Monday, April 30, 2007

Happy Birthday to Jeff!

Friday night I had the great privilege of going to a small birthday party for Jeff, of Jeff and Gary fame, who I think is turning about 29. Two highlights: Jeff telling us that what made his birthday really great was that he had such a terrific group of friends, and hearing the Luciano Sci.Fi.Hi.Fi mix coming out of the host's stereo system. As much as I might disagree with some of Jeff and Gary's aesthetic choices when it comes to Drunk and Horny, they are still two great guys who I totally support on the personal level. And finding out that the boyfriend and I aren't the only two gay guys in San Francisco who appreciate minimal techno did much to lift our spirits. Now if we could only get some more of those boys out to the clubs.

Event Review: Refuge at The Transfer

Refuge, put together by Fil Latorre and DJ Javaight aka the Staple crew, featuring Jeno, was a great exploration of "future house and deep techno," though the union of this music with the space of The Transfer bar was less than ideal.

It's always a good sign when you hear two different DJs at the same party play tracks you own, serving as it does as confirmation of your own good taste and that you are indeed in the presence of like-minded individuals. When DJ Javaight laid down Kiki's "Trust Me," and then Jeno later played "You Got Good Ash" by Marek Bois, I had one of those brief moments of feeling not only in synch with what was around me, but that something I had been following for a long time was finally being taken up by others; for the Staple crew I think this would be described in terms of "deepness," a more thoughtful, almost hypnotic approach to techno and tech house that features very smooth mixes and blends between tracks. As much as I love the Kontrol DJs I've always felt that they had something of a tendency toward squonk for squonk's sake, and as they moved on to The EndUp their sound has taken on more of a traditional house sound. In the tracks that Javaight and Fil Latorre laid down you can still hear the house throb, but there were also harder, darker elements that experiment with more artificial, trance-like sonic textures, as well as the occasional saw-tooth bassline, that move you away from the at times almost sacchrine, sleep-inducing feeling of pure deep house.

Unfortunately, The Transfer did not turn out to be the place to really appreciate this music. I arrived with the boyfriend, Kitty, and our friend J around 10 PM, and at that time there was a good crowd around the bar, but the only other place to sit and chill was either on a poorly placed sofa below the windows (where, everytime you tried to lean back, you knocked your noggin on the drink shelf), or back behind the pool table. We settled in and tried to make ourselves comfortable while awaiting for the crowd to arrive, but that never really happened. I would have expected that with Jeno on the bill there would have been a big crowd, and while some dedicated house heads did come through the doors later, most of the action was confined to the bar area. The beats were good enough to get your hips moving, but they didn't even move the pool table out of the way until 11.30, so no real dance energy ever materialized. Even worse, for a supposed gay bar, the crowd was almost entirely straight. I'm not sure what it takes to get gay men out of their musical ghetto, but evidently you can put good music in a cheap, convenient location that's well-known and it's still not enough to keep them from rehashing the same stuff that's been served to them for the past twenty years.

The Staple crew is moving on from The Transfer with their next two events, Sabotage at Anu on the 10th of May, and then a party with Kenny Larkin at the RxGallery on May 11. I'll personally be anxious to see how they carry through with their sonic explorations in a space, and with a crowd, that is more attuned to their vibe.

Profile of DJ AM in the New York Times

Yesterday's New York Times had a profile of DJ AM, who was here about a month ago to do his own birthday party at Mezzanine. It's an intersting article about a guy who has lived through a lot (after getting hooked on crack he tried to kill himself by putting a gun in mouth, but it jammed when he pulled the trigger), dated a superstar celebrity (Nicole Richie), and now earns big bucks playing parties in Vegas and the NY meatpacking district. His party here was put together by the Vintage 415 group, who seem rather into the bling side of the music scene, which makes this very incisive quote from DJ AM all the more interesting:
After nearly 15 years of playing professionally in clubs, he finds them changed. To him, most places are no longer about dancing and having fun. “They are a tangible representation of what I like to call the universal lie,” he explained. “It’s a place where people pull up in their Porsche, show off their new Marc Jacobs bag or jewelry or, ‘Hey, look at me in V.I.P. with five bottles on my table.’ All this stuff means I’m someone in God’s eyes. But that’s the lie.”
Hmmm, really, couldn't really agree with him more.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Democratic Central Committee Resolution to Preserve Nightlife Passes!

Earlier this week I reported that the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee was considering a resolution to support and preserve nightlife, street fairs, and civic events in the city, and urged everyone who was a registered Democrat to let your views be known. It seems to have worked, or, at least, the resolution was passed. Here's the meat of it, but you can read the whole thing on their website:
AND WHEREAS San Francisco has become noticeably less tolerant of nightlife and outdoor events, with City government in recent years proposing large fee increases, policy changes, and other restrictions and impediments that threaten the long-term viability of these venues and events, including, for example, the How Weird Street Faire, the Hairrison Street Fair, the Haight Street Fair, and any event that occurs in a City park;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the San Francisco Democratic Party expresses its strong support for San Francisco’s nightlife and tradition of outdoor events, which are vital to the City’s cultural fabric, and which are capable of being conducted in a manner that respects public safety and the surrounding neighborhoods;
Whether or not this will make any difference at all remains to be seen, but it's always good when you have some potential political muscle to back you up in these matters.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Your Saturday Guide for April 28, 2007

A couple interesting events out of the ordinary this Saturday, though both present unknown qualities. If you go to either, please hit us back with a report.

UPDATE NUMBER TWO: New stuff just keeps popping up, this time a Burning Man fundraiser at the Porn Palace, but it's on the pricey side:

MONKEY: a banana peelin’, vine swingin’, primal primate throwdown featuring two rooms of boom to shake your prehensile tail ‘til the early morn’! 100% of Proceeds to Benefit “Homouroboros”; Peter Hudson’s next playa masterwork. Everyone involved has volunteered to support the production of Peter’s next stroboscopic zoetrope.

In the Art Barn, you’ll view Peter’s past work and speculate on the scope of homouroboros. You can also buy limited edition homouroboros tees, bandannas, panties and more. Plus, preserve your posterior for posterity. Live ass-casting is back! And with all our favorite Playa sound camps and DJ’s under one roof, this is a rare opportunity for those allergic to playa dust to hear some Black Rock legends.

Monkey Room
Laird, Fred Funk, Shissla, Cut la’What v. Tyler T, An-ten-nae, J9 v. ViaJay, Jive v. Smoove, Ernie Trevino v. Ethan Miller

Guerrilla Lounge
Laird, Aaron Pope, Radio Active, El Papa Chango, Tamo

The Porn Palace 415 Jessie St. (@ 6th)
9PM – Very late
$20 Donation
Burning Man Ticket Raffle! (At Midnight)
COSTUMES encouraged/rewarded: Show me the MONKEY!!!


UPDATE: Just found out about this intriguing party at The Transfer with, of all people, Jeno. The crew behind this party, known collectively as Staple, used to promote parties from 1999 - 2001 at The EndUp under the name of Refuge. These kids have serious House cred, so it's interesting to see them starting up again and incorporating techno into their concept of "deepness." Since The Transfer is only about three blocks from my pad, this is probably the party I'll check out.

Refuge: Future House and Deep Techno
with
Jeno
Fil Latorre
DJ Javaight
at The Transfer, 198 Church Street, x Church and Market
$5 after 11.30
No cover with rsvp: rsvp@staplemusic.net

filterSF presents Fumiya Tanaka at Fat City (formerly known as Studio Z)
The same crew involved with FUK Werk Fridays and the Tabu Sky Bar presents Japanese techno producer Fumiya Tanaka in his first ever live US performance. Sounds cool, I just wish the filterSF kids would stop putting boobies on their flyers - that's so 1999, ya know? Are these parties just about hot babes and those who lust for them, or can anybody come? Really, you'd think they were promoting a gay party.
Deets:
11th Street at Folsom
Limited RSVP $10 guest list before 11:00 PM
info@babd.org or filter1@babd.org
$15 before 11 PM
$20 at the door
$10 after 2:00 AM
Note that this party runs until 8AM Sunday

Aural Therapy 2.0
This just popped up on the old radar, afterhours at an underground location with a host of techno/tech house DJs including Kontrol's Alland Byallo. Starts at 2AM (that's 2AM in the morning on Sunday), location will be emailed by Saturday afternoon after you've bought a ticket online. Says that it's at "the compound."
Deets:
$12 + $2.22 service charge (tix online only)
Doors open 2AM, close 10AM (both Sunday morning)

Drunk and Horny
The reliable, sloppy, gay version of a high school party. Check out my review.
$5 Cover, Underground SF (424 Haight Street x Webster), 9PM - 2AM, DJs Big Red and Sparky.

More on the New Location for SF Halloween Party

In the San Francisco Bay Guardian Politics Blog Sarah Phelan has a post about the proposed location for San Francisco Halloween. It looks like a pretty cold, miserable spot, and no alcohol will be for sale, but, as I wrote in my previous post on Castro Halloween, I'm pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. Hanging out in the Castro isn't something I'm likely to do, and I'm even less likely to haul my ass down to a pier by the Bay Bridge.

More on NIMBY Wars

Over at the San Francisco Bay Guardian Steven T. Jones and Amanda Witherell have an article on all the various problems faced recently by groups trying to stage street fairs, create public art, and generally extend the fun in our city. It looks like the odious fee increases that were being slapped on the How Weird Street Faire and groups that wanted to use public parks for events (like Free Movie Night in Dolores Park) are being put off for the time being, but there is still a lot to be done in working out compromises between city agencies, NIMBYs who don't want to suffer disruptions (no matter how limited) to their lifestyles, and those who want to create more public events for the citizens of San Francisco.

Your Friday Guide for April 27, 2007

Whew, after the past three weekends the jaded gay DJ is the exhausted gay DJ. I think this will be a lovely weekend to get out and enjoy the warm weather, maybe stop off for a drink somewhere, and recharge the batteries for another round next weekend, when there's all kinds of crazy stuff happening.

The Jaded Gay DJ Recommends: Lights Down Low at 222 Club
A fun little scene in a cozy bar, just be careful you don't wander outside someplace and get yourself shot. Check out my review.

FUK werk Fridays Happy Hour at 111 Minna
A new minimal techno happy hour in downtown, yee-haa! Check out my review.

Fag Fridays at The EndUp
Reliable, if not all that exciting, but it goes all night, expect to pay around $20 to get in and to dance to pretty typical San Francisco deep house (the DJs should update their bios, since they refer to clubs that don't exist any more)

Charlie Horse at The Cinch
Free entry, easy-going, cheap strong drinks, crazy drag escapades, a good place to put down a couple on a Friday night when you're looking for a low-key but entertaining evening. Check out my previous postings about The Cinch.

Bar Review: Truck

Truck is at the corner of Folsom and 15th, right around the corner from the boyfriend’s pad, in the space that was formerly occupied by Wilde Oscars. This is one of the longest-enduring bars in San Francisco, complete with the original wooden and mirrored bar. It feels like a comfortable neighborhood joint where you can sit and hang out with your friends, have some grub, shoot some pool, and generally relax in a kitschy but not overwhelming environment.

The truck theme is carried through with almost relentless detail, from the mudflap banners above the doorway to the side-mirrors in the bathroom to the hub cabs on the ceiling fans. Keeping with the basic pubness of the space, Truck also serves haute truck stop cuisine like hamburgers and chicken strips. As someone who spent his youth in an area where going to the truck stop for Sunday after-church dinner was a big deal, I had a hard time sorting the kitsch of Truck from the kitsch of an actual truck stop. With all of the over-the-top butchness of this space I feared that it would simply be The Lone Star with food, but the crowd on a Wednesday night at 9.30 was pretty diverse and “neighborhoody.” They’ve kept the interior layout of Wilde Oscar’s in place, with high tables against one wall and a second back room with a pool table. The lighting is all brothel (or tail-light) red, and the music was decent with indie-rock leanings (there may have been a jukebox, but I was a bit distracted at the time to notice). There was a nice selection of beers on tap, and a pitcher of pilsner ran about $15.

The location is a bit out-of-the-way from the usual bar crawls, but I think it is a place I will return to for both the food (I always complain that more bars should serve some kind of eats), and for a relaxed drink. I’ll also be curious to see what kind of “gay bar” it actually turns into, since it’s a bit too “themed” for the typical Castro boy, and maybe not “themed” enough for the SoMa crowd. Perhaps it will just be a space in the middle for anybody who wants to shoot some pool and drink a pitcher with friends, and maybe get a little flirt on under the red lights.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Open Thread: A New Gay Paradigm?

So the jaded gay DJ is feeling a bit blue lately, mainly around my own inability to figure out why I have such a lousy time every time I go out to gay clubs. Sure, I generally don't like the music, and I'm not there to pick up, which leaves open the question of why I go to these things at all. Part of it is a desire for completeness, to just see what's going on, who is doing what, and maybe come across something that will re-kindle my belief that gay boys really can be at the forefront of new cultural moments. Lately, though, it seems that there are really only two, maybe three versions of "gay club night," which might be encompassed, regardless of age, body type, or class, as "circuit party," "retro party," "drag party," with maybe a bit of "rock-and-roll" party popping up in the last two. At all of these parties the emphasis is on getting fucked up, and getting laid. So, really, is that all there is? Does the gay scene seem as limited and unimaginative to you all as it does to me, or am I just becoming more and more like one of the crusty old men who sits up in the balcony at The Muppet Show? Have we lost the ability to do anything more than endlessly recycle the same paradigms, or am I seriously missing something that's going on? I put this out there to you all who click on my Gay Scene label; what is your appraisal of the state of San Francisco's gay scene, and what, if anything, would you like to see that's different? Please either confirm for me that I've finally become the curmudgeon I've always feared I would become, or relieve me by letting me know that I'm not the only one who feels a vague sense of disappointment in what the capital of gay America has to offer.

Mix to Download: Matt Consola "Friction NYE 2005"

Okay, so this is a bit out of my usual line of mix postings, as it sounds remarkably like a Saturday night show on Hot 92.7, but I think it's worth posting since Matt is one of the "big" gay DJs here in SF, spinning at any number of Gus Presents events, Industry at Mighty, and Bearracuda. In terms of gay clubland, this is about as good as it gets. It's also a reference point for what the kids who are reacting against "techno" and "trance" are really reacting against. I think I've heard Matt DJ once at a street fair, and as I recall the boyfriend asked him if he had anything harder (ha ha). His reply was worth noting; he wanted to get into harder, darker territory, but the diva tribal fluff he was playing was what it took to get the crowd dancing. I wish I could figure out how to enjoy this stuff, honestly. Why is it that even the butchest of gay men want diva vocals?

Matt Consola's Friction NYE 2005 Mix

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Resolution to Save Street Fairs!

Street fairs are one of the great civic institutions of San Francisco but in recent months they've come under considerable fire - the sale of alcohol was banned at the 40th anniversary of the Haight Street Fair, which seems to be an overture for its demise, and this will be the last year for the How Weird Street Faire, which fell to demands of the condo elite to "get their Sunday back." However, tomorrow the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee will be voting to adopt a resolution to save street fairs. If you are a member of the Democratic party, try to attend their meeting and let them know how you want the vote to go. For more details, check out the agenda on the SFCDCC website. Here's the info on the meeting:

Wednesday 4/25
7 p.m. (public comment is at the beginning of the meeting so you can speak and leave)
African American Arts and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Upcoming Event: Ritchie Hawtin at Mighty, June 1st

This must have just been announced over the weekend because I looked at the Blasthaus site on Friday and this wasn't listed, but here it is: Ritchie Hawtin and Magda (BPitch Control) at Mighty on Friday, June 1st. Get your tickets now because they will sell out!

Event Review: Highway 420

There was a time when I was all about the psytrance scene; when the weather was warm my compatriots and I would load up a rental car on the weekends and head off to some remote camping spot for two days of thumpity-thump, and when it was cold we sought refuge in various warehouses and lofts. From 1999-2000 psytrance was arguably the biggest game in town with monthly Thump parties at 550 Barneveld bringing in the big names, and groups like the Phoenix Family bringing it together for the intimate gatherings.

After I left the city during the bust of 2001 – 2003 the scene changed a bit, the music went in a direction that wasn’t of much interest to me, and I started getting into a different vibe. When Kitty said he wanted to go to the Highway 420 party being organized by Dr. Spook of geomagnetic.tv and Witchdokta of the Phoenix Family, and which promised performances by old friends like Saturnia and Neologic (under the name of MegaDrop), I thought it would be a great occasion to revisit the old days.

It’s a great weekend when you’re torn between which underground party you want to attend, and it’s so much fun when you get the party location sent to you by text message. The space turned out to be a small, two-room loft on Folsom with low ceilings and no windows – by 1.30 AM it had turned into the Bikram yoga psytrance sauna, which was a bit much for me. I hear people make the charge all the time that trance isn’t sexy, but that completely misses the point – like yoga it’s more of a meditative undertaking, where the beat stays steady and pumping so that your body can go on automatic pilot and your mind, aided by whatever additional stimulants you care to employ, can wander. I still don’t care as much for psytrance as I once did – it lacks a dynamic that I’ve grown used to, the 145+ BPM beats are a bit faster than I groove to, and I’ve come to view psytrance parties as being much more of a young man’s sport, since I’m reluctant to push myself that hard for that long anymore – but in the right space with the right people and the right intention it can take you places that “sexy” music can’t.

When I walked through the door I ran into an old acquaintance who responded with “I thought you were dead.” That set the tone for much of the evening as I ran into folks I hadn’t seen in a long time, stared at blacklight banners that I remember from 1999, and reflected back with other scenesters on “the old days.” I danced for a while to both Saturnia and MegaDrop’s set, but it wasn’t until Meta came on that the dancefloor really took off – with his first track shouts of “yahoo!” went up and the crusty hippy boys started stripping off their shirts. As I listened I realized that I recognized the vocal sample as the chorus from “Burning Inside” by Ministry, and thus the industrial/psytrance fusion that began many years ago became complete for me in that moment.

I enjoyed the party in an almost nostalgic way, and at one point though it might be fun to stay on until the wee hours to see how it all played through. By 1.00 AM though, the room was so hot that everyone was glistening, the bar was buried in a haze of cigarette and pot smoke that was nearly unbreathable, and I knew that taxi hell was fast approaching. Given the option of leaving at 1.30 or 3.00, I had to conclude that I didn’t have enough energy to sustain me through for another two hours, nor was I really that engaged with what was happening musically. Kitty and I took off, but I had the thought that some day soon, when I was a little more prepared, it might be fun to hook up with that old school family vibe again.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Upcoming Event: Surprise 420 Underground with Kontrol!

Oh jeez, this totally wrecks my idea of my plans for tonight. Fresh out of my email box courtesty of the kontrolsf mailing list, here it is:

Next, tonight two of our fab residents, Craig Kuna and Alland Byallo, will be playing at a 4/20 underground event in the South of Market area. This will take place at a private loft that has seen very little use thusfar. It's a sweet little spot and a great local lineup, with Kontrol fave SUTEKH headlining with a LIVE performance. It goes from 10pm-6am so drop by early and make a night of it, or head over after whatever it is you're up to earlier in the night, when things really start blazing.
Should be dope! ;)

Full info here:

Upcoming Event: Ursula 1000 at Palacio de Peligro, May 4

That's Ursula 1000 at the Porn Palace for those of you (like me) who are Spanish-inept. Yep, looks like the Porn Palace is becoming the new hotspot for big parties. Here are the deets from the website on SFStation:

Break out the maracas and confetti and get a head start on cinco de mayo weekend with a shotgun night of Tijuana-style Glam-Vamp-a-Go-Go MAYHEM!

Recreating that dangerous and secluded desert cantina down Mexico way where pepper-hot harlot diablas dance desnudo to mutated mariachi beats while leather biker banditos spray flames of mezcal and feast on the living. We're bringing it to the Porn Palace! So grab your sombreros and come down to the fiesta with fangs, the castle of carnage- el PALACIO DE PELIGRO!

Get ready to rhumba as we turn up the electro-palacio-congo-bongo-aztech-bailando con DISCO SELECTOROS:

URSULA 1000 (ESL Records) www.ursula1000.com
EL PAPACHANGO www.elcirco.org
ROMANOWSKI www.romanowski45.com
LAIRD www.djlaird.com
DELACHAUX www.myspace.com/djdelachaux
NEEL N. KIZMIAZ www.sexadelic.org

PLUS LIVE LOUNGE BANDO- TIGER CLUB!

AND 'Titty Twister' burlesque performances by:

CHICA BOOM! (from Seattle)
CHARLOTTE La BELLE ARAIGNE’E! (LA)
And local sirens:
VIMA BURLESQUE!
ROSE PISTOLA!
LAS VAMPIRAS DE SADO MASO!
TIJUANA GOGO GIRLS!
And Emcee TIO PABLO!

Plus Peliculas Prohibitas!

MEXXXPLOITATION SINEMA COSTUMES ENCOURAGED!
Dress: Mayan Mascaras, Apocalypto-Chic, Aztec Porn Gods, Stylish Matadors and Mariachis, Wild Zapotecs, Mezcalitos, Zoots, Luchas, Guachos, Chicitas, Salmas, Satanicas, Diablas, Vampiros, Zorros, Banditos, Fantomas, Frida Kahlos, Pancho Villas, y Otras Cosas Misteriosas!

If you can find a better party anywhere- F**K IT!

$15 Presale / $20 Door
Get your tickets at:
www.cuatrodemayo.com

Personally, flyers online or in print that feature women's boobies (or other parts - a certain techno crew advertises their Saturday night party with a picture of women's torso wearing only a crochet bikini, with her hand down in it like she's fingering herself - tres chic!) are kind of a turn-off for me, but hey, what do I know, I like boys.

Whee, 100 Posts!

Just a little pat on the back for myself, as this is now post 101, and in only two and a half months! Good thing work has been a little slow lately!

Mix to Download: DJ Pup Goes TechnoPop

This the first set of music I've recorded in a while, and it feels good to be back in the saddle again even if this isn't quite as crisp and clean as I'd like. It's a short set at 45 minutes, a reflection of the amount of time I had set aside for working on it, a desire to have something that would download quickly, and the feeling that people sitting at their desks or listening on an iPod as they get around probably don't have the attention span for more than 60 minutes of music.

Here's the track list:

* Solvent - Radio GaGa (Schneider TM Mustang Remake)
* Rex the Dog - I Look Into Mid-Air
* Moritz Piske - Ein Kangaruh im Clubraum
* Hot Chip - (Just Like We) Breakdown (Book Shade Vocal Mix)
* Mylo - Muscle Car (Alex Smoke's Rippling Mix)
* Hugo - Phone Call
* Reinhard Voigt - How We Rock (The Modernist Mix)
* Scratch Massive - Girls on Top

The first two are already on my ElectroTechno mix, but I love them so much I wanted to record them again. The rest of the tracks are an attempt at a harder dance mix, but one that I think is both humorous (esp. the Moritz Piske track with its nitrous vocals) and sexy. If I could play for a gay club night, this is what I would try. It's called TechnoPop because I'm interested in the way that techno producers are starting to look at poppier club music and producing these neat hybrids. These are all tracks, though, that I like to dance along with as I play them.

A word on the technical set-up: this was recorded all live, in my bedroom, from vinyl using a Pioneer DJM-500 with the RCA master output going straight into a Sony cd-recorder. You will probably notice a few odd things. First, my turntables aren't balanced in terms of output; one puts out a considerably stronger signal than the other. I also normally use two JBL EON 10s for monitors, but one of them is blown. So, to compensate for my output problems and only having the left channel for the master volume, the mix is in mono. Also, though this helps equalize the output to a large degree, it's still a bit off, so you'll probably notice that the levels vary a bit as I try to compensate with both the Master output and the trim. Finally, since this was recorded in my bedroom, a space on the bottom floor of an old Edwardian, I can't actually turn up the volume as much as I would like to hear what's happening without my annoying (Italian) neighbors thumping on the floor (another reason that this mix is so short is that I wanted to be done by 9PM to avoid incurring their wrath). So, the finer detail stuff like the high-hats tend to be kinda messy as I bring in the next track, mainly because it has to be pretty well in before I can hear it well enough to get it all together.

So here's the mix: DJ Pup, TechnoPop. If anybody wants to send me some cool "album art" to use as an image placeholder here, feel free, I'm not much of a graphic designer.

Halloween Out of the Castro?

According to an article in today's San Francisco Chronicle supervisor Bevan Dufty (whose District 8 includes the Castro), the Mayor, and officials at the Port of San Francisco are discussing plans on moving the big Halloween hoo-ha from the Castro to a couple piers down on the waterfront.

As someone who lives on the edge of the Castro, I must admit that Halloween has become a bit of a nuisance. Last year I was at a friend's party in Oakland, and when I came back that night around 10 and wanted to drop off my carshare car, it was an absolute nightmare. The boyfriend and I also encountered many packs of what I can only describe as young thugs, and it was minutes after we made it to my apartment that the shooting took place about three blocks away.

I first went to Halloween in the Castro in 1999 and it was a lot of fun; I have always said that street fairs are one of the great things about this city, because they introduce a truly egalitarian environment for the city's citizens to mingle. Over the years what was an informal event, with guerrilla sound systems, has become increasingly bureacratized, now featuring actual stages. All of this grew out of a tradition that Cliff's Hardware on Castro began in the 1950s, when neighborhood kids would show up for a costume parade and contest. During the first wave of gay liberation in the 1970s and early 80s Halloween in the Castro became a symbol and expression of gay liberation, but now I think it's lost that impulse. Over Easter at Cafe Flore I heard people remark that Easter, with the Sisters in Dolores Park, the people walking around wearing bunny costumes and crazy bonnets, and the air of gay bonhomie, has become what Halloween used to be like. Like all things, Halloween has evolved, and I don't think that Halloween in the Castro reflects the spirit that originally inspired it. So, let it be moved, and let's evolve a new gay tradition in Easter.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

More on the Hall in the Wall Re-Location

Jeez, it just gets harder and harder to do anything in this city without someone getting pissed off about something to do with bars and clubs, whether it's noise, or, in this case, potential cigarette smoke and noise wafting up from a patio into a neighbor's window. The Bay Guardian has all the details about the current controversy surrounding the re-location of the Hole in the Wall to 10th Street, a controversy allegedly stirred up by Jim Meko, a member of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission and the Western SoMA Citizens Planning Task Force, and Damian Ochoa. As Jeremy Paul, a permit expediter (only in SF, my friends) hired by the owners of the Hole put it in a quote from the Guardian story, "'The Hole in the Wall relocation is a case study in how dysfunctional this system is,' . . Zoning in the area allows for a bar, he said, 'and if these people don't want to live in a bar district, they should check the zoning where they're buying a house or renting an apartment' before moving there." All in all it's a big fat mess.

And it just gets messier: A little more link tracking led to this fascinating exchange in the comments section of an article on this matter at sf.curbed.com. In fairness, here's Jim Meko's response.

What's going on? I dunno, but it's all messy, messy, messy, and a great example of how difficult it is to not only run bars and clubs in San Francisco, but to also just deal with a local political scene that thrives on divisiveness and ad hominem attacks (when not throwing beer on people).

Upcoming Event: Cloud Cult at Bottom of the Hill, May 3

My favorite new band, Cloud Cult, will be performing at Bottom of the Hill on May 3rd. Expect a super powerful experience that includes crazy visuals and artists painting live on stage. All ages, $10, with Music for Animals, Amateurs, and Jeff D Johnson. Check out my review of their new album, "The Meaning of 8."

Upcoming Event: Underground United, May 4

Another big fat underground party with three rooms of fun. The line-up is a veritable who's who:

Kid 606 (Tigerbeat 6)
Mancub (Space Cowboys)
Christian Martin (Dirtybird)
Lemonade (Live set)
Galen (Pacific/Sunset)
Syd Gris (Opel Productions)
Murphstar (Seismic)
DJ XSV
Anthony Mansfield (Tweekin'/Green Gorilla)
Ryan Poulson (Gunclub)
DJ Seven (NK7)
Eric Sharp (Rock It Science)
Fred Funk (Brasstax)
Laird (Get Yer' Freak On)
Bryan James (Moxie)
Felix the Dog (Groundscore)
Mi Ami (Live set)
Brad Robinson (Space Cowboys)
Aaron Pope (Deep End)

Wow, typing all those names made my fingers tired. Three rooms, all night, $5 before midnight (crazy!), $10 after, in a special underground location. Call 415-762-0155 to get the details.

More on Extended Closing Times

Last night's blogger meetup concluded with only the party boys left at the bar - myself and Ted Strawser of the sfpartyparty. We got into a discussion about extended closing times for bars that was proposed by Terrance Alan of the SF Entertainment Commission and how we would like to put some grassroots muscle behind getting the legislation through. That bars close at 2AM in San Francisco is not only silly in comparison with other major American cities (even in Atlanta they don't close until 4AM), but it creates a lot of problems as large numbers of drunk people spill out into the streets at the exact same time every Friday and Saturday night. Resource competition becomes fierce as everyone is trying to get a cab at the same time, more drunks are put on the roads as they look for another party locale, long lines stretch down the block as folks queue up to get into afterhours clubs, and, in general, a large number of drunken people hit the streets of San Francisco all at once.

I remembered that Britain recently decided to change pub and club closing hours so that bars can now stay open 24 hours a day, rather than having to close at 11PM (pubs) or 2AM (clubs). The press declared that this would result in crazy drunkeness and that alcohol industry profits would soar. Well, as it turns out, by letting bars set their own hours, resulting in a staggering of closing times (so to speak), alcohol-related violence and public disorderliness have substantially decreased throughout Britain, and the drinks industries have not seen any substantial change in their profit numbers. Here's an article in The Telegraph from last November that looks at statistics gathered a year after the change in licensing laws, and another from The Independent. So, based on the British experience, it would seem that many of the problems currently associated with bars and clubs in San Francisco, most of which stem from large crowds of people pouring into the streets at the same time, could be solved by changing bar closing times, or even giving bar and club owners the power to set closing times for themselves. We already have bars that open at 6AM (like Twin Peaks and The Mix in the Castro), so why not let the bars decide for themselves what time they want to close based on what is economically viable for them?

Ted and I were finishing up our drinks around 9PM last night, and as we talked about this, we realized that if we were in New York we'd probably be making plans to get some dinner, then maybe finish off at a club (if it wasn't a school night for both of us). Instead, by the time 11PM rolls around, most people are ready to settle in because there's not that much time left in the evening. The whole cultural complexion of this city could be altered by making this one change, and I for one would love to see what happens.

Your Saturday Guide for April 21

Well, this Saturday is an embarassment of riches!

Lord Kook Spins at Drunk and Horny!
This week Lord Kook returns to Drunk and Horny at Underground SF on 424 Haight Street. Expect more electro-technofunk than your typical gay bar music, arrive early to get down before things get, um, messy.

Gun Club Underground
The Gun Club kids will be doing their monthly underground thang featuring DJ Kaos from Berlin. If you check it out give us the report back!

Opulent Temple Fundraiser at the Porn Palace
This is sure to be the big event of this Saturday featuring all kinds of electronic dance music, from trance and breaks to house and chill, in one of SF's most interesting and evocative party locations. Security should be easy-going and the party should be rolling. If I didn't already have other committments, this is certainly the party I would hit.

Blasthaus Presents LUSINE with Broker/Dealer at the RxGallery
For those looking for a more intimate space and art-scene crowd.

Your Friday Guide for 420

Ah, 420, the stoner's holiday! And a Friday with some good possibilities for going out and having a grand time. For this Friday the gay DJ recommends:

420 Underground with Kontrol!
A last minute surprise listing! Private SoMa loft, "free treats for the beats," local techno kids, oh man, now what am I going to do?

Charlie Horse at the Cinch
Best place to go out and have a cheap drink while being entertained by drag queen antics. Music by DJ Dirty Knees is more rock and new-wave oriented, but at least it won't interfere with your conversation. Check out my previous posts on The Cinch.

Fag Fridays at The EndUp
Reliable, if not all that exciting, but it goes all night, expect to pay around $20 to get in and to dance to pretty typical San Francisco deep house (the DJs should update their bios, since they refer to clubs that don't exist any more)

FUK Werk Fridays Happy Hour at 111 Minna
A new minimal techno happy hour in downtown, yee-haa! This Friday they're putting on an extra-special techno extravaganza with members of the Ambient Mafia crew. Check out my review of Fuk Werk Fridays.

420 Techno Party at Club 222

A very promising possibility at Club 222 on Hyde Street in the 'Loin. Great little space, DJs for the evening are Qzen, Bryan James, Audrock, Kelly B. and David Skye. If you check it out, give us a shout back and let us know how it went!

Special Super Secret Psytrance Party
Sponsored by Geomagnetic.tv, this is at a super secret underground location. Though I've lost faith in my former genre of choice, I'll be there to check out Saturnia, MegaDrop, and few other folks I know from my old candy raver daze.

A Hit, a Veritable Hit!

So last night I was at Fritjz on Hayes attending a monthly gathering of bloggers organized by Ted Strawser of the sfpartyparty (who deserves big congrats for his role in getting the road closures in Golden Gate Park through). We were all sitting around, having some beers, talking shop, when in stroll these two girls in identical outfits, identical black wigs, and identical big black Jackie O sunglasses, carrying a digital video camera that was on. They inquire whether one of our group is Dean Barbella of gavinnewsomsucks.com, and when Dean puts up his hand, they promptly announce that they are from a website that supports the Mayor (I won't help their cause by mentioning them by name), throw two beers upon him, and make a hasty retreat. We were all stunned, then started laughing our asses off. As I later told Dean, I wished that I had acheived such a state of notoriety that people wanted to throw drinks in my face. We all speculated how soon it would be before the video would be on YouTube, and the answer seems to have been within about an hour. Dean has the video, with his own commentary, up on his site, you should really check it out for a great glimpse into the world of SF politics. And if you pause it just as the girls come out onto the patio you'll see me for about a half second - I'm the only one wearing sunglasses.

East Bay Express Interview with Bassnectar

The most recent East Bay Express has a long profile and interview of Lorin Ashton, aka Bass Nectar. Seems like Lorin is trying to break into the big-time by going hip-hop. *Sigh,* I can't think of of anything more stereotypical. There are some interesting bits here; I didn't realize that Lorin grew up in a Santa Cruz commune called Koinonea, which is what led to the creation of the Koinonea party crew (who are having their annual 2012 party coming up June, btw, details to follow as available), and his musical history is interesting as well, from death-metal to psytrance to breaks and now hip-hop. I'm a little put off by both his and the writer's playing into typical rock critic themes (music made by black people is more authentic and sexy and political than music made by white people, the assertation that "rave" is now a dirty word, the backlash against electronic music in favor of guitar music), as well as Lorin's urge to shed his burner image to go mainstream, but it's an interesting profile nonetheless.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mixes to Download: Kontrol DJs and Guests

Whoo, looks like the boys at Kontrol have been busy with their audio section! In addition to "studio" and live mixes by Sammy D, Craig Kuna, and Alland Byallo, there are also live mixes from guests like Troy Pierce and Modeselektor (which happened on my birthday last year and was one of my most amazing club experiences ever). Hours of listening enjoyment! Click the audio link on the kontrolsf website to get the goods.

Mixes to Download: Gun Club

Over at the Gun Club site residents Ryan Poulson, Travis TK, and others have some nice mixes up, and best yet most were recorded live. Their style is more in the line of what I would call dirty space house, with some nice funky beats, deep tones, serious reverb, and, surprise surprise, vocals!

Upcoming Event: Gun Club, April 21

A good old-fashioned underground with the crew from gun club is coming up this Saturday, the 21st. If anybody goes and checks it out, give us a report back. The details:

DJ Kaos - Kitsune, Berlin
Travis TK - Smash Hit
Kelley B none
Ryan P (Gun Club)

$10.00 limited tix available

10PM - 6AM

Call 415-520-6741 for location info

http://www.gunclub.dj

Upcoming Event: Opulent Temple Fundraiser at the Porn Palace, April 21

Oh, this looks like a winner, kids: Opulent Temple, one of the major Burning Man dance camps, is having their fundraiser at the Porn Palace on Jessie Street this Saturday. If I wasn't already booked in for other obligations I'd be totally down with this. Lots of breaks, trance, hardcore, house, and generally crazy dance music in a swell location.

Here's the line-up and details:

Carbon Community (Sober Music / Bless, Dallas TX)
Dutch (Thump / Opulent Temple)
Ethan Miller (Friends n' Family)
Aaron Jae (Evil Breaks / Space Cowboys)
Dirtyhertz (M Theory / Looq)
Evinrude (Space Cowboys)
Nathan Vain (Opulent Temple)
Cosmic Selector (Opulent Temple / Tech Support)
Sentient (Opulent Temple / Vaporvent Records)
Jason Knight (djjasonknight.com)
Jive (Fix)
Dex Stakker (Opulent Temple)
Billy Seal (Opulent Temple)

At the Porn Palace: 415 Jessie St. @ 6th. (across from Mezzanine)
10pm-5am

Please come in your sexy playa best.

Only $10-$15 sliding donation if you're looking playalicious,
$15-$20 sliding donation in street clothes

Mixes to Download: Puttin' My Music Where My Mouth Is

It's been a while since I got behind the decks, due to a variety of factors including illness, death, depression, the passing of my favorite record store (BPM Records), equipment problems (Oy!) , lack of time, and lack of motivation since I only get to play out once every six months or so. However, it seems that I should put some mixes out there so you all will have a better idea of where I'm coming from, musically speaking. I have a WaxDJ site that contains some things I've done over the past 18 months as DJ Pup, though nothing very recent. There is a recent "electrotechno" mix that I really like, along with two chill progressive trance mixes that are recorded versions of sets I played at Burning Man and at a Drunk and Horny New Year's Eve party. Everything is on vinyl, recorded in my lil' bedroom set-up. Check them out and let me know what you think, I could use some inspiration and encouragement these days.

Here's the track list for ElectroTechno:
  • Solvent - Radio GaGa Part I (Schneider TM Mustang Remake)
  • Rex the Dog - I Look into Mid Air
  • Mylo - Muscle Car (Tiga's Nightmare Chords Mix) - Breastfed
  • Scratch Massive - Girls on Top Original - My Best Friend
  • Grandmaster and Melle Mel - White Lines (Elite Force Mix) - Future Retro compilation
  • CirezD - Re-Match - Mouseville
  • Oxia - Domino - Kompakt Speicher
  • Rocco Branko - Kapital (Einmusik Remix) - Platzhirsch
  • South Union - Stage 1 Taho Remix - Adrenogroov
  • The Hunter of Sounds - Dope Jam - Surface Records
  • Axel Bartsch - Was Bleibt ist die Musik - Kompakt Extra
  • Filterheadz - Endless Summer - Love Distortion

New Call to Extend Closing Times to 4AM

According to this article in the Examiner Terrance Alan, in his role as a member of the Entertainment Commission, is once again trying to get the state legislature to change last call from 2AM to 4AM, a measure that was last considered in 2004. I think Terrance is completely right on this one when he says that the mass exodus of people from bars and clubs at 2Am is behind most of the noise and other complaints lodged against bars and clubs. Anybody who has rolled out of Drunk and Horny at 1.45 on a Saturday night knows about all the jacked-up people looking for something to do who then congregate on the sidewalk while they try to find out where the afterparty is. If bars closed at 4AM you'd have much more of a steady trickle between 1AM and 4AM, as Terrance points out, in addition to the fact that people tend to binge drink and emerge a lot more fucked up than if they were taking it in throughout the night (this was also confirmed by the British when they looked into extending closing times for pubs). Closing at 4AM would also alleviate the problems of cab hell that emerge when everybody is looking for a way home at the same time.

Also in the article, The Zebra Club in North Beach gets its license suspended after a deputy sheriff gets punched in the face, and the owner of Club 6 in SoMa (on 6th Street, one of the worst streets in SF), is issued a citation for noise.

Dancehall = Homophobia?

I've never been a huge fan of reggae, since I always associated it with frat boys, and the more I found out about actual Rastafarian beliefs, the less ability I had to listen to reggae uncritically - really, it's not just about getting good and toasty all the time. According to this article on PlanetOut, it seems that many of the most well-known reggae/dancehall artists - such as Buju Banton, Beenie Man, and Shabba Ranks - are making "murder music" that advocates killing gays and lesbians. This has led to several incidents of mob violence against perceived gay men in Jamaica. I've seen several reggaeton/dancehall parties come up in the SF club scene lately, and I wonder how those DJs and party-goers would respond to this?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Burning Man Project: Steam Punk Treehouse

Just when I'm starting to feel oh-so-very over Burning Man I stumble upon this link to the Steam Punk Treehouse project for this year's "green" event. I just hope a) I can find it when I'm there, and b) I can find it before the hordes of yabbos arrive on Thursday.

Socking It to How Weird and Other Street Fairs

Over at the San Francisco Bay Guardian Politics blog City Editor Steven Jones has been covering the travails of the How Weird Street Faire. Not only does this look like the last year that the Faire will take place, now both the police and recreation department are socking it to them, and other street fairs, for increased fees. Check out Steven's posts and article below:

How Weird's Last Stand
(Feb 28 2007 SFBG)

How Weird Gets Walloped - Again
(Apr 9 2007 SFBG)

The Fun Keeps Dying
(Apr 12 2007 SFBG)

CD Review: NIN's "Year Zero" from the NY Times

Ah Trent, Trent, Trent. In the 90s I thought you were oh-so-hot, and now you look like Henry Rollins. Bleah. Feel kinda the same way about the music. I first heard NIN open for The Jesus and Mary Chain at a dumpy club in Charlottesville VA. I didn't know who Nine Inch Nails were, but when I heard "Head Like a Hole" coming from the stage area I had to leave the bar and see what was up. I moshed through the rest of the set and bought the album the next day. After The Downward Spiral I really stopped paying attention to NIN, as I had other things to occupy me. With this new album it seems like Trent is trying to recapture some of the dark, paranoid, technological dystopia that was all the rage in the 90s and fueled the nascent Industrial movement, but now seems positively nostalgic - oh honey, remember when we were worried about militias and the New World Order? That's pretty much the thrust of this New York Times review and I'm with them all the way.

Monday, April 16, 2007

MC Mars, Your Rappin' Cabbie

In the "you never know who you'll meet" department . . . cabbing back from Deco Lounge on Friday night the boyfriend and I picked up a cab piloted by rappin' cabbie MC Mars. We first conversed when the boyfriend commented on the beats coming out of the stereo, which led to a story about how someone had tried to buy that very same beat from Mars while riding in his cab earlier that week for the bargain bassment price of $20. Turns out that the MC has published a book of San Francisco cab stories, gotten some good press, and occasionally puts out some music with some of his homies. Check out his site for a little video of the man doing his thing, musically and automotively, and maybe you'll be able to pick up a beat-ific ride one night too.

Event Review: Activate! with Alland Byallo and Nikola Baytala at Deco Lounge

December 31, 2007 Update: I received a friendly email from Mr. Baytala this week letting me know that, though he was on the bill as one of the DJs for this event, he in fact didn't make it and the person we heard was his substitute. Sorry about that Nikola, and if anyone else out there ever has any factual corrections for DJ names and such, please feel free to send them in.

After three evenings of running the party circuit, the boyfriend and I were a bit weary when we rolled into Deco on Saturday night with our friend Kitty in tow. We were lured out by the promise of hearing one of our favorite Kontrol DJs in the super comfort of Deco Lounge, and though the music was good, we never quite found our stride.

I'm not sure how the Kontrol kids came to hold a party at Deco, which is far more gay than their crowd usually strikes me as being into. I found out that Gun Club, which does underground electrotechno events, apparently counts Deco as homebase, and I assume that it was through their sponsorship that the boys were brought into this space. The entire event was for the pirate radio station WAR 97.3, which seems to be broadcasting out of the Western Addition.

Alland was on first, and though I like the more aggressive, knarzy sound he puts out, it was way too loud and painful in that small room for me to enjoy it. Later in the evening, as more bodies were able to absorb the high-end snap, it got better, but I still noticed that there was a force-field around the DJ booth into which very few people seemed willing to pass. There were a few moments when I thought that the sonic aggression was too much for early in the evening, but the best sign was when the bartender, who has certainly heard his share of gay dance music, told me how much he was enjoying Alland's selections.

We got up and danced for a bit, but the boyfriend thought that, as it grew more crowded, the dancefloor also became more "rude;" as he later put it, "if one more bitch in hoop earrings hits me with her elbows, I'm going to scream." I found it difficult to raise much energy in general, and spent most of my time simply surveying the crowd. They were younger, generally dressed in black, and I suspected that they were there as much for 97.3 as for Kontrol (though the boys do have a show there on 2nd Mondays at 9PM).

After Alland, Nikola Baytala came on with a set of housey/space-disco tracks that seemed like they would have played better at an earlier hour than they did after Alland's harder excursions. The boyfriend didn't care for his his mixing, and while it sounded beat matched to me, it also did sound like there were some distinct transitions between tracks that weren't compoitionally as well matched. I honestly didn't have much opinion at this point, though, since my fourth drink after three nights of clubbing had made me essentially insensate.

We went out for a smoke and chatted with Alland, who told us about some great upcoming events (including one at the Porn Palace!); related a story about a certain DJ of his acquaintance involving a Halloween party at the Porn Palace and a ball-gag that became the weekend's sole costume; and talked about the kind of changes that come up when you move into the bigger club venues after having been underground for a while. There was also a bit of dish about another group that produces techno parties that confirmed some suspicions of mine based on their flyer art and general demeanor. It was nice opportunity to chat, though I wish I had been a bit more mentally engaged at the time.

We split out around 1.30, before Broker/Dealer's set. It was an okay night out, with good music, though next time I think I need to pay more attention to that internal regulating mechanism called exhaustion before venturing out yet again for another party. At the very least, it'll help me write a better review on the Monday following.

Event Review: The Rod at Deco

There aren't many times when I dread writing a review, but this is certainly one of them, because I'm about to say bad things about what has become an institution among San Francisco alternaqueers, or at least those who like to imagine themselves as such. There is no doubt that The Rod is one of the single most popular nights for gay men in San Francisco, and DJ Bus Station John has achieved underground celebrity status for his attempt to provide some tonic to the world of circuit parties and gym clones. I certainly applaud him for making this attempt, I only wish that he had found some other solution than situating us once again in the ghetto of 70s gay disco.

Loyal readers should have some sense of my priorities when going out and looking for a good night; comfortable space, fun crowd, danceable music, clean sound, skilled DJs. What I don't look for is that an event is necessarily gay; honestly, that's one of the least important things to me, because when I go out, I go out to dance and be with my boyfriend, rather than to hook up. Hooking up, however, is what gay nights generally tend to be about, so when I got an event like the Rod, I'm already way out of synch with the night's intentions. It's difficult, then, for me feel what my relationship to the night should be, and to what standard I should adhere when writing a review.

Deco is absolutely one of my favorite club spaces in San Francisco; with three levels, an outdoor patio, super-friendly bartenders, and an all-around great vibe, it feels to me more like a clubhouse than an actual club. The decor is very retro, with curvy disco moldings, mirrors, and neon. When you step through the door for The Rod, the combination of this decor, the retro 70s and 80s rare disco B-sides, and the vintage 70s porn that serves as The Rod's calling card makes it feel like you have stepped back into pre-AIDS San Francisco. And this is precisely why I hate it, despite the fun everyone I know has there, despite Bus Station John's good intentions, and despite my own desire to be stop being such a critic and just enjoy it.

For me, The Rod represents Bus Stations John's fetishization of pre-AIDS gay life, and, to me, makes the statement that there is nothing that follows after it that can have any meaning for gay men. It says to me that the best time to have been a gay man was in the past, and that the best thing we can create for ourselves now is a simulacrum of the past. Having come from Lights Down Low a block away, where I saw young queer guys involved with straight kids and others in making new culture for everyone, The Rod seemed like stepping into the living room of an old gay auntie who hadn't gone out in thirty years and wanted to show me pictures of "the good times."

As loyal readers know, I really don't like disco. It's thus hard for me to objective about the music that Bus Station John plays, or even the way he plays it. I wouldn't really call him a DJ, and, to his credit, he has said as much in interviews. More accurately, he is a guy with a really amazing record collection, and a couple times a month he plays it for people. I watched him play records for a while on Friday night, and he does clearly know his music and enjoy it, but don't expect anything beyond moving the fader from one channel to another; he doesn't even use headphones to listen to the track he's about to cue up. This is fine if all you are about is playing records, but I like a little more excitement and performance from a DJ.

I can't say that there was really much of a dancefloor - the lounge room where BSJ was spinning was packed, but it was more of a mingling floor; here and there you could find pockets of people getting down, and some general head-bobbing, but nobody seemed to really be there to dance. This is somewhat consistent for what is essentially a pick-up scene; as long as the music isn't too obnoxious, as long as it doesn't break the mood, it doesn't really matter what you play. In this case retro disco is just enough stimulus to raise the energy of the room, but not enough to distract from flirting and conversation. It's also quite comfortable and unchallenging, not unlike the shawl you might put on to keep yourself warm while looking at those old photos.

My worst experience of the evening was getting into an argument with a friend of ine who is also a friend of BSJ, about my opinion of the night. He is a genuine alternaqueer sort who is looking for something other than the standard run of Gus Presents and Castro bars, and I am totally in agreement with him on that. For him Deco represents a space that is welcoming to other sensibilities, and where you don't have to be an overbuffed steroid queen to get attention. And in those respects, he's completely right. My argument was that, if we want to create alternatives to mainstream gay club culture, why do we have to look back to the past rather than creating something for ourselves out of our present situation? It was at this point I realized how much the likes of Gus Presents and similar events have poisoned young gay guys against what they think of as "techno," which, generally, means terrible tribal house. For them "techno" music is synonomous with all that they find oppressive about mainstream gay culture, though I also think there is an element of willful ignorance at work here, since most of them couldn't tell you the difference between techno, trance, and house even while listening to it. I also think the return to classic disco demonstrates that, to be a successful gay club night, it's much easier to go with the comfortable and familiar than to take a chance with the unknown and potentially challenging. This is what I think ultimately accounts for the wild popularity of The Rod; you are guaranteed that it will be the least challenging thing you, as a gay man, can do on a Friday evening. If you are looking for a night of the comfortable and familiar, and maybe a desperate hook-up at 3AM, then by all means, go for it. As for me, I'll be looking for party destinations that aren't focused on locking us all up in the closet of the past.

Event Review: Lights Down Low at Club 222

Lights Down Low at Club 222 this past Friday was an almost perfect Friday night drinking and dancing party, and I regretted that journalistic duty called me away at 11.30 for the purpose of checking out the far lamer The Rod party at Deco a block away.

The boyfriend and I arrived a little before ten, early enough to duck the cover but just in time for the shift change from the happy hour crowd to the kids who were coming out for the night. We nursed our Redbull and vodkas at the bar and eavesdropped on a conversation between DJ Sleazemore and one of the bartenders in which he described a girl throwing a drink in his face at a party the night before - ooh, already this was sounding promising. It was when we realized that we both had been staring into space, mesmerized by a track coming out of the speaker behind us, that we knew the music was going to be fun as well.

A raven-haired suicide girl was behind the decks when we stepped down into the brick basement of the club. Back in the day Club 222 was known as the Blackhawk, and many a great jazz track was recorded in that space. For me the space evoked Berlin squat clubs and the grime of subTonic in New York, but it was a perfect space for the night with the glow of red lighting, a low ceiling and exposed brick. The sound was absolutely perfect and made me realize just how bad the sound at 111 Minna had been.

Our DJ took a bit of time to find her groove, but when she did it couldn't have been funkier or more fun. Of the four different events the boyfriend and I made it to over our weekend marathon, this was by far the best dancing we enjoyed the entire time. The music was not exactly genre specific, so the boyfriend and I wound up calling it progressive-electro-techno-funky. Go hear it and figure it out for yourself. Around eleven two guys with a laptop traded off with our DJ and went into a Ableton Live set that, though at times a bit squonky for dancing, was still exciting and interesting by virtue of the fact that these guys were improvising live with their sound loops.

Lights Down Low hits Club 222 on second and fourth Fridays and is more than worth it for the $5 cover. The crowd was young and mixed, with equal parts boys and girls taking to the dancefloor, and a few queerish types running around as well. To me it felt like re-connecting with the underground sound, and I will definitely be going back again.

New York Times Article on the Closure of Tonic

There's also a mention of the last installment of Bunker on this past Friday night:

Requiem for a Club: Saxaphone and Sighs

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Event Review: FUK Werk Fridays at 111 Minna

The FUK Werk techno happy hour at 111 Minna is a welcome attempt to bring minimal techno to a wider audience in a well-known and easygoing space, but on my afterwork visit both the sound system and the DJ couldn't cut through the noise of busy bees trying to connect with their hive mates.

The boyfriend and I rolled in around 5.30 and installed ourselves in a booth in the back room where a blonde woman (who I think was Susan Tobiason) was getting started behind the decks. The first thing that we commented on was the lousy quality of the sound, all bass and tweeter with no middle whatsoever. The result was an echoing, muddy low-end without any focus or snap to the rest of the sound. I think house has been the main staple of 111 Minna parties for a while, so it may be that the system is tuned for that kind of music more than minimal techno, where you need that mid-range to give the music presence.

The tracks themselves didn't help much with putting over the techno aesthetic. They were minimal in composition, but, unfortunately, in drive as well. As they boyfriend put it, they had no funk, no change-up, just a steady chugchug bassline, one of the most sterile, emotionless sets I've heard in a while. The DJ did not seem very comfortable behind the decks; we couldn't tell, but it seemed she was working off a laptop and it was consuming much of her, and another gentleman's, attention. She was chewing gum somewhat nervously, and never seemed to get into her own music. I always take it as a bad sign when DJs don't feel moved to bop along to their own tracks.

The crowd was young and diverse, from dreaddy white boys to Asian and Indian tech workers to at least one guy in a business suit. None of them in the back room, though, seemed that much into the music. There were lots of drinks and lots of chatter, and I suspect that many people were there as much because it was on their way home as because techno was being played.

FUK Werk Fridays is a good afterwork drink scene and I'll be sure to check it out periodically; I only work two blocks away, after all. The party is just getting started, so I think both the performance and sound issues will resolve themselves as time goes on. The crowd is generally okay, but stay toward the back room if you don't want to deal with all the busy bee buzzing.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Your Saturday Guide

Seems a little quiet this weekend, but two events coming up look promising.

Low End Saturday
Brought to you by Bay Area Beatdrop, some of the same crew involved with the FUK Werk Fridays at 111 Minna, which guarantees some decent minimal techno. At the Retox lounge on 20th Street over in Potrero, a spot I've not visited but heard good things about. Best part: NO COVER!

Activate! with Kontrol DJs and Broker/Dealer
This is where the boyfriend and I plan to spend our evening. Kontrol DJs Alland Byallo and Nikola Baytalla will be appearing with local minimal techno duo Broker/Dealer. The Deco Lounge at Turk and Larkin is a super-cool space with three floors, a back patio area, and much, much less club baggage than the End-Up, if you know what I mean.
It's a cheap $5 to get in with proceeds to benefit West ADD Radio 97.3.

Mix Downloads: Dirty Bird Records

Local label Dirtybird is making some big waves it seems, with praise coming from the likes of Ritchie Hawtin. I'm not that crazy about their sound, which is either a little too deep or a little too kitschy for my taste (gimme those fat sawtooth basslines, baby), but there are some fine mixes by Justin Martin, Christian Martin, and Claude vonStroke up on their website.

Knocked Up at Drunk and Horny

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a swell cocktail party/photo shoot at the home of Mssrs. Jeff and Gary in the Haight. The photos will be for upcoming Drunk and Horny flyers, and all I can say is naked boiz + a basketball = Demi Moore. Cogitate on that for a while.

The whole Drunk and Horny crew was there, including Mauricio and Chris, the very cute coat check and front door boys (though Chris' date had an 11PM curfew, oh my!), Lord Kook (who had so much fun that he fell off an ottoman while sitting down), and many of the other associated swingers such as myself and Kitty. It was great fun to hang out with everyone in a space that wasn't so crowded and loud as Underground SF, and Jeff and Gary were immaculate hosts. Best moment of the evening: seeing a photo of Gary from the '93 March on Washington in which he was holding up a "Lesbian Rights NOW" sign. Yes Gary, you are my favorite lesbian.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Your Friday Guide

For some reason, Fridays have become my favorite night to go out. I'm not sure why this is, but it seems that most of the events of interest to me happen on Fridays. Well, that's just fine, more time to recover. So, for this Friday the jaded gay DJ recommends:

FUK werk Fridays Happy Hour at 111 Minna
A new minimal techno happy hour in downtown, yee-haa!

Fag Fridays at The EndUp
Reliable, if not all that exciting, but it goes all night, expect to pay around $20 to get in and to dance to pretty typical San Francisco deep house (the DJs should update their bios, since they refer to clubs that don't exist any more)

The Rod at Deco
FREE before 10, $5 after, where the guys tend to be a bit frisky, though the music is all disco-retro

Charlie Horse at The Cinch
Free entry, easy-going, cheap strong drinks, crazy drag escapades, a good place to put down a couple on a Friday night when you're looking for a low-key but entertaining evening

Lights Down Low at 222 Club
I've not had a chance to check out this night yet but it seems interesting (despite the cliche "sexy girls" video they have on their myspace page), with good reviews for the bar itself on Yelp. If anybody goes and can give a report, please do so for the benefit of myself and everyone else looking for a good time. This Friday is DJ Sleazemore's birthday, so expect some celebrating.

Not sure where I'll end up at this point; I've heard that there's a tattoo studio in Oakland that will do a "13" for you on Friday the 13th for 13 dollars, so the boyfriend and I may be getting inked with a friend of his, and lord knows what we'll get up to after that. I'll be sure to let you know, though.

Upcoming: Activate! with Kontrol DJs at Deco Lounge, Sat the 14th

Kontrol DJs Allyand Byallo and Nikola Baytalaa will be appearing with local minimal techno duo Broker/Dealer performing a DJ set at Deco Lounge on Larkin at Turk this Saturday, April 14. It's a cheap $5 to get in with proceeds to benefit West ADD Radio 97.3. Check out the flyer here. This is a super-cool space with three floors, a back patio area, and much, much less club baggage than the End-Up, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Death of Tonic in New York City

Tonic is (was) a Lower East Side club founded by avant-composer John Zorn that featured live performances upstairs and DJ music in the grimy basement, known as subTonic. Over Thanksgiving the boyfriend and I had the great pleasure of attending Bunker, a weekly techno party, where we met Derek Plaslaiko and lots of very friendly (drunken) NY tech-heads. Today I received an email about the last Bunker in subTonic as Tonic is closing down. Here's the info for anyone who might like to keep up with New York's techno scene:
REGARDING TONIC AND THE FUTURE OF THE BUNKER:
Yes, it's true, Tonic is closing its doors for good. Tonic has been having financial difficulties for years, and is being evicted from the building for not paying rent for many months. We had an amazing four years in the subTonic basement, hosted a mind-boggling number of amazing guests, and presented tons of incredible sets from residents Spinoza, Timeblind, kleverVice, Movement, Unjust, and Derek Plaslaiko. While we will certainly miss our beloved dirty basement, it's time for a change. Starting Next Friday April 20, we will be moving the Bunker to Luna Lounge in Williamsburg. Luna Lounge has East Village roots (they were a club on Ludlow Street from 1995-2005 before they were priced out of the neighborhood), an amazing EAW sound system, friendly management, cheap drinks, nice big clean bathrooms, and space for large parties. We will present a live hardware set from John Tejada on SATURDAY April 28, and then will be at Luna Lounge every Friday starting in May. The Bunker simply wouldn't exist without the support of all of our fans, and we thank you for standing by us for the past 4+ years, and hope you will follow us across the bridge.

Dr. Spook Goes Psychedlic with Elton John

Local VJ, DJ, and psytrance promoter Dr. Spook was recently contacted by another local VJ to produce over 45 minutes of visuals for Elton John's 60th birthday bash - way to go, Spookadelic! Here's the info direct from the man:
Spook got contracted to create over 45 minutes of custom HD footage for Elton Johns big 60th Birthday/60th show at Madison Square Garden that will be on TV tonight [April 5] at 9pm (NBC 4 in the local channels ). Local SF VJ Stephen G who also does work for Paul McCartney etc produced the stage visuals and hired Spook to Direct/Create many of the most important shots including the openers. Random aka Ross Dubois also helped with the opener doing audio fx...
Check out the Spookmeister's visual creations at Geomagnetic.tv. Great for mind-warping projections at your next party, or just a little eye candy for afterwards.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Lowdown on Vintage 415 "Culture Marketers" from The Chron

Here's a link to an article in the Sunday Chronicle about "culture marketers" Vintage 415 who have been setting up various businesses and events in the city. They recently bit on the name of Bus Station John's highly successful "Double Dutch Disco" night at The Transfer when they opened Double Dutch at 16th and Guerrero (formerly Cama). The big DJ AM party at Mezzanine that went down a couple weeks ago was theirs, though it sounds to me like they're much more about "the biz" than "the vibe."

Here's some reviews of their bar The Ambassador from Yelp. Though I've not checked it out, this except from a 5-star review tells me pretty much all this dog needs to know:
1. Elegance: From the way the letter A is written to the rich, velvety decor, elegance is written boldly all across this Bar.

2. Hot bartenders and hostesses: Some of the women yelpers are totally smitten with the male bartenders. I was very impressed with the looks and friendliness of the waitresses I talked to, and one of them was a recent debutante.

3. Good attitude: Even though we were told half an hour ago, that our booth is reserved for bottle service(min. $500), it was said in a very friendly manner without any attitude. People need to recoup some heavy costs of starting Bars and if $ 500 bottle service is one of the means, more power to them.

4. Diverse customers: This place is drawing an upscale crowd(as evident by the $ 500 bottle service) looking for slightly edgy experience at night. During evening it draws a more relaxed, cool crowd.

5. Sense of completeness: The external environment of Rye and Swig, the interior decor with the telephone booth theme, the Frank Sinatra/Vegas/ratpack touch , the attractive, yet polite Bartenders/waitresses, the ballroom layout of the space with the upstairs balcony, gives a sense of harmony, a place to meet friends for Happy Hour before you start the night.

Ducal Doin's: Mr. Royal Bunny is Crowned

The Royal Mr. Bunny contest concluded yesterday at CafĂ© Flore with a large number of Sisters, bunnies, trannies, and general kooky people in attendance. The event started at 4.00, just as things were winding down at Dolores Park, so many Sisters made their way up to their unofficial Castro hangout. I was there mainly to support Kitty, who has been selling raffle tickets as best he could over the past several weeks. Going in we knew that Mr. SPCA, aka Oliver, would probably beat him, since he was raising money for the same organization he worked for, but I had it from the Duke himself that Kitty would get recognition for his efforts. And, indeed, he was named Royal Baby Bunny Boy, given a lovely framed certificate, a pair of blue bunny ears decorated by the Duke, and a blue bunny plushie. Though Kitty told me he was in the contest primarily to support the Duke and to get himself more involved with community work, I still know that he appreciated the recognition and was very happy to receive it. That he lost out to someone wearing a pastel blue muscle shirt with “Celine Dion” printed on the front was thus a little easier to take. When everything was tallied up the various Mr. and Miss Bunny contestants raised over $2900 for the SPCA's Hearing Dogs for the Deaf program, completely selling out all the raffle tickets and breaking the previous fundraising efforts.

Event Review: Bunny Jam VII

I must begin by saying that, despite my friendship with Aaron Neonbunny, one of the founders and impressarios behind Bunny Jam, it's an event that I generally dread. Having the heart of a hound, bunnies are not my typical associates, and there's much in the bunny aesthetic that strikes me as being annoying for annoyance's sake. I have had fun at Bunny Jam; in 2004 it was held at a location with an outdoor garden that was truly magical, and last year I throughly enjoyed a performance of Laugh-In with an all-bunny cast that was the best bit of amateur theater I've seen in a while. This year the boyfriend had volunteered to help out with the event, and despite it being a night for Kontrol I dutifully put together a last-minute outfit and made my way down to the porn palace with my friend Kitty riding shotgun. I did my best to prepare myself to get into crazy bunny energy, but when we left at 12.30 and I looked at the line stretching down the block to get in my comment was "really, it's not worth it."

I was very excited about this year's location at the Porn Palace, aka the former headquarters and sets for kink.com. I had seen the interior once before during a leather flea market, and my imagination ran wild with the idea of what it would be like to have a party there. Sure enough many attendees constructed their costumes with a little kink in mind, but, as Kitty said, this had the effect of making Bunny Jam seem like a bunnified Exotic Erotic Ball, rather much all show and tittilation but with little real sexiness. This may have been because, once everyone got dressed up, there was nothing else to do besides stand and model, and be the object of photographers interests (if you were a cute girl bunny, that is), while we endured atrocious DJs and ever worse performers.

At the beginning of the night only the front room was open, so until 11.15 everyone crowded in while the DJ played a truly horrible set. At one point I thought he had the greatest hits of James Brown on one turntable and the greatest hits of the Muppets on the other, because he kept alternating between these two artists for about twenty minutes. Occasionally he would put on something that would make the dancefloor pick up, only to crush it into oblivion in the next moment with some children's tune. Around 11.15 a performer came on with a ukulele which she proceeded to tune for five minutes before she went into a pathetic rendition of "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane. At that point the boyfriend was able to help us escape into the back room where a duo on steel-top guitar and banjo were soundchecking. When the doors opened and they began to perform it was, yes indeed, "White Rabbit" once again performed in a highly grating fashion. Now working on my third or fourth drink I was quite desperate to find a space where I might be able to dance, or have some conversation, or just sit the hell down, so I wandered into the third room in the very back. There I found a complete DJ system set up, but no one playing it. A little more meandering and I was back into the main room, where the guitarist and the banjo player were enacting some scene with what looked like light sabers to a pre-recorded CD. I say "looked like" because the stage was so low that from my vantage point all I could see where things being whirled around like lightsabers appeared above the heads of the crowd every now and then. That was the end of their performance and Lord Kook appeared to do a surprise interim set while another band got ready. He got the crowd moving and several people came back to ask him to turn it up - clearly, I was not the only person who wanted something to do besides standing around and drinking while waiting for something interesting to happen. Unfortunately, as yet another terrible kitsch band was going through soundcheck, he had to keep it low. When that band finally came one I decided that I had had enough of Bunny Jam for the night, collected my friends, and got the hell out.

I know that Aaron Neonbunny has repeatedly said that Bunny Jam is not a rave, and that the intention is to create a performance space. The boyfriend compared it to an attempt to re-create a Merry Prankster's-style "happening." But I don't think it's successful on these terms because so much of the performance is about being consciously weird and assaulting the audience with things you think should freak them out, rather than involving the crowd in the event and giving them something to do besides watch. Its always better, I think, when weirdness happens because you've created a space for it, rather than having it thrust upon you. I love that Bunny Jam gets everyone to dress up like a bunny, and in that there is the creation of a shared identity for the night that can be very powerful. But, for me, that's not enough - once I'm dressed up I want something to do, ways of interacting with others who are at the party, rather than being held captive to someone's not very clever ideas about "weird music" or "weird performances." Given a choice between a space that's about standing, posing, and having others admire your costume, or a space where I can go out to dance, meet people, and interact with them, I'll always take the latter. After a while the bunny puns just don't mean much any more, and I think this may be my last Bunny Jam for a while.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Death of the Hole in the Wall?

Well, looks like the NIMBYs, specifically a guy named Jim Meko, are at it again in SoMa. The situation is this: The Hole in the Wall, which used to be one of my fave little punk rock gay dive bars, is trying to get out of their current building into another two blocks away. This move is being blocked by Meko, who is also a member of the Entertainment Commission. Details are in this blog entry on sf.curbed.com and the San Francisco Bay Times website. If you're local and you want to suppor the owners of the Hole, read these articles, then send a letter of support to:

President Dwight Alexander
San Francisco Planning Department
1600 Mission St. Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

CD Review: "The Meaning of 8" by Cloud Cult

The essence of being jaded is that you don’t feel anything, nothing moves you; everything can be reduced to prior experience, dismissed as repetition and recycling, been there, done that, got the penicillin shot. What’s left is the pursuit of novelty for novelty’s sake, the admiration of technical perfection, and the feeling of disappointment that there’s nothing that that can stir the embers of your emotions. Which makes it all that more remarkable when an album like Cargo Cult’s The Meaning of 8 comes along and you find yourself making excuses about allergies and new glasses to explain the tears in your eyes to your workmates.

I first heard of Cloud Cult through their single "Transistor Radio" on a KEXP stream, a song about the voice of a boy’s grandfather coming to him through said electronic device and urging him into the world. It’s a track that can bring complete introspective silence to a room full of people listening to it, and each of them, at the end of three minutes, will be a little more misty-eyed. All of Cargo Cult’s songs deal with the big mysteries, life, death, love, being-in-the world despite the absurdity all around us. Songwriter Craig Minowa comes to these questions honestly, having lost his two-year old son to sudden death, separating from his wife as a result, and then spending the next year on his ramshackle organic farm where he wrote a hundred songs in an attempt to staunch his grief. When he sings a lyric like”You can take it in stride, or you can take it right between the eyes./Suck up, suck up and take your medicine./It’s a good day, it’s a good day, to face the hard things” you know that it’s coming from really knowing what “hard things” are.

Much of the power behind Cloud Cult is Minowa’s voice. Comparisons to Conor Oberst come easily, but I hear a bit of Bono’s gospel howl in it as well. It’s a voice that sounds younger than Minowa’s years, but perhaps that is only a function of the vulnerability that it conveys. That the rest of the instruments include cello, keyboards, bass, trumpet, and drums enables the band to create amazingly complex arrangements that veer back and forth between basic vocal harmony and strummed guitar to full-on electronic squonk. In songs like “Pretty Voice” and “Take Your Medicine” the band is able to move between acoustic and electronic passages on a thin dime, creating anthemic builds and then releasing into clean, sharp moments that, indeed, hit you right between the eyes.

The album is an extended song cycle that runs a good 80 minutes, though it’s definitely front-loaded with the tracks that are destined to be the big singles (I'm particularly partial to "When Chemicals Collide"). There are hooks in here that will run through you head almost hypnotically after you hear them, and with them will come the feeling that they have changed you in a subtle way. Perhaps you will be inspired to find a way to make you day into gold.

Cloud Cult will be performing at Bottom of the Hill on May 3. I imagine it will be an extremely powerful show, with songs like this that beg for a crowd to sing along with them. I’ve already got my tickets, you should get yours as well.

The Pitchfok Media Review of "The Meaning of 8" by Cloud Cult

Upcoming: The Rod at Deco, Friday, April 13

From Larry Bob's Queer Things to Do in San Francisco. Unfortunately, being a notorious Luddite, Bus Station John doesn't believe in things like email and websites, so if you wanna find out about his parties it's up to me, Larry Bob, picking up the right flyer, or putting THE ROD in big letters on your calendar every second Friday of the month. Deco is a swell club that's worth checking out regardless of how you (or I) might feel about the retro-vibeness of BSJ's various musical selections.

FRIDAY April 13, 10pm-3am
The ROD @ DECO Lounge
DJ Bus Station John (Tubesteak Connection / Double Dutch Disco) slips you "The ROD" every second Friday @ DECO Lounge, the Tenderloin's newest old-school gay watering hole. Get liquored-up cheap ($3 drink specials all nite) then hosed down in the always-saucy Wet Jockstrap Contest! $100 CASH for the winner, bar tabs for the runners-up. Jox available, or wear your sleeziest/cheeziest fave. Enjoy 3 floors of heavy cruising & hard cocktails, dancing to late 70's/early 80's retro-homo rareities, and after-hours action!

$5
10pm-3am.

DECO Lounge, 510 Larkin @ Turk.

Mix Download: DJ Mixes by Lord Kook

If you've been lucky enough to be at Drunk and Horny early in the evening before it gets all drunk and disco, you've probably had a chance to hear Lord Kook, who has one of the freshest sounds of all of San Francisco's gay DJs. He has some mixes up on his site, some recorded live at DnH, that may be of interest to his fans. Scattered throughout are some of his own remixes and original tracks (listen particularly to some of the fun toward the end of "The Way Back," including remixes of U2's "For the First Time" and "The Way Back" by Hot Chip).

Philip Sherburne on House Parties v. Winter Music Conference

In his This Month in Techno column for Pitchfork, Philip Sherburne writes an interesting compare-and-contrast essay concerning his experiences at the Winter Music Conference in Miami with a basement performance by Truckasaurus in Portland OR. As any veteran of house and warehouse parties might predict, he found the basement experience to be more satisfying than mixing it up with the big names of American and European techno. For me there'e no doubt that the "hey kids, let's put on a show" ethos is essential to keeping any scene vibrant, interesting, and fun, and this is what made San Francisco such an exciting place to be in the late 90s and early 2Ks. On any Friday afternoon you could plug in some special URLs and get the lowdown on what was happening for underground parties that night, and then find youself among crazy kids who were putting out the beats and the vibe because it was fun, exciting, and just a little bit risky. My best moment during these times was making a phone call on a Friday night, loading three of my friends into a car, and then driving to a bowling alley in Petaluma that had been taken over by the Happy Kids crew. You've not lived until you've seen candy ravers in phat pants bowling.

The San Francisco housing situation has made it much more difficult to create these kinds of parties. There aren't many folks who have accesss to the necessary space, the basements, the thick walls. Of the few that I've attended in the past couple years, all have been spaces owned by someone who managed to make *a lot* of money, legal and otherwise. We're fortunate to live in a city where there are wealthy folks who still like to throw down, but finding space is the number one problem for anyone who wants to promote events in this city. The seeming inevitable trade-off is to go for a bar or club night, which, by its very nature, changes that grassroots feeling you get when you set up a sound system in your basement, pass out some flyers to friends and send emails, buy a keg, and then let it rip. In those situations the walls between performers, DJs, and the crowd come down, and you're all there together to have a good time. If you want to do a club or bar night it's much more about working angles, promoting on a large scale to make sure you make the nut, and being part of the right crowd to start with.

I think this lack of grassroots ability to build a music and dance culture has especially affected the gay scene, which has largely ossified around certain names, bars, and clubs, and where attempts to bring out something new means insinuating yourself among those who are already established. What we need are more events like the old Loft parties in New York, spaces that are less concerned with commercial success and are focused more on the experience, spaces where new DJs can come and take chances with music that would be harder to put across at a bar in the Castro, SoMa, or Polkstrasse. That, after all, is how both disco and techno evolved, through DJs taking chances with the music, and kids taking chances with their experiences, and when those two things came together, it created a community bond. In a time when the only bond between San Francisco gay men seems to be the fact of their sexual orientation, it would be great if we could create experiences that dissolved the walls of class, race, body type and social standing and brought us all together in a good time.