Monday, June 9, 2008

Event Review: Honey Soundsystem Presents Stefan Goldmann at Club Six

Honey Soundsystem’s party with Berlin producer Stefan Goldmann at Club Six this past Friday was a bit disappointing, attendance-wise, for reasons I suspect having to do with it being in competition with Gentleman’s Techno as well as the location of Club Six, but the music was stellar, in a space that was almost perfect for evoking the vibe of a Berlin techno club.

The boyfriend and I arrived around 10, during Ken Vulsion’s set. He laid down some solid four-on-the-floor acid tracks, including some stuff that I suspect was first issued a decade ago, but it still sounded fresh and engaging, and was some of the best techno I’ve heard since his set at FSLD last month. Unfortunately, I don’t think there were more than fifty people in the club at the time to hear it. When Jason Kendig came on around midnight and dug into some deeper, Detroit-style techno, there was a small dancefloor of about twenty or thirty people, but not nearly the kind of crowd I had expected.

Some of the issue may have been with the party taking place at Club 6, which does not have the best reputation in the club world, mainly because it’s on Sixth Street, and is generally unfamiliar territory for many of the gay boys who make up the core of the Honey Soundsystem constituency. I hadn’t been there for several years myself, but the downstairs space was just about perfect, with plenty of lounge areas off the main dancefloor and a really fabulous sound system. There was the matter of the $8 well drinks, but I would be happy to check out more parties there.

The boyfriend and I took off around 12.30 after getting a text from our friend J, who we met up with over at The Stud, so we missed out on Goldmann’s set. I’m hoping that more folks showed up after we left, but when we got over to The Stud, which was hosting Lucky Pierre, we found a small crowd there as well, leading us into endless speculation about the state of the club scene. It does seem that there is a much smaller audience for DJ-oriented nights these days, such that if you have two techno events on the same night, one winds up cannibalizing the audience for the other. But, in general, it also seems that that the comment made by Joshua J in a conversation we had several weeks ago holds true, that people generally go to a party not necessarily because of the music, but because of the kind of scene they expect to find there, and when it comes to gay club nights, where they expect to find the kinds of guys that they are into. Any night that focuses on bringing in specific kinds of guys, whether they’re muscle boys, bears, Asians, or whatever, will always have a higher turnout, regardless of the music, than music-focused nights, because they offer a well-defined product for their consumers. Music-focused nights, on the other hand, are about appealing to a different expectation of experience, one that’s harder to sell to a sex-focused market. If HSS had advertised “hot go-go boys” or "baby oil wrestling" for the Stefan Goldmann party I have no doubt that they would have attracted more of a gay clientele, but that would have also shifted the focus of the event and made the music something that was simply there to support the prospect of sex. If focusing on the music means getting a smaller, but more enthusiastic, crowd, then I think that’s an acceptable trade-off, and I hope that groups like Honey Soundsystem will continue to bring us more music-focused events despite the somewhat discouraging attendance numbers.


M said...

hmm... well, just to play the devil's advocate for a moment here:

arguably, by definition a specifically *gay* club night IS sexually focussed, even without baby-oil wrestling or wet jockstrap contests. I know straight people can be tacky and annoying - but - if the focus really is MUSIC then why not promote it as a MUSIC night? making it a mixed night wouldn't turn it into Mezzanine (which is too straight for me!)

there is a huge clubber community in SF and I think it should be possible to get a better crowd at Club Six for a techno night than that - at least on a weekend. but you'd need to promote to the local dance music scene, not only the gay boys.

just a thought. this seems like a recurrent theme, and maybe it's simply true that most gay clubbers don't care as much about the music as about getting laid. do you think the presence of more women would drive away the gay boys who do go out to techno events?

KVUL said...
see "Hotlist" for 6/6


this event was promoted to the "local dance music scene" which ignored it
for the most part.

people, gays included, are reluctant to pay $10
or $15 to hear new music when the comfort of a familiar crowd/venue/sound beckons
(I.E. the Transfer)

we continue to push the scene in new directions, which can be difficult in a conservative, provincial city like SF.


The Jaded Gay DJ said...

Yeah, the provincialism of San Francisco never ceases to amaze me, esp. when I think back to how it was when I first arrived in San Francisco. I think that the problem of the familiar v. unfamiliar gets at the real heart of the matter, whether we're talking gay or straight, and some of that is definitely about the "scene" that people expect, even more than the venue (my friend DJ6 just killed Bender at The Transfer, a familiar spot, but I think what they were trying to do was too difficult for people to parse in terms of the scene - is is straight, gay, electro, techno, etc.). When I go out to successful events I always notice that they seem to be attended by large groups of people who already know each other.

I love what HSS is doing in terms of trying to push the scene, since we're trying to do much the same with FSLD, and believe me that I understand the frustrations that go along with that. Unfortunately, unless something happens to make San Franciscans generally more adventurous, I think we will have to satisfy ourselves with small but dedicated followings.

M said...

thanks for the thoughtful repiles.

when I say "promote to the local dance music scene" I am not talking about the SFBG listings - I am talking about mailing lists like FnF-announce, cf-announce, etc... tribes, you name it. direct flyering at quality events on other nights also helps.

anyway, keep up the good work - we need dedicated DJs, crews, and promoters to keep it going!