I signed a lease on a shared space in the Castro last Saturday, and ever since then it's been a whirlwind of moving, cleaning, setting up, and dreaming of the future. There have also been some moments of pure anxiety, as I contemplate the ratio of expenses to savings and how long the latter will last without a job to replenish it. It's a good thing, then, that the Honey Soundsystem 4 Year Anniversary party at Holy Cow came around at just the right moment to remind me of why I moved back to San Francisco.
Honey Soundsystem first came to my attention by way of Marke B. of the Bay Guardian's Super Ego column. We had been having an email exchange about techno in the SF music scene, and he told me I should check out this DJ PeePlay and his comrade-in-arms Jason Kendig. And then, just about the same time, Kitten Calfee of Comfort and Joy told me he'd been contacted by this group calling themselves Honey Soundsystem about playing at an Afterglow party. Did I know anything about them, and could I recommend them? And that, as they say, is how history is made.
Checking out the posters for past Honey events at the party reminded me of what I have always appreciated about them: they focus on the music and creating a big open vibe for everyone, rather than playing to the typical marketing ploys, usually based on identity stereotypes, of other club promoters. Honey Soundsystem has never put a guy on their flyers, never proclaimed that their parties are for this type, or that one, but for everyone. You could see the effect of this at the party - there were club kids and "mature elders" like me, bears and twinks, Asians and Latins, women and drag queens, all there because they wanted to go out and have a good time on the dancefloor with each other. Which brings me around to the music: while I have not always grooved on every musical orientation of Honey Soundsystem, these are guys who always care deeply about the music they play, and who go out of their way to use the music to create something that is a true expression of their ethos. You can go to any bar or club in the Castro and consume pre-digested pop dance pablum, but Honey Soundsystem will always feed your ears and your soul with something substantial and carefully cultivated.
On this particular night, the sound had a distinct acid/retro house feel, and as I danced for the first time in months, on a dance floor full of shiny happy people, I had a flashback to some of the great Sunday night parties of the past, like Pleasuredome at King Street Garage, or the tea dance at The End Up. Sunday night is always a special time in clubland, a time when those who have a different relation to the workweek come out and party, but it's also a night when you're not necessarily looking for the peak experience of a Friday or Saturday. In this case, Honey hit that sweet spot (oh man, I can't believe I wrote that), between uplifting and groovy that, for me, has always defined the essence of a good Sunday night out. I shook it loose for about two hours, had a nice conversation about the Hawaiian lifestyle with a couple of very friendly guys on the back porch, and re-connected with some old friends before I finally gave in to exhaustion and headed out the door around 12.30. At that point, the club was packed and there was a line that looked like something out of Satyricon stretching down the sidewalk, so I'm sure the festivities kept up well until last call.
Honey Sundays at Holy Cow is going onto my list of San Francisco Essentials, things you must do when you're in the city. And to PeePlay, Kendig, Robot Hustle, and Ken Vulsion, my thanks for reminding me of what makes this a great city, and why it's worth whatever it takes to be here. Long Live Honey!
Check out the weekly Honey Potcast for a taste of Honey and special guests.