Burning Bright Courage and passion are two of your strongest traits if you were born in the Year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese zodiac, which runs in a 12-year cycle with each year named for a different animal. The Year of the Tiger officially begins today with the exchange of red money envelopes and zodiacal information, the consumption of extravagant meals, and the lighting of firecrackers, but public Chinese New Year celebrations will continue through mid-February, culminating in San Francisco's Chinese New Year Parade, which begins at 6 p.m. Valentine's Day at Steuart and Market, whether the weather cooperates or not (and typically, it does not). The Chinese New Year Carnival Street Fair, a small but cheerfully noisy event featuring midway games and tasty snacks, runs from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily through Feb. 12 at Walter U. Lum Place, Washington & Clay, S.F. Admission is free; call 982-3071. Docents from the Chinese Culture Center will elaborate on the customs and beliefs associated with the Chinese New Year when they lead tours through Chinatown Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. ($8-20; call 986-1822 for mandatory reservations). And later this week, little kids dressed in tiger suits will try not to trip over their tails when they march down the street with Chinese lion dancers and percussionists, Korean folk dancers and drummers, Japanese taiko drummers, the New Orleans Mardi Gras Marching Band, the Blue Devils Drum & Bugle Corps, and Aztec dancers and drummers in the Oakland Lunar New Year Parade, which begins Sunday at noon, preceded at 11 a.m. by a percussion performance by Chinese lion dancers and Caribbean steel drummers, in Jack London Square, Broadway & Embarcadero, Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 208-6080. Check upcoming calendar listings for more Chinese New Year events.
Expose Yourself to Art Exposure and risk are the unofficial themes of this year's S.F. Art Institute Salon Series, although the official theme, "Dangerous Element," echoes the uproar provoked by last year's Salon performance by the Satanic Apache Front, of Jack Daniel's bottle-blood ritual fame. It is only in the context of this illustrious heritage that this year's series seems downright tame in comparison, despite guests including Jordy Jones and Susan Stryker in Injectable Man and Testicle Hackey-Sack (March 5) and Scott McLeod in the roving, daylong, blindfolded ritual performance A Violin in the Dark (Feb. 26). Contraband alum Jess Curtis, Keith Hennessy, and Jules Beckman stage Ice/Car/Cage, a movement piece involving a car and a 300-pound block of ice, off-site in the Brady Street Dance Center parking lot (Feb. 19). The series runs Thursdays at 8 p.m. through March 5, beginning tonight with Nao Bustamante in text-performance-video work The Hustle in the Lecture Hall of the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut (at Jones), S.F. Admission is free; call 749-4545.
Street Wise If the title of Greg Sarris' novel Grand Avenue sounds familiar, it could be due to Sarris' collaboration with Robert Redford, who produced an HBO miniseries based on three stories Sarris, a UCLA English professor and Miwok tribal chief, adapted from his own book; the miniseries screened locally at last year's Native American Film Festival. Now Intersection for the Arts' resident theater collective Campo Santo presents the world premiere of Joy Ride, which is also taken from Grand Avenue. This story, like the rest of the book, is set in the cross-cultural hub of Sarris' native Santa Rosa Grand Avenue neighborhood, and spans three generations of family, beginning with Albert, a mixed-race Portuguese farm worker whose joy ride with a local Native American girl has far-flung, long-term consequences. The show previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through March 1) at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th Street), S.F. Admission is $9-14; call 626-3311. "An Evening With Greg Sarris," which features a preview performance, champagne reception, and autograph session with the author, is held 8 p.m. Saturday at Intersection. Admission is $15-25; call 626-3311.
Putting the "Wow" in Powwow With "Cokata Upo!" the Midwest-based Lakota Sioux Indian Dance Theater invites audiences to "come to the center": This evening-length concert offers the grass, jingle dress, fancy, traditional, round, and intertribal dances central to Lakota culture. The 15-member company, founded in 1978 on South Dakota's Rosebud Reservation, weaves a vibrant performance from Lakota history, legends, and myths, augmenting the dancing with narration. Musicians perform sacred and courting songs as the dancers, wearing exquisitely feathered and fringed garments and headdresses, stamp out a rhythmic homage to the Earth and its inhabitants. The company's only local appearance begins at 8 p.m. at the Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Admission is $9-22; call 472-3500. Back in the city, Native American companies and dancers representing dozens of other ethnic groups will perform in 10-minute segments at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Auditions, which are open to the public and begin at 8 p.m. tonight (and 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday) at the McKenna Theater, 1600 Holloway, SFSU campus. Admission is free-$5; call 474-3914.
Parlor Games Don't fear the bizarre Mary Poppins-like MC hosting off-kilter cabaret "Aunt Lucy's Parlour Tricks"; Aunt Lucy is really performance artist Beth Mann, and she probably won't hurt you, although she might disturb you a little. The cabaret, created by folks calling themselves 3 Trollops, debuts with a set of jazz oldies spun by DJ Romanowski, followed by performances from cancan dancers the Cantankerous Lollies, whose old-timey specialties include the chair dance and the sheet dance, in which a sheet is held up as a screen and a flashlight casts a shadow on the (gasp!) nude dancers behind it. (There may also be a trapeze involved in this set, but don't get your hopes up.) Latino drag queen Ineeda Richman, aka Alex Gutierez, sings of love and revenge with a collection of heart-rending rancheras, and contortionist Suzy Ming will turn herself inside out, a nice complement to vaudevillian performer Scott Malone, the physical-comedy guru who completes the guest roster. Romanowski closes out the show with a set of dance tunes. This is the first of several projected monthly cabarets; look for the "White-Trash Carmen" and "Southern Gothic" cabarets in the months to come. "Parlour Tricks" begins at 10 p.m. at the 111 Minna Street Gallery (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is $10, $5 for guests wearing extravagant costumes ("Although we'd be happy with a damn hat," says Trollop Linda Chavez); call 831-7681.