The D.E.A.L.: Dining, Entertainment, Attractions & Lodging: From The Bay to the Breakers to Beach Blanket Babylon, San Francisco Entertainment is Bigger than Life by Jeanne Brei
Since 1912, tens of thousands of people have gathered in San Francisco to see the world’s largest “footrace” (it’s truly more like a parade where everyone is in the parade) as more than 70,000 costume-clad runners and walkers make their way from San Francisco Bay, a few blocks from the Embarcadero, to the Great Highway where the breakers crash onto the Pacific Coast’s Ocean Beach. Held on May 20th this year, the 12K-15K course spans a little more than seven miles of the most amazing people and costume watching you’ll ever see.
Other festivals in May include the International Arts Festival at Fort Mason Center from May 24-June 3 with performances by more than 60 theater, dance and music ensembles from the Bay Area and 11 countries; Carnaval San Francisco in the Mission District on May 26-27 which is San Francisco’s version of Mardi Gras and one of the largest annual public events in the city. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, it features exotic Carnaval dancers with a mixture of Latino, jazz, samba, Caribbean influences; and the Silent Film Festival which presents silent films accompanied by live music at the Castro Theatre from May 30-June 3.
But truly, the most iconic San Francisco show has to be the outrageously funny Beach Blanket Babylon, the world’s longest-running musical revue. The show began its run in 1974, at the Savoy Tivoli and has since moved to the larger Club Fugazi in the North Beach district. Performers wear disproportionately large hats/wigs and gaudy costumes while performing satirical renditions of popular songs as they spoof popular and political culture. The San Francisco Chronicle described it as “a constant cascade of showstoppers” as Snow White takes a fast-paced journey around the world in search of her “Prince Charming.” Along the way she encounters politicians and political figures, film and TV stars, famous singers and athletes, along with long-running characters such as Glinda the Good Witch, Mr. Peanut, Louis XIV, Oprah Winfrey, James Brown, Tina Turner, Carmen Miranda, Elvis Presley, a band of dancing French poodles, and Snow White’s tour guide, a female narrator who takes on several incarnations from an Italian pizza lady to a cowgirl. Truly, it’s a show that should not be missed while visiting San Francisco.
So, at the end of the evening, raise a toast at The Top of the Mark (at the top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill) or at the Starlight Room (on the 21st floor of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel) as 1930’s glamour meets modern swing with breathtaking 360-degree views. WW II soldiers would gather here for a good luck toast to the Golden Gate Bridge before shipping out, so I suggest keeping the tradition alive. Here’s lookin’ at you, San Francisco, I think I left my heart there.
This story originally appeared in the May/June issue of Exhibit City News, p. 83. For more pictures and original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/may-jun_ecn2018