We're seeing a trend of nighttime museum parties here in San Francisco—think of them more as chic cocktail parties than those Ben Stiller mega-movies.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the SF MOMA are famous for occasional opening-night parties, which draw a who's-who crowd of local artists, musicians, and philanthropists (with its 75th Anniversary, the SF MOMA's parties are getting particularly scene-y). But other museums are jumping on the after-hours bandwagon, hoping to attract new visitors with cash bars, dance floors, club music, live performances, and special exhibits.
Every Thursday night, the California Academy of Sciences rolls out internationally renowned DJs like Jeff Stallings, plus appetizers, a cash bar, and a dance floor, creating a party zone in the academy's four-story rainforest, hands-on insect lab, and aquarium (reader dcaliendorecommends it as a must-see anytime). This month's eclectic mix of events include a pre-party for music festival NoisePop (Feb. 18), featuring live performances by local experimental groups the Frail and Brookhaven. 21 and over. 6-10 p.m. $12. 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, 415/ 379-8000.
Kids get to stay up late too during Friday Nights at the de Young. Music, poetry, films, dancing, interactive art projects, cocktails (for adults only, of course) and a special dinner are all on the docket. This month's calendar features a Mission-style Carnivale party with projected images of murals and street art, headdress-making, and Latin music. Feb. 5, 5-8:45 p.m., $10 adults, $6 youth and students, free for children under 13. Dinner and drinks not included. 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive in Golden Gate Park, 415/ 750-3600.
The "After Dark" parties at the Exploratorium, a hands-on science museum located next to the Palace of Fine Arts on the Presidio, happen the first Thursday of every month. Each event explores a different theme through film screenings, exhibits, performances, and talks. Appropriately, this month's theme is sex. The wild night will feature bull testicle dissections (you'll definitely want a cocktail before that), a Condom Couture Fashion Show, and take-apart sex toys. March's "Distortion" night will have visual music and psychedelic animation. February 4, 6–10 p.m. $15. 3601 Lyon Street, 415/ 561-0360.