Wednesday, April 22, 2009


on Broadway above the tunnel
Russian Hill

Friday noon


I moved to San Francisco a little over a year ago after living in Austin, Texas for a year. Before that I lived in New York City for 10 years, and before that Boston, New Hampshire, and Maine.

I am a New Englander at heart and sometimes I have trouble relating to San Franciscans, especially those who are are into really new-agey kinds of things, or who feel the need to parade the streets in costume for every little holiday, or who sit in trees for 21 months in protest. There are general things I don't like about this place, like the pale foggy light, the washed out building colors, and chilly weather which means I can never go out at night without a winter jacket. Coming directly from Austin, I was used to pretty much perfect, warm, sunny weather year-round and the climate in San Francisco was definitely a disappointment.

But there are some things that I really do like: super-fresh produce, awesome thrift stores, and most of all the fact that I never feel in a rush to go anywhere. Living in New York City, there were so many people around all the time that I always felt in a hurry and my day-to-day stress level was high enough to feel like I was having a panic attack sometimes.

Life in San Francisco is pretty much completely hassle-free. I have a friend who described living here as 'being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it' (like sit in a tree for 21 months). Because of this aspect, I've been able to open a dance studio and shoe store here. This is something I don't think would have been possible had I stayed in NYC. The rents there are too high and the hoops you need to jump through to get a lease are just crazy. Here, we have our own stable business (where we can do whatever we want, whenever we want to do it), it's just a block from where we live so it's insanely convenient, and I have everything I need right here within walking distance. I am able to keep a car here, so I have the freedom that provides.

Also, San Francisco probably has the biggest and best tango community in the United States. There is a lot of business here for us, and I always have fun when I go out dancing. Sometimes I think about moving somewhere that is closer to my family and life-long friends, but every time I do, San Francisco gives me something else that makes me want to stay. The longer I am here, the
more I like it.

And I've started wearing a puffy vest and sensible hill-climbing shoes, so I guess I am slowly but surely assimilating.


Jennifer's contact info is here:

Jennifer Bratt
Maleva Shoes @ TangoVida
1120 Pacific Ave
San Francisco CA 94133


The rest of Jennifer's photo shoot is here, also pictured with her partner, Ney.


Starlene said...

That blue dress is fabulous! And the arresting chemistry of those two just jumps from the photos. Simply gorgeous!

It was quite interesting to hear the story of someone who didn't immediately fall in love with SF, but with such a laid back atmosphere, how could you not? That is certainly an aspect I've not heard of before now and I'm just itching to pack up my things and journey westward now.

Char said...

I agree with Starlene - it is interesting to hear about someone that didn't love it at first. And the good and bad aspects of it all.

Stunning photographs..

paris parfait said...

Austin is a nice town, but I'll take San Fran any day of the week - including its cool, foggy weather. To me, that's part of its charm and why I lived there for 7 years (and left for Europe kicking and screaming).

These photos are gorgeous and I'm so pleased you and your partner have found a niche for your dancing - and your business - in San Fran. I know both Julie and Anjie have raved about your place.

Best of luck in continuing to adjust to San Fran - I'm hoping the more time you spend there, the more you'll like it. As for the New Agey thing, yes, some of that bothered me too. And you're right, it can be over the top. But it's a very slim minority of people and there are eccentric characters in every major city in the world.

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Bee said...

I've loved catching up on your recent photo shoots/SF essays. It fascinates me to look at the entire photo shoot and compare it with the photo you pick to represent the person. You always manage to find that one photo with the extra something (in this case, beauty, mystery and downright sexiness).

Kathryn said...

I love that summary of SF - being able to do what you want when you want. I think that's absolutely dead-on.

And I can sympathize with learning to dress for this weather and for all of the walking we do here. It took me almost three years to finally cave in completely but I did. :)

Terrific photos as always!

studio wellspring said...

ti adoro jennifer! gorgeous, kind & down-to-earth ~ these photos & your essay capture why it is so easy to be your adoring fan. my tango heart misses yours so. . . .