During a night of romance, queer hipsters gotta dance

Stephanie Goldman went because she has yet to find a "same-sex" shadchan, or matchmaker.

Jon Stuber went in search of a nice Jewish boy, "preferably a doctor, who is 5 feet 11 and weighs 175 pounds."

Lyssa Friedman and Daphne Stuart went because after recently taking dancing classes, they wanted to practice some new moves without having to be the "token" lesbian couple out on the floor.

In one way or another, all had attended with the spirit of romance in their minds and hearts. And as the evening's theme required, a little swing in their steps.

"Evening of Swing and Cocktails," held recently at San Francisco's Reform Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, was billed as an event for "young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender hipsters."

So how do these queer hipsters do the Jewish make-a-match thing?

Dress and attitude? "Swank."

Hors d'oeuvres? "Aphrodisiacs."

Cocktails? "'Kosher red 'Jello' shots."

For the night, the congregation's facilities had been transformed into something of a love lounge. Red and black balloons colored the hall, rose petals were strewn like confetti, candles provided mood lighting.

To tempt the participant's physiological appetites, there was wine, gourmet cheeses and hand-dipped chocolate strawberries.

But with all that swank came sweat. Once the attendees had adequate time to break the ice, the event organizers had other plans to facilitate pairing off.

Enter Cynthia Glinka, a professional dance instructor and choreographer who recently coached actor Keanu Reeves for an upcoming film.

Glinka managed to waste no time organizing duos into "leader" and "follower," an appropriate same-sex alternative to the obsolete etiquette of a male lead, female partner.

"I'm the femme, but I'm leading!" quipped Friedman.

Stuart, her partner, felt no inclination to disagree. The Marin couple of 16 years, both 42, enjoyed swinging in an environment where they didn't feel required to "perform a mitzvah," — meaning, being open, visible lesbians among the straight couples in their local dance class.

Although it took repeated efforts and absolute concentration in between laughter from the "two-left-feet" crowd, soon enough, the basic jitterbug and lindy hop steps took hold, and everyone seemed to be having a ball.

"Don't look at your feet! No oodle arms!" Glinka would have to periodically shout out to her amused crowd.

Stuber, a San Francisco resident, had found a dance mate that seemed to be a nice enough Jewish boy, yet didn't quite meet the other requirements he had initially ticked off. Would this gentleman at his side suffice?

"Totally," he said with a wink.

Goldman, also of San Francisco and a rhythmic natural leader, meanwhile appeared to be having a pleasant enough — and platonic — time with her follower.

Perhaps only because his name was Larry.

Dahlia Gross, program director for Sha'ar Zahav, had organized the event in conjunction with Tu B'Av — something of a Jewish Valentine's Day — to reach out to the congregation's "large, active 20- to 30-year old population."

"We're not really sure what 'young' means. Does it mean in your 20s and 30s or young at heart?" she said, affirming that events such as the swing night draw in a broad demographic.

Attendee George Lewandowski — who falls under the "young at heart" category — arrived with friends and said he wasn't actually looking for romance.

"I love dancing," the San Franciscan explained, and was not doubted when he spoke on the condition that the writer had better jitterbug with him while scrawling notes.

Left, touch, right, touch, counting to the beat: Though he just came to have some fun and move to the music, what if he did wind up meeting Mr. Right?

Pausing to wipe sweat from his forehead, Lewandowski smiled. "That would be perfect," he responded.

According to Gross, the congregation will continue to host similar events that meet the needs of single Jews who are not heterosexual, as part of its mission to celebrate Jewish diversity.

"Hopefully our synagogue is a place where you can both pray and meet your beshert," she said.

"There's a lot of Jewish dykes and gay men who want to meet Jewish dykes and gay men [respectively]…there isn't a specific bar or coffeehouse for this."

It's a situation that hits home for Goldman. "I get so frustrated, it's hard to find women who share your faith and background, with the possibility it could blossom into something more."

Despite this, the 28-year-old knows how to facilitate connections for others. Noticing that Lewandowski was no longer giving sound bites to a reporter, she led her dance partner, Larry, right on over to him.

Goldman just may be that same-sex shadchan she's yet to come across for herself.