But it's the plucky, DIY joie de vivre that pervades its fundraising events featuring such entertainment as queer cabaret, big burlesque, and an abundance of booty-shaking that keeps our toes tapping and our progressive groove moving. Best of all, the "no one turned away for lack of funds" policy ensures that even the most broke-ass idealist can get down.
1310 Mission, SF. (415) 626-2060, www.counterpulse.org
MORE THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS
Sometimes a dance club, sometimes an art gallery and sometimes not quite either 111 Minna Gallery is pretty much guaranteed to always be a good time. Funds have been raised here on behalf of groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the West Memphis Three, and Hurricane Relief as a plethora of local and big-name artists and music makers from Hey Willpower to Henry Rollins have shown their stuff on the charmingly makeshift stage and the well-worn walls.
111 Minna, SF. (415) 974-1719, www.111minnagallery.com
THE HUMAN LAUGH-IN
It's true the revolutionary life can't just be one big dance party. Sometimes it's an uptown comedy club adventure instead. Cobb's Comedy Club consistently books the big names on the comedy circuit and it also showcases some side-splitting altruism, such as last month's THC Comedy Medical Marijuana benefit tour and the annual "Stand Up for Justice" events sponsored by Death Penalty Focus. Even selfless philanthropy can be a laughing matter.
915 Columbus, SF. (415) 928-4320, www.cobbscomedyclub.com
The headless guardian angel of cavernous, city-funded cultural center SomArts has been a silent witness to countless community-involved installations and festivals, such as the "Radical Performance" series, a Day of the Dead art exhibit, the annual "Open Studios Exhibition," and the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival. And plenty of fundraising celebrations have been hosted beneath its soaring rafters on behalf of organizations such as the Coalition on Homelessness, Survival Research Labs, and the Center for Sex and Culture. We've got to admit nothing cries "community" like a space where you can drink absinthe and build misfit toys one night, dance to live salsa the next, and attend a sober seminar on pirate radio the following afternoon.
934 Brannan, SF. (415) 552-2131, www.somarts.org
STORMING THE CASTLE
Even if the Edinburgh Castle were run by community-hating misanthropes, we'd come here for the craic and perhaps a wistful fondle of the Ballantine caber mounted on the wall. But general manager Alan Black has helped foster a scene of emerging and established writers, unsigned bands, and Robbie Burns lovers in the lively heart of the upper TL. The unpretentious, unflappable venue also hosts benefits for causes such as breast cancer research and refugee relocation. And the Tuesday night pub quiz, twice-monthly mod-Mersybeat dance nights, and annual swearing competition keep us coming back for more (except maybe the haggis).
950 Geary, SF. (415) 885-4074, www.castlenews.com
SHAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT
Turning martini shaking into charitable moneymaking, Elixir has been the go-to drinks dispensary for fundraisers of all varieties since it launched its unique Charity Guest Bartending program. The concept is simple: the organizers of a fundraising effort sign up in advance, beg or bully a hundred of their best buddies to show up early and stay late, get a crash course in mixology, and raise bucks behind the bar of this green-certified Mission District saloon (the second-oldest operating bar in San Francisco). Did we mention it's green certified? Just checking. Barkeep, another round.
3200 16th St., SF.