In a major example of how the Bay Area is coming together in a vacuum of political leadership and billionaire donors to take care of its own, the Queer Nightlife Fund announced today that it had raised $160,000 in funds through online efforts—and would begin disbursing grants to 176 local workers.
The recipients are mostly nightlife performers, staff, and others who rely on tips and wages which disappeared overnight in the wake of the March 13 COVID shutdown of bars, nightclubs, theaters, and restaurants. (Some performers have been able to eke out tips on streaming platforms, but this barely covers expenses of living here.)
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the community’s support for the fund,” QNF steering committee member and Polyglamorous DJ Mark O’Brien told me. “The QNF working group has been meeting 6 days a week since March 14, and it’s exciting to see our first campaign finally come to fruition. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we’ve helped a lot of folks in queer nightlife. We are going to keep on working at this, because the need is definitely still there.”
That need has convinced the QNF to continue its efforts. “This marks a major milestone for the QNF,” Watson says. “The shelter-in-place order has been extended through May, and all of our major queer holidays have now been canceled through the fall, including Pride and Folsom Street Fair. It remains uncertain when our vital cultural institutions can reopen and when we can again gather in person as a community. Therefore, the QNF has recognized the need for a second fundraising campaign and a new round of grant applications.”
The San Francisco Queer Nightlife Fund is proud to announce that we are now disbursing grants from our first round of applications.
From March 16 to March 31, 2020, we received applications from 258 nightlife workers, of which 176 met our eligibility criteria. Applications were evaluated anonymously by an internal team of steering committee members and then underwent an auditing process to ensure integrity. Grant amounts were determined based on need, and all recipients are currently being notified.
This marks a major milestone for the QNF! The shelter-in-place order has been extended through May, and all of our major queer holidays have now been canceled through the fall, including Pride and Folsom Street Fair. It remains uncertain when our vital cultural institutions can reopen and when we can again gather in person as a community. Therefore, the QNF has recognized the need for a second fundraising campaign and a new round of grant applications.
Our first campaign has been incredibly successful. In only a little over a month, we raised approximately $160,000—almost entirely from individual donations. We have established new community rituals, including the weekly Sunday Quaran-Tea Dance, streamed live on Twitch and Zoom. These new rituals and the success of our fundraising efforts have revealed the strength and resilience of our community and have given us all hope for the future. Our commitment to the community remains stronger now than ever before.
Stay tuned shortly for our announcement of the opening of our second round of grant applications.
If you continue to have a reliable source of income, please consider donating to the fund, and consider making your donation weekly. The performers, artists, bartenders, and behind-the-scenes workers who make the nightlife magic happen in the SF Bay Area need our continued support in this extraordinary time.
Tune in THIS WEEKEND to two events:
Friday at 8 PM PDT, the San Francisco Bay Area Queer Nighlife Fund is proud to present a special Friday night soiree featuring music from San Francisco matriarch Juanita More, who also serves as a member of the SF QNF steering committee. She’ll be gifting us with some fantastic beats to kick off the weekend. Also joining us is Chrissy, a genre-bending DJ and prolific producer, whose latest 12′′ was released last week on Dansu Discs.
Sunday from 1-6PM PDT, join us for our seventh Quaran-Tea! This week the SF Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund joins forces with the legendary PLAY T-Dance. Since 2001, PLAY T-Dance has been giving folks in the Bay Area the occasion to flirt, frolic and dance to their favorite tea dance music. PLAY T-Dance has become renowned for its unique and engaging themes, abundant hospitality, unrivaled production value and the most uplifting and energetic music on the planet.
For now, stay safe and healthy, and SEE YOU ON THE VIRTUAL DANCEFLOOR!
One of the best things to come out of this awful nightmare is seeing everyone rush to help each other, leaping into the vacuum of economic leadership and tackling the grand scale of this situation’s disruption.
Case in point: What on earth and in heaven was gonna happen to the Hunky Jesus contest, one of San Francisco’s most celebrated traditions, now that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’s Easter with the Sisters has been postponed? Why, one of the most sequined, glittered, fan-waving, pec-revealing crossovers in history, of course.
The always charitable Sisters have teamed up with the Queer Nightlife Fund to present the contest online, and you can get an eyeful when they broadcast the (virtual) competition Sun/12, starting at 10am on the Sisters’ Instagramand continuing that day during the Queer Nightlife Fund’s weekly “Quaran-Tea” dance, 1pm-6pm at www.twitch.tv/sfqueernightlifefund–you do not need accounts on either to view, but you do need to sign up/log in and follow the Sisters on Instagram to vote. Plus you get the Foxy Mary competition, too! And, anyone can enter from throughout the US, so get ready for some wildcards.
Potential Hunky Jesi and Foxy Marias submit a photo in character and a one minute video featuring their “Holy Inspiration” in action. The deadline to submit entries is Fri/10. Viewers vote on their favorites during the day, and may the best man-god and virgin(?) win!
The contest typically draws 10,000+ people to Dolores Park. But, like everything else, this year is different. “San Francisco audiences are smart, sophisticated, and have a very twisted sense of humor,” head nun Sister Roma says on the Sisters site. “You can’t just be HUNKY or FOXY to win the title. Our crowd responds most enthusiastically to contestants who have a clear concept, a clever message, and excellent execution.” More info here.
The collaboration highlights the work of the Queer Nightlife Fund, one of the many community resources that leapt into action once San Francisco effectively shut down. Formed by a consortium of party promoters, leather community leaders, DJs, and at least one financial expert (Spencer Watson of the Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research), it’s raised more than $117,000—including $10,000 from the Sisters themselves—that will be distributed in $1000 grants to queer applicants who have lost their nightlife jobs.
Organizer Phil Hammack of the Fog City Pup Pack told me, “The QNF came about just before the SF shelter-in-place order first took effect. I started to see tons of events getting canceled in our nightlife community, and it was clear bars would be closing down for a while as well. I reached out to a group of community leaders to brainstorm how we might help.
“Our concern was especially for the individuals who work in nightlife who might not be protected by employment status within a venue—for example, drag performers, lighting and production designers, dancers, etc. But we were also concerned for bartenders, servers, coat check staff. All of these individuals are vital to our nightlife culture, and we were concerned about how these individuals would subsist with their incomes vanishing overnight.
“Knowing how central nightlife is to the queer community, we thought the concept of a ‘giving circle’ where community members could donate and those in need could apply for funds would be an ideal resource for these workers, and such a fund could play a role in preserving our nightlife cultural institutions by providing some economic security or assistance to the individuals who make these institutions happen. The need is huge.”
The QNF has just signed a fiscal sponsorship agreement with the Q Foundation, which focuses on housing and economic needs of LGBTQ+ and HIV+ people in San Francisco, and now all donations are tax-deductible. QNF is currently reviewing 258 applicants and hoping to raise more than $200,000. So vote, dance, donate, and—of course—don’t forget to fall on your knees before your savior! (Once those pesky social distancing rules are gone.)
If, like me, you’re “into” nightlife and music, your social media feed has flipped almost instantaneously into a multi-roomed nightclub, with DJs and musicians streaming live sets, friends recommending playlists, and drag queens lip-syncing for their lives (and hopefully tips).
This outpouring/overload of entertainment has affirmed dance music’s joy, connection, and necessity—not to mention the Internet’s—in this time of uncertainty and isolation. There’s far too many DJ sets to choose from right now, it seems, which leads to a giddy delight while you’re bopping on your sofa. Of course, there’s an element of concern involved as well, as most DJs have suddenly had their livelihoods eviscerated and are trying to find new income, er, streams.
This sudden concentration on the Internet may seem novel, but the folks at local streaming DJ site Fault Radio were way ahead of the coronavirus curve when it came to visual club-hopping. Launched in 2018 by two nightlife savvy emigrés from Tel Aviv, Dor Wand and Dundee Maghen, Fault Radio surfaces some of the best DJ talent in beautifully produced live videos, recorded at various locations around the Bay. Fault Radio’s archives are a treasure trove of sounds both familiar and new, lovingly archived and presented by two people who care deeply for our delicate yet thriving scene.
When I interviewed Dor and Dundee a few weeks ago, before the full force of COVID-19 hit, we excitedly talked about how Fault Radio was helping to increase the Bay Area’s international profile—while documenting the diversity that still exists in dance music scene holding on in a very expensive and rapidly homogenizing environment.
They were looking forward to their huge Shifting Plates Record Fair, this year in partnership with popular crowdsourced record database Discogs, which was to draw dozens of vendors and hundreds of participants to Classic Cars West in April. They were also recording sets at Vinyl Dreams record store in the Haight, which is owned by one of the godfathers of the local dance scene, Mike B (no relation).
“We’ve been very wavy emotionally, like everyone else,” Dundee told me in a follow-up call after the lockdown. “We had a few hard days, but we’ve shifted to working on initiatives to support the community, which is helping to keep us focused.”
“There was an advantage to being from somewhere else, we saw what was happening there before it came here,” Dor added. “So we had a little cushion of knowing what to expect. We had a few days lead time to think about how we could support and elevate the scene here before the impact.”
Those initiatives are pretty exciting. First, the pair have opened up broadcasting on the Fault Radio site to anyone with their broadcast from home “Relief Sessions.” You fill out a quick survey to apply, and they teach you the fundamentals of streaming remotely—perfect for DJs who are new at it.
“This outbreak is causing so much isolation, that we want to make it as easy as possible to connect with other people online, in the best way,” said Dundee. “Streaming is now a commodity, a way to earn a living, and we want to offer our experience in this way to help.”
“When everyone started streaming on Facebook and other sites, we knew that there would be huge differences in quality, in terms of the sound, the lighting, and other things you only know from doing it a hundred times,” said Dor. “Many people are dealing with this technology for the first time, so we want to help bring everyone up to a similar level.”
To this end, Fault is also offering “Stream-Kits” to be delivered to DJs’ homes, with everything they need to set up and stream. (Fault Radio archives and promotes the stream on their site, as well as their Soundcloud and Youtube.) “The box has various equipment inside to upgrade your streaming—maybe even something alcoholic,” Dor laughs. “When you receive it, we can hop on a video call with you and help you through the process. We just announced this, and already we’ve had interest from people in London, Budapest, Istanbul…”
But their heart remains with the locals. “Even with every one on lockdown, there’s still things happening. There’s still a scene,” Dundee said. “Now the biggest challenges that we’re dealing with is, you’re feeling very isolated from your community. Even if you are documenting yourself, it feels isolated. This is our way to make the music scene still feel alive.”
New Year’s Eve 2020 is a very big deal. Yes, yes, it’s the beginning of a decade (although that’s controversial), and hopefully an end to the horrific orange streak in Washington. But more than that, it is the perfect year for those glasses everyone wears with the year on them. Two eye-holes!
But NYE is more about the amateurs—the real partiers will greet the dawn by adjusting their sparkly antlers and charging into the afternoon through evening, possibly also Thursday. It’s just how we do. Here’s a quick list of goings on New Year’s Day. Take a little sponge bath, have a little tea, and let’s go out again. (Please be careful with any party favors!)
> IT’S A NEW DAY/BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS I don’t know when this party became a mashup with a highly encumbrent name, but the Space Cowboys are back with their enormous, all-day block party, bringing together Burners, ravers, and a fair share of sparkling zombies. I think this is their second decade doing this? “Featuring over 70 djs from across the world, 7+ full stages, amazing food vendors, clothing vendors, interactive art and lots of fun surprises!” 4am-9pm, $20-$80. Great Northern, SF. More info here. <
> FRESH START The Midway in the Dogpatch has become one of our essential big room clubs in the past couple years, with major players indoors and out. This bash features more techno than you can shake your party popper at, with Claptone, Moon Boots, Walker & Royce, Elax of Boyz Noise, J.Phlip, and many more. 4am-8pm, $35-$90. The Midway, SF. More info here.
> 2020 POLAR BEAR SKATE Perhaps you’d rather flaunt your endurance in a more public place, with skates on? For your fuzzy onesie (or little else) and hop into the Union Square rink for the annual afternoon New Year’s Day skate and some groovy music. They sell wine and beer at the cafe next door! 2pm-3:30, $13-$18, all ages. Union Square, SF. More info here.
> NEW YEAR’S DAY SILENT DISCO + BEACH YOGA Out of the cellars and onto the beach! How about a nice shot of renewal, with the Silent Disco crew (they’ll supply the headphones and groovy beats) and some rejuvenating yoga with instructor Julianne Aiello. 3pm-4:14pm, $5-$28. baker Beach, SF. More info here.
> BRASS TAX SUPPER OF SURVIVORS RIP to the infamous glitter cannon at this annual tradition, bu there are still a ton of local DJs, fantastic costumes, and just an overall feeling of good ol’ Bay Area mischief. Plus: a triage station to help your hangover, larger-than-life visuals, and, yes, supper: “cheeseballs, bacon, nachos, and a whole swanky spread of new suppertime treats at the Brass Tax Snack Shack to keep your engine humming!” 3pm-midnight, $15-$20. Public Works, SF. More info here.
> SUNSET SOUNDSYSTEM NEW YEAR’S DAY AFTERPARTY A legendary rave crew takes over from Breakfast of Champions for an after-after-after-party—a unicorn!—with DJs Solar and Galen + ppecial guests: Anthony Naples (Incienso, Nowadays – NYC), Dj Minx (Women On Wax – Detroit) DJ Three (Hallucienda – USA) and Qzen (Berlin). What a lineup (DO NOT MISS MINX). 8pm-3am, $20-$70. Great Northern, SF. More info here.
> HOUSEPITALITY The cherry on your 2020 cake, this beloved weekly dance party fall right where we want it—just as we’re about to finally pass out. One more go! Featuring awesome resident DJs in both the front and back rooms, this will be a perfect local finish to your Bacchanal. 9pm-2am, free before 10pm with RSVP here, $10 after. F8, SF. More info here.
While hardly as wild as it used to be, Halloween is still a hoot in this devilish town. Let us never forget the year (1982) when the Bay Guardian combined its election issue and its Halloween issue, celebrating the infamously gay Halloween in the Castro by portraying Board of Supervisors candidate Sister Boom Boom as a flying witch on the cover. (Nowadays our candidate choices are a bit less flamboyant.)
Good times. Now here are some tips. For a real Halloween experience, head to Aunt Charlie’s Loungestarting this weekend with the Hot Boxx Girls drag shows and through the week to Halloween night’s Tubesteak Connection party. It’s truly one of the last fabulous gay dive bars that really gets into the Halloween spirit. There are a ton of great terror flicks happening (from Get Out with the SF Symphony to “The Horror of SF Jazz at Grace Cathedral”)—here’s our full Halloween movie roundup.
One hallowed tradition, the annual Cramps concert, has obviously evolved as Cramps members have made their way to the other side of the void. But the ghost of this grand event stays undead, with the Cramp-Ons tribute band playing Sat/26 at Bender’ss and, in the same psychobilly/horror punk vein, the Misfits tribute band The Astrozombies playing Thur/31 at the Chapel.
And for the scariest time of all, of course, don’t forget to scream your way through Peaches Christ’s “haunted immersive experience” Terror Vault! (through November 10). PLUS! Don’t miss one of our best and campiest drag personalities play the role she was born to play, Dr. Frank N. Furter, in Ray of Light Theater’s Rocky Horror Show, through November 2.
Finally, start the week on a truly horrifying foot: We are losing one of our best DJs, Jackie House of Honey Soundsystem, to Berlin—but first a night of psychedelic ambient music at the cavernous Gray Area, with Jackie House’s Ambient Goodbye on Fri/25. There’s nothing scarier than seeing might lifers cry!
Here are some other bloody good spots to celebrate:
THU/24 LES GHOULS ENCORE!After you attend our free Best of the Bay party, stay for this outrageous celebration of legendary lysergic theater troupe The Cockettes’ epic Halloween show Les Ghouls. Drag queens, performers, and DJs all pay tribute. 10pm-2am, The Stud, SF. More info here.
FRI/25 SMITHSFITS HALLOWEEN EDITION I mean, this party plays all Cure (Robert Smith), all Smiths, and all Misfits. And it has been popular for nine years! Nothing beats our nightlife. Dress up in a costume for the contest. 9:30pm-2am, The Knockout, SF. More info here.
FRI/25 MASQUERADE BALL WITH THE MAGICIAN Smooth and sophisticated Belgian electro-pop wizard Stephen Fasano, aka The Magician, brings his magic touch to this Halloween blowout at Mezzanine, which is closing soon (booooo). 9pm-late, Mezzanine, SF. More info here.
FRI/25 STRANGER THINGS GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT This Halloween party’s theme promises a “1980s-era land of supernatural phenomena.” The night will be perfectly soundtracked by moody, melodic Kentucky producer, Amtrac, and wiggy Canadian house DJ, Eddie C — plus enough local support to fill the Upside Down. 9:30pm-late. Great Northern, SF. More info here.
FRI/25 PAUL OAKENFOLD The absolute legend of progressive trance grooves who’s shaped the genre for more than three decades and headed the legendary Perfecto label, pops in for a Halloween party? We have it so good. 9:30-2am, Audio, SF. More info here.
SAT/26 HORROR STORY: DARK MATTERTwo of our big gay parties with Burning Man roots, Polyglamorous and Mystopia, team up for a journey into (I think) space and terror, but expect lots of shirtless revelry, unicorn horns, and sparkly leggings. The music—by Portland’s DJ Sappho, Chicago’s Colette, and DJ Rolo—will be terrific. 9:30-late. 550 Barneveld, SF. More info here.
SAT/26 CREATURE: NEON DEMONS A creepy cavalcade of drag and gory-glorious music at this wonderfully open affair at El Rio. There will be horns sprouting out all over! 9pm-2am, El Rio, SF. More info here.
SAT/26 GLOW IN THE STREETSThere’s still some of that Castro Halloween spirit floating around—this exuberant neon-wow block party put on by queer Burning Man camp Comfort & Joy will light your way to Hallo-bliss. With DJs, performances, and more. Noe Street between Market and Beaver, SF. 4pm-9:30pm. More info here.
SAT/26 MOTHER: HALLOWEEN, A PARTY Drag behemoths Heklina and Peaches Christ host this annual, beloved affair with oodles of drag queens spilling out in all directions. 10pm-3am, Oasis, SF. More info here.
SAT/26 SPACE COWBOYS: HAUNTED HOEDOWN One of the original Burning Man camps, Space Cowboys have been throwing wild parties for decades. This Halloween mashup of burner rager and audio-visual overload brings house, breaks, funk, and world-renowned DJ headliner, A.Skillz. 10:30pm-late, Great Northern, SF. More info here.
SUN/27 SUNSET SOUND SYSTEM HALLOWEEN COSTUME BOAT PARTYThis annual wild float and its afterparty at the Great Northern will be your best bet to hear some outstanding techno, with guests Wajatta, Tel Aviv’s Autarkic, and a special synthesizer seance with ambient masters Jonah Sharp and Its Own Infinite Flower. 5:30pm-11pm, San Francisco Belle, Pier 3. More info here.
MON/28 DEATH GUILD: THE DARKEST NIGHTUm, this is the oldest weekly party in the city and the second-oldest goth party in the world—you probably don’t want to miss its Halloween celebration. With DJs Decay, Joe Radio, and Melting Girl plus a special sexy-scary performance by Hubba Hubba Revue. 9pm-afterhours, DNA Lounge, SF. More info here.
MON/28 DOG COSTUME CONTEST & HALLOWEEN PUB QUIZ“7pm: gather, drink, make merry, get excited. Virgil’s Sea Room has a fabulous patio where you can chill with your doggo before the event. 7:30: DOG COSTUME CONTEST!! Red carpet, weird prizes, edible participation trophies! On-leash doggos and their human escorts will prance on the catwalk and compete for ETERNAL GLORY. 8pm: PUBQUIZ O’CLOCK! Teams of 1-6 players will compete for free drinks and strange prizes over five delicious rounds of trivia, including current events, general knowledge, a music round, Halloweeny witchy weirdness, and the powernerd challenge. Human costumes will be judged and awarded during the game. 7pm, Virgil’s Sea Room, SF. More info here.
WED/30 HOUSEPITALITY HALLOWEEN W/ DAN BELLOne of SF’s best weekly parties brings in a Detroit wizard of techno, Dan Bell, sure to wreck the floor with his decades of DJ sorcery. 9pm-2am, F8, SF. More info here.
THU/31 ESG Hell yes! The dance music legends from the South Brownx invented their own kind of underground jam in the ’80s—they still rock live, get ready to dance. 9pm-late, Public Works, SF. More info here.
THU/31 IN YOUR DREAMS: A NIGHTMARE ON NINTH STREETA dastardly drag and dance marathon at the Stud, with DJ Keenan Orr from DC and Rich King from NYC. 1, 2, gonna cut it up with you … 8pm-2am, The Stud, SF. More info here.
THU/31 CYBER RODEO HALLOWEEN: GRAVE RAVEThe cyber rodeo crew combines cowboy aesthetics with rave rumble — not unlike the Space Cowboys, maybe, but with a wilder music. Yee-haw! With DJs Kawasaki + Baby J. 9pm-2am, F8, SF. More info here.
THU/31 ALL HALLOW’S EVE “If there was ever a holiday created just for DNA Lounge that holiday is Halloween, and this is our eighteenth spoooooky year throwing this party! We’re bringing you a double-sized Halloween madhouse in all four rooms! Bewitching burlesque, ambient ghostly aerialists, skillful circus syrens performing all night….” Plus a plethora of DJs. 9pm-afterhours, DNA Lounge, SF. More info here.
THU/31 SPOOKY NATURE It’s a haunted Halloween affair with ghosts, goblins, vampires — and two of the smoothest, sharpest house DJs around. Naked Music pioneer Miguel Migs defined the super-popular West Coast house sound of the 2000s, while Philly’s Rich Medina is a crate-digger’s delight. 9:30pm-2am, Monarch, SF. More info here.
THU/31 CREATURES OF THE NIGHTLIFE This yearly treat sees the Cal Academy of Sciences up to some spooky tricks, with a live performance by the queen of squirm, Heklina, plus tunes from the scarily terrific DJ Omar. Drag show, costume party, and science fair all mixed together! 6pm-10pm, Cal Academy, SF. More info here.
THU/31 MAD HATTER’S BALL Slide down a rabbit hole of thumping bass and electrified pop remixes as 19-year-old headliner, Whethan, who’s collaborated with Dua Lipa and Charlie XCX, brings the frightening beats. 9pm-2am, 1015 Folsom, SF. More info here.
THU/31 TRUTHContemporary dubstep aces Truth hail from New Zealand, rupturing subwoofers and layering enough wavy synths to fuel a wobbly mothership. Hop aboard their UFO at this special Halloween party. 9pm-3am, Great Norther, SF. More info here.
PRIDE Heeeeeeey, Happy GIANT PRODE, everybody! Party Radar’s been on a wee hiatus while I finish this crazy book, sorry. I miss getting nuts on the dance floor and/or bathroom stall with you! The book is a history of protest in the US for young people, which, surprise, happens to also tie into this year’s big Pride celebration theme, on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall—Generations of Resistance.
And partying can be revolutionary, too. As Melissa Hawkins’ awesome recent show of queer club photography from the 1980s and ’90s at the GLBT History Museum pointed out, AIDS activism was based in nightclubs and bars, in communicating face to face, in meeting one another, dancing together, and making a plan.
So, to help out with that (and any social anxiety), here’s a wee guide to the massive amounts of parties happening, to help you navigate the rainbow-tutu’d masses and wash up on the proper rainbow shores.
Let’s get this out of the way in the beginning: I’m part of the Stud Collective, which owns the 53-year-old nightclub, and I love being transparent about it! You will see some Stud events in here because we are a chill place to come party. 🙂 But I love all people and embrace all people, so this is really a rundown of all parties I would heartily recommend.
BUT FIRST the main run-down of must-dos for first-timers:
QUEER BOWLING This monthly charitable roll in the lanes is date-night perfection (and single-night score-heavy). It’s also just plain fun to spare. This month features the all-vinyl awesomeness of Chulita Vinyl Club, plus cheap themed drinks and a great menu. 6pm-10pm, free. Mission Bowling Club, SF. More info here.
> WEDNESDAY 6/26 <
PULLIN’ PORK FOR PRIDE 48 Hills and the Harvey Milk Democratic Club team up for our annual Pride kick-off! Tasty BBQ (yes there are veggie options) and a beer bust to raise funds for these essential local orgs 🙂 Also, pop up drag numbers, some great prizes, and more. 6pm-9pm, free entry, you can buy a plate and beer bust for cheap! Pilsner Inn, SF. More info here.
SISTER ACT SINGALONG PRIDE MASS I’m not religious, but I am thankful for this, from the folks who brought us the Beyoncé Mass: “We’ll kick it off with a mini-Pride parade and sing all of your favorite Sister Act songs— from “Hail Holy Queen” to “Joyful, Joyful” — led by our #BeyonceMass soloist Logan Williams. And most importantly, we’ll celebrate that we are all made in the likeness of God with a special Pride message from pastor and activist Brandan Robertson. Oh, and don’t be afraid to wear your fiercest outfit!” 6:30pm-7:30pm, free. Grace Cathedral, SF. More info here.
BONDAGE-A-GO-GO PERVERT’S PRIDE “At BaGG we are not only kinky. We are Trans. We are Queer. We are lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit, polyamorous, monogamous, pan sexual, asexual, agender, demisexual, demiromantic, sapiosexual, leather daddies, femmes, switches, agender, asexual, bears, otters, unicorns and more and some times we are everything and nothing at the same time. We are Bondage-a-Go-Go.” (There will be dancing and fun!) 9:30pm-2:30am, $10-$20. Cat Club, SF. More info here.
> THURSDAY 6/27 <
POLKA DOT PROM An ’80s club tradition returns, with fab retro vibes galore. The Stud used to hold this annual fun-speckled party back in the day (legend was they would close the doors and carry on all night). I’ll be DJing some underground ’80s classics along with a bunch of amazing folks, including an original Polka Dot Prom DJ, Junkyard! Plus you can score a reprint of an original Stud button. 8pm-2am, $5 before 10pm. The Stud, SF. More info here.
MR. S. 40TH ANNIVERSARY Oh my goodness, hot folks in leather. Celebrate the big 4-0 of this groundbreaking kink emporium with DJ Fawks and friends. 9pm-2am, free. Oasis, SF. More info here.
THE TUBESTEAK CONNECTION DJ Bus Station John is a treasure, rescuing authentic disco and bathhouse vibes from the vintage recesses of our collective soul. His long-running weekly club is a must for visitors and (ir)regulars alike—an old-school cruising, cell phone-free event (were they even invented when she started this party?) 10pm-2am, $5. Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, SF.
FOXES Absolutely love it when still-mourned dyke bar the Lexington Club comes back to life at Virgil’s, with former staff and patrons on deck. This Pride kick-off takeover brings together the best of the lesbian scene with a pop-up patio bar, DJs, beloved hosts and more. 9pm-2am, $5. Virgil’s, SF. More info here.
> FRIDAY 6/28 <
BUSTIN’ OUT 14!!! PARTY AGANST THE PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX An annual post-Trans March tradition, this rad event from the TGI Justice Project features DJs, food, and festive extras to raise money to help our trans family behind bars. 7pm-2am, donation requested. El Rio and Virgil’s, SF. More info here.
T4T One of my favorite DJs, CarrieOnDisco, plays at this post-Trans March party at Jolene’s—and if you haven’t checked out the new Jolene’s yet, this is your time! 9pm-2am, $5. Jolene’s, SF. More info here.
STEAM A bathhouse themed party complete with Power Shower™ go-gos, professional massages, and the brilliantly cosmic techno of SF’s beloved Bézier. Hottt. 9pm-2am, $10. Powerhouse, SF. More info here.
POUND PUPPY Arooooo! Your dogs will be barking after dancing all night at this pup-alar party, with Berlin’s Doc Sleep and NYC’s Physical Therapy bringing you some deep techno dish. 10pm-4am, $20. The Stud, SF. More info here.
SWAGGER LIKE US PRIDE Quite possibly the most fantastic queer hip-hop party on the planet goes big, filling 1015 Folsom with drop-dead looks and beats, courtesy of rapper-singer special guest Leikeli47, who will whip the dance floor runway into a frenzy—along with a slew of DJs like Juliana Huxtable and Jasmine Infiniti. 9pm-3am, $40. 1015 Folsom, SF. More info here.
ELECTROLUXX PRIDE Local art and cuties in neon leggings as far as the eye can see at this party favorite. One of the best DJs in the world, Detroit’s Holographic, is playing, too. Online tix are sold out so rush that door. 9pm-4am, $30-$40. Public Works, SF. More info here.
CLUB LONELY Two of our city’s best-kept secrets—house rave Club Lonely and insanely talented DJ Carlos Souffront—come together for a Pride “blowout.” 10pm-4am, $10. Club OMG, SF. More info here.
> SATURDAY 6/29 <
FAKE & GAY This bananas party takes to DNA Lounge to present Oakland’s infamous Kreayshawn for an 18+ jam. Get there, youths! 9pm-3am, $15-$20, 18+. DNA Lounge, SF. More info here.
PINK BLOCK Not quite the radical political uprising the name suggests, but a revolutionary takeover of the streets nonetheless. Hercules and Love Affair and Poolside headline, and the wonderful Polyglamorous hosts, but there are literally 100 other performers, DJs, and all-around hotties involved in this massive, and massively cute-looking, event. Noon-9pm, $20-$60. Outside Great Northern, SF. More info here.
DAD TO THE BONE The zaddy of all DJ dads, New Orleans’ Mark Louque, pops in for this ruff and tender affair, combining the unleashed power of the DAD (Dudes and Disco) and the Fog City Pup Pack. 9pm-2am, $10-$20. Underground SF. More info here.
HOT PANTS The legendary lez party returns! With DJs Chelsea Starr, Campbell, China G, and Miss Pop—plus all the most azz-mazing outfits. 8:30pm-3am, $10 advance. The Stud, SF. More info here.
WILD THINGS One of the biggest-yet-still-cool parties of the weekend will pack the Public Works with femme power out the wazoo. featuring DJ Kittens and tons of local talent. 7pm-late, $35. Public Works, SF. More info here.
GLAMAMORE’S PINK SATURDAY NUTZ The grand doyenne of SF drag, Glamamore, is hosting a go-go contest on the eve of Pride: Just go with it, it’s Glamamore. 9pm-2am, $5. Powerhouse, SF. More info here.
PITCHERS & CATCHERS A slew of eye-popping drag shows at the Pilsner, plus beer! DJ Sergio homes in. 6pm-10pm, free. Pilsner Inn, SF. More info here.
SUI GENERIS SIP ‘N SHOP You know you need to look good for Pride. Sip complimentary champagne and shop the packed racks (and a discount!) of this super-cool consignment shop in the Castro. noon-4pm, free. Sui Generis, SF. More info here.
> SUNDAY 6/30 <
HARD FRENCH <3 LOS HOMOS Our #1 queer soul party always bonkers it up for its Pride lineup, and could anything be more lovely than synthpop legends Book of Love? Oh yes, there’s a classic soul block party outside all day, too, plus, just, everything. 3pm-11pm, $35. Mezzanine, SF. More info here.
JUANITA MORE! PRIDE PARTY Her face is everywhere this year! Drag goddess Juanita More is claiming her throne as the Party Lady—proof comes in her always packed and scenic annual charitable party, this time around with DJs Bobby Viteritti, Kim Anh, Steve Fabus, Nonsuit, and performances galore. Noon-7pm, $50. Jones, SF. More info here.
MIGHTY REAL Two amazing parties all day/night from this soulful house crew. First, spend the day poolside at the Phoenix dancing to diva CeCe Peniston and DJ David Harness. (More info here.) Then high tail it over Great Northern for the afterparty with deep house legend Kerri Chandler. (More info here.) Beauty!
QUEERLY BELOVED Courtney Trouble’s truly beloved Pride patio party is back, with hip-hoppy happiness from DJs Gangsta Boo, Micahtron, and Mimi Tempestt. 3pm-9pm, $20. El Rio, SF. More info here.
DISCO DADDY If you are looking for that “authentic disco” Pride feeling, you will find it here: “A 7-Hour Tres-Gay Holiday Disco, Hi-NRG, & R&B Marathon W/ DJ Bus Station John. The ‘Happy Ending’ you requested!” 7pm-2am, $10. SF Eagle. More info here.
HONEY SOUNDSYSTEM PRIDE Not only will this annual bananas-good party take over one of the most exquisitely cool (secret-ish) venues the city, it also promises some of the most interesting contemporary dance music. Oh, and hot new friends. Brooklyn’s DJ Jubilee headlines with some bass boom. And there’s a spacey ambient room featuring actual techno legend Spacetime Continuuum. Goooooo. 10pm-3am, $25-$35. Social Hall, SF. More info here.
STUD PRIDE We got parties! OK, nine parties to be exact, all coming together in one giant party to show off their best bits. Drink specials, wild times, and a special performance by Gia Gunn. 2pm-2am, $15. The Stud, SF. More info here.
PARTY RADAR The cliche is that New Year’s Eve is for amateurs, but it’s also for champions—can you outlast, outwit, and outplay your fellow revelers (and your own tolerance) and last through the insane night of parties and into the next day?
NEW BEGINNINGS: DJ HEATHER & COLETTEThe Chicago house favorites bring new beginnings vibes to the EndUp with a four-hour set of their signature funky grooves. This one’s more of NYE rager (it’s the EndUp, duh) since it starts at 2am, but there’s a free continental breakfast at 6am, so sweet. 2am-10am, $20. The End Up, SF. More info here.
LOVE HANGOVER: DAVID HARNESSOur master of soulful house playing the cozy local bear bar has got to be the cutest party going. At the Lone Star, also with Costa Rican DJs from the Get Bumpin’ and more. Noon-9pm, $5-$10. Lone Star Saloom, SF. More info here.
IT’S A NEW DAY + BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS BLOCK PARTY NYD 2019This is the big Megillah, our yearly traditional block party bacchanal that draws more than a few Burners. Doc Martin, Marques Wyatt, Kim Ann Foxman, J.Phlip, and tons more headline, it’s nuts. 4am-9pm, $50. Great Northern, SF. More info here.
FRESH START: GET REALOur own dirty bird bass mechanic Claude Von Stroke teams up with Chicago freak legend Green Velvet for new duo Get Real. Catch their wild debut at the Fresh Start party at the Midway, with A-Trak, Justin Martin, and more. 4am-8pm, $10+. The Midway, SF. More info here.
BRASS TAX: SUPPER OF SURVIVORS XThe tenth anniversary of this essentially SF NYD party—expect tons of sugary treats and out-there outfits. There is even a triage station with toothbrushes and other refreshing supplies. Plus, of course, some crazy music from a host of Brass Tax DJs. No glitter canon this year :/ but you can engage in a “game of cone,” which you will have to discover the meaning of yourself. 3pm-12:30am, $15-$20. Public Works, SF. More info here.
SUNSET SOUND SYSTEM NEW YEAR’S DAY Some foundational SF talent repped here with Sunset’s Galen + Solar, plus Sunshine Jones of Dubtribe Sound System. Also: Danny Daze brings his own sunshine from Miami/Berlin, Netherlands’ Interstellar Funk, and a Vinyl Dreams room. 8pm-3am, $20+. Great Northern, SF. More info here.
NEW YEAR’S EVE AT LA PEÑA WITH SAMBADÁ & BRAZA PARTY! I love the Braza party, and this event sounds full of gorgeous color and flavor. Dance with a Brazil-loving crowd and hear some great live music from Santa Cruz’s SambaDá. 9pm-2am, $35. La Peña Cultural Center, Berkeley. More info here.
THE MIDWAY NYE 2019 Sure, you’re ready for an all night party with Little Dragon, Modeselektor, TokiMonsta, and Mayan Warrior—but are you ready for a sustainable future? I mean, yes, duh, but this NYE, The Midway is eliminating all single-use plastics going forward. “To compliment the switch, The Midway will install an art exhibit by creative duo YuJo highlighting the negative effects of plastic pollution. The artists are known for creating sculptural works around the world, including the life-size blue whale made from discarded plastic at Crissy Field.” Which sounds pretty cool. 9pm-4am, $89.50. The Midway, SF. More info here.
NEW YEAR’S GAIETY WITH PEACHES CHRIST + SF SYMPHONY What a combo! “Ring in 2019 with San Francisco’s famed drag sensation Peaches Christ, plus Jane Lynch, Cheyenne Jackson, Edwin Outwater, and the SF Symphony! Featuring a star-studded lineup of surprise guest stars, delectable vocalists, and drag queens galore, you’ll be regaled by big laughs, big fun, and even bigger hair.” 8pm, 35+. Davies Symphony Hall, SF. More info here.
PLANET STUD NYE The Stud blast off into a pan gender-welcoming future, with Berlin/SF wonderperson Femanyst aka Lady Blaktronica dropping banging techno, plus gayphextwin live, and DJs Siobhan Aluvalot, Adam Kraft, and me, DJ Marke B! Drag bonanza at 9:30 and 11:30. 8pm-4am, $15-$20. The Stud, SF. More info here
POPSCENE INDIE NYE Local band Geographer should probably be bigger, but they stay our own rather open secret—here they DJ a special set for the awesome indie-dance juggernaut that is the Popscene party. 9:30pm-2:30am, $14+. Monarch, SF. More info here.
THE QUEEN’S BALL There’s a lot going on with this one: drag show, aerialists, Groovewell playing funky tunes all night in the side room … but the DJs are the main draw: UK’s brilliant Maya Jane Coles, Lily Ackerman, and a live performance by the great Ah Mer Ah Su. 9pm-3am, $60-$70. Great Northern, SF. More info here.
CAT CLUB NYE It’s an 80s extravaganza! Cat Club SF, Club Gossip, and the 1984 party come together to take you way back. Party like it’s, er, 1985! 9pm-4am, $25. Cat Cub, SF. More info here.
SHANNON & THE CLAMS Oakland garage rock phenoms ring it in, with Once and Future Band and Glitter Wizard. 9pm, $40-$50. New Parish, Oakland. More info here.
UNDERGROUND SF NYE BASH Ace house spinner DJ Spun comes in from NYC to throw down, with Elexos Park and Woozy backing up. 8pm-2am, $5-$10. Underground SF. More info here.
MACEO PARKER A funky New Year indeed, when “the king of the funky saxophone and one of the primary architects of modern R&B” comes raring in to SFJAZZ. Love him. 10:30pm, $60+. SFJAZZ. More info here.
TRAP CITY NYE The Best of the Bay Best Hip-Hop Club winner throwing a party in a huge video arcade with a superhero theme? Up, up, and a way. 9pm-2am, $10. The Emporium, SF. More info here.
BOOTIE NYE The crazy kids of Bootie bring you three different balloon drops, dozens of entertainers, like eight different dance rooms, and their patented brand of mashed-up Frankenpop. 9pm-3:30am, $20+. DNA Lounge, SF. More info here.
GLAMAMORE’S NYE Everyone’s favorite drag matriarch promises a dazzling evening of drink and drag (and plenty of cute baby boy new years, of course). 10pm-2am, $10-$15. powerhouse, SF. More info here.
PARTY RADAR Nothing heats up winter like a good “bitch track” scalding your ears and setting the dance floor aflame, and I just published an interview with the queen of bitch tracks, Sweet Pussy Pauline. In the 1980s and ’90s you couldn’t escape her voice—”Work this pussy!” “I put one leg on the ceiling and one on the closet door!” “A big ol’ hateful anteater!”—being sampled on every kind of record.
Anyway, please pull up to the warm glow of your laptop or phone, imagine a crackling fire, and touch the hotness, before we venture out to the local dance floors:
PARTIES OF NOTE
THU/6 ORBITAL The classic techno duo come back to the states after a long absence, filling the Midway with light and sound. 8pm-midnight, $40. The Midway, SF. More info here.
FRI/7 AH MER AH SU Bay Area queer dance-pop icon is so delightful, see them with the Molly House crew dropping the crowd to the floor. 9pm-2am, $10. Elbo Room, SF. More info here.
FRI/7 VAGUE TERRAIN Wide-ranging techno goodness at this monthly, featuring “a DJ set from Leipzig’s omnisonic seducer ESCLÉ and a special live set from Venezuelan-born, Brussels-based trip advisor BEAR BONES, LAY LOW.” 9pm-2am, $10. Underground SF. More info here.
FRI/7 THE FINAL DESPERATE LIVING SoMa’s outrageous queer punk party says “fuck off and die”—with a live set by the Lollygaggers and a host of awesome performers. Punk’s not dead! 10pm-3am, $10. The Stud, SF. More info here.
SAT/8 NORM TALLEY Incredible classic bouncy house magician from Detroit, coming to the intimate Phonobar in Hayes Valley? Holy shit. “You better believe he’s bringing fat stacks of wax with him for this one. Unlike most parties in this city we let DJs play for 3 hours or more. Expect Norm to go the distance and flex that Detroit muscle.” 9pm-2am, $15-$20. Phonobar, SF. More info here.
SAT/8 WONDERFULL 15 This is a very good party, hitting 15 years, and full of dance floor treats and surprises. “Globetrotting superstar DJ Spinna headlines WonderFull: a dance party of epic proportions dedicated to Stevie Wonder’s essential compositions, covers, and goodies. 9pm-4am, $25. Mezzanine, SF. More info here.
SAT/8 POUND PUPPY The scruffy gay monthly promises a special “howligay” party that will “get your egg nogs out,” with residents Oscar Pineda and Kevin O’Connor got-gone delicious techno all night long. 9pm-2am, $10. SF Eagle. More info here.
SAT/8 LADY RYAN The Oakland star comes to the Swagger Like Us Party, the queer hip-hop party that keeps scoring Best of the Bay. 10pm-3am, $10. The Stud, SF. More info here.
SAT/8 STUDIO 5’4 A party for vertically-different gay guys that is merciless in its use of puns and healthy self-deprecation. “DJ Omnibot will provide the disco beats. He can’t see over the DJ booth though, so raise your hands up really high.” 9pm-2am, $5. Lone Star Saloon. More info here.
SUN/9 CINTHIE The “queen of the Berlin house scene” finally comes in with musical news of what’s going on over there. This one’s really special for the Werd party family—I’ve been dying to hear her—come out and dance! 9pm-2am, $5 advance. Monarch, SF. More info here.
Named for a famed Arthur Russell disco production (“I want to see all my friends at once!”) and featuring an outright disco legend on the decks in DJ Steve Fabus (a resident of the Trocadero Transfer who pioneered both the tea dance and the bathhouse sound in the 1970s), the monthly Go BANG! party is rooted in disco tradition. But the threesome behind the party—rounded out by DJs Sergio and Prince Wolfe—do anything but stick to musty musical relics and ABBA singalongs, though there are plenty of familiar, fabulous tunes.
No, the party, which draws an astonishing 60-year age range of attendees, actively engages with the history of San Francisco disco while attracting younger people with its debaucherous yet good-natured vibe. One recent highlight for me was seeing the Go Bangers hang a massive multi-mirrorball, handmade by one of the Trocadero Transfer’s lighting geniuses, from the ceiling of the party’s current home, The Stud. (Disclosure: I’m a member of the Stud Collective.)
Go BANG! also musically breaks down generational barriers. You hear the evolution of ’70s disco from the hippie-rock ’60s into the synth-pop ’80s, and guest DJs from around the world showcase disco’s continued influence and diverse sounds.
The Go BANG 10-year celebration Sat/1 has DJ Stanley Frank from LA and local duo Robin Simmons and Elaine Denham joining the Bangers, along with the usual cavalcade of dancing, smiling characters—and features lighting from the person behind that massive mirrorball: Carla Ann Nicholson, the Arc Light Diva of the Trocadero Transfer. I asked the trio, who responded as one because they’re so close, about the party’s origins, SF’s disco legacy, and the sexy times.
48hills How do you feel the old school disco vibe of Go BANG! fits into the scene, and why is it important to continue the San Francisco disco tradition?
Go BANG! Many people and parties continue to connect the dots and forward the story of dance music and San Francisco’s unprecedented impact on this musical form. We have had many times in which the thought to move beyond the ’70s and ’80s disco sound was there, but we’ve been determined to preserve the spirit and story of our city’s sound… The sound of love, respect, and liberation. The sound of joy and pain, love and friendship during the halcyon days of the ’60s and ’70s, through the painful times of the ’80s AIDS crisis, which affected so many of our loved ones, and continues to be a part of the fabric of our party and our city. The spirit of San Francisco culture, which has paved the way for so many of us to find connection with one another and to share moments of love, life, and laughter in times of joy but even more so in times of sadness.
48h Ten years is pretty huge for a party, especially with he constantly changing (and disappearing) nightlife landscape in SF. Share with us a couple fun stories that have happened in the past decade.
GB! Given our start at Deco Lounge (with its infamously-fun basement) and our party continuing at the storied Stud Bar, we personally enjoy stories of makeout sessions, trysts in basements and bathrooms, stolen glances and welcomed touching in dark corners and hidden booths, packed floors and dark alleyways alike. And we also value stories of love connections made on the dancefloor, or in the ether surrounding our party. We’ve had a select few beautiful couples who began their romance due to our party, and we have heard many tales of “a friend to spend the weekend” found on our dance floor. Love, lust, like, joy, smiles, hugs, kisses, and more… These stories of personal connections are one of our greatest motivators.
Before we were on first Saturdays, we landed on the fourth Saturdays had a Christmas weekend installment called Ho Ho Ho BANG!. This was back at Deco. Sergio went to Michael’s craft store and got Walgreens bags-full of fake snow, hung them from the rafters, and found the right time to get on a stool in the middle of the floor, poked those bags with a mop handle, and all this plasticky, itchy, fake snow fell on our sweaty dancers and was UGH. He regretted it the moment it happened. And… that was the last time we did that. Ironically, that was the very party where Steve Fabus first DJed as a guest. The very next month—because Steve saw that Sergio and the party was worth being involved with—Steve agreed to join as a resident and co-BANG!er.
48hI adore that you include behind-the-scenes legends and historical moments in the party, like having Carla Ann from the Trocadero do the lighting.
GB! Carla Ann Nicholson was the Arc Light Diva the The Trocadero Transfer, she has been one of our stalwart dancing friends for so long. We recently purchased two follow spots from legendary SF sound and light man Randy Schiller, who is also a great friend to us. As of the middle of this year, you can find Carla providing the beautiful dance floor lighting— reflected upon a disco ball cluster handmade by her—adding to the authenticity of a true San Francisco disco dance floor. We fondly remember a time, during a recent Trocadero Transfer Tribute, when Steve Fabus played Frankie Valli’s “Soul + Heaven Above Me” (1980) and at *just the right time* Carla made the lights turn bright and sunny during the break of the song, lifting us from elation to ecstasy.
48h I’ve seen 22-year-olds on your dance floor, I’ve seen 80-year-olds on your dance floor (making out, mind you!). What attracts such a range to the party?
GB! In our 10 Years, we’ve been welcomed and loved by so many in our community, and that’s why we continue! We love San Francisco! We love its past and its present, and we’re encouraged by our future as we all work together to share of our art and resistance, our rebellion and unfettered love. We are so lucky to have so many talented friends working with us to make the party so special. It’s really grown into a group effort. We think about the party each and every day, we think about how to make our friends happy, about how to repay them for the joy they give us. We do this for our friends.
48h Give us a Go BANG! top 10 for 10 years.
GB! Dinosaur L., “Go BANG!”
Lorraine Johnson, “Feed The Flame”
Bryan Adams, “Let Me Take You Dancing”
Two Tons of Fun, “Earth Can Be Just Like Heaven”
Linda Clifford, “If My Friends Could See Me Now”
Sylvester, “I Need You”
Village People, “San Francisco”</p
Dan Hartman & Loleatta Holloway, “Vertigo (Relight My Fire)”
Ashford & Simpson, “Found a Cure”
Donna Summer, “Could It Be Magic”
Gayle Adams, “Your Love Is a Lifesaver”
Go BANG 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Sat/1, 9pm-3am, $5-$10
The Stud, SF More info here.