(415) 379-8000, www.calacademy.org/events/nightlife
BEST LINDY HOP TO LIL' WAYNE
Retain a fond nostalgia for the 1990s swing revival scene? Swing Goth is the event you've been waiting for. Not quite swing and not even remotely goth, Swing Goth gives swing enthusiasts the go-ahead to boogie-woogie to modern tunes at El Rio. This isn't your grandmother's fox trot: rock, rap, '80s, alternative, Madchester, Gypsy punk, and almost anything else gets swung. Held on the first and third Tuesday of each month and tailored for beginners, this event draws an eclectic crowd that includes dudes who call themselves "hep cats," Mission hipsters, and folks who rock unironic mom jeans and Reebok trainers. If you're new to swing, arrive at 7:30 and take a one-hour group lesson with ringleader Brian Gardner, who orchestrates the event, to get a quick introduction to swing basics before the free dance. Lessons are $5, but no extra charge for ogling the cute dykes who call El Rio their local watering hole. Swing? Schwing!
First and third Tuesdays, 7 p.m., free. El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF. (415) 282-3325, www.swinggoth.com
BEST CELESTIAL TRAJECTORISTS
Who can take a sunburst of boomer rock inspirations like The Notorious Byrd Brothers-<\d>era Byrds and Meddle-some Pink Floyd sprinkle it with dew, and cover it with chocolaty nouveau-hippie-hipster blues-rock and a miracle or two? The fresh-eyed, positive-minded folks of Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound can, 'cause they mix it with love and make a world many believed had grown hack and stale taste good. Riding a wave of local ensembles with a hankering for classic rock, hard-edged Cali psych, Japanese noise, and wild-eyed film scores, the San Francisco band is the latest to make the city safe once more for musical adventurers with open minds and big ears. What's more, the Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound's inspired new third album, When Sweet Sleep Returned (Tee Pee) recorded with help from Tim Green at Louder Studios has fielded much press praise for space-traveling fuzzbox boogie blowouts like "Drunken Leaves" and blissed-out, sitar-touched jangle rambles such as "Kolob Canyon." Consider your mind burst.
BEST DANCE DYNAMO
You can't miss him. He has legs like tree trunks and arm muscles that ripple like lava. When he leaps you think he'll never come down, and his turns suggest the power of a hurricane. He is dancer Ramón Ramos Alayo, Six years ago he founded the CubaCaribe Festival that now packs in dance aficionados of all stripes, and he's one of the shaping forces behind the wild San Francisco Carnaval celebration. He runs Alayo Dance Company, for which he choreographs contemporary works with Afro-Cuban roots, and he teaches all over the Bay Area as many as 60 people show up for his Friday salsa classes at Dance Mission Theater. But Ramos is most strikingly unique as a performer. Ramos is as comfortable embodying Oshoshi, the forest hunter in the Yoruba mythology, as he is taking on "Grace Notes," a jazz improvisation with bassist Jeff Chambers. No wonder Bay Area choreographers as radically different as Joanna Haigood, Sara Shelton Mann, and Robert Moses have wanted to work with him.
BEST BLUEGRASS AMNESIAC
Toshio Hirano packs a mean sucker punch. At first glance he's a wonderfully eccentric Bay Area novelty, a yodeling Japanese cowboy playing native songs of the American heartland.