Quick: talk about river otters. Here are a few facts to get you started: they're members of the weasel family, they can swim at speeds reaching 7 miles per hour, and a group of them is known, tellingly, as a romp. The keepers at Aquarium of the Bay have spent months studying these sorts of facts and figures, studiously preparing for the arrival of their brand-new residents. In Otters: Watershed Ambassadors, these river kings and queens get some well-earned attention, with exhibits tracing everything from their daily habits to their conservation status.
The otters aren't alone, of course. The 50,000 square foot facility houses three main exhibit areas devoted entirely to marine life native to San Francisco Bay. These include Under the Bay, where Moon Jellies float amidst ambient lighting inside a 725-gallon cylinder tank. They share the exhibit with two tunnel tanks, which provide an undersea view of giant Pacific octopuses, spiny dogfish, swirling schools of anchovies, and the sevengill shark, the largest shark native to the bay. Visitors eager to put their other senses to work can head over to the aquarium's touch pools, where their fingertips can graze juvenile bat rays, leopard sharks, and sea stars.
Daily programs enrich visits with interactive presentations in the Bay Lab?the aquarium's land animal area?including feeding shows. And though not included in this Groupon and membership, behind the scenes tours escort guests through all of the aquarium's highlights. Over in the Bay Theater, 3D films and award-winning documentaries examine subjects such as shark species and marine conservation, while magician Timothy Noonan's 75-minute interactive show blends family-friendly comedy with illusions such as pulling a whale out of a hat.
The curators of The GLBT History Museum—the first stand-alone museum of its kind in the U.S.—know the GLBT experience is not the same for everybody. That’s why their flagship exhibit, “Our Vast Queer Past: Celebrating San Francisco's GLBT History,” doesn’t just tell one narrative, but encompasses multiple, sometimes contradictory, perspectives. Broken into sections focusing on themes such as bar life, faith, and drag culture, the exhibition, according to the San Francisco Bay Guardian, collectively “packs a huge emotional and education punch." To illustrate 100 years of the city’s queer history, the exhibit includes everything from retro gay bar flyers to pantsuits worn by lesbian activists on their wedding day in 2008.
Along with its main exhibit, the museum hosts rotating materials from international collections that document the queer experience in countries such as Scotland and South Africa. Every one to four months, the Corner Gallery accommodates a new show dedicated to subjects such as African-American LGBT history or direct action during the AIDS epidemic. Besides exhibitions, the museum educates guests throughout the year with programming such as panel discussions and film screenings.
Groupon Celebrates Pride Month
Over the last 50 years, the gay-rights movement in America has overcome tremendous obstacles to become a powerful voice for inclusion and diversity. Even as it has grown, the movement—like Groupon—is local at heart, and we applaud the commitment to real change that improves everyday lives.
At Groupon, we are happy to add our voices to those celebrating PRIDE, their achievements as a social movement and a continued march to equality for the LGBT community. Plus, we love a chance to dig that rainbow wig out of storage.
This month—and throughout the year—we salute our merchants and customers who support PRIDE and all efforts that promote dignity, respect, and equal opportunity. We're highlighting these merchants' deals with a special badge to show Groupon's pride in working with people who share our values.
Dancing with the Stars cast members Alec Mazo and Edyta Sliwinska, whose 2007 wedding with each other was celebrated in People magazine, opened up Genesis Dance Sport Studio to share their expertise with kids and adults. Before stepping into the role of business owner, Sliwinska found success on the international dance circuit and in TV commercials in her native Poland before meeting the Russian-born Mazo at a ballroom-dance competition in England. The duo danced together for years at national and international events before skyrocketing to fame on the popular ABC dance show where Mazo won the first season's competition with General Hospital star Kelly Monaco. Sliwinska has twirled with a slew of celebrities—including Evander Holyfield and Joey Lawrence—during her 10 glamorous seasons with the show. The husband-and-wife team has also produced the instructional DVDs “Dancing like the Pros” and “Fitness with the Pros," which help people improve their moves and become agile enough to solve a Rubik's Cube with their feet.
Sliwinska currently acts as both an instructor and the creative director of the studio, which is a welcoming, down-to-earth space that Mazo's parents originally opened in 1994. Here, she and the other experienced instructors boost students' self-confidence and social skills as they teach them the cha-cha, rumba, and swing. Many of their students have even gone on to garner accomplishments within the dance industry. The studio also offers courses for weddings and dance-based fitness classes that combine ballroom moves with plyometric training and yoga.
Juicy Liberty Sanchez and Steve23 traveled separate, yet intertwining paths before becoming partners in life and in yoga. Juicy was hooked on Bikram yoga after her first class in 2001, during which she fell down many times, but continued to rise to the challenge, both literally and figuratively. As time went on, she grew more interested in yoga than in her erstwhile law career. In 2005, Juicy asked Steve23?making ends meet as an artist?if he wanted to attend a Bikram teacher training with her. It was then they discovered that they had almost met on several occasions in years past. The rest, as they say, is history: the duo became the owners of Bikram Yoga in the Mission in 2006 and was married the following year in Honolulu at another Bikram teacher training. The bright turquoise and orange studio is a vibrant, funky homage to their Latino heritage and Indian culture, complete with murals and artwork painted by the teachers and students.
They and their team of certified Spanish-speaking instructors help perpetuate a yoga method developed by Bikram Choudhury. The sequence of 26 postures, performed in a heated studio, works to stimulate and strengthen every nook and cranny of the human frame. The hot surroundings are designed to loosen muscles, promote flexibility, and add authenticity to karaoke versions of "Hot Blooded." Within the 1,500-square-foot yoga room, up to 70 students become more limber beneath an electric-blue ceiling painted with white swirls that resemble clouds.
Since 1963, the Chinese Historical Society of America has collected the documents and artifacts that chronicle the history of Chinese American citizens. The society's permanent collections are typified by pieces such as One Hundred Years’ History of the Chinese in America, a vivid mural by Chinatown native James Leong that charts the progress of Chinese Americans over the course of 100 years. On a smaller scale, the Chinatown Miniatures Collection depicts three-dimensional scenes of San Francisco's Chinatown as it looked before artist Frank Wong built his shrink ray. Other exhibits change frequently, often in conjunction with special events hosted for members and their guests.
The museum can't contain every bit of Chinese American history, however. With that in mind, the society’s guides lead school groups on walking tours through the bustling streets and alleyways of San Francisco's Chinatown. Free from the confines of the museum, they point out the neighborhood’s distinct architectural landmarks and underlying social significance. Throughout the year, the museum also puts out publications such as the CHSA Bulletin, which chronicles different stories within the Chinese American community.
AstaYoga's instructors have learned over the years that a purely physical approach to yoga can lead to disillusionment with the art. That's why their studio devotes itself to cultivating both the physical and spiritual well-being of its clientele. Each of the teachers studied under Larry Schultz, the creator of the Rocket Vinyasa System, which fuses detailed breathing exercises with meaningful poses. The yogis also practice pure Vinyasa yoga and lead Pilates classes, and all of their sessions are accessible for practitioners at any skill level to follow Larry's vision of dissolving the hierarchy between beginning, intermediate, and advanced students and teachers. The studio also manufactures new yogis and gurus with their teaching courses, some of which take up to 200 hours and all of which require the student to defeat their teacher in a yoga dance-off.
The serenity of AstaYoga's classes is heightened by AstaYoga's tranquil studio. The storefront space is expansive with a comfortable waiting room, hardwood floors, and a large workout space in the back. And to further the mental well-being of their clients, the staff cultivates a friendly, community vibe by encouraging clients to socialize before or after class in their lounge or bamboo garden.