Monday, March 12, 2007

Bar Review: Jet on Market

Jet is in the space once occupied by The Detour, a fading leather bar that had definitely seen better days. The interior has undergone a total rehab, and is super-slick: black patent leather wall, ergonomic foam-formed bench seating on the back wall, cabaret-style seating in the front with a stage (where I've been told you can sometimes find go-go dancers), and plenty of mirrored surfaces. The most amazing bit of interior design is the stainless-steel wall of lightbulbs that goes up behind the bar and onto the ceiling. This creates a really interesting optical illusion in which the back wall seems to tower about sixteen feet high, when in fact it's a fairly low ceiling. It makes the space seem much bigger, and overall the vibe is very lounge-sophisticated.

I'd heard that Greg Bronstein, the owner of Jet, had plans to make it a "hip-hop lounge," and that was certainly what we heard coming through the system when we came into the bar. I'm not a big fan of hip-hop, but I'm especially not into the R&B style of hip-hop with its overly-emotive vocal stylings. In a bar this can be especially difficult to deal with since the vocals compete with the ability to have a conversation, and when you get into the more aggressive beats, or songs with layer upon layer of vocal tracks, it just becomes too much. Though we took advantage of the two-for-one drink specials, I was more than ready to leave after my first drink.

For a Friday night after 9PM there weren't many people in the bar, maybe a dozen older guys, a couple younger guys with their hags, and a small group of lesbians out and about. All seemed to be stopping in on their way someplace else, and I didn't see many signs that they were settling into the space for a long night of drinking and carousing. When we went to The Bar on Castro afterwards, in contrast, the place was packed with lots of guys and girls who were obviously there to have their good time for the night.

In sum, Jet is a fabulous space in need of a different musical vibe. I don't know why Bronstein decided that the Castro needed a hip-hop lounge; perhaps there is an attempt here to pull in a greater degree of diversity than the typical Castro bar, but I didn't see any sea of homongenous faces at The Bar that spoke to me of a need for diversification. The hip-hop orientation could work with a more acute track selection, since later in our visit there were some deeper tracks that came on and gave the space a warm vibe, but from the small number of people we saw there on a Friday night at prime drinking time, the Jet concept as it stands now doesn't seem to be catching on. The boyfriend and I agreed that we would come back and check it out again on another night, but it needs something more compelling and interesting to keep me there past the first drink.

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