Lindy Hop Travel to San Francisco
San Francisco, California
Hi Lindy Hoppers!!!
We can guide you to everything but Tony Bennett's heart...

Some of My Favorite Things to do in the San Francisco Area

When I am in San Francisco, I always try to have at least one meal at Sam's: Sam's Grill. It's a tad expensive, but this place was once a speakeasy and the atmosphere is wonderful -- it's on the edge of Chinatown and could have been the setting for any of Dashiel Hammett's novels. Try the Sand Dabs. By the way, all the places mentioned in the "Maltese Falcon" are real, and you can take a little walking tour to see them.

The Tadich Grill has a similar ambience although it is likely to be filled with business types from the financial district. The seafood is very fresh and always first class

For some years, I have been stopping at Zuni a real Mexican Restaurant athough lately it seems to be trendy.

Carlo Middione's restaurant Vivande and its associated carryout ("Porta Via") is a great place. It's at the foot of the Haight-Ashbury district.

I am quite partial to North Beach and Sunset. Up on the hill, Coit's Tower is a true Art Deco gem and the view is wonderful. The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is always worth visiting. The entire Beat Movement started at the City Lights Bookstore and the "Coexistence Bagel Shop."

Ride the restored PCC streetcars on the Market Street line out to the Castro. Wait for the Brooklyn or Pittsburgh car if you can.

Go to see the Musee Mechanique if you get a chance.

If you're driving down to Big Sur, a trip to Nepenthe is a must. Orson Welles bought the place for Rita Hayworth on their honeymoon. Now, it is a fairly elegant survivor of the 1960s.

If you are near Palo Alto, the Alpine Inn is a favorite of the Stanford crowd. This site has some inexpensive student-type places -- I'm partial to the Dutch Goose.

Introduction to the San Francisco Lindy Hop
By: Eric Mittler

First, check out Jump Site, the official website of the Northern California Lindy Hop Society

There are several locations that should be on a Travelling Lindy Hoppers list for San Francisco. Hoppers should check out the Top of the Mark (Mark Hopkins Hotel, Nob Hill). Quite the opposite of the Hi Ball Lounge in ambience but similar in size and clientele. Broadway Studios is Rab van Haaren's SF swing home. And then there is Lindy in the Park --- a free dance party outside where over 100 Lindy Hoppers dance on Sundays in Golden Gate Park, which attracts talent from all over the world. Details are posted on Jump Site. Also, 330 Ritch has swing nights on Wednesdays and there are multiple hot spots around the south bay. The discussion of the Claremont Hotel and the Hi Ball Lounge in the article below are good.

Swingers should make a point of checking out Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, a REAL swing band - Frankie Manning and Steven Mitchell's favorite. Indigo Swing is a must. These boys have put SF Swing on the map and have drawn a huge national following. Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums are my favorite band (if that's possible) because of their personality and interaction with the hoppers. Lee Press-On and the Nails are a riot - Jump Swing from Hell - they often play too fast for Lindy but they provide on of the best shows you'll see. You won't go wrong with the The Chazz Cats, Jellyroll, and Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88's. Most every night there is an opportunity to dance, unfortunately, you often have to choose.

We got this list of Bay Area Clubs from our peripatetic correspondent, Dexter, the Travelling Engineer

Bay Area Swing Dance Venues
(All clubs are in San Francisco, unless otherwise noted)

Club Name Address Phone
330 Ritch 330 Ritch 541-9574.
Bimbo's 1025 Columbus 474-0365.
Biscuits and Blues 401 Mason 292-2583.
Blues 2125 Lombard 771-BLUE.
Bottom of the Hill 1233 17th St 621-4455.
Broadway Studios 435 Broadway 291-0333.
Bruno's 2389 Mission 550-7455.
Cafe du Nord 2170 Market 861-5016.
Chameleon 853 Valencia 821-1891.
Claremont Hotel 41 Tunnel Rd, Berkley (510) 549-8576.
Coconut Grove 1441 Van Ness 776-1616.
Covered Wagon 917 Folsom 974-1585.
DeMarco's 23 Club 23 Visitation, Brisbane 467-7717
DNA Lounge 375 11th St 626-1409.
Dylan's 2301 Folsom 641-1416
Eleven 374 11th St 431-3337.
Enrico's 504 Broadway 982-6223.
Essex Supper Club 847 Montgomery 397-5969.
Fillmore 1805 Geary 346-6000.
Gordon Biersch 2 Harrison 243-8246.
Great American Music Hall 859 O'Farrell 885-0750.
Harry Denton's 161 Steuart 882-1333.
Harry Denton's Starlight Room 450 Powell 395-8595.
Hi-Ball Lounge 473 Broadway 397-9464.
Hotel Utah 500 Fourth St 421-8308.
Ivy Room Solano at San Pablo, Albany (510) 524-9299.
Jelly's 295 China Basin Way 495-3099.
Julie Ring's Heart and Soul 1695 Polk 673-7100.
Julie's Supper Club 1123 Folsom 861-2595.
Kilowatt 3160 16th St 861-2595.
Last Day Saloon 406 Clement 387-6343.
Lost and Found Saloon 1353 Grant 675-5996.
Paradise Lounge 308 11th St 861-6906.
Saloon 1232 Grant 989-7666.
Slim's 333 11th St 522-0333.
Starry Plough 3101 Shattuck, Berkley (510) 841-2082.
Tavern Grill 1448 Burlingame, Burlingame (415) 344-5692.
Transmission Theater 314 11th St 861-6906.
Veterans Memorial Building 200 Grand, Oakland (510) 238-3284.
Warfield 982 Market 243-8510.
Yoshi's 6030 Claremont, Oakland (510) 652-9200

Iver Cooper Visits San Francisco
By: Iver Cooper

Here is my report on the Lindy Hop scene in San Francisco during the Holiday season.

In San Francisco, at the recommendation of Rob van Haaren, who I met in London at Swing Jam, I went to the Tuesday night dance at the Top of the Mark (a penthouse bar in the Mark Hopkins Hotel). The Top of the Mark is 19 floors up, and has windows on all sides, so it enjoys a beautiful view of San Francisco. I wish I could be as rapturous about the dance floor. While wood, it was quite small (half that of Vienna Grille), and crowd densities were worse than Glen Echo on a Deanna Bogart night. I was soon wishing for leg armor.

Curiously, the crowd density did not diminish as the evening progressed; the beginners left but their places were taken up by more experienced dancers. I left at midnight, so I don't know what happened after that.

Despite the crowding, there were perhaps a dozen couples doing (somewhat cramped) Lindy Hop. The dancers were friendly; I was invited to a private New Years'Eve dance party, but I regretfully declined (didn't feel I could abandon my wife for two nights the same week in the same city, and especially not on NYE. And I didn't think she'd want to go dancing.) The band was great; Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers.

As you know, back home I tend toward the informal in dance attire (yeah, that's another way of saying T-shirts rather than zoot suits is my style). However, being in strange cities, I opted for the "dressy casual" route, and found it to be a wise choice.

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Our Trip to San Francisco
By: Frank Morra

Sentimental beings that we are, we keep a diary of our travels. You may not want to read everything about our trip, so we have indexed our diary. Click away at the topics that may interest you

DAY SIX Wednesday September 18, 1996

We rose early and hit the road so that we could spend the entire day driving up the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Barbara to San Francisco, passing through Big Sur, one of the most beautiful spots on the earth.

San Simeon

William Randolph Hearst was a rich, powerful, tasteless and unscrupulous man. He controlled a large number of newspapers that catered to the lowest common denominator in American public taste. He styled himself an arbiter of American morality while he lived with his mistress in a castle high above the sea. He was skinned alive in Orson Welles cinematic masterpiece, Citizen Kane. He deserved it.

Having said that, we may now proceed to his endearing legacy to the world --- San Simeon. This is an estate of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways. Its rooms were furnished with an impressive collection of treasures, acquired in bulk at the whim of Mr. Hearst. At his passing, the estate was bequeathed to the people of California for a substantial tax benefit. Upkeep on the white elephant was transferred to the public purse while Hearst's name is spoken in reverential tones as a benefactor. What rot!

I should now mention that my partner does not agree at all with my assessment. She is firmly of the opinion that the estate is a source of joy to those who visit it and that it could have been torn down and replaced with town homes.

Regardless of your feelings for Hearst, the estate is mind- boggling. It is chock full of antiques. As a matter of fact, it is a big jigsaw puzzle, made from fitting together pieces of buildings that Hearst bought whole and had shipped back to the US.

Of note, Hearst chose Julia Morgan, the first woman graduate of the U.C. Berkeley School of Architecture to design and supervise the massive project which continued in construction from the 1920s through Hearst's death in the 1950s. San Simeon has been featured on numerous travel shows, including America's Castles on the A&E network. [And, we might add, A&E is owned by the Hearst Corporation.] If you happen to be in the vicinity, it is worth the effort (and $14 per head charge) to see how a man with no constraints whatsoever might choose to live. I get so worked up about Hearst that my partner wanted to buy me a Tee Shirt that said, "Kiss Me--I'm Symbionese."

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Los Padres National Forest

The Pacific Coast highway heads north from San Simeon in graceful splendor. Only an egomaniac like Hearst would try to improve on this beauty. We stopped at a scenic overlook and enjoyed the breathtaking beauty. I was intrigued by the signs that said "Do not feed the wild animals." We were getting hungry, so I got out a package of cheese crackers as a small snack. As soon as I opened them, a large number of ground squirrels emerged from the brush to beg for a treat. Actually, "beg" is not the appropriate word. These little fellows entertained. They did everything but a buck and wing. "Wild" animals my foot -- these guys were seasoned panhandlers. I even pointed out the sign to one of them and he chirped angrily at me. We didn't get to eat the cheese crackers.

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Big Sur

How can you describe the awesome beauty of Big Sur? The graceful Monterrey Pines are most likely the best place to start. Growing along the craggy coastline, they are bent and twisted by the wind into shapes that suggest both grace amidst hardship. Each one is different and invites respectful contemplation. This is Mother Nature's Bonsai collection. The Pacific Coast Highway follows the shore closely and thus it is full of twists and turns --- there is never any pressure to speed up and thus one always has time to take in the scenery. The surf is heavy along Big Sur and has carved the shoreline into a vast number of caves and arches. Hidden amidst the sheer cliffs and hairpin turns are small "micro beaches" that can only be reached with some fairly risky climbing --- it is not for the tourist in a Winnebago, anyway. Every little cove offers a wonderful vista and it might just be possible to spend a lifetime wandering this coast and never see it all.

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At the Northern end of Big Sur is a small strip of civilization including an artist colony, a few bed and breakfasts and one truly amazing place. It is called Nepenthe after the mythological potion consumed by the Greek goods that removed worries and grief. The place began life as a log cabin, a small rest station for hikers along Big Sur. In 1943, the Cabin took a turn for the better. Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth had just married and did a tour of the San Francisco area promoting war bonds. They drove home to Los Angeles along Big Sur and noticed the abandoned log cabin. Rita's pathological shyness and Orson's workaholic habits kept them from the regular round of Hollywood parties to which they were invited. Impulsively, they decided to buy and renovate the cabin at Big Sur in an effort to seclude themselves from public pressures. They dispatched architects to measure and adapt the cabin to their needs. What emerged was a small masterpiece in fusing ranch, art deco, and prairie-style architecture. The log cabin was preserved as an outbuilding. The primary influence seems to have been Frank Lloyd Wright, although elements of Richard Neutra can also be seen. The use of aged redwood throughout also nods toward traditional California architecture. The highlight is a huge patio with a large central fire pit decorated with astrological signs.

Orson and Rita never lived there. They were divorced before the building was complete. The house passed through several owners and in the mid 1960s, it was opened as an Inn. Well, sort of --- it was the original "Hippie/Biker Hangout" in Big Sur, famous for gigantic cheeseburgers and uninhibited behavior. At the end of each astrological period, they had these huge parties when everyone danced naked around a roaring bonfire the fire pit. I actually participated in one of these festivities. (Hey, it was the 60s.)

Today, Nepenthe (408-667-2345) has adapted to the 90s. The cheeseburgers are still there but are overshadowed on the menu by health food. The bikers are gone. The day we visited was the end of Virgo and we were invited to attend the celebration. We spent the rest of the daylight looking at Monterrey and Carmel (below) and returned. Alas, the dancing has also adapted to the 90s -- it was more like Contra than Sodom. We were able to produce a tape with Great Balls of Fire and did a little Lindy for the crowd around the small, environmentally sensitive fire.

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Monterrey and Cannery Row

I don't think that John Steinbeck would recognize Cannery Row even though his name is on street signs and monuments there. He wrote a novel about the unusual denizens of a decrepit neighborhood sandwiched amongst the fish canneries. Today, most of the characters in his book would be hustled off as panhandlers because they might offend the yuppies at the luxury hotels that have been plopped down inside the old canneries. This is yet another American industry that has been exported to the Far East in return for campaign contributions.

For the flavor of the old Cannery Row, read Steinbeck's book of the same name. If you don't read, see the film for a semblance. There is a great scene in which Nick Nolte and Debra Winger try to learn "Over the Top". Otherwise, Cannery Row is just another "Festival Marketplace" and you won't be far from The Gap, The Limited, and Victoria's Secret. Maybe the ladies out there can comment on why there is such a great need to have a ladies undergarment store in every festival marketplace

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Carmel-by-the-Sea is:

  • a one square mile village offering endless vacation and cultural opportunities to the very well-off in an ecologically harmonious setting
  • the largest single concentration of pure unadulterated "cute" in the universe
  • the south end of the Pebble Beach Golf Course
  • the city where Clint Eastwood used to be the Mayor.

Carmel is all of these. In addition, there are no sidewalks, street lights, or postal delivery; homes are known by name and have no addresses. All of this charm is subtly undermined by the fact that this little one square mile of heaven has 69 restaurants, three museums, twelve hotels and a microbrewery. Go there for ecological harmony. The Hogs Breath Inn (San Carlos between 5th and 6th, east side, 408-625-1044) is owned by Clint Eastwood. The one thing that you ought to see is the Tuck Box Tea Room (Dolores near 7th, east side, 408-624-6365). This is a replica of an Elizabethan thatched country farmhouse that is so cute that it will raise your blood sugar level to the danger point. In the 1920s, there was a fad for English vernacular architecture and this is the best example. The scones are actually quite good.

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The Mikayo Hotel

After spending the day on the road and lingering too long at Nepenthe, we arrived in San Francisco quite late in the evening. Not only that, I made a wrong exit and we wound up in Haight Ashbury with the gas tank almost empty. Fortunately, there was a gas station open and I was able to fill the tank--at $1.65 for regular. I didn't have much "spare change" after that.

I fumbled for the San Francisco map and we finally found our way to Japan Town, and ethnic neighborhood that was unfamiliar to me since it had grown considerably since the 60s. The area is now hope to over 12,000 citizens of Japanese descent and the neighborhood has become a miniature Ginza known as Nihonmachi. We had booked at the Mikayo Hotel (1625 Post St, 415-922-3200) since American Airlines had offered a certificate for a 50 percent discount. We were not disappointed. Our room had a sauna and a Japanese style bath tub. The sauna took all the kinks out from the driving and dancing. We found the service at the Mikayo to be impeccable.

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DAY SEVEN Thursday September 19, 1996

The Clift Hotel

The last of the great hotels that I wanted to show my partner is in the theater district of San Francisco. It is the Clift Hotel (Geary and Taylor Streets, 415-775-4700), a world-renowned location. Alas, it was full and we could not stay there. We settled for breakfast in the legendary mirrored French Room. When I used to stay there, they always roasted a 30 pound turkey for dinner. They had it mounted on a wheeled car and even though you were away from home, you could always have Thanksgiving dinner. They have ceased doing this. On the other hand, our breakfast was wonderful, though a bit pricey.

However, the treasure of the Clift is right next door in the Art Deco Redwood Room, a vast space that is panelled in old growth redwood and inlaid with various California scenes in equally exotic woods. The room has twenty foot high ceilings and the walls are adorned with several paintings by Gustave Klimt. The wall between the Redwood Room and the French Room is actually a pair of gigantic pocket doors and the two spaces can be opened to form a much larger space. The Redwood Room is the ultimate place for vintage dressed lounge lizards

Besides Service, Location, Food and Architecture, the Clift Hotel has one other salient feature that we did not get to sample: the Towels. The Clift is famous for inch-thick, blanket sized yellow Turkish towels that can be pre-warmed on a towel heater in the bathroom. Believe me, this is luxury.

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A day of Touristing

We spent a day just being tourists, visiting Fisherman's Wharf, riding the Cable Cars, looking around Aquatic Park and Ghirardelli Square and generally mingling with the other polyester clad visitors because San Francisco is a very pleasant place to walk. The weather is always beautiful and the people are very friendly and helpful. If you have to be a tourist, do it in San Francisco. The fact that they offer an unlimited bus/trolley/cable car pass for $3 per day is also very conducive to seeing a lot.

My favorite way to spend some time is to walk past all the locations that are mentioned in Dashiell Hammett's novels. For this purpose, I brought a copy of The Maltese Falcon. You may can put yourself in Sam Spade's shoes at no cost just around the corner from the Clift:

"...Where Bush Street roofed Stockton before slipping downhill to Chinatown, Spade paid his fare and left the taxicab. San Francisco's night fog, thin, clammy, and penetrant, blurred the street. A few yards from where Spade had dismissed the taxicab a small group of men stood looking up an alley. Two women stood with a man on the other side of Bush Street, looking at the alley. There were faces at the windows"

We also enjoyed the Maritime Museum in Aquatic Park since it is housed in a WPA Art Deco building that features a group of fantasy murals featuring undersea life and not one but TWO circular ballrooms. We also visited Coit's Tower, the other prominent Art Deco landmark that is a monument to the city's fire fighters. The lobby also contains some wonderful examples of Depression-era muralist painting and tile work.

As the day was drawing to a close, we were walking in the financial district when I noticed a streetcar go by. It was no ordinary streetcar--it was a trolley from my youth. It was painted in cream and red color that I associate with the Pittsburgh Railways that I had seen every day for the first 26 years of my life. I thought that they might have been putting something a little "extra" in the chocolate ice cream at Ghirardelli Square. I was babbling on about this when a blue and gray trolley from Brooklyn came by, followed by a two-tone green car from Philadelphia. I asked a policeman about this and he told me that the city had collected old cars from the major cities of the US, refurbished them and put them in service on this line. Even though it was late, we had to go for a ride. The restoration was perfect. It was possible to use all these cars because in 1946, the presidents of all the major streetcar companies agreed on a single art deco design that has come to be known as the President's Car Conference or PCC Car. We rode the car to the end of the line.

We got this note from one of our readers:

From: From: Jim Holland
I read some of your review on your trip to San Francisco and would like to make a correction or two.

While it is true that San Francisco has a collection of trolley cars from around the world, *all the PCC streetcars* are from San Francisco, the city of St. Louis, or Philadelphia. The red and cream car you saw was probably the ex-St. Louis PCC which was bought second hand in the late 50s. It was repainted in its original St. Louis colors to fit into the historical streetcar fleet.

Because of the success of the historical cars and because San Francisco decided to keep its surface car line on top of Market Street *and extend it out the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf,* San Francisco opted to purchase 15 ex-Philadelphia PCC cars thinking that, since the latter had been extensively overhauled, they would be in better shape than SF originals which had been minimally maintained.

They were all painted to represent different cities that operated PCC cars: Brooklyn, Boston, Newark, Louisville, Philly, Chicago, LA, and Pacific Electric

I was born in Pittsburgh General and lived in Homewood a couple years before moving to Greenmount Ave in Dormont, 1/2 block down from the 42 DORMONT streetcar line. I remember similar streetcars running through Charleroi to Roscoe and remember riding one to "Little" Washington. The PRCo system remained relatively intact until 1959 when the West End line were bus-ted because of closure of the Point Bridge. ({[PAT]}) took over the dismantling of what remained from 1964-1972. They were forced into keeping what remains by the Feds.

The line ended in the Castro district, known for its colorful restored Victorian houses interspersed with restaurants, pubs, and antique stores. We found a lot of great waterfall furniture at the Browser's Nook (530 Castro St, 415-861- 2216) and were directed to a great antique mall in the SoMA (South of Market) area, called Baker Hamilton Square (601 Townsend St.)

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Dinner at Vivande

For some years, I have been a devotee of a program shown on the Learning Channel entitled Carlo Cooks Italian. The show is hosted by Carlo Middione, the nation's foremost authority on Southern Italian cooking. I am very impressed that Carlo has almost singlehandedly resurrected the art of Neapolitan cooking and raised it to the heights to which it deserves to be. Even better, he cooks things just the way my grandmother did. Fortunately, Carlo's restaurant was located within walking distance of our hotel, and it was a high point of our trip to have dinner at Vivande (2125 Fillmore St, 415-346-4430). I spent the entire time watching the chef prepare our meal and making notes on technique. I finally learned that an extremely high fire is required to make the tomatoes give up their juice. I lost my reluctance after watching this and my tomato based sauces have steadily improved.

We talked for a long time to Sr. Middione and his staff, I got a lesson in mincing garlic, my partner learned how to draw espresso, and we enjoyed a walnut and hazelnut cake that was knock-down drag out good. I left with an autographed copy of Carlo's latest cookbook. The place is wonderful---but not cheap.

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The HiBall Lounge

After dinner, it was time to go back to the hotel and change into vintage for the evening of dancing. Danielle Marabella had directed us to the Hi Ball Lounge (473 Broadway, 415-39- SWING). I wore the black zoot suit to be conservative. We got some favorable comments from the fellow who brought our car around and we were off.

It was surprising that the Hi Ball was located in the middle of the "Adult Entertainment" district, and is surrounded by topless bars. Our fears were allayed when we saw the doorman, arrayed in vintage finery. We went in and met Danielle, her partner Mike and a group of very nice San Francisco people, including Jean Marston.

The real treat was Indigo Swing --- can you believe it, these guys are the house band on Thursday nights! We were just thoroughly impressed and had a wonderful time. The people were great and the guys in the band gave us an autographed 8x10 which has gone up on our Wall of Fame. We highly recommend the Hi Ball as a place to dance. On the way out, the doorman liked our stuff so much that he gave us complimentary passes for the next night, when we could see Indigo Swing again.

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DAY EIGHT Friday September 20, 1996

Breakfast at Sears

It is always a delight when things don't change. As much as I like the Clift hotel, the best breakfast in town is just around the block at Sears Fine Food (439 Powell Street, 415-986- 1160). The place specializes in pancakes, especially a large platter filled with their famous "18 Little Pancakes". Sears is always packed with tourists and locals alike. The prices are reasonable, the service is quick, and the place still has the ambiance of the 1940s. A very worthwhile place to stop.

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A Second Day of Touristing

We spent our second day just being tourists, starting with a cable car ride to Nob Hill, at the top of California street where San Francisco's early millionaires --- the Gold Rush tycoons and railroad barons --- built their mansions. Now, Nob Hill has a very nice park and some of the city's most noted hotels. One of these, the Mark Hopkins has a rooftop lounge called The Top of the Mark which is now starting to feature swing dancing. For sheer view, the Fairmount Hotel offers a panoramic look at the city from a wonderful vantage point. The observation lounge also has a fairly large dance floor and this could become another swing venue.

There was a festival in Chinatown and we spent our time weaving through the street vendors and celebrants in the 18 square blocks along Grant and Stockton from Bush to Columbus. Chinatown is a very pleasant place compared to the dark, forbidding place depicted in the Dashiell Hammett novels.

We made our way back to Pacific Heights and found some great bargains at the Symphony Thrift Shop. I got two very nice formal shirts that are suitable for detached collars and my partner found several dresses. Prices were moderate, but there was considerable selection. We had a snack at Noah's Bagels, and I thought that the bagels and bialys were the best that I had tasted outside New York. At Antiques in the Rough (1767 Waller St, 415-221-0194) we saw a number of art deco pieces. The owner put my partner onto a place called Goldsmiths in Russian Hill, and she was able to find a very valuable Bead Chandelier for one of her dollhouses at a reasonable cost

At dinnertime, we threw out the budget and had a double- header. For our main meal, we went to Sam's Grill (374 Bush St, 415-421-0594). Sam's used to be a speakeasy and they don't try to hide it. There are private booths with a buzzer to summon the waiters who wear white aprons over their tuxedos. The food -- especially the Sand Dabs -- is simple yet elegant. One always has a memorable meal at Sams. For dessert,we went to the main competitor, the Tadich Grill (240 California St, 415-391-1849) Both Sam's and the Tadich have been in business since the 1860s at least, although neither is in its original location. The Tadich claim to fame is that it was started by a politician who lost a crooked election and who claimed that "It will be a cold day in Hell before I ever get back into politics again". Thus, the Tadich is also known as "The Original Cold Day Restaurant." We sampled the desserts at the Tadich and had a thoroughly enjoyable time at both. These places are highly recommended.

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The HiBall Lounge, Redux

We went back to the hotel and changed into vintage for a second night of dancing at the Hi-ball Lounge. There were other events at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley and at Libation (330 Ritch St 415-541-8574), but we had a complimentary admission and we wanted to see Indigo Swing again. On Fridays, the place gets a little crowded with Lounge Lizards, so dancing was a bit more difficult. On the other hand, Indigo Swing is so great that the small problems didn't seem to matter.

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Breakfast at the Buena Vista

No trip to San Francisco is reasonably complete without a stop at the Buena Vista (2675 Hyde St at beach, 415-474-5044). This historic dark wood paneled restaurant is known for its hearty breakfasts and the fact that Irish Coffee was supposedly invented here. They sure serve enough of it. Fortunately for us non-drinkers, there was always plenty of fresh coffee to go around. I really like this place and they serve another dish that is somewhat unique to the area -- the Hangtown Fry. This dish seems to have originated in a legend about a convicted claim jumper in the gold country who was offered a last meal before hanging. He ordered an omelette with fresh oysters in it, knowing that no one could ever transport oysters that far inland in enough time to cook with them. Well, I had a great hangtown fry at the Buena Vista.

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More Touristing

After breakfast, we spent our time walking the length of Fisherman's Wharf from the Buena Vista to the Ferry Terminal. This consumed most of the morning and we had a nice time. Of special note was the saturday morning Farmers' Market, just outside the Ferry building. We got back to the hotel at about noon and decide to spend the rest of the day (after checking out) at Point Lobos.

We looked around the Japanese super market in Japan Town and found some sushi that looked very good. We took this with us on the bus out to Point Lobos. As we dismounted, we noticed that a yard sale was in progress. My partner cannot resist these things and we looked around. I found a very interesting set of medals from some sort of Italian social club that I stole for $2.00.

We made our way to Sutro Park, named after Adolph Sutro, an engineer with tremendous entrepreneurial spirit who eventually became the Mayor of San Francisco. The park is the remains of the formal gardens of his lavish house that once adorned the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We had our sushi on a portion of a battlement that Sutro built to show off the ocean to his guests. Later, we visited Cliff House, a hotel that overlooks Seal Rock, a small island, usually covered with seals and sea lions.

We also visited the ruins of the Sutro Baths. Once this was the world's largest public swimming establishment with colossal glass roof that spanned several blocks and served up to 25,000 persons per day. A classic Greek portal opened to the massive glass enclosure that contained one freshwater tank and five salt water tanks at various temperatures as well as a larger salt tank at ocean temperature. There were 20,000 bathing suits for rent and 40,000 towels as well as slides, springboards and a high dive. There was a restaurant that seated 1,000 and an amphitheater that held 3,700. The baths were destroyed by fire in the 1960s.

This was also the site of the city's amusement park, Playland featured in several film noir classics, such as This Gun for Hire and The Lady From Shanghai. Some elements from Playland still remain. There is the Camera Obscura a sort of natural light projection telescope which uses an optical technique that dates back to the 1600s. The biggest treat was the Musee Mechanique which is a history of mechanized amusements some salvaged from the penny arcade at Playland and some collected later. The exhibits range from the purely mechanical, to electro-mechanical, to all-electronic video games and, together, constitute a comprehensive look at this type of amusement. Best of all, they are all in excellent working condition and you can still play with them. This is a must-do---but bring lots of quarters!

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The Golden Gate Bridge

We completed the rest of our vacation with a trip that required the car -- we visited the Golden gate Bridge the other art deco treasure of San Francisco. Everything about this bridge was thought to be impossible--- the only opening of the massive 450 square mile San Francisco Bay, receiving runoff from nearly 40 percent of the state, is the very small Golden Gate, less than two miles wide. This small opening gives rise to gigantic tides and strong undercurrents; wind gusts can reach 70mph. The gate is frequently swept by rain and is fogbound on most mornings. The bridge is the vision Joseph Baerman Strauss who had a firm belief in "hard work and an absolute unwillingness to be discouraged by what others say." He needed a lot of this to solve the complex technical and political barriers to the bridge. The technical design was hard enough, but funds had to be raised in the middle of the Depression, the railroads and their ferry monopoly had to be fought and the military had to be dissuaded of fears that the bridge might be bombed and access to the harbor would be lost.

The bridge got built, costing $35 million and claiming 11 lives. This beloved symbol of San Francisco was never without controversy, up to the end when its rust colored "international orange" color was hotly debated. What is important is that this may be one of the most beautiful and enduring structures ever created by man. The spare lines of the art deco movement were enormously practical --- they enabled the cost-strapped builders to focus only on those structural aspects which are absolutely necessary. The result is simply majestic. Even though it was freezing, my partner and I walked over the bridge and back, enjoying every second. This is something that everyone has to do once in their life.

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Before we left for the airport and the red-eye flight back home, our last bit of touring was Sausalito, a small community nestled just under the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. I remember this as a charming and rather sleepy place, but now it has been thoroughly yuppified and perniciously cute. I was sad to see that the charm had been restored right out of the city. Sometimes things have to be left alone.

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