Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Boycott the Tonga Room!

What a weekend I have had! Lisa's visit was truly fantastic, and now that she is gone, I am a bit blue, because having her here reminded me of how much fun we all have when we're together. Sigh. We packed a lot of stuff into the weekend, such as:
  • going on a really windy (but relaxed) hike in the headlands
  • eating a lot of sushi
  • chowing down on fro-yo
  • participating in the hostel pub crawl and leading 10 drunk foreign kids on a wild goose chase up and down hills in San Francisco, only to find that our destination, the Tonga Room, was closed. More on this below.
  • dancing our booties off at The Kells in North Beach
  • walking the dish at Stanny
  • revisiting our favorite brunch place from college, Cafe Barone
  • shopping for $5 bling at H&M
  • cruising through Anthropologie and gawking at the prices
  • dragging our hungover butts to the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market to buy fresh Japanese eggplant, shitake mushrooms, squash, soft and stiff-neck garlic, nectarines, baguettes, and artisan cheese for our dinner party
  • holding a lovely dinner party for 6 ladies on Saturday night
  • drinking ALL kinds of white wine
Now, about the Tonga Room misadventure. On Thursday night, after a relaxed dinner with Karen of "small plates" (small and expensive -- one ice-cream scoop of tuna tartare cost $12!!!) at Park Chalet, Lisa and I decided to slake our hunger by going on the hostel pub crawl. Since I had never participated in any hostel social events before, I decided it was about time I did so. We met up with the group in Blur, a bar on Polk, where 12 or so hostel-goers were sitting around, holding quiet, semi-awkward conversation in varying degrees of English. Lisa and I busted on the scene and decided that there needed to be a dance floor introduced, and stat.

We went across the street to Vertigo, where L and I immediately approached the DJ and requested Rihanna, Destiny's Child, Shakira -- you know, music you can get bootylicious to. The dance floor was completely empty except for us hostelizers, so we figured the DJ, who was a chubby, pinch-faced man, would be happy to oblige. Oh, how wrong we were. This is how the conversation went down:

L/S: Hi, can you play some Destiny's Child for us?
DJ: Uh, no.
L/S: Okay, how about Christina Milian?
DJ: Who? (*putting on hardcore rap album*)
L/S: Um, Dip it Low?
DJ: I don't think so.

-- Ten minutes pass. Bad, impossible-to-dance-to hardocore rap is played. Awkward European kids sit down and stare into their drinks. Stephanie approaches the DJ booth once again.

S: Sir, I don't mean to be obnoxious here, but look. We're all varying shades of white out here on the dance floor, so if you could play something that is not hardcore rap for a few minutes, that would be fantastic. I know that everyone out here would really enjoy a little Destiny's Child, if you have it.
DJ: *unintelligble mumble*
S: I'll take that as a confirmation that "Say My Name" will be next on the playlist. Thanks!

-- Hardcore rap about bitches and grillz continues. Lisa, Steph and the other hostel kids head for the door. Just as everyone is about to leave, BOOM, the DJ plays Shakira, "Hips Don't Lie." Are you kidding?! What a dick. So we stayed for Shakira, then left, because the DJ saw how happy we all were and couldn't deal with it and soon returned to playing crappy rap.

Somewhere along the way to the next bar, I got it into my head that we should go to the Tonga Room in the Fairmont Hotel. I had heard good things about this place: it has a tiki theme, it is delightfully tacky, it's in a swanky hotel but yet is cheezy and approchable, and so on. Using my sparkling charm, I convinced the whole group to follow me up a couple of giant hills, through the fog and mist, to the Fairmont. I marched them through the plush lobby, piled them into the elevator, and we rode down to the basement, where the fabled Tonga Room awaited.

As soon as I approached the two suited men at the door of the bar, one of them started waving his hands and shaking his head.

"No, we are closed," he said, before I could say anything.

"But, it's only 11:40... on a Thursday."

"No, we are closed." At this point, the other man in a suit added, "and all of our liquor is locked up."

I don't know what kind of tiki-swilling vagrants we must have looked like, but I knew that a popular bar in a major hotel had not locked up its alcohol at 11:40, a full 2 hours and 20 minutes before city-wide last call, on a frickin' Thursday night. Was it because my hair got messed up on the grueling walk to the Fairmont? Was it because there were a couple of Canadians in the group and the Tonga men could tell there was something fishy about them? Did one of them let an "eh" slip and blow our cover? I guess we'll never know.

I barely restrained myself from saying, "y'alls just RACIST," and instead composed myself, stood tall, and said,

"Well, I will not be returning." I then turned on my heel and led all of the disappointed foreigners out of the foyer. The point of this story is the following: do NOT give your custom to the Tonga Room. And please tell your friends to do the same.

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