¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo, amigos! Starting today and running through the weekend, San Francisco will celebrate the Mexican holiday with a variety of cultural events and dance parties. From a free concert in Golden Gate Park and “Immersive” Frida Kahlo Exhibit to a car show from the San Francisco Lowrider Council, plus much more.
Also this weekend, check out an art and video exhibit about the Tenderloin punk scene in the 1980s, fly a kite at Crissy Field for free and learn about our country’s tragic history of “conversion therapy.”
Thursday, May 5
Golden Gate Bandshell, Music Concourse at Golden Gate Park
4 p.m. | Free
San Francisco Latin music promoter Peña Toribio presents a trio of Latin music acts in honor of Cinco de Mayo. Calle Son kicks things off at 4 p.m., followed by gypsy jazz ensemble Barrio Manouche at 5 p.m. and Monreal Latin Blues brings smooth South American-infused sounds to the stage at 6 p.m.
Cadillac Bar & Grill, 44 9th St.
6 p.m. | Free
The basics of salsa dancing are deceptively easy, though learning how to move your hips takes practice. The Cadillac Bar & Grill (known for its legendary margaritas) hosts an entry level course from 6 to 9 p.m. while Somos El Son perform live.
SVN West San Francisco, 10 South Van Ness Ave.
7 p.m. | $30+
Carnaval San Francisco pays tribute to famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s surrealist spirit with an “immersive” art fundraiser for the group’s new cultural arts healing center. A VIP reception begins at 7 p.m., followed by showings at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Exploratorium, Pier 15 Embaracadero at Green St.
6 p.m. | $19.95
Discover a new aural atmosphere and textures of sound at the Exploratorium’s adults-only, after-hours jam session. The Awesöme Orchestra nods to Cinco de Mayo with performances of Mexico’s national anthem, José Pablo Moncayo’s orchestral masterpiece Huapango, an excerpt from Ricardo Castro’s opera Atzimba and an appearance by vocalist Dia Luna, singing “June” from her album Camellia. The night also features xylophone demonstrations explaining how the instrument works and beats by Oakland’s Hip Hop for Change. (CJC)
Tenderloin Museum, 398 Eddy St.
5:30 p.m. | Free
The Tenderloin has always been a hardscrabble place—home dive bars, drugs, adult theaters and social outcasts for generations. While the neighborhood’s seedy character traits are currently the subject of much hand-wringing—much of it deserved, some of it overblown—it also makes an ideal refuge for pathbreaking artists. The Tenderloin Museum pays homage to some of these countercultural visionaries with a gallery show and public program series curated by video artist Dale Hoyt. Opening night is free. (NV)
Friday, May 6
Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St.
7 p.m. | $15
Based out of Brava Theater, Cuicacalli’s Ballet Folklórico showcases diverse music and dance stylings that mix Indigenous, European and African influences from across Mexico. Friday night features advanced, intermediate and beginning dancers from Cuicalli’s youth academy and performances by its multi-disciplinary contemporary company. Saturday features live music from Mariachi La Misión. (CJC)
Saturday, May 7
750 Howard St.
12:30 p.m. | Free
This annual festival of outdoor live music concerts, theater, circus, dance, poetry and children’s programs kicks things off with a celebration of Latin music. Chulita Vinyl Club, an innovative collective of POC, female, gender-non-conforming, non-binary and LGBTQ+ DJs, open for Cuban percussionist Jesús Díaz and his Habana Afro-Cuban Ensemble at 1 p.m. (CJC)
4 p.m. | Free
Check out tricked out cars at the San Francisco LowRider Council’s Cinco de Mayo car show and cruise. Colorful autos will be parked for perusal at John O’Connell High School at 2355 Folsom Street from 4 to 10 p.m. Then these souped-up rides will bop, rock and roll down Mission Street between Cesar Chavez and 24th Streets at 4 p.m. (CJC)
SparkArts, 4229 18th St.
7 p.m. | $60
On a more somber note, SparkArts hosts a pop-up art Show and staged reading of Dr. Sé Sullivan’s We Just Want to Be, a documentary in development based on the filmmaker’s personal history as a survivor of conversion therapy and subject of clinical research at UCLA’s Gender Identity Research Clinic to formulate a pathology for Gender Dysphoria. Printed portions and audio excerpts of Sullivan’s childhood medical transcripts are at the center of the experience, which Sullivan discovered as part of their Ph.D. research. The documentary and the exhibition shed light onto Sullivan’s traumatic journey and unpacks these historical documents and records “as a site of data collection.” (CJC)
Crissy Field, 1199 E Beach
1 p.m. | Free
Before it was transformed into the expanse of grassy lawns and sandy beaches that locals and tourists love, Crissy Field was a rundown airstrip. It took 3,000 volunteers and $34.4 million in private donations to transform the Presidio’s 100-acre landing field into one of the most picturesque urban waterfronts in the U.S. To mark Crissy Field’s 21st birthday—or, as marketing materials put it, “the end of Crissy Field’s 20th birthday”—the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is inviting the public to come fly a kite and take in the park’s epic view of the Golden Gate Bridge. (MJT)
Local Comic Shops
All Day | Free
Free Comic Book Day is a retail holiday that Concord, CA local comic shop owner Joe Field conceived and launched in 2002. It’s held annually on the first Saturday of May and offers visitors free promotional books, as its name helpfully explains. Specific issues and the quantity given away will vary from shop to shop, but Spider-Man & Venom, Doctor Who, Sonic the Hedgehog, Pokémon and San Jose’s own Winchester Mystery House are all featured in new storylines. For some local flavor, seek out Carriers/Beorn/Dragon Whisperer, with the third title written by Sunnyvale-based Alex De Luca. A handful of shops in the region are participating. Head to the Free Comic Book Day store locator to find a shop near you. (YK)Contributors: Christina Campodonico, Maryann Jones Thompson, Nick Veronin, Yoshi Kato.