San Francisco

What We're Looking Forward to in San Francisco in 2021

Things are looking up already.

Courtesy of Izzy's Steaks
Courtesy of Izzy’s Steaks
Courtesy of Izzy’s Steaks

Unfortunately, despite all of the hype, things didn’t magically go back to normal when the clock struck midnight on January 1. We’re still cooped up at home, we still have to wear masks whenever we leave the house, and we still miss seeing our friends and family face-to-face. But a COVID vaccine is being rolled out, so there is hope that at some point in 2021, we’ll be able to leave Zoom happy hours, 5,000 piece puzzles, and in-home workouts behind in lieu of a new normal where we may still have to wear masks, but at least we’ll be able to-dare we hope-high five at a football game, share a tub of popcorn at the movies, and wear clothes other than sweatpants (okay, we’re not actually looking forward to that last one), as well as all of this stuff, most of which we never knew we’d miss so much.

The end of the regional “Stay-at-Home” order

SF implemented the State’s Regional Stay Home Order on December 6 (and then extended it indefinitely on New Year’s Eve) putting an end to outdoor dining (indoor dining was long gone after a brief six week trial in October and early November), personal care services, outdoor museums, non-essential travel, and even socializing outdoors with more than one person from outside of your household. Yup, even six feet apart while wearing masks. Basically, for the past month we’ve only been allowed to go on runs, take walks, do essential errands, and… well,  reasons why you’re flaking on your plans (okay, that one we’re totally fine with).

Until Bay Area ICU availability is above 15%, SF ICU availability is above 25%, and new cases and hospitalizations decrease for three weeks in a row, that order’s not going anywhere, which is why of all the things we’re most looking forward to this year, it’s having that order lifted and making sure it stays that way. We promise we’ll never take a haircut for granted again.

Courtesy of Izzy's Steaks
Courtesy of Izzy’s Steaks
Courtesy of Izzy’s Steaks

Eating outdoors at our favorite restaurants

Once upon a time, we were excited to be able to safely eat indoors again, and we still miss so many of the restaurants that are (hopefully) temporarily shuttered because outdoor dining just didn’t make sense and they couldn’t survive on takeout alone (looking at you Cala and Californios and Frances and Benu and Petit Crenn and so many others), but at least we still had outdoor dining. Now, we don’t even have that, and we really miss bundling up in our puffy jackets (though the prevalence of space heaters almost makes that unnecessary) and enjoying a meal with friends in one of the parklets that popped up in recent months.

Just a few we look forward to going back to include The Morris for when we need to feel a little fancy (yes, even in a puffy jacket), State Bird when we want an intimate experience with inventive provisions, Izzy’s Steakhouse for a stiff pour and a steak on a bustling (but not too bustling) patio, Curio for live music and a great burger, Merchant Roots for delicious food served with a side of whimsy, Foreign Cinema when we want to feel completely normal (the experience on the iconic open air patio is the same as it’s always been-with the exception of masks), Monk’s Kettle when we need to curb our sour beer and pretzel with beer cheese cravings, Waterbar for Bay views and oysters, and Zeitgeist for grilled cheese and Bloody Marys. Plus, basically, every other restaurant we’ve ever enjoyed a meal at.

Courtesy of 1015 Folsom
Courtesy of 1015 Folsom
Courtesy of 1015 Folsom

Listening to live music at actual venues

Think back really hard and you might be able to conjure up memories of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with sweaty strangers at The Independent, listening to jazz at Club Deluxe any night of the week, dancing to your favorite DJ at 1015 Folsom, swaying under the chandeliers at Bimbo’s, chilling to R&B at Madrone Art Bar, or grabbing an apple at the Fillmore and hoping the sold out show will be worthy of a free poster. For now, we put on our favorite Spotify playlists and dance in our underwear waiting patiently for the time we’ll be forced to put on clothes (at most venues, anyway) so that we can dance with each other.
 

Eating, drinking, and dancing at our many street fairs and festivals

SF and Northern California usually have some pretty stellar music festivals every year (BottleRock, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Outside Lands, and Snowglobe just to name a few), but it’s not just the music festivals we miss right now. It’s also all of those festivals we tell ourselves we’ll go to one day, but consistently put off “until next year.” Well, Gilroy Garlic Festival, Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival, Feast Mendocino, Lodi Wine and Chocolate Festival, California Artisan Cheese Festival, Pebble Beach Food and Wine, Eat Drink SF, Union Street Fair, Fillmore Jazz Festival, Cherry Blossom Festival, Stern Grove Festival, North Beach Festival, Folsom Street Festival, Pride and all the rest… if you build it this year, we will come.

Zack Frank/Shutterstock
Zack Frank/Shutterstock
Zack Frank/Shutterstock

Hitting the open road

Skiing at Squaw, wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma, hiking in Yosemite, enjoying the views of the Pacific in Big Sur, drinking craft beer in Mendocino, whitewater rafting down the American River, cruising down Highway 1 with the ocean by our side, sitting in the hot springs in Paso Robles, watching the elephant seals in San Simeon, enjoying happy hour with our dogs in Carmel, riding the Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz… that list is just the beginning of the places we’ll be hopping in our cars to visit when travel is a thing we’re doing again. 
 

Watching our favorite teams play… in person

In early March, the Warriors became the first professional sports team to play a game without fans, but it soon became clear that we were about to experience a summer without freezing our butts off while watching the Giants and a fall where Niners football would only be watched on TV. Cheering a game-winning basket, splash hit, or Russell Wilson sack just isn’t the same when you’re doing it from your couch. And even though we don’t miss the beer lines, we have noticed that somehow the beer we’re drinking while watching games on TV just don’t taste as good as the ones we reluctantly spend an exorbitant amount of money on.

Courtesy of San Francisco Symphony
Courtesy of San Francisco Symphony
Courtesy of San Francisco Symphony

Seeing performances come to life on the stage

Local theater companies have done their best to keep us entertained with live streamed shows written especially for these times, audio shows, videos of past performances, and more, but the opera, ballet, symphony, and plays just aren’t the same without the hush of the crowd as the curtain rises, the sound of the orchestra playing right in front of you, the cacophony of applause from the audience, or the feeling of being totally immersed in something that everyone around you is also immersed in. Whether you’re looking forward to “Mean Girls” on stage, the theatrical magic of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the inspiring plays put on by A.C.T, the vocal artistry of the San Francisco Opera, improv at PianoFight, or the large-scale orchestral stylings of the SF Symphony, we will all breathe a sigh of relief when we don’t have to pretend that watching online is anywhere close to as amazing as being there in person.
 

Getting some culture at SF museums

For most of us, the only culture we’ve consumed in the last 10 months came in the form of Netflix and sourdough starter. In 2021, we plan to change that by see all kinds of art at the de Young, Legion of Honor, SFMOMA, Asian Art Museum, Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Museum of African Diaspora, going to the planetarium, aquarium, and rainforest at the California Academy of Sciences (probably on Thursday nights when cocktails are involved), and getting hands-on with the 600+ exhibits at the Exploratorium in between copious applications of hand sanitizer. But the one we’re most looking forward to? Stepping inside of the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit at SVN West (and possibly eating a gummy beforehand).

Daisy Barringer is an SF-based freelancer who has spent way too much “quality” time with her Saint Bernard recently and looks forward to him slobbering on someone else for a change in 2021. Follow her on Instagram @daisysf to see how adorable and enormous her dog is.

San Francisco

How to Celebrate Black History Month in San Francisco

Support and celebrate SF's Black community.

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Though it’s something we need to be doing every day of every month of every year, Black History Month encourages us to pay tribute to the struggles and oppression generations of Black Americans have faced, as well as their often-neglected triumphs and achievements that have helped shape this county and make it better. It’s a time to reflect on how we can do better to confront racism and oppression, which this year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” echoes. This is especially important in a town like San Francisco, where the Fillmore District was known as “the Harlem of the West” before the city displaced a vast portion of the neighbourhood’s Black community in the ’60s and ’70s. This displacement continues today, as the Black population is the only racial group that has declined in every census since 1970.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month, there are lots to do. Whether you want to educate yourself by attending films, performances, or conversations, share the joy at a parade or dance party, or do a little bit of it all at a drag show, here are just a few ways you can get involved and have a lot of fun while doing so:

Visit San Francisco Public Library branches for workshops, films, performances, and more

February (and throughout the year)
Library branches and online
SFPL’s “More Than a Month” celebration focuses on the theme of resistance this year. Family-friendly and adult events include film screenings, musical performances, book clubs, workshops, and more.
Cost: Free

Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora

See art, poetry, films, talks, and more at MoAD

February (and throughout the year)
SoMa
Right now, at the Museum of African Diaspora, you can see the first and only West Coast exhibition of “The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion,” which highlights the work of 15 contemporary fashion designers “whose images present radically new perspectives on the medium of photography and art, race and beauty, and gender and power.” The museum, which has a robust year-round program and event calendar, has a slew of events to attend, including youth poetry readings, film screenings, open mic nights, book clubs, artist talks, and more.
Cost: Event prices vary; GA to visit the museum is $12 but free every second Saturday of the month

Check out films, art, reading, talks, and more at BAMPFA

February (and throughout the year)
Berkeley
There is always something interesting to discover at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). During Black History Month, you can see films by Pratibha Parmar, “Felwine Sarr: Music, Freedom, Africa,” a conversation through music with the Senegalese writer, scholar, composer, musician, and more.
Cost: Varies

Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe

Enjoy menu specials honoring Black community members at Old Skool Cafe

February (and throughout the year)
Bayview
For Black History Month, Old Skool Cafe is adding the favourite meals of notable Black community members to the menu each weekend. The nonprofit, youth-run supper club helps at-risk, formerly incarcerated, and foster care youth ages 16-22 gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in various front and back-of-house restaurant roles. Bayview hero/community advocate Mrs. Dorris Vincent is first up, followed by Judge Trina Thompson, Delroy Lindo, and Mayor London Breed.

Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens

Walk beneath the Marting Luther King, Jr. Memorial waterfall

February (and ongoing)
Yerba Buena Gardens
Did you know that Yerba Buena Gardens is home to the country’s second-largest memorial to Dr. King? Visit the sculptural waterfall featuring glass panels inscribed with his inspiring words at 750 Howard Street.
Cost: Free

Attend the Commonwealth’s “Dreaming Forward: A Celebration of Black Joy, Power, and Excellence” conference

Thursday, February 9
Embarcadero
On behalf of Dr. Sheryl Evans Davis and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Club is hosting its second annual Dream Keeper Initiative, a day-long conference/celebration/call-to-action featuring special guests, including April Ryan of TheGrio and CNN.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays

Celebrate Black Love at Oakland First Fridays

Friday, February 10
Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street
Telegraph Avenue transforms into a dining, shopping, and art-appreciating party on Friday, February 10, from 5 pm to 9 pm. There will be food, artist, and retail vendors and a host of Black artists, authors, and entertainment. Please note: This event was rescheduled from February 3 because of potential rain.
Cost: Free

Have a ball at an all-Black drag show at Oasis

Friday, February 10
SoMa
“Reparations with Latrice Royale” is an all-Black drag show hosted by Latrice Royale, the beloved Drag Race star who also happens to be celebrating her birthday.
Cost: $15 to $60

Dance all night and shop all day at the Afro Soca Love carnival and marketplace

Friday, February 10 ‚Äď Saturday, February 11
341 13th Street, Oakland
Afro Soca Love creates experiences that act as a “gateway to building bonds and strengthen relationships-between communities, individuals, and Africa and its diaspora.” See for yourself at the all-ages marketplace (Saturday), where you’ll find food and drink, fashion, beauty and wellness, home decor, and more. But before the shopping comes the dancing at the 21+ Friday Night Carnival, a culturally immersive music experience with music from all over the world.
Cost: The marketplace is free; tickets to the Friday Night Carnival start at $20

See a live performance of “Words That Made the Difference: Brown vs. the Board of Education”

Saturday, February 11
Unity Palo Alto
See a live theatrical performance based on the true events that occurred in the fight to end school segregation. The script draws from trial transcripts of the five cases brought together in front of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Earl Warren’s memoirs, and the play is set in the courtrooms where it all happened. There will be a Q&A with the playwright before the performance and the cast afterward.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company

Go to the I, Too, Sing America album release party

Saturday, February 11
Mission
Head to the Brava Theater Center to celebrate the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company’s album release of the music created for I, Too, Sing America, a soulful and uplifting performance that moved audiences when it debuted last year. The night includes an album-listening and sing-along party, DJs, dancing, an open bar, and more.
Cost: $40

Go on the Black Liberation Walking Tour of West Oakland

Saturday, February 18
West Oakland
Take a walk with David Peters, founder of the West Oakland Cultural Action Network, and Gene Anderson, the author of Legendary Locals of Oakland, to learn about resident voices and document sites of cultural and historical significance in the neighbourhood. Peters is a local native, and Anderson is an Oakland historian whose family has historical roots in West Oakland.
Cost: $50 ($30 for West Oakland residents)

See a screening of The Black Kung Fu Experience followed by in-person demonstrations

Sunday, February 19
Great Star Theater, Chinatown
The Chinese Historical Society of America is celebrating Black History Month and social unity with a screening of this film about how a group of African American pioneers became respected in a subculture dominated by Chinese and white men. Afterward, there will be demonstrations and talks with Sifu Donald Hamby and Sifu Troy Dunwood, who “will speak about their success as internationally recognized martial arts masters, their Chinese Kung Fu teachers, and what this practice means in relation to diversity, race and inclusion issues.”
Cost: $15

Sip wine made by Black winemakers at a free tasting event at STEM Kitchen + Garden

Thursday, February 23
Dogpatch
STEM Kitchen + Garden is hosting an afternoon wine tasting celebrating Black-owned wineries in its gorgeous indoor/outdoor space, and best of all, and it’s free to the public!
Cost: Free

Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House

Attend the San Francisco African American Arts & Cultural District Gala Fundraiser

Saturday, February 25
Bayview Opera House
Enjoy an evening of talent, fashion, and community inspiration at SFAAACD’s 1st Annual Gala Fundraiser. Carla Duke, Television News Director at CBS-KPIX Chanel 5, will host the event, which includes inspiring words from keynote speaker Aniyia Williams, an artist, tech creator, and system-preneur.
Cost: $100

Attend a Black History Month & Chinese New Year Poetry Reading on Angel Island

Saturday, February 25
Angel Island
There is so much history in poetry at the Angel Island Detention Barracks Museum, which makes it a fitting location for poets Chun Yu and Michael Warr. The co-founders of Two Languages/One Community will share their poems and stories in English and Chinese, accompanied by projected images of text and photographs.
Cost: $10 to $21

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Feel the joy at the Black Joy Parade

Sunday, February 26
Downtown Oakland
This parade and festival celebrate the “Black experience past, present, and future.” Be prepared to experience “more Black joy than you ever imagined,” starting with the parade (beginning at 14th and Franklin) at 12:30 pm. The family-friendly festival follows (main entrance is at 19th and Franklin) will include 200-plus Black-owned small businesses selling food, drinks, clothing, art, and more. There will also be two stages with Black performers, including The Black Joy Choir.
Cost: Free

Take a sound bath at Grace Cathedral in honor of Black History Month

Monday, February 27
Nob Hill
Take an immersive sound bath featuring Fractals of Sound, a collective of top Bay Area musicians Egemen Sanli, Phoenix Song, and Sam Jackson, with special guest Destiny Muhammad. Together, they will create a “soundscape deeply rooted in world music,” allowing you to take a meditative journey in one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco.
Cost: $25 to $75

See Tsitsi Dangarembga and Angela Davis at City Arts & Lectures

Tuesday, February 28
Civic Center
Co-presented with MoAd, City Arts & Lectures is hosting novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and scholar and activist Angela Davis for what’s sure to be a riveting conversation.
Cost: $36

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Daisy Barringer¬†is an SF-based freelance writer who spent many childhood days wandering around the Exploratorium. Follow her on¬†Instagram¬†to see what she’s up to now.

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