San Francisco bubbles with excitement for this week's free Night of Ideas
A portrait of the French artist JR, who will be talking about his latest photo project, The Chronicles of San Francisco. (Courtesy of San Francisco Public Library)

San Francisco bubbles with excitement for this week's free Night of Ideas


If Dry January has you cold, bored, and in need of cerebral stimulation, the San Francisco debut of the global Night of Ideas—taking place Saturday, February 2nd at the San Francisco Public Library—may be just the thought bubble you seek.

Bringing together an ensemble of poets, artists, scientists, chefs, and futurists of all kinds, the seven-hour marathon of creativity and critical thinking will feature a whole slew of public events—including philosophical debates, panel discussions, live music, performances, and a yoga classe—all themed around the city of the future.

Launched in Paris by the French government in 2015, Night of Ideas has made the rounds through 120 international cities, with domestic stops this year in Los Angeles, Houston, and New York as well as SF. If it holds even a candle to last year's event in NYC—a friend on the East Coast told us he was "amazed by how many people came out and by how high and complex the levels of curiosity and involvement were—it felt like there was a real hunger for that kind of public conversation"—then Saturday's night sold-out event—co-produced by the local French Consulate, SFPL, and SFMOMA—promises to be scintillating.

That's right, we said sold out—or rather it is full, as this is a free event. Pre-registration on Eventbrite has already closed, but, according to the event page, registration may reopen at the door depending on the turnout—"Take your chance onsite!" they tempt.

Should you have already signed up or plan to venture out to the library's main branch, which will be dressed up as a multi-platform theater with stages across four levels. Programming is co-curated by Burning Man Project and 836M. Here's a bit of what you can expect.

After welcoming remarks from Mayor London Breed at 7pm, there will be live music from the women of the San Francisco Sound Wave Chorus followed by a performance in the atrium by Bandaloop, an Oakland-based dance company specializing in vertical choreography.

At 8pm, an array of keynotes and talks will animate all floors with guests including Tenderloin Housing Clinic's Randy Shaw in conversation with author Gary Kamiya; and writers Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky) and Meg Elison (The Book of the Unnamed Midwife) in conversation with CCA professor Nilgun Bayraktar, organized by Litquake.

At 9pm, Outdoor Yoga SF invites all participants (several thousand are expected) to put on some headphones for an unconventional yoga class aimed at creating an inner environment of sound and intimacy on a large scale.

At 10pm, film and arts come to the forefront with panelists from SOMArts, SFMOMA, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA), SFFILM, and more.

At 11pm, three-Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn will charm the stage with her passion for culinary poetry in an interview with KQED's Rachel Myrow. At the same time JR, an acclaimed French photographer, will tease all the senses with a talk his latest project, The Chronicles of San Franciscoa collection of photos and interviews with 1,200 people in 22 location across the city—which will debut at SFMOMA on April 25th.

From midnight to 2am, expect explosive after-hours creativity with keynotes from Burning Man founder John Law, who'll explore the utopia of The Playa; Mutek SF; and more. The night will wrap up with a Dj set by Josette Melchor, founder of the innovative Gray Area Foundation for the Arts.

FYI, this is all just scratching the surface. Food and drink will be available for purchase, but you might want to pack a protein bar in case.

// 7pm to 2am, Saturday, Feb. 2; SF Main Library, 100 Larkin St. (Civic Center); for the full schedule of events, go to

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