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Friday, April 17, 2015

NightLife: The Perfect Date to Get Excited for San Andreas

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 12:53 PM

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Every Thursday the California Academy of Sciences hosts a NightLife event where guests (21 years and older) can drink Pale Ale while petting a starfish. Last night the theme was "Giant Nightlife," so we decided to go big on a Thursday and head over there to see what was up. 

The scene at these events is mostly couples, or small groups of friends, looking for a change of scenery. Lots of selfies next to fish tanks and awkward first-date conversations fill the exhibits. In fact, the whole place turns into a bit of a homo sapiens sapiens exhibit on mating rituals.

One of those rituals, dancing, was supposed to be encouraged by a couple DJs placed strategically around the building, but the dance floor was a bit of a bust and most people either continued to stroll or watched politely for a minute or two before moving on to the next attraction.
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The Whales: Giants of the Deep exhibit was the most fascinating thing I saw while strolling the premises. Ancient jewelry, weapons, and tools made from whale bones, along with the massive skeletons themselves, were on display. There was also a massive smart-car sized whale heart replica plopped down in the middle of the exhibit that was pretty impressive. The illustrations on whale evolution were intriguing and informative.

One of the academy's more friendly employees, Steve, eagerly explained which mammals had bones in their penises and which ones didn't.

"Humans don't have bones in their, so don't go looking!" He said to a small group of onlookers in a very dad-joke kind of way while handing out walrus penis bone replicas for people to hold.

Lots of the animals sleep throughout the event, or look genuinely annoyed that there are still visitors poking and prodding at them. This fish, in the Osher Rainforest exhibit, looked like he was pretty much done for the day. His lights turned off promptly at 8 o'clock, bumming out the people looking at the tank next to his (obviously he's not one of the main attractions.) 
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When you aren't holding penis bones or taking part in a large scale art experiment hosted by Oakland's Late Night Art, you can visit some of the academy's main attractions, like the earthquake simulator.

The earthquake simulator has three stages to it. The first, narrated by Dan Ashley's hair, had a bit of a childish feel to it. It's like a childhood field trip but with expensive booze. Or, as the drunk woman behind me blurted out while we were watching the introductory video about fault lines, "I learned this shit in third grade." 

The second stage is the fun part. You stand in a room that replicates how an earthquake feels. The ground shakes as dishes and books on the shelves shuffle and fall. The room's window (a TV screen) takes you back to the different years of San Francisco when each quake hit. 

The third stage shows the devastation after each earthquake and gives you advice on how to prepare for the next one.

It's a genuinely good time. But really, it got me a lot more excited to see The Rock's upcoming movie San Andreas than it did to go home and properly fasten my dresser into the wall. The Rock is the only stud I need.

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Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome is SF Weekly's former music editor.


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