I was recently challenged on my statement that San Francisco is in fact America’s most hedonistic city. What about Vegas? Los Angeles? Miami? New Orleans?
To be fair, San Francisco is certainly not the only hedonistic city in our (increasingly un-fun) nation. I’ve been around the country a bit, and I’ve experienced my share of hedonism in every city, even ones that are not renowned for it. But my statement stands.
Las Vegas, for sure, is practically hedonism embodied. Yet, there’s something about the profoundly artificial nature of the city and its venues of pleasure that leaves me cold. It’s almost as if the city of Vegas demands that you have fun on its terms. It’s fun in a box. I don’t like boxes.
Los Angeles and Miami? Sure, big party towns. But when you spend more time making sure you look good for your exploits than actually having them, something’s out of balance.
I love New Orleans, really, a lot. I, like everyone else, am deeply saddened by Katrina, and am equally concerned for the impact on Crescent City’s freewheeling, free-spirited ways. I’m sure that hedonism will continue to live strong. NOLA was the one city that in my mind truly contends with us for being unabashedly fun-loving. But, as I commented to my challenger, New Orleaneans have a more passive attitude; they let hedonism wash over them. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But I still feel that we in San Francisco, and yes in the whole Bay Area, display the greatest amount of active participation in our joy. We love to drink wine (and everything else), eat great food, get dressed up in silly outfits and parade down the street, challenge the authority of gender, race and other social roles, thumb our noses at the establishment. And why do we do these things? Because it’s fun, dammit. And we look good doing it.