Speed Kills Traveler is artist Lewis deSoto's variation on a theme in the group show "Dromology: Ecstasies of Speed": a baby crib containing a toy truck activated by movement sensors that cause the truck to careen crazily around the crib. Ed Osborn's sculpture Flatfoot is another: a stack of worn race-car tires piled up around an audio track that plays the sound of cars accelerating, screeching, and crashing. Marcia Tanner curated the exhibit, which examines how the evolution of technology continues to shape our relationship to speed. Car imagery figures prominently in several of these pieces, like Jessica Bronson's video Shunt, which is filmed inside a Long Beach Grand Prix race car, from the vantage point of the driver. It's not all sharp angles and fast turns, though: Viewers who stand still long enough to absorb Anya Gallaccio's Press #5 -- Rosebud, in which the artist presses 300 red rosebuds between layers of glass, will be reminded of speed's antithesis: the slow, inexorable process of decay that no one can escape, regardless of how fast he runs. The show opens at noon (a reception is held 6 p.m. Thursday) at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 626-5416.
Hey, Sailor! The musical parody Dames at Sea has plenty of material to work with. In this affectionate spoof of Hollywood's wartime musicals and small-town gals with big dreams, a tap-dancing innocent from Utah gets off a Greyhound bus in midtown Manhattan and lands a job in the chorus of a Broadway show soon after. When she falls in love with a sailor/songwriter and steps in as a last-minute replacement for the seasickness-prone star of the show, the revue recalls Stage Door, Ruby Keeler, James Cagney, and Busby Berkeley. Andrea Chamberlain plays the ingenue Ruby, a role Bernadette Peters originated off-Broadway 30 years ago, and Joel Carlton is her seaworthy paramour in the show, which features song titles like "The Sailor of My Dreams." Dames previews at 8 p.m. (and enjoys an open run) at the Marines Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $25-44; call 771-6900.
Begin Again In thinking about rebuilding society from scratch, Harriet Dodge, Shannon McGuire, Miranda Mellis, and Alessandra Ogren rework performance structure as well in their multimedia show Scratch. Ogren, a member of trapeze dance company the Turnbuckles, finds kindred spirits in Knee Jerk Dance Project members Mellis and McGuire, a former performer with the highly theatrical companies of Wim Vandekeybus and Contraband. Together with Dodge, an adventurous performance artist/musician, they embark on a theatrical quest enlivened by fire-handling and stilt-walking, live music, and storytelling, as they stare down danger in their search for answers. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday and Sunday) at the Somar Gallery, 934 Brannan (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is $10; call 550-6928.
Pop Life If the Run-D.M.C. and Tom Tom Club cuts don't take people back (people over 30, that is), the Pong games surely will. "PoP," a dance party inspired by the Keith Haring exhibit at the MOMA, offers both at a one-night re-creation of early '80s Manhattan. Upstairs, the museum has created an exacting chronologic tour through Haring's life and career, including a selection of his favorite cassette tapes under glass and a room styled after a nightclub and littered with TV monitors, where images of Haring and friends dancing in a warehouse space flicker on an eternal loop. Downstairs, DJs Mark Farina, John Howard, Mark E. Quark, and Matt Valenz will spin house music in the grand lobby atrium while a 17-projector video collage flickers in the background. In the B.O.L.T. gaming lounge, meanwhile, DJs Push, Flux, Abstract, and Gamekat will play jungle and the Bureau of Low Technology will offer prehistoric Pong and Atari games alongside newer titles. Shepard (aka Andre the Giant) will create live graffiti as part of the mix, and a raffle drawing at midnight will send home a few lucky guests with new clothes and music. The party begins at 9 p.m. -- the exhibit will be open until 12:30 a.m. and dancing continues until 3 a.m. -- at the SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 789-7690.
Oh My Diosa! Ten-piece mambo band Cabaret Diosa calls Boulder home, but its album Hi-Fi Latin Exotica is rooted as much in the nightclubs of Cuba as in the tiki torch-lit suburban theme parties that the "exotica" element suggests. Cabaret Diosa sounds like Martin Denny on a three-day bender and looks like Tito Puente dancing the cha-cha with Esquivel. Costume changes, belly dancing, and skits are live show mainstays, and while swing dancers will be confounded by the mambo beat, the impromptu conga lines that sometimes form at shows are open to anyone. Some of the music is campy; much of it is lovely. The jazzy, hip-switching conjunction of horns, strings, and percussion does justice to the mambo bands of the '30s and '40s, while some of the arrangements fold in Middle Eastern and African influences as well. Cabaret Diosa go on at 10 p.m. at Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $7; call 861-5016.