The Top of the Mark is a tourist must. Located on the 19th floor of the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental in San Francisco, this romantic lounge has amazing views. Since 1939, the Top has made a night on the town even classier and with a vast martini menu, you are sure to find a cocktail you like.
My husband and I stayed at the hotel and took advantage of the convenience. Plus, there is no cover for hotel guests ($15 after 9pm). Two nights in a row, we enjoyed live music and the fantastic panoramic view.
On the first night, we noticed an older couple – potentially in their late 60’s, maybe early 70’s – just killing it on the dance floor. He was in a vintage suit, complete with wing-tipped shoes and a stylish hat. She was in a vintage gown, jewels, and a fluffy fur coat. The band played swing and these two did a very nice impression of Fred and Ginger. They were fluid in their steps and we had a
great time watching their skills unfold.
On the second night, they were on the dance floor again. The band covered recent radio hits, but they still did their classy swirls and steps. In similar vintage attire. When they danced, they lived in their own world. This time, though, we sat closer to the dance floor. I didn’t realize that this made us vulnerable until the woman came over to me and extended her hand out. She wouldn’t take no and two martinis into it, I went for it. It was her goal to teach me – and I suppose the younger generation as a whole – how to “really” dance. No stomping, she said. You have to sweep your feet. She “fixed” my posture then gently forced me to move about the dance floor with her constant instruction. When she felt she had sufficiently schooled me, she pulled Aaron up and I watched him awkwardly – like me – try to keep pace. I was delighted and intrigued. It was as if they stepped out of an old film and for a moment we were invited to join them.
After our lessons, she sat down with us. Her dance partner was off teaching someone else. Martini in hand, she introduced herself. My name is Gayle, but would you call me Gigi? Could you do that for me, darling? Sure. I complimented her beautiful dress and asked if it was a replica piece. Oh no, she said appalled. This is an authentic Art Deco gown. The dark green velvet was indeed beautiful and with the large decorative broach, she looked like old money. Her aged hands were adorned with rings that appeared to also be genuine vintage accessories.
Sipping her gin martini, she proceeded to share stories about dancing throughout the decades. With her first, second, and third husband. She shared pictures from her smart phone which revealed her younger self and proved that she had a full life of traveling and fun. I asked about the gentleman on the dance floor. Oh no, that’s just Bernie. Looking over, he was still wowing the crowd with his Astaire moves. She revealed that they were just dance partners. Bouncing from venue to venue, living it up. This was their life. Getting dressed up and going out on the town. By day, though, she ran a vintage clothing store and attended various special events like those hosted by the Art Deco Society. Think Civil War reenactments but for The Great Gatsby.
It was nearing 2am, the band was winding down, and we decided to head out. Gigi and Bernie joined our exodus. In the elevator, she threw her fur around her shoulders, muttered to Bernie that they should hit up another dance venue, and asked if we were game. I had to chuckle. I was spent but these two were just warming up. We opted out but wished them a wonderful evening. It occurred to me that they might be grandparents to various someones. If so, they sure didn’t let the title slow them down. And so off they went, Fred and Ginger to their next gig. It was nice living in black and white for the night.
Photos by (in the order of appearance): sanfrancisco.about.com, localmusicvibe.com, socialvixen.com, and upout.com