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Best Dressed 

Couture breezes through downtown S.F.

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SAT 3/27

Union Square nightclub Ruby Skye has a vibe that's more New York or L.A. than laid-back S.F. You know: a cavernous dance floor crammed with swanky sylphs, top-shelf booze, a dress code, and VIP areas rented nightly to fat-walleted partyers. The whole effect is far from California casual, which makes Ruby Skye the ideal locale for the "ICON Fashion Show," the runway extravaganza modeled after the Fashion Week bashes of Manhattan.

Designer duds on display include urban-chic ensembles from New York's Alice Roi (whose clothes you may recognize from the pages of Harper's Bazaar and Elle), provocative evening wear from Austin's Cat Swanson (best known for dressing celebs like Liz Phair, Britney Spears, and Lil' Kim), elegant silk lingerie from Patricia Fieldwalker (seen in Vogue, Glamour, Mademoiselle, and Vanity Fair), and trendy, spendy high-fashion pieces from the Anna Osmushkina Fashion House. The stylish soiree begins at 8 p.m. with a reception for press, designers, and a limited number of attendees who shell out for first-class or runway tickets ($50-100); the show starts at 9 p.m. and is followed by a glitzy bash for all at Ruby Skye, 420 Mason (at Geary), S.F. Admission is $20-100; call 693-0777 or visit www.jacintadesigns.com.
-- Joyce Slaton

ESPrit
New wave, shmoo wave

SAT 3/27

Once upon a time, there were several children, all quite odd. They grew into irrevocably strange adults, given to banging on things, screeching, and collecting bits of broken machines. Eventually they met and began making music, widely described as "unclassifiable" and "really good," under the moniker I Am Spoonbender. The group mixes elements of the Fluxus movement, post-Kraftwerk rhythmic hooks, and a healthy dose of bubblegum from the likes of John Cage. Admired for their seemingly bottomless knowledge of underground musical history, Dustin Donaldson, Marc Kate, Kevin Farkas, and vocalist Cup insist on the band's Web site that "We're not speculating on anything. Only reporting. Reporting on how the impossible slowly dissolves to become reality itself." The Phantom Limbs and Hammers of Misfortune open for I Am Spoonbender at 9 p.m. at the Elbo Room, 647 Valencia (at 18th Street), S.F. Admission is $10; call 552-7788 or visit www.elbo.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Poker in the Rear
Poet turned gambler turned fifth best in the world

THURS 3/25

Fans of Positively Fifth Street will be quivering at the chance to hear author and world-class card competitor James McManus speak. But they won't show it. To look at them, you'll think today's no different than any other day: McManus' fans include a lot of poker players. The book describes the World Series of Poker and interweaves a murder plot. This evening's activities probably won't be that exciting, but they should still be a lot of fun. The author appears at 7 p.m. at the Park Branch Library, 1833 Page (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Out of Sight

WED-SAT 3/24-27

Who didn't spend childhood hours creating treasure maps drawn in milky "invisible ink" that showed up when heated? Ben Potter did -- and judging by his solo exhibit "Invisible Ink," he never recovered. Admire the whiz-kid technology of his portraits of everyday people through Saturday at the Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery, 49 Geary (at Kearny), Suite 411, S.F. Admission is free; call 229-1138 or visit www.lizabetholiveria.com.
-- Joyce Slaton

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