I am known to prepare a very detailed itinerary when expecting company in SF.
This weekend was no different, and I had a full agenda typed out and distributed to my Mom for her visit 48 hours before she was due to get on a plane to head west.
This itinerary included some special requests.
My Mom wanted to explore the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, a place which has roots as a hippie/’60s/flower-power mecca, where peace and love, combined with a laid-back drug-infused vibe still remains. She also wanted to go into Marin County to see the coast, as well as soak up every single second of time with yours truly.
All of her wishes were granted.
We started our first day together with a ladies-only tea at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in the Noe Valley neighborhood. This little tea shop is by far the cutest place I have been in San Francisco, complete with girly-decorated walls and signage, mismatching antique china sets and furniture, and an “eclectic assortment of collectibles [that] will delight your eyes.” We shared a traditional tea, sandwiches, salad and scones and were incredibly excited just to be sitting across from each other at the same table, in the same time zone.
Next up was the Haight-Ashbury adventure.
A visit to this part of town was fine with me, as I had never been there before and am trying to explore every nook and cranny. True to form as with other areas in Everybody’s Favorite City, the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood (although part of the same seven-mile-by-seven-mile city that I have been living in for several months), is nothing like any other area I have been. The streets were lined with tie-dye decorated shops, pairs of hippies with dreadlocked hair, record stores (yes, actual record stores) and second-hand stores, interspersed with some high-end boutiques, cafés and coffee shops. We had fun checking out the interesting items in costume stores as well as the Eastern-influenced merchandise in stores full of Buddhas and incense. I picked up a brightly-patterned jacket with shoulder-pads from a boutique — and as any teenager from the ’60s would — my Mom bought a flower for her hair.
Just off the main drag in the Haight, there is an unassuming residential building once inhabited by members of the Grateful Dead. We walked over to the house to take some pictures, but it was hard to tell that it was any different from the other homes on the street until you looked at the sidewalk and saw the painted faces of all the members of the band (photo shown below). However, knowing that these famous musicians all lived together there many years ago and walked the area, was reason enough for the visit.
My Mom was a big fan of the vibe of the neighborhood, as well as the sunny weather that accompanied us all day. She remarked that the Haight-Ashbury was exactly as she expected: “A little seedy, but not threatening.” So true.
We felt an hour of exploring gave us a sufficient taste of the Haight-Ashbury scene, so we hopped in a cab and went back home for some afternoon relaxing before our evening line-up.
Once night-time rolled around, we carried the ’60s theme along, with a brief step into the modern day.
Although we began with cocktails and appetizers at the swanky and very contemporary Living Room Bar at the W, we were transported back into a long-gone era the second we walked over to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to catch an evening show. We were there to see David Dorfman Dance’s “Prophets of Funk”, a dance performance detailing the struggles of everyday people, based on the music of the band Sly and the Family Stone, which was one of the first integrated multi-racial bands featuring both men and women and also happens to be from the Bay Area.
There was a certain community-feel to this performance, as there were volunteers teaching people how to do ’60s-inspired funk line-dances in the atrium before the show, and the theatre itself was quite small and intimate, encouraging interaction. The director of the center gave a heartfelt talk about the volunteers and the mission of bringing dance to the community before the show, and we learned that this was actually the end of the theatre’s season. Somehow we managed to score amazing second-row seats, which gave us the up-close opportunity to see the sweat beading up on the animated faces of every performer during the show.
The music was good, featuring so many popular tunes my Mom had grown up with, and the dancing was very different from anything I have ever seen. At times it seemed a little emotional and spastic. The dancers would shake and pulse and act out the “everyday struggles” of the era, jumping, punching and rolling around on the ground. We were truly mesmerized by those movements as well as the colorful costumes and the overall flow of the show.
The best part of the show was toward the end, when audience participation was taken to a new level. The dancers came out into the crowd and pulled nearly every guest onto the stage for a group dance. It was then that a circle formed, and guests and performers took turns hopping into the center to get down.
We hadn’t planned on dancing on the stage with our fellow theatre-goers, but we were both glad we did.
Such a fun night. We were even able to get a snapshot with some of the company performers, who told us they are all based out of New York.
My Mom and I have always tried to see musicals, plays, concerts and any sort of cultural event that we can. This dance show was entirely different from our past experiences, but was a great choice. It was informal, it was raw and it brought a little taste of San Francisco into the production, a perfect complement to our cultural day.
No matter where we go, my Mom and I have so much fun being together. I have to say that dancing on the stage to ’60s music is definitely one of the highlights of our weekend together.