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Rhythm Nations 

A Carnaval atmosphere

SAT-SUN 5/28-29

The annual Brazilian blowout Carnaval San Francisco is back, this year with the theme "¡Baila Conmigo! -- Dance With Me!," which, you'll notice, is an imperative statement. That means all attendees will be required to jack their bodies (or at least bob their heads) to the myriad rhythms that will blanket the Mission District this weekend. Commanding seven blocks, the fest features more music than you can shake an exotic feather at, including the Latin jazz of Los Hombres Calientes, the Caribbean sounds of Kittian's Steel Band, and reggae from Luna Angel. Plus, you can learn to groove with the pros at the Dance Pavilion.

Sunday's Grand Parade, however, is where you'll see the Carnaval of your dreams -- the 300-person, Brazilian-style escola samba groups in feathered headdresses and barely there outfits, along with a multicultural mélange of Japanese taiko drummers, Chinese lion dancers, traditional African drummers, and, of course, the synchronized garbage collectors of Norcal Waste Systems and the USDA. Carnaval starts at 10 a.m. both days on Harrison between 16th and 23rd streets; the parade starts at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday at Bryant and 24th streets and continues down Mission, S.F. Admission is free; call 920-0125 or visit
-- Michael Leaverton

Gimme Shelter
Art interprets necessity

ONGOING 5/28-6/4

Whether it's an awning that protects you from rain, a place where abandoned animals live, an underground hideaway used during an air strike, or a dormitory-style building that houses the homeless, what makes a "shelter" is open to interpretation. The members of the Million Fishes Art Collective -- a Mission District-based organization focused on collaboration and cooperation between artists and the community -- were intrigued by the concept of shelter and invited a wide range of contributors into their galleries to examine the idea as a social construct, an environmental concern, a pattern of behavior, and a type of ideology.

The result, aptly titled "Shelter Exhibition," sprawls over three rooms in an experimental and interactive nontraditional gallery setting; it is Million Fishes' largest undertaking to date. "Shelter" opens on Saturday at 7 p.m. (and continues through June 4) at the Million Fishes Art Collective Galleries, 2501 Bryant (at 23rd Street), S.F. Admission is free; visit
-- Karen Macklin

Strictly Ballroom
Stepping on 10-year-olds' toes


Fifth grade is the first time many of us encounter the bittersweet realities of life -- awkward attempts at Spin the Bottle, fighting our way to the most coveted table in the cafeteria. And if you thought those pre-pubescent rites of passage were tough, just imagine tangoing against talented opponents in an intense ballroom dance contest. Marilyn Agrelo's documentary Mad Hot Ballroom -- reviews compare it to last year's kid-doc hit, Spellbound -- follows three teams of 10-year-old dancers to the all-city finals sponsored by New York's elementary schools. Ballroom screens at the Bridge Theatre, 3010 Geary (at Blake), S.F. Admission is $7.50-10; call 267-4893 or visit for show times.
-- Jane Tunks

Get Kober It

SUN 5/29

"My Big Fat Comedy Show" features a lot of comedians -- around 10 -- but it's definitely Jen Kober's party. Spotlighting her improv songwriting skills, the Louisiana transplant heads up the Wicked Funny Hella Cool Band this evening, but her skinny-girl jokes are even funnier than songs like "Cajun Martini." Tony Sparks and Susan Alexander host at 8 at the Hotel Utah, 500 Fourth St. (at Bryant), S.F. Admission is $8; call 546-6300 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser


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