Signs Of The Times
An amateur astrologer ventures to Nepenthe's legendary sign parties.
Thursday, October 11, 2001
I am honing my astrological abilities on Fassett, but I am saving my big guns for the Leo and Virgo sign parties. At these shindigs, monthly Big Sur events since the early bohemian days, I hope to learn whether astrology can still get a basic grip on the personalities of the complicated modern man and woman.
According to my guide, Leos are confident, dramatic, generous and fond of a good party. Right after entering Nepenthe on the night of the big cats'' bash, I overhear a lady at the bar announcing that she is going to shake her tailfeathers tonight. Certainly sounds promising; I make a note of it.
I wander over to the inner circle, where all the Leos are seated around a table polka-dotted with 10 colorful cakes. After a rousing "Happy Birthday" singalong, the Leos bask in the spotlight while cutting slices of cake for the crowd.
Then I hear the steady pulse of dance music emanating from the outside deck. When I get outside, I notice the scene looks like a San Francisco dance party with the roof ripped off. Instead of disco balls or strobe lights, the stars in the clear Big Sur sky twinkle above the revellers. A woman in a tiger-striped outfit moves through the crowd as if stalking a mate. I spot a group of people standing around Leo''s element: fire. After a quick dance across the deck, I ask the fire people if anyone in their group is a Leo.
Two young women from New York admit that they are not Leos, but they tell me that they know several of the sign''s common characteristics.
The young ladies explain that their traveling companions are a couple of Leos who have not contributed the proper pecuniary amount on the road trip.
While listening to stories about the cross-country adventure, I watch the employees of Nepenthe inform the primed crowd that the Leo sign party is over. It takes a little while to convince the voluble partiers to move on out the door.
Interview With a Virgo
It is obvious from the start that the Virgo sign party is going to be a low-key affair when compared to last month''s Leo party. Tonight''s crowd is only about a third the size, because the Leo party is scheduled at the end of the busy tourist season, whereas Virgo is at the start of the slow season.
This sort of atmosphere should be just fine for your garden variety Virgo. According to my good book, Virgos are practical, perfectionist sorts who might have felt out of place at the sloppy, debauched Leo party last month.
Tonight I am equipped with a true test for Virgos: I have created an awkward question to see if these perfectionists will pick up on my mistake.
"How would you explain yourself in your own words about yourself?" I ask Virgo Debbie Chun.
Though Ms. Chun declines to call attention to my very imperfect question, she does correct me when I try to add a "g" to her last name while recording it in my notebook.
I find another Virgo named Sharna Whitehand who writes her own name in my notebook after I start calling her Shania. Don''t mess with these Virgos!
While the deejay plays Iggy Pop''s "Lust for Life," I come up with an incredible hypothesis. Maybe the atmosphere of Nepenthe''s sign parties are directly related to the characteristics of that particular sign. For instance, the Leo sign party was wilder because Leos love to be the star of the party. According to this logic, the Libra party on Oct. 17 will be a fun, sociable event, and everyone at the Scorpio party in November will be having sex. Interesting.
I look up from jotting this epiphany in my notebook and watch while a lady in a black and white kimono struts onto the dance floor. She flutters her fingers around her head like a mime on hallucinogenics, then she falls to the ground, where she seems to be swimming towards the deejay.
This can''t be happening. This goes against all my data. Frustrated, I throw my notebook on a table and head out to the dance floor.
Nepenthe''s sign parties are held on the last Wednesday of the sign. For more information, see www.nepenthebigsur.com or call 667-2345.