Having reached consensus on most of America’s pressing social issues, San Francisco has found clever ways to waste catastrophic amounts of time on such questions as:

But no issue raises the hair on our pale, messy-haired scalps quite like the legitimacy of the Marina. The Marina, for those of you living in some distant galaxy where these things don’t matter, is a neighborhood on the northern end of the city built on a pile of liquefying garbage. It fronts the Bay and abuts Presido, with views of Golden Gate and Marin. It smells nice and there aren’t any homeless people. What is there to hate?

The standard argument is that the prime location is wasted on a bunch of yo-pro banker bros and sorority sisters in withdrawal. Presumably many of the 10% of the city’s Republicans reside, drink, and indulge in general debauchery before finally marrying and migrating uphill to Russian Hill.  People routinely where collared shirts that aren’t plaid or gingham, makeup that’s not black, and dance to music that you’ve heard on the radio.

In most East Coast cities, this would be pretty unremarkable, if not exactly endearing, behavior. But in a city that prides itself in spurning normalcy, the Marina is the black sheep leeching life force from burners, ravers, hippies, hipsters and techies.

Marina girls (by reputation, not reality)

As a Mission-dweller, I risked serious social capital last weekend by having a BIG NIGHT OUT in the Marina. To do a big night properly, you need:

  • A big crew—to rage hard and egg each other on. Bonus points for arriving from dinner (7 blocks away) in a limo
  • Pickup lines—in the event you meet the love of your life/night
  • Strong elbows—or forget about getting a drink/moving
  • A pretty face—money doesn’t hurt either

My night went as expected: pregame, cab to the Marina, lines outside of bar, platinum blonds wearing Christmas sweaters, packed dance floor, and to a (less cool) bar where verbal communication was possible. The people I met were almost all in good spirits. On a related note, they were plastered.

The Marina, in conclusion, is the perfect spot to continue the collegiate mating game that ended prematurely with your last frat party. There is an admirable lack of subtly in the Marina. People are there to hookup, and everyone knows it.  In the rest of the city, attempts at sophistication make that kind of directness rare.

Still, if you cherish witty conversation, like a dressed-down, relaxed night when you go out, or are over 25, head south, and let the Marina live and let be.