Running through SF’s Chinatown at night for the first time, I found so much visually arresting color and culture bombarding me despite the darkness. On one side of the street is an entire block of flashy Asian antique stores crammed with brilliant crystal chandeliers and statues, probably owned by the same moguls. In sharp contrast, the other side is a chain of small souvenir shops, neon sale signs in Comic Sans and cardstock covering their entrances, a patchwork quilt from afar.
We began the night by weaving in and out of these stores, posing in front of a few storefronts and getting irritated by impudent catcallers. Inspiration really hit when we turned in to its alleyways, drunken pubs and gritty convenience stores glowing hot tamale red and fuchsia pink from their flashing neon signs. ATM, BUDWEISER, and 24HOUR became our light, in streets devoid of lampposts but full of character.
Jimena’s boxing gloves came out, attitude revved up by the underworld we found ourselves in. Sex appeal at maximum, inviting the attention of every curious male passerby, but confidently deflecting their shameless gazes. This self-assured, sexy spirit turned on her own electricity to counter the fluorescence cast upon her. All this light made for an unapologetically provocative, heady, and intoxicating first encounter with Chinatown.