathhouse disco sets goosed the moribund queer scene into exploring its AIDS-shrouded past, and threw open the back door to the far-reaching sets of freestyle and rare ’80s fetishist Stanley Frank and the kiki-technotics of Honey Soundsystem.

London’s dubstep sound morphed into glitch-tipsy future bass — another genre the Bay can claim as its own — before it got a firm party foothold here. Which is more than all right, considering that mutation spawned beloved duo Lazer Sword and led Burner techno giant Bassnectar to change his sonic stripes. Most inspiring to me was the outpouring of global sounds in the Bay, from NonStop Bhangra’s whirling saris to Surya Dub’s growling dubstep-bhangra hybrid, from Tormenta Tropical’s bass-bomping nueva cumbia to Kafana Balkan’s breathless, Romani-delirious funk.

So where are we now? If any moment could be called "post-whatever," this is it. Anything goes, excellently, but it’s accompanied by a feeling that we’ve informed ourselves fully of the past, that we’ve mastered the technology of the present, and that, no matter how intelligent the music, we can still have a damn good time. My only gripe about the past decade in nightlife — other than I wished we’d had a more conscious reaction to war — is, alas, the same one as last decade. Where are all the women? Big ups to Ana Sia, Sarah Delush, Forest Green, J. Phlip, Felina, Dulcinea, Miz Margo, Nuxx, Black, and the Stay Gold, Redline, and B.A.S.S. sisterhoods. But seriously, I hope the teens see less testosterone-driven talent behind the decks. We’ve got the style down — now let’s change the look. OK?