Straight women, don't just go for the pretty costumes. Straight dudes, don't just go for the hula girls. Rest assured that the Ethnic Dance Festival will indeed feature these things in abundance, but instead, go because the fest is full of world-class performances you won't see elsewhere. (Everyone else, you know why you're going already; don't let us hold you up.) Companies performing traditional dances from 15 countries converge on San Francisco for three weekends -- incorporating 300 dancers and 24 groups into a lavish production that's become a Bay Area tradition. And yeah, it's got shapely people shakin' their stuff in sparkly, tight, and otherwise exciting outfits, but really now, we're all cultured types here, and we love art for art's sake. All about art, yessiree. Art like the Peruvian Dance Company's courtship rituals, Peony Performing Arts' dancers (who "explore their womanly charms with fans and mirrors," according to press materials), and Marcelo Solis and Romina Hahn's tango (and we all know what tango means).
Weekend one, "Dances of the Land," begins at 2 p.m. (the festival continues weekends through June 27) at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon (at Bay), S.F. Admission is $22-36; call 474-3914 or visit www.worldartswest.org. -- Hiya Swanhuyser
Lucky You The Metreon's birthday bash
The last fifth birthday party I went to involved pony rides and an endless supply of runny noses. Expect things to be a whole lot cooler at the Metreon's Fifth Anniversary Festival, where the consumerist palace celebrates its good fortune with a six-day blitz of free films, games, performances, and other treats. The standouts are Friday's "Global Sight & Sound," chockablock with sets from Asian/ world-music DJs like Cheb i Sabbah and Midival Punditz, and Saturday's outdoor concert with Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist and the Crown City Rockers, which includes workshops on scratching for budding turntablists. But really, every day of the fiesta holds something tempting: Sunday's devoted to anime, with clips from the last half-decade of Bandai Entertainment's features; Tuesday's game day, with the ritzy arcade machines of Portal One open and gratis to all comers. Sweet!
Events run June 11-16 at Metreon, 101 Fourth St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free-$19; call 369-6000 or visit www.metreon.com. -- Joyce Slaton
Stage to Screen Hey there, first-timer
An ideal film director will have, among other attributes, wisdom concerning other genders, experience with plot and character development, and an ear for dialogue. Fred Newman, a 68-year-old theater veteran, then has the right stuff. His first film, Nothing Really Happens (Memories of Aging Strippers), is nice and meaty: In it, he lets radical theater legend Judith Malina go nuts in a role that's said to be perfect for her. Backing her up in the low-budget production is an ensemble cast from New York's acclaimed Castillo Theatre --it all adds up to a film buff's film, if you ask us.
Showtime is 7 p.m. at the Delancey Street, 600 Embarcadero (at Brannan), S.F. Admission is $10-50; call 986-2565 or visit www.nothingreallyhappens.com. -- Hiya Swanhuyser
They say the softer sex is more aroused by words than images, and if that's correct some very lucky lasses should have themselves a fine time at "Dirty Ink Does City Art," a group reading from a dyke writer collective that includes tales of anonymous bathroom sex and a prostitute pick-up starting at 7 p.m. at City Art Gallery, 828 Valencia (at 19th St.), S.F. Admission is free; call 970-9900 or visit www.cityartgallery.org. -- Joyce Slaton