Two left feet? Who cares! Beer gut? No matter! You, too, can be a dancer just by heading downtown wearing black, white, or gray. At least that's the premise guiding Rebecca Pappas' creation, Unfastened, for the Yerba Buena Gardens Choreographers Festival. In this democratic public performance, as many as 250 locals dressed in monochromatic shades will converge on the Metreon's top-floor balcony next Wednesday at noon; there, they will follow professional dancers through a series of gestures and pedestrian movements -- waving, wiggling, and the like -- which should evolve into a lunchtime art event. If you want to participate, simply show up.
Unfastened is merely the midpoint in the weeklong festival, which showcases emerging contemporary companies and choreographers. Elizabeth Frye and the Kamsisi Dance Ensemble pair up with the Alma Esperanza Cunningham Dance Ensemble on opening day for a percussion-heavy program of modern movement with Middle Eastern and African influences. Ann Berman's Les Nettoyeux (Tuesday) is inspired by the seemingly unorganized network of Parisian street-cleaners and the clash between neatness and disorder; Maxine Moerman's Tank Ballads (Thursday) is a series of vignettes colored by vintage murder ballads. The festival closes with Navarette x Kajiyama's Ghost Memories, a fresh take on two very old ancestral celebrations -- Japan's Obon Festival and Mexico's Día de los Muertos -- that incorporates traditional Mexican folk songs and Japanese drumming, plus marigold petals and flickering candles.
The fest begins today at 12:30 p.m. (and runs through Friday, Aug. 22) at Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission & Third streets, S.F. Admission is free; call 978-2787 or visit www.ybgf.org.
-- Heather Wisner
Plaid in Full
Don't judge a kilt by its cover: The Scottish garment in Jonathan Wilson's cross-continental play has a plot behind it, and then some. The not-skirt in Kilt, the story goes, was once worn by a young Glaswegian soldier in North Africa during World War II. Now it's the prop of gay Toronto go-go dancer "Tartan Tom." The connection? Tom is the old veteran's grandson, and he takes the kilt off nightly to entice clientele. But when the grandfather dies, a trip to Scotland teaches Tom that the kilt may not be the only thing he's inherited from old Granddad. Kilt previews nightly at 8 at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), S.F. Tickets are $18-25; call 861-8972 or visit www.nctcsf.org.
-- Karen Macklin
One night, four tribute bands
To some music fans, seeing a tribute band is almost as good as the real thing: You get all the songs without having Tommy Lee fling a drumstick at your face. And since the golden age of metal passed by a couple of decades ago, tribute groups allay the discomfort many of us feel at watching 50-year-olds performing their early hits tricked out in black spandex. Perhaps that's why the recent rash of faux rock-band nights in Alameda has gotten so much attention -- and so many attendees.
Tonight's "Metal for Multiple Sclerosis" benefit looks to be another pack-'em-in evening, with four bands onstage: Guns N' Roses imitators Night Train, Mötley Crüe emulators Wildside, Joe Satriani facsimile SFO, and Black Sabbath replica Speak of the Devil. Theirs goes to 11 at 9 p.m. at Rooster's Roadhouse, 1700 Clement (at Grand), Alameda. Admission is a $10 donation; call (510) 337-9190.
-- Joyce Slaton
Back to the Boom Years
Ex-dot-commers sing out
Anyone who worked in a late-'90s tech start-up saw the satirical possibilities of the workplace: the jargon-speak, the lightning-fast business-plan changes, the soaring stock prices of in-the-red new companies. The cast and crew of Goin' Dot Com! saw the silliness, too -- the only difference between them and you is that they turned their experiences into a musical. The original production follows the fortunes of the fictional Rentapuppy.com, from the company's founding through its tumultuous IPO and right on down to its eventual demise. Along the way performers warble such tunes as "Click Farm Wizard," "e-Sweatshop," and, of course, the song to which many in the audience will no doubt relate, "Hey Dot-com (Where Have You Gone?)."
The performance starts at 4 p.m. (with a second run Aug. 20-22) at the Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), S.F. Admission is $25; call 788-7469 or visit www.goindotcom.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
Keeping the Bay Area literate, honest, and critical, the local spoken word/poetry scene is one of the strongest in the country, vying with New York for skill and volume. So open your brain already and check out the "Radar Reading Series," organized monthly by word-slinging powerhouse Michelle Tea. This edition features killer locals like Tara Jepsen, storyteller and auteur of Fumbling Toward Rock: The Miriam and Helen Story; Little Men author Kevin Killian; and zinester Jeremy Lin, plus outstanding out-of-towner Bee Lavender, of Hip Mama and girlMom.com fame. Get smarter at 6 p.m. at the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room of the Main Library, 100 Larkin (at Grove), S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4400 or visit http://sfpl4.sfpl.org/.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser