I hit up 'Nightlife' at the California Academy of Sciences on Thursday night and was generally impressed with the recently renovated facility, the event and the scene. The drinks were strong, the company good and the bio-dome rainforest was in full effect.
Make sure you buy tickets well in advance online, as Nightlife tends to sell out. I waited until the night before and was forced to negotiate a sketchy Craiglist, street-corner transaction to score tickets off a renegade Academy member. Plus which I had to drive all the way to the Outer Sunset to make the exchange. (But in the end, is there anything Craigslist can't procure?)
Once at the Academy the standard daytime din of children is replaced by slinky European beats and the flirtatious buzz of SF's 20 and 30-something crowd out in force. With strong drinks, deliberate facial hair and skinny jeans everywhere there's a distinct meet-market (or is it 'meat' market?) scene. Between this and the daytime child riot, it appears there's no casual way to experience the Academy of Sciences, just align yourself with the psychographic that offends you the least and go.
There are three premiere exhibits: the rainforest, the planetarium*, and the aquarium to check out as well as a host of smaller, museumy stuff. There is a rule of diminishing access starting with the planetarium (the early seating is the only seating), the rainforest (admittance ends at 7:30) and the aquarium which remains open til the bitter end. So prioritize accordingly.
We missed it all except the aquarium, which was pretty well done, primarily for its thoughtful selection of odd creatures that illustrate the triptastic variety of evolution. Included were leafy sea dragons, gobi shrimp, box fish, snapping turtles, upside down jellyfish and the spooky alligator gar, among many, many others.
*My friend Tommy, whose high school featured a planetarium, submits this postulate for your consideration: exposure to a planetarium in lower-school has the unintended effect of turning students off to astronomy as a career or passion. By the same theory, we should be filling middle and high schools with adult film theatres to divert the gravitational pull of internet porn addiction.
To close, here's a picture of 'Claude' the famous albino alligator, lounging as he does in his enclosure, which is cordoned-off by stanchions to keep the hipsters from spilling their drinks or vomit into his environment.