Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival—the longest-running film festival in the Americas—San Francisco Film Society feeds the cinematic passions of fans, filmmakers, and students, showcasing more than 300 films every year. The Film Enthusiast membership entitles movie mavens to a plethora of perks worth rubbing in the noses of adversarial cinephiles who won’t stop boasting about how much popcorn they can eat in one sitting. Members also get the skinny on San Francisco International Film Festival special events and screenings, running April 21-May 5.
The seasoned event coordinators from Dance San Francisco and SalsaCrazy channel their experience into Taste Fridays, a weekly festival that combines bustling gourmet local fare and with infectious Latin rhythms. Each Friday night, guest mixologists or local fare vendors assemble on an outdoor patio to dole out samples of handheld fare, gourmet cocktails, or demonstrations of their craft, and performances of the pancake-flipping scene from Hamlet. While the festival’s vendor list rotates weekly, past guests include Alicia's Tamales, Rocket Fish, and The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. After attendees eat, they filter into inside to the Café Cocomo's dance floor, where instructors lead them through the footwork of salsa and bachata, ensuring feet obey their masters without the need for obedience training. As live music from guest Latin musicians and bands fills the space, guests can mingle and dance until 2 a.m.
If event promoter CrawlSF was a person, he or she might be one of the most fun people you could meet. A local nightlife curator and city guide, CrawlSF has also helped fill San Francisco with the conversations and laughter of revelers on its pub crawls—some of which have run for 11 consecutive years. Each four-hour tour cuts a path to drinking establishments through areas that include Polk Village, Haight Street, and other popular spots around town. Some events also pack fun bonuses, such as eating contests, and holiday-themed events might see revelers in festive costumes as they celebrate Halloween, Independence Day, or wear their Abraham Lincoln beards just because.
In the 74 years between the Paramount Theatre's opening night, when people used to line up to see “talkies” for 50 cents, and 2002, when it was voted Best Mainstage Theatre in a Seattle Weekly Reader's Poll, the palatial venue faded and decayed alongside its Roaring Twenties brethren throughout America. Luckily, former Microsoft Vice President Ida Cole saved it from the rubble heap in the mid-‘90s when she established the Seattle Landmark Association and vowed to render the Paramount "kissable" once again.
Over the course of seven months, the renovation crew expanded the size of the stage wings to accommodate more ambitious live productions. They also cleared decades of grime from the french baroque plaster reliefs, uncovering long-forgotten designs and causing only one long-dormant horror to snap open its eyes dramatically. They also replaced the gold leaf in the floral designs of the wall medallions, repainted all the surfaces in their original 16 colors, and scrubbed each of the 1.6 million crystal beads in the chandelier by hand with a toothbrush. The original Knabe Ampico player piano was returned to its spot on the four-tiered lobby's lush carpeting, and a 21st-century sound system now shares sonic space with the thundering, luminous sonority of the Paramount's fully restored Mighty Wurlitzer organ. Though the Paramount's calendar runs the gamut from rock concerts to standup comedy to Broadway musicals on the scale of Wicked, its decadent Beaux Arts trappings transport audiences to the days when reality was still black and white.
Standing sentinel after clocking significant time in World War II and assisting with the recovery of Apollo 11 and 12 space-shuttle crews, the USS Hornet now serves as an anchored museum where naval enthusiasts and curious citizens can wander her decks to gain insight into her past military duties on the high seas. The aircraft carrier is comprised of four levels of historical eye-candy, mixing curated exhibits with actual ship quarters such as the captain's bridge and in-port cabins. Visitors roam the ship during self-guided tours, which are often injected with wisdom from available docents or chatty seagulls. Sites include the island and navigation bridge, where the helmsman directed the ship and where the admiral conducted operations with his task force, as well as the hangar deck, with access to the ship's panoramic fantail view of San Francisco.