A Solstice With Soul SOMA ushers in the solstice with a block party titled simply "Spring," and a live show by the band Soulstice. Hyperdelic and the Lone Buffalo plan a light installation to complement soundscapes by DJs Ammon, Laron, Polywog, and Professor Smith, among others. The Dragon Boy Crew will demonstrate tai chi and yoga technique against a backdrop of contemporary surrealist art by Alonso Smith, Brian Goggin, Eric White, Judd Burgeron, and Kim Edward Black. Organizer Andy Hasse says hors d'oeuvres (maybe sushi) are part of the party picture too. "Spring" begins at 4 p.m. at the Minna Street Gallery, 111 Minna, S.F. Admission is $10; call 995-4949.
Thai Story Thai "archaeological" dances, reconstructed from various eras in that country's history and performed in traditional costumes to live music played on old-style instruments, are a highlight at the Thai Arts Festival. Along with more modern examples of Thai music and dance, festivalgoers can expect swordplay demonstrations and a full-body boxing exhibition. Cultural objects will be shown and gifts sold; hungry visitors can chow down on plates of Thai specialties at indoor or outdoor picnic tables. The festival, a benefit for Thai Buddhist temple and arts center Wat Buddhapradeep, begins at 10 a.m. at the Hall of Flowers, Ninth Avenue & Lincoln Way, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is $3-5; call 615-9528.
Winds of Change Traditional Irish wakes are the stuff of legend, but the Irish also created the American wake, named for natives who left Ireland for America during the Great Famine. Because emigrants weren't expected to return, a village would throw them a party with the best Irish dance and music it could muster, to send them off with a vivid memory of their roots. Westwind International Folk Ensemble re-creates an American wake in "American Times," a homage to this country's vibrant, multiethnic cultural history. Dressed in period costumes, the 50 singers, dancers, and musicians whirl through a klezmer music and dance suite featuring a Hasidic line dance and a Freylekhs circling dance; a North Atlantic whaler's hornpipe; Mexican Nortenos; Appalachian folk clogging; swing jazz; and the latest in a long line of American dance crazes: a step dance, cousin to tap dance, performed by guest artists Unity, a Fremont high school step dance team. Westwind performs at 2 and 8 p.m. (also 2 p.m. Sunday April 6 and 13, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday April 12) at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $13-17; call 621-7797.
Stripped Down Chicago performance artist David Sedaris came to attention of audiences with "Santa Land Diaries," the bitterly funny account of his experiences as a Macy's elf that marked his debut on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. His early monologues and radio pieces were collected in Barrel Fever, which cemented his national reputation. Sedaris turns his thoughts to an American nudist colony, among other subjects, in his new book, Naked, which he reads as part of the Solo Mio year-round series. The reading begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $14; call 392-4400. (Sedaris also reads and signs copies of Naked Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Rizzoli Bookstore, 117 Post, S.F. Admission is free; call 984-0225.)
Where's the Fire? Don't expect 101 Dalmatians at the 101st anniversary of the Old Firehouse; resident spotted pup Maddie LaFlame will greet guests, but the main events at this celebration are the tap-dancing, singing, activities, and door prizes awarded every hour for rides on the 1955 Mack fire engine. The Victorian firehouse, formerly known as SFFD Engine Company 33, closed its doors in 1974, but the building has been preserved and transformed into a museum with memorabilia dating back to the days when San Francisco used fire horses. The party begins at 11 a.m. at the Old Firehouse, 117 Broad, S.F. Admission is $3 per family benefiting the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation and Firefighters in Schools or a new unwrapped toy for the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program; call 333-7077.
New Bards Hit the Boards Tales untold emerge as ThroughLine playwrights mount a reading series of original works in progress. Jeff Schwamberger traces the arc of life's travels in The Bones of Oedipus, which kicks off the series, followed on Tuesday by Loren Kraut's Last Bus to Jupiter, in which a brother and sister battle over how best to care for their increasingly senile aunt, a former TV actress. This refreshing antidote to Melrose Place poisoning was established four years ago to nurture and review new work. Local actors assume various roles at the readings, held Mondays and Tuesdays in April and May at 7 p.m. at the 450 Geary Studio Theater, 450 Geary, S.F. Admission is a suggested $5 donation; call 474-6799.
Something Wild Sumatra is most likely known around these parts as a place where coffee comes from, but the Indonesian island is also home to dense rain forests, a volcanic mountain range, and dazzling wildlife. In their lecture "Saving Sumatra: Land of Elephants, Tigers, and Hornbills," Wildlife Conservation Society biologists Dr. Margaret Kinnaird and Dr. Tim O'Brien will describe their investigation of the red-knobbed hornbill population in the Tangkoko-Dua Sudara National Park. The sanctuary is the world's most populated harbor of hornbills, a tropical bird recognized in local religious rites for its habit of mating for life. The lecture will also document the damage unlimited hunting and use of forest products has done to animal and plant life in nearby Sulawesi. The evening begins with a cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m.; the lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. at the California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is $6-10; call 750-7128.