For anyone who has ever pirouetted around the bedroom in a slip, — and who hasn't? — there's the "Dance-Along Nutcracker."
Each year, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band presents what is likely the only audience-participation "Nutcracker" in the country.
"I am not dancing," Alex told me when I suggested this event.
"I'm probably not either," I told him. "I just want to watch everybody else."
Getting into the act is simple: You can rent a chiffon tutu or a blinking tiara inside the door (or come dressed in that bridesmaid dress that has always looked as though it escaped from "Swan Lake"); fortify yourself with a libation from the substantially stocked lobby bar; and dance along to Tchaikovsky's holiday classic.
During the performance, the Freedom Band plays its way through the ballet, removing the more dirge-like passages and replacing them with livelier tunes, including "Good King Wenceslas" and "Tiny Bubbles." Whenever the sign reading "It's time to dance along" flashes above the stage, everybody takes to the aisles to boogie, ballroom, hip-hop and samba, as well as perform those flashy pirouettes perfected in front of the bedroom mirror.
I attribute our transformation from spectator to participant to the purchase of a wand (which Alex saw as more Harry Potter than Mikhail Baryshnikov) and the rental of a tiara (because I've always wanted one). Ten minutes later, we were twirling around to the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy."
11 a.m. and 3 p.m. today at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, 701 Mission St.; (415) 978-2787, http://www.ybca.org . Tickets $14-$21.
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Holiday by the bay
From LAX, nonstop service to San Francisco is available on United and American, and direct service (stop, no change of plane) and connecting service (change of plane) on America West. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $128.
WHERE TO STAY:
The Fairmont, 950 Mason St.; (415) 772-5000 or, for reservations, (800) 257-7544, fax (415) 772-5013, http://www.fairmont.com . Atop Nob Hill, across from the lighted trees outside Grace Cathedral, the Fairmont is an unbeatable place to spend the holidays. Most of the rooms have real San Francisco views — Alcatraz, Coit Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid — and from most rooms you can hear the clanging bells of the holiday-decorated cable cars. Best of all, the Tonga Room is right downstairs. Doubles begin at $199.
The Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell St. on Union Square; (415) 397-7000 or, for reservations, (800) 917-7458, http://www.westinstfrancis.com . Book a room in the Grand Old Dame older building and you'll have a view of the Christmas tree in Union Square. Go for a modern room in the tower and you can check out the entire city from the exterior glass elevator, the best free ride in town. Holiday packages begin at $149.