Monday, June 27, 2005

Where is C-19?

Merritt arranged a special evening for her birthday - dinner at Greens Restaurant and tickets to the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. We invited our friends Tiffany & Paul and Peter & Christina. We arrived for our 5:45pm dinner reservation at Greens which is a high-end vegetarian restaurant at Fort Mason. We were a little uncomfortable having our friends pay for a prixe-fixe meal but it was the most convenient location since it shared the same parking lot with the theatre.

We got started a tad late and our server was slow. We weren't too worried since the performance was being held at Herbst Pavilion right next door. But it was past 8pm by the time we made it over to Cowell Theatre inside Herbst Pavilion. No problem, these things usually start late anyway.

The lady at the door rips our tickets and hands us our stubs. We quickly move on to the usher who glances at my ticket and says, "C-19, okay, you'll be in the 3rd row from the front, left hand side." The six of us shuffle our way to row C and find that the left hand section only goes up to seat #14. The middle section starts with seat #119. I ask the very large, comfortably seated men to show me their seat numbers and they confirm that they are, in fact, in the correct seats. By this time people are getting settled and seated and the six of us are spread out over the theatre looking for our seats. I make my way to the right hand side of the theatre and see that the seat numbers are still in the hundreds. I find another usher and hand him my ticket. He takes a closer look at it and reads the top of the stub, "'Palace of Fine Arts Theatre' - um, I think you're in the wrong place."

Fortunately, the Palace of Fine Arts is just down the street from Fort Mason, not too far at all. Merritt parks in the parking lot in a spot that I was sure would scrape the sides off her Subaru Outback. We rush to the entrance and the woman at the door, glances at our tickets and says, you'll want to go to the left hand side of the theatre. We start walking across the lobby and another usher meets us halfway asking if we needed any help. Sure, I think, handing him my ticket, we could use all the help we can get. "C-19, okay you'll be sitting on the right hand side of the theatre, go through that doorway." We follow his instructions and enter the dark theatre.

By now it is 8:37pm, we've missed the Chinese group and are in the middle of the Indonesian performance. The ushers ask us to stand and wait at the top of the aisle until there is a break between performances. We stand and wait. Finally the Indonesians have finished and we make our way down the aisle in complete darkness. There isn't any gap of six empty seats in the C row and our usher flashes her light on my ticket, "C-19, you guys are on the other side." We make our way back up the aisle and go over to the left hand side of the theatre. By then the Scottish group has already started dancing and the ushers ask us to wait until there is a break.

We watch the Scottish group dance from the aisle and, there's no other way to put this, they suck. Not only are we devastatingly late but the performance might be a bust as well. The Scottish dancers transition seamlessly into the Dutch clog-dancing troupe. They're a lot better. But we're still standing at the top of the aisle waiting for our chance to sit. It's been a while and the usher gets us ready to take our seats when there is a break. "Okay, C-19, that's 3rd row from the front, in the middle section."

There is a break in the performance and I go for it, everyone following my lead. There is indeed a gap of six seats in row C with one guy sitting in the middle of it. I excuse my way over there anyway. At this point I realize that the break in the performance was not really a break, just a slight pause really, the Dutch clog-dancers have revved it up again, and there are six of us smack dab in the middle of the theatre 3 rows from the front trying to find our friggin seats! (Did I mention that Paul and Peter are 6ft 2 and 6ft 4 inches respectively? Yeah.) The guy who was sitting in the middle of our seats moves over a few. Then one more. Then one more. We're still scooting ourselves over when he realizes that, yes, we need ALL six seats. So he gets up and has to walk across all six of us to get back to his seat which was near the aisle. So we finally have our seats. We sink as low as possible in them. We start to watch the performance that we've disturbed so blatantly. Less than minute and half passes and the lights go up... Intermission.

We don't dare move. We wait for the second half of the performance which, thank god, kicks serious ass. The Korean group (KOREAPRIDE!) was the best. Their costumes were the most colorful and beautiful, the choreography was professional, the drumbeat was exciting, the hats with the twirling string were cool. There was also India, Spanish flamenco and Hawaii and all were outstanding. The performances were cultural but with a contemporary twist. We were all impressed and very glad to have gutted out the odyssey and made it to the dance. Although the journey was as memorable as the performance.