I started contributing arts & entertainment features to the Marin IJ while still in college. Though it was great to get published once in a while, I wanted something more regular. So I pitched the managing editor several ideas for a weekly column. What came out of that was "Low-Rate Rendezvous," a weekly feature that covered creative and inexpensive (under $40 for two) date ideas in and around the Bay Area. It didn't just cover cheap restaurants, it focused on date *ideas* like painting at the park and BBQs at the beach. The kick-off column was a 2-page spread; the weekly version was 13 inches. The feature ran for one year.
A toasty drink and some well-spoken words can be found at various open mic nights in San Francisco. Some of the venues are perfect for a romantic date, while others are better suited for a raunchy night out with a group of loud friends.
For great chai and a comfortable, warm atmosphere, Notes From the Underground is the place. Only nine months old, this cafe offers up a variety of vegetarian dishes with prices that are easy on even the poorest poet's pocketbook. An example: The Madame Underground, a garlic, mushroom and cheese-filled toasted baguette, goes for a mere $4.
The small, living-room style space is decorated with bookshelves, photographs and twinkling white lights, and the crowd is a mellow breed. On Tuesday nights, Notes features an open mic that, unlike many of the open mics around town, is friendly and homey. Anyone can stand up and read whatever they choose, and the patrons listen respectfully. Owners Aysu Erdem and Tulsi Zeidman, who are engaged, kept couples in mind when the started Notes. It isn't unusual to hear Zeidman recite a love poem to Erdem in front of everyone at the cafe.
If you want to get a little rowdy, head over to the Tip Top Inn. This smoky, funky watering hole features an open mic at 9 p.m. every Monday. Popular among some of the more established San Francisco poets, the open mic here is usually packed with regulars and may be a bit intimidating for first-time readers. Though grungy, the Tip Top is ideal for those who want to kick back, drink a few cheap beers, play some pool and hear some poetry in the background.
Checking out poetry readings creates an intimate setting for a romantic date; the sometimes-beautiful, sometimes funny sentiments may inspire verses from your own heart.