PARTY RADAR It’s recently come to my attention that I love autumn. I know it’s a bit nipply out, but the extended cover of darkness emboldens shenanigans and helps obscure underground intentions. With Day of the Dead, of course, a spirit of cozy community is unleashed in the city, and I can’t wait to spike some cider, smoke some pumpkin spice, and head deep, deep into the approaching solstice. Here are some neat things coming up:
*** AFRIEND IN DRAG… Have you ever seen someone who has never done drag before transformed live onstage into the queen of her dreams by two legendary drag goddesses — and then forced to perform an overly complicated Broadway show tune? If you missed me go through this wonderful, terrifying process a couple years ago, you won’t want to miss my bestie DJ Rolo get gussied up at the monthly Powerblouse (Sat/4, 10pm-2am, $5 benefits the Q Foundation. Powerhouse, SF.) SF native Rolo has been DJing for more than 25 years, but watch the wrinkles leap off his face with the application of a bucketload of base. Ha ha, love you Rolo!
*** THE BOOTIE 500 A huge congratulations to DJs Adrian and Mysterious D on their upcoming Bootie party (Sat/4, 9pm-3:30am, $15. DNA Lounge, SF). Bootie, perennial Best of the Bay “Best Overall Best Party” winner, basically created the mashup party scene back in 2003, became one of the most successful local nightlife franchises with parties all over the world, and has barely paused to take a breath. They are still featuring rocketloads of energy: “At 11pm, house band Smash-Up Derby gives a history of mashups (according to them), and Bootie co-creator Adrian A will be spinning a ‘Greatest Mashup Hits’ set!” All this plus a ton ore entertainment, including aerialist Jonbenet Butterbuns (!)
*** TWIRLING THROUGH LA’S DOWNTOWN SCENE I write a regular column for Red Bull Music Academy (very well-respected despite its weird corporate association!) about the queer nightlife and dance music scene past and present. Last month I got to focus on one of my favorite clubs, Mustache Mondays, which is celebrating a decade of “expanding the queer nightlife nightlife vernacular.” Very inspiring: Check out my profile of Mustache here.
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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3
ADRIATIQUE Two cute boys from Zurich with the same name, Adrian S, team up for entrancingly pretty music that wanders from contemporary progressive to moody, impressionistic modern “deep house” and Burning Man electronica, somehow avoiding much of the monotony those scenes can impose. Fri/3, 9:30pm-3:30am, $15-$25. Public Works, SF. More info here.
SECRET CIRCUIT “Secret Circuit is Eddie Ruscha // Secret Circuit is cosmic dance // Secret Circuit is exploding nebulae // Secret Circuit is non-Euclidean geometry // Secret Circuit is secondary psychedelic semaphore // Secret Circuit is a pulsing throb // Secret Circuit is going to make you freak.” At the Vague Terrain party. Fri/3, 10pm-2am, $5-$10. Underground SF. More info here.
BROUHAHA I love this party crew, this time bringing Swedish bouncy house and techno wiz Kornél Kovács to the fore, with Spanish techno experimentalist DJ Seinfeld in tow. Also featuring Rouse, Patrick Lotilla, The Disco Volante, and CamDaze. Fri/3, 10pm-4am, $15. F8, SF. More info here.
DESPERATE LIVING A queer punk party in SoMa! With live band Bitch, Please, and tunes By Dj Bj , Jerk Of All Trades, and Teeny Turner, plus special guest DJ Gabriel Garcia, and of course tons of punk rock drag, duh. Fri/3, 10pm-3am, $10. The Stud, SF. More info here.
STANK: THE FIFTH SMELLEMENT OMG I had to include this monthly armpit-sniffing contest at the Powerhouse (with dancing!) because of the hilarious name they came up with for their fifth anniversary. It is perfect. With DJ Robin Malone Simmons. Fri/3, 10pm-midnight, $5. powerhouse, SF. More info here.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4
NON STOP BHANGRA This year’s Best of the Bay “Best Overall Dance Party” co-winner(tied with Bootie, see above), one of my favorite parties in the world returns to put the bang in bhangra. Special Guest DJ Mixtabishi (Australia) joins the Dholrhythms Dance Company, DJ Jimmy Love, DJ Rav-E, DJ Nix, Marcus Murray (live art), and Odell Hussey (photos). Sat/4, 9pm-2am, $15-$20. Public Works, SF. More info here.
LUMINARY Techno heavyhitters WhoMadeWho, Machinedrum, DJ Three, Christina Chatfield, Vin Sol join forces to bring the beat to this mind-blowing affair: “The human body itself serves as creator and subject as guests travel through and become part of exhibitions by world-class visual and performing artists. Wearable tech couture tracks and responds to a viewer’s gaze, percussionists create explosions of color and light, sculptures bloom and transform before our eyes…” Sat/4, 7pm-2am, $29.50. The Midway, SF. More info here.
PHASE FATALE “Robot Ears and Direct to Earth are teaming up once again for our first ever Live A/V show at the Gray Area Theatre with special guests Phase Fatale (Ostgut Ton, 47) and Hyperactive (Droid, Blank Code). Also featuring the customized 360 degree sound system. That in combination with a rare appearance of mind-bending visuals from Etcher/Engraver will take the room on a cosmic journey.” Sat/4, 9pm-2am, $15. Gray Area, SF. More info here.
LOVE KEPT ME Genuine deep house delight! Celebrating the birthday of another of my besties, the legendary DJ David Harness, this soulful house extravaganza all features Mar Stevens (Drum Warrior), Dedan (Brothers and Sisters), Brian Salazar (Endup, Lifesf, Soul Camp, Housemen), and DJ Theo (Theoretical Soul Recordings) — and live vocals by ELLE. Sat/4, 9pm-2am, $5-$10. BRIX581, Oakland. More info here.
HARDER BETTER FASTER STRONGER FIRST ANNIVERSARY “Modern-day indie and electro meets Electronica from the ’90s and ’00s for a rock-synthpop battle of epic proportions.” They’ve fought, and won, for a full year! With special guest DJ sets from Fringe DJs Blondie K & subOctave and, as always, colorful surprises. Sat/4, 9:30pm-2am, $5. Slate, SF. More info here.
KIMMY LE FUNK GOING AWAY PARTY I don’t know where she’s going! But we will surely miss this turntable classic, who has lit up many of my nights with her vinyl funky house goodies. Sat/4, 9:30pm-2am, free. Monarch, SF. More info here.
WITH LOVE TO PUERTO RICO Some very cute techno DJs — Bradley P, Jim Collins, and Christopher Foor come together for some daytime dancing and fundraising for the Ricky Martin foundation to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Sat/4, 2pm-7pm, donations requested. Mars Bar, SF. More info here.
EXILLON Dark and killer local live techno from this awesome dude combines with the dance floor energy of DJs Teeyam (outpost | tm/pm | they’re here) and One A (Romper Room) for a night of, in their words, “All hammer, no bammer.” Sat/4, 10pm-2am, $5. Underground SF. More info here.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5
THE SYNTHETIGERS This roaring local house duo — with special live performance by Tobirus Mozelle — takes over the New Parish patio for the Afternoon Delight monthly party. Oh, and hey, I’m playing the closing set. Come out, Oakland! Sun/5, 3pm-8pm, $10. New Parish, Oakland. More info here.
PERMISSION TO LAND This neato daytime party takes over the Midway for some serious cosmic techno dancing with YokoO, Rachel Torro, and Peter Blick. Sun/5, 2pm-8pm, $15-$20. Midway, SF. More info here.
BYREL THE GREAT it’s the final outdoor patio party at El Rio for queer hip-hop party Swagger Like Us, and it’s gonna be typically brilliant. Headlined by Qween Beat Productions’ Byrel the Great from New York, get ready to vogue like the north wind. Sun/5, 2pm-8pm, $10. El Rio, SF. More info here.
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But it would be nothing without the dedication and quality of the queer quartet’s parties, which broke ground as well with their minute attention to detail, theme, decor, design, location, and general weirdo-perfect novelty — even if now they’re so internationally famous we have to settle for one-offs here and there. Daddies, come home!
The there’s the real big to-do on Sat/11, a 10-hour rave at Public Works(6pm-4am, $40) featuring an enormous lineup of Honey faves, including Danny Daze, Kim Ann Foxman, Beesmunt Soundsystem, Justin Cudmore, Octo Octa, Eris Drew, TWINS and the Honey boys themselves, Jason Kendig, Josh Cheon, Bézier, Jackie House. Oh and hey, then there’s an afterparty for that, too, at the Stud called High Steaks (4am-9am, $10). So this is like some serious End Up, but good End Up, ish. Get there, Honey.
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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10
DJRUM Lovely and complex (in terms of music history reference and production) from this London bassist at the Surface Tension 4-year anniversary. With Bergsonist, E-Saggila, and the ST residents. Fri/10, 10pm-4am, $20. F8, SF. More info here.
RON LIKE HELL Four paws up for the Pound Puppy party’s fourth anniversary, featuring this incredible and incredibly undersung here of New York’s underground, who can pull out wiggy disco and house jams like no one else. Fri/10, 9pm, $10. Eagle, SF. More info here.
BUFI Mexico City DJ whose “eclectic sound that subtly combines driving techno and slick disco with delicate jazz and classical influences” comes to the always cute Modular party. Fri/10, 9:30pm-3:30am, $10-$15. Monarch, SF. More info here.
NEON BLACK Love this retro-Italo-y, basically entering a combination of the Halloween + Drive soundtracks if they were located inside an ’80s video game. I am serious. There are even video games set up for you to play. Special guest DJ Ophelia. Fri/10, 9:30pm-3am $5-$8. cat Club, SF. More info here.
LAST NITE The 2000s have been back! And no party makes me happier about that then this one, in which DJs Jamie Jams and Rocky really pull out the indie dance numbers. “It’s like we ate Pitchfork, stole your iPod and then rode off on your track bike.” Fri/10, 10pm-2am, $5-$10. Make-Out Room, SF. More info here.
VIVVY’S GRAND OPENING Mindfuck drag at its best and mindfuckingest. Every month, Vivvy comes up with something spectacular, be it two drag shows happening simultaneously, a 45-minute journey through a dystopian space colony, a very weird Cats, or a dozen drag queens interpreting the same song. Plus, all-night dancing. Fri/11, 10pm-4am, $10. The Stud, SF. More info here.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11
COLETTE AND HEATHER Two of Chicago’s finest, the legendary funky techno-house DJs drop in to launch the Great Northern dance floor into spacey-space. Sat/11, 9pm-3am, $10-$15. Great Northern, SF. More info here.
MOZHGAN Mozhgan is my favorite SF DJ right now. There’s something deeply fascinating going on in her goth-tinged psychedelic techno sets, which aren’t afraid to keep things slow and extremely sensuous, while wigging you out in witchy ways. She’ll be playing the upstairs lounge at Monarch all night for this party called “Alleys of your Mind.” pop in for a drink and a listen. Sat/11, 10pm-2am, free. Monarch, SF. More info here.
CHULITA VINYL CLUB Another total favorite of mine, a collective that delivers with vinyl! ” DJ Sin Amores, Spin & Sparkle, Leesa, La MalaVida and Lizzy will be on the decks. We’re starting the night out with oldies courtesy of Leesa, and then picking up the speed with cucucucumbia, funk, disco, and more.” Sat/11, 10pm-2am, free. The KnockOut, SF. More info here.
MIJA The LA producer brings a global-eared, funky twist to some of the more familiar dance floor sounds of recent years (think Major Lazer, reggaeton, crunk), and reinvigorates them in her own stellar way. Sat/11, 9:30-2am, $16-$28. Audio, SF. More info here.
LUMBERTWINK DJs Jimmy Swear and Spaz will play some sort of appropriate music for tons of gay bears in lumberjack gear. Please, please play this. Sat/11, 9pm, $4 in plaid flannel, $6 without. Lone Star Saloon, SF. More info here.
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FRI/16 THEY’RE HERE “Skin tingles in the dark. Flashing lights on your face. Throbbing in your ear…” The They’re Here party crew plays sweetly darker, harder tunes, celebrating the release of Sepehr’s debut EP “Body Mechanics” on Dark Entries Records. Label honcho Josh Cheon will be sipping up as well. 9pm-2am, $5. Underground SF. More info here.
FRI/16 GOLF CLAP It probably can’t quite equal the time I caught this excellent Detroit duo playing a cavernous space above a gay strip club deep in tha D at 5am, but it’s worth a shot at Audio. 10pm-2am, $10. Audio, SF. More info here.
FRI/16 DANCE TO STOMP OUT HUNGER A cavalcade of local tech stars hits the decks at this benefit for Cityteam SF, which has fed homeless people in the bay Area for 60 years. 9:30pm-2am, $5-$20. Monarch, SF. More info here.
FRI/16 LOOSE JOINTS I love this party. DJs Tom Thump and Damon Bell fill MakeOut Room with soul sounds: Boogie, disco, rare groove, afrobeat, latin, funk and more. 10pm-2am, $5 before 11, $10 after. MakeOut Room, SF. More info here.
FRI/16 CREATURE Who needs gender when you can dance however you like? The incredible Creature party moves on from the Stud with this star-studded finale, including DJs London Jade and Ophelia and oodles of post-drag insanity. 10pm-4am, $10. The Stud, SF. More info here.
FRI/16 ASHEQ عشق A queer Middle Eastern/North African dance party? YES PLEASE. 10pm-3am, $10. Oasis, SF. More info here.
FRI/16 oOoOO + ISLAMIQ GIRLS Oooh! OG Witchy house realness with oOoOO. Hosted by the 120 Minutes crew so you know it will be spoOoOOky. 10pm-2am, $15. Elbo Room, SF. More info here.
FRI/16 MAKEOUT PARTY Lock lips for Jell-O shots at this fabulously omnisexual patio party, with Robin Malone Simmons and Elaine Denham as your luscious house music DJs. 9pm-2am, $10. SF Eagle. More info here.
FRI/16 DIGITALISM The ecstatically accessible electronic duo fills August Hall with waving arms and sharp ideas. 10pm, $22.50. August Hall, SF. More info here.
SAT/17 AYBEE One of my absolute techno heroes, an astro-cultural explorer from Oakland (now in Berlin) who finds a sublime connection between afro-futurism and deeply-rooted grooves. He’s at the Mixed Forms party with Atlanta’s Ash Lauryn and more. 9pm-4am, $10-$20. The Stud, SF. More info here.
SAT/17 BONOBO I adore Bonobo when he’s behind the decks, bringing big moods and some highly delectable tunes. Oh, and all that charm. 9pm-late, $25. The Midway, SF. More info here.
SAT/17 RUSSELL E.L. BUTLER Check out this interview I did with Russell to see the full scope of their incredible, inclusive, political vision—and do come down to Vinyl Dreams on Saturday afternoon celebrate the release of their super-anticipated album The Home I’d Build For Myself And All My Friends. 2pm-8p, free. Vinyl Dreams, SF. More info here.
SAT/17 AFROLICIOUS SOUNDSYSTEM Soe of my favorite people on the scene, brothers Oz + Joe and crew, bringing some much-appreciated Afro-Latin funk and jazzy grooves (plus some killer classic house cuts) into the mix. 9pm-2am, $10-$15. monarch, SF. More info here.
SAT/17 PUSH THE FEELING: TOM NOBLE Lovely, glowing disco grooves with a DIY feel, at one of the cutest indie parties ever? Sign me all the way up. 9pm-2am, $7. Underground SF. More info here.
SAT/17 THE CRYSTAL METHOD People really like these guys! (Well, now just a single guy, since one of the duo retired last year.) They stepped in at that big beat moment in the ’90s when rave was briefly arena-sized (presaging EDM), with a funky slinkiness and overt drug references. A fun blast. 9:30pm-3:30am, $20-$25. More info here.
SAT/17 FRINGE: ROBYN TRIBUTE The Nordic electro-pop goddess of the gays/gals just released a new album, and adorable indie dance party Fringe is going to dance about it! 9pm-2am, $5. Madrone Art Bar, SF. More info here.
SUN/18 DISCO DADDY Bus Station John takes over the Eagle for his wildly popular tribute to the steamy disco-funk days of ever-relevant yore. “Dr. DISCO DADDY Sez: As Y’all Know, GOOD MUSIC Is GOOD MEDICINE! This Sunday We’re Gonna Take A Few Hours To Dance Off Our Troubles *AND Help Out Our Fellow Humans In Need, As We’ll Be Collecting Donations For Victims Of The California Wildfires (And Throwin’ In A Good $$$ Chunk From The Door!)” 7pm-2am, $7. SF Eagle. More info here.
SUN/18 CASUAL EUPHORIA: AN ASMR PARTY Do you love the way sounds make you feel? Come to this night of live ASMR demonstrations, with lots of tingles included. 10pm-2am, $5-$10 NOTAFLOF, The Stud, SF. More info here.
PARTY RADAR We’re getting a Museum of Capitalism! And it’s having a grand opening party! (Sat/17, 6-9pm, free. 55 Harrison, Oakland, in Jack London Square.) Dedicated to “educating future generations about the ideology, history, and legacy of capitalism,” it’s just the kind of fresh and clever Marxist pop-up art project we need this summer, when socialism seems more prominent than ever. There’s even, of course, a gift shop.
And of course a library, and a series of intriguing panels and programs, and an exhibit (that runs though August 20) of objects, art, and capitalist detritus composed by “a network of researchers, curators, artists, designers, filmmakers, writers, economists, historians, scientists, and non-specialists from all walks of life, including those with direct experience of capitalism.”
I am hoping there will be a lot more free parties, as well. For, as the great French critic of late capitalism Guy Debord pout it, “Never work.”
FRIDAY, JUNE 16
GREEN VELVET The kooky, techno-centric alter-ego of house legend Cajmere — which has almost eclipsed the original artist in terms of hits — comes to Temple, which has been experiencing its own changes (new entertainment programmers from Vegas.) Fri/16, 10pm, $20. Temple, SF. Tickets and more info here.
MNML: FUN ZETTABYTE RECORDS TAKEOVER The zazzy local techno label bites into this monthly party, with DJs Brian Boncher, Nihar Bhatt, Djunya, and Zettabyte founder and MNML:FUN resident Zita Molnar. Fri/16, free before 11, $5 after. Underground SF. More info here.
CREATURE Who doesn’t love a wild, non-gender-binary, multimedia throwdown in a 51-year-old queer bar? One of my favorite monthly parties in the city right now, just because it’s so crazy. Music by BEARCAT from Discwoman and Carrie Morrison. Fri/16, 10pm-4am, $10. The Stud, SF. More info here.
VIKEN ARMEN “Viken Arman, along with a generation of like-minded artists, is pushing the boundaries of electronic music not only towards the future, but also towards the past. Fusing ancient melodies with electronic beats to create magical vibes that go beyond dance music brings rich cultures together in mystical musical journeys.” OK then! Fri/16, 9:30pm-3:30am, $15-$20. Public Works, SF. Tickets and more info here.
DICK VAN DICK Beloved former boy of the Bay returns from NYC to rap it out with the Swagger Like Us crew for a queer explosion of delicious iunderground hip-hop. Fri/16, 10pm-3am, $10. Oasis SF. Tickets and more info here.
SATURDAY, JUNE 17
CON BRIO I love this funky local jazzy outfit, that always brings a party with its shows. Don’t miss them playing two nights at SFJAZZ. Sat/17 and Sun/18, 7:30pm, $25-$45. SFJAZZ. Tickets and more info here.
DANNY TENAGLIA Can’t get much more revered than this ever-smiling legend, who fused disco grooves to minimalist boom and birthed a lot of what we hear today. Sat/17, 10pm-6am, $30-$40. Halcyon, SF. Tickets and more info here.
FRINGE The sweetest indie-pop dance party in town is raising money for the Pride Indie Dance Stage (one of the really necessary diversifications of the endless boom-boom) — wear a bunch of LED rainbows and dance to LCD Soundsystem (and many more of course). Sat/17, 9pm, free before 10pm, $5 after. Madrone Art Bar, SF. More info here.
PAN POT Respected techno duo usually melts walls with their unstoppable drive. I’m very interested to hear how their sound has evolved, after so long as major proponents of hard-hitting Berlin sounds. Sat/17, 9:30pm-3:30am, $20. Public Works, SF. Tickets and more info here.
MAKEOUT PARTY The Eagle patio fills with queer omnisexual lip-smacking at this cute monthly, featuring DJs Sky Deep from Berlin and Sergio. Sat/17, 10pm, $10. The Eagle, SF. More info here.
THE JUAN MACLEAN I love this act, headed by the eponymous down-to-earth NYC guy who made me laugh for 20 minutes straight at a recent party there. He’ll be spinning his trusted brand of happy house and DFA indie bangers. Sat/17, 9:30pm-2:30am, $10-$15. Monarch, SF. Tickets and more info here.
SATURDAY NIGHT SOUL PARTY Rock em sock ’em rock ‘n roll em — this classic weekly joint is getting kicked in the jams by DJ Carnita of Hard French (RIP). Soul faves in the Mission? Si si! Sat/17, 10pm, $8. Elbo Room, SF. More info here.
STUDLY Disco edit genius Gay Marvine and techno poster boy Matthew Paul head up this party at the Stud, full of, duh, dancing studs. Sat/17, 10pm, $5 before 11, $10 after. The Stud, SF. More info here.
HELLA GAY It’s the eighth anniversary of this packed queer Oakland gem, with DJs GSTAR, Djkar Bear, and Bee. Sat/17, 9pm, $7. Uptown Nightclub, Oakland. More info here.
GLENN JACKSON “Buoyant instrumental disco that feels like a five-minute tropical vacation” form this Oakland player at one of my favorite parties, Push the Feeling, with a mixed and lovely vibe. Sat/17, 10pm, $7. Underground SF. More info here.
BEATPIG There’s a lot of great gay parties this weekend, so strap on a fork and stick it in. Case in point: this monthly “wild pig mess” affair, featuring DJs Stanley Frank and Juanita More. Sat/17, 10pm, $5 benefits Transgender Law Center. Powerhouse, SF. More info here.
SUNDAY, JUNE 18
LEE SCRATCH PERRY “Eccentric producer and Grammy winning reggae & dub artist “Lee “Scratch” Perry” hits the stage again, performing tunes off his classic Jamaican recordings from the Black Ark, as well as previewing his forthcoming album ‘Super Ape Returns To Conquer'” — all this plus Subatomic Sound System and the Dub Mission folks? Psychedelic bass-ness heaven. Sun/18, 8pm, $31. Mezzanine, SF. Tickets and more info here.
DISCO DADDY The fourth anniversary of this delightful disco affair at the Eagle, with Bus Station John plying his vinyl trade for the masses. Do head down. Sun/18, 7pm-2am, $5. The Eagle, SF. More info here.
DAYTIME REALNESS Drag stalwart Heklina’s 50th birthday celebration continues running amok at this sunny patio party, with DJs Carnita and Stanley Frank, and drag shows up the wazoo. Sun/18, 2pm-8pm, $10. El Rio, SF. More info here.
PARTY RADAR We’re more Carnaval than Mardi Gras folks around these parts when it comes to celebrations of … wait, what does Fat Tuesday celebrate again? But Carnaval isn’t until May, and hey, considering how much of SF’s population surprisingly comes from New Orleans, of course we’re not going to pass up an opportunity to get dressed up and drunk.
Live samba drummers and feather-bestrewn dancers will wend their way through spots like Make-Out Room, Latin American Club, El Rio, Pop’s Bar, Bissap Baobab, Cha Cha Cha, and more to brighten up your Hurricane slushie season.
THU/8 PUFF It’s a monthly queer marijuana appreciation drag happy hour for everyone! Join 48 Hills and Queers Love Weed for blast of drag and cabaret performance, plus DJ Sergio and lots of news about new local cannabis products. 7pm-10pm, $5-$10 (enters you into a raffle to win cool stuff). The Stud, SF. More info here.
THU/8 EXCISE: MILKPLANT, MAX GARDNER, MUON I love our local techno heads, and these three are superb. Excise is the record label—it just released Max Gardner’s subterranean whipper “Mona Loops,” for which this is the release party. On top of all that, this is a Direct to Earth party, which makes everything extra all right. 9pm-2am, FREE. F8, SF. More info here.
FRI/9 SNEAKER Wierdo new wave and Italo disco jams from this Dresden DJ favorite, who releases some great thonking edits under his Dunkeltier moniker. With DJ Lily Ackerman and Birds of Rhythm in the back room. 9pm-12am, $10. RS94109, SF. More info here.
FRI/9 TIJANA T Serbian DJ Tijana T sweeps in to the always stimulating Bloom party from the As You Like It crew. Do not miss opener Eris Drew, a young DJ mystic from Chicago who truly understands old school rave DNA. 9:30pm-4am, $15. Monarch, SF. More info here.
FRI/9 JONAH SHARP SF techno legend who freaked out the world as Spacetime Continuum celebrates the sixth anniversary of the Pulse Generator party, with Equilet in tow. 10pm-2am, $5. Underground SF. More info here.
FRI/9 ANNA MORGAN Very excited about this free party, an SF pre-launch for Costa Rica’s Envision Festival. NYC’s Morgan (appearing here with global bass maven Thornato) “highlights urban diaspora stories while catering to dance enthusiasts, spanning genres from jungle and footwork to halftime, hip-hop and house,” setting the groove firmly at the juncture of urban and tribal. 10pm-3am, free. 1015 Folsom, SF. More info here.
FRI/9 CONSUMER ELECTRONICS “Consumer Electronics is a punk / electro / noise trio comprising ageing renegade Philip Best (ex-Whitehouse), his wife, the US artist Sarah Froelich and acclaimed noise/techno guru Russell Haswell.” Expect avant-garde electronics, twisted beats, and apocalyptic performance poetry. 9:30pm, $20. The Lab, SF. More info here.
FRI/9 VIVVY’S GRAND OPENING She’s wacky, she’s wild…. she’s always hosting a grand opening! This monthly dragstravaganza from VivvyAnne ForeverMore has a lot of big ideas and a little bit of spit and polish. Don’t miss the go-go debut of club kid Matthew, as “pig in a wig.” 10pm-4am, $10. The Stud, SF. More info here.
FRI/9 SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO Crowd-pleasing techno from the well-established London duo that’s taken on a prettier, deeper, dare I say more mature texture since they’ve been relentlessly trotting the globe. 9pm-3:30am, $17-$30. Public Works, SF. More info here.
SAT/10 NON STOP BHANGRA It’s back! Co-winner of Best Dance Party 2017, and one of my favorite things ever, NSB comes back from winter break to get you whirling to irresistible bhangra beats. The dholrhythms dancers and DJ Jimmy Love (plus a bevy of special guests) invite you to share the love and wear red! 9pm-2am, $15-$20. Public Works, SF. More info here.
SAT/10 TECHNOCLAM WITH ANASTASIA KRISTENSEN The fabulous Technoclam collective/project/female-world-domination-scheme throws its third party, featuring this Danish DJ who “is an uncompromising force of nature that shifts sounds and tempos at a moment’s notice.” She’s on deck with local techno wiz Christina Chatfield, SF classic Qzen, and ExHouse. 9pm-4am, $12. The Stud, SF. More info here.
SAT/10 IF IN WINTER: A RADICAL VARIETY SHOW Raising funds for the family of Paul Clipson, the SF experimental film-maker giant who passed away last weekend. “An evening of short blasts of live performance: music, dance, drag, sound art and more. with a free raffle filled with radical prizes.” 7-9pm, donations requested. Alley Cat Books, SF. More info here.
SAT/10 PUNK ROCK BENEFIT FOR TENANTS’ UNION “BANDS: Squishers, My Name is Joe starting at 4 pm. BBQ with meat and veggie dogs, rainbow cheese plate, and extras. Free, donations requested by a man with a hat. Or renew your Tenants Union membership.
Our house is under Ellis act eviction, but temporarily safe due to advocates like SFTU and Tenderloin Housing Clinic.” 2pm-6pm, 2822 Folsom, SF. More info here.
SAT/10 SECOND HALLOWEEN “Let’s get rid of Valentine’s Day and replace it with second Halloween!” This is the third installment of the anti-V-Day costume extravaganza, with killer tunes from the likes of Charlotte the Baroness and the Brass tax crew, plus an all-vinyl room upstairs. Whee! 3pm-1am, $10-$15. Brix 581, SF. More info here.
SAT/10 POUND PUPPY: PUPPY LOVE The hounds of love are out at the ruff and ready monthly queer Pound Puppy party with the wonderful DJ Carrie On Disco headlining. 10pm-2am, $10. The Eagle, SF. More info here.
SAT/10 CHAOS IN CBD Charming New Zealand duo bring their chugging, lo-fi sound to the Brouhaha party—and they’re bringing Australia’s Andras with them for some great grooves. 10pm-4am, $20. F8, SF. More info here.
PARTY RADAR As local nightlife still reels from the loss of Bubbles, the beloved club kid/DJ/artist who was shot to death last weekend, of course we are all coming together to help raise funds for the Bubbles cause, and hold our own special dance floor memorials. Bubbles’ friend Nada has set up a memorial fund and is in contact with Bubbles’ family. We persevere in pressuring the police to investigate this as a hate crime and catch the killer. Meanwhile, parties are being planned apace:
Thu/14 at Bissap Baobab is Beats for Bubbles, featuring eclectic sounds with DJ Dot and Moto Tembo (9pm-12am, $5 after 10pm)
Fri/29 is Abscheidfraulein Bubbles at the Eagle, which is having quite a few local celebrities. This was originally planned by Bubbles as a going away party, as he was leaving to start a new life in Berlin. It’s now planned as a festive, more profound going away. No event page up yet, but here’s the flyer. 9pm-late with DJs Bonnie Ford, Mozghan, Solar, Charlotte the Baroness, Cole and lightshow by Donovan.
October 28 — can you imagine A Sea of Bubbles? Throw on the nearest dreadlocked blonde wig and denim hot pants and join in, as Terra Gallery hosts a giant party for Bubbles lookalikes — they’re going for 1000. This is such a genius idea and Bubbles would have loved it. 10pm-2am.
TWO MORE BUBBLES WOULD LOVE This week sees two marvelous performers who seem to split the difference between Bubbles’ politically artistic and hilariously hysterical sides. Legendary NYC artist Taylor Mac slayed the scene there last year in the show of the year: His 24-hour performance of the story of the United States through song and drag and performance, “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music.” Insane! He’s not going 24-hours all-in here in SF, but definitely going all-out with a series of appearances at the Curran that divides the epic into four parts, starting this Friday and continuing over the next two weekends. Don’t miss this! More info here.
Meanwhile, everybody’s favorite ditzy blonde “illegitimate lovechild of Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine” — the one who can hold a high C for 12 bars while she downs a can of Cheez Wiz — is in town from P-town at Oasis through Sun/17 with her new show “Bad Heroine.” Varla Jean Merman will make you spit out your martini and make you want to run on stage and hug her in gratitude. I love her to death, and this show looks funny as all get-out. More info here.
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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
WOLF & LAMB & SOUL CLAP Boston’s finest foursome — two duos who meld seamlessly, and are responsible for digging up the most exquisite r&b and underground house jams of the late 2000s, come in to tear the roof of the Great Northern. Fri/15, 9:30pm-3:30am, $20. Great Northern, SF. Tickets and more info here.
DEATH ON THE BALCONY Arg, another fantastic duo I don’t want to miss! Friday’s gonna be hard, y’all. The UK twosome brings a deep sense of complexity and joyful detail to their techno-house sets, unafraid to be ruminative and take flight to the stratosphere. An Akbar Music showcase also featuring Martin Aquino and Tyrel Williams. Fri/15, 10pm-4am, $10-$20. Halcyon, SF. Tickets and more info here.
THE QUEEN IS DEAD Who does not like the Smiths, and related Brit bands? Who does not like it when Morrissey rips his shirt off at the end of a song? OK, don’t answer that second question — Beefcake is Murder! — but do go to this swell party, plating your favorite Marr + Moz + beyond. Fri/15, 9pm-2am, free with RSVP. Bar Fluxus, SF. RSVP and more info here.
CREATURE One of the most SF of SF parties — a gender-free wonderland of outlandish performance, punk attitude, lovely people from all over, and underground vibe. This month’s theme is illumination so you know there’s something special planned. Fri/15, 10pm-4am, $10. The Stud, SF. More info here.
JACOB GROENING & JASCHA HAGEN Lovely deep techno from two German visitors in an intimate loft. Fri/15, 9:30pm-3am, $10-$20. Public Works, SF. Tickets and more info here.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
CHRIS CRUSE The leading light of LA’s infamous Spotlight parties, which showcases underground queer sounds, pops by on a global jaunt to bring his uniquely yummy sound o the world. He’ll be at the Mixed Forms party, which itself is making some underground waves. This, too, is a fundraiser for Bubbles — so come dance and support. Sat/16, 9pm-4am, $10-$20. The Stud, SF. Tickets and more info here.
TORNADO WALLACE The beardy, hypnotic techno wonder froDown Under comes back to whip Monarch into a frenzy. Sat/16, 10pm-3:30am, $10-$20. Monarch, SF. Tickets and more info here.
FRINGE The cutest little indie dance party (which actually gets quite packed!) is having a “Glitter Bash,” so you can have a little glam with your wham-bam. Glitter Friends will be on hand for glitter face-painting, with DJs Blondie K and SubOctave turning up the sparkle. Sat/16, 9pm-2am, $5. Madrone, SF. More info here.
MAKEOUT PARTY “Who’s in my mouth?” Get ready to lock lips at this omnisexual dance party (you’ll get a Jell-O shot if you do it for the camera!) With too cute — and too good — DJs Robin Malone Simmons and Elaine Denham. Sat/16, 10pm-2am, $10. Eagle SF. More info here.
LES NUBIANS The gorgeously talented “Afropean” sisters Hélène and Célia Faussart pop back into town from recording a new album in Detroit to give us a touch of their live, worldly R&B magic. Sat/16, 9pm, $22-$25. New Parish, Oakland. Tickets and more info here.
BEATPIG Can’t beat the combination of drag goddess Juanita More, host Walter Gomez, DJ Stanley Frank, and a club full of cute, scruffy, gay boys. Sat/16, 10pm-2am, $5. Powerhouse, SF. More info here.
PUSH THE FEELING One of my favorite little monthly indie-electronic dance parties is always a good time, featuring Plaza, Ilya, Johnny Nunes, and Kevin Meenan. Sat/16, 10pm-2am, $7. Underground SF. More info here.
DAD: DUDES AND DISCO How much do I love super-cutie DJs Michael Romano and Kelly Naughton? Thiiiiiiis much. Their party at Driftwood will rock your dad-bod. With special guest legend DJ Jim Hopkins. Sat/16, 9pm, $5. Driftwood, SF. More info here.
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PARTY RADAR This is one of those “too much of a good thing” weekends in San Francisco. If most of the nightlife fam isn’t sucked into the vortex of moonlit rave wonder and glitter-soaked sleeping bags that is the Sunset Campout (Fri/27-Mon/30)—featuring a million DJs and some crazy water-floaty action—then it down on its, ahem, dancefloor celebrating “Folsom Street Fair’s dirty little brother” the Up Your Alley Fair, aka Dore Alley Fair Sun/29, noon-6pm. (There are now almost as many parties built around this annual gay street fair as around Folsom itself—look for the little 🐷 below for Dore-related parties.) There’s plenty of other choices for those neither inclined toward woods nor woodies, so get out there! It’s “summer”!
>> PARTIES OF NOTE <<
🐷 Thu/26 AMBUSHMister Drummer 1979 is a party crew that resurrects legendary leather bars for one night only inside other nightclubs. In honor of Dore Alley Fair, it’s fêting the Ambush (1973-1986) which drew leather-clad revelers to 1351 Harrison—and also honoring the “Lautrec of leather”, illustrator Chuck Arnett, who provided the spot with its distinguished promo looks (see above). With DJs Mozhgan and Matthew Paul. 9pm-2am, $10. Underground SF. More info here.
Thu/26-Sun/29 GRAY AREA FESTIVALAn action packed weekend of experimental digital wonders and fabulous music, as technology and nightlife intertwine—featuring Hundred Waters, Machine Drum, Lily Ackerman, and many more. Gray Area, SF. More info here.
🐷 Thu/26 THE TUBESTEAK CONNECTIONEvery Thursday, DJ Bus Statio John transforms the charmingly rugged Aunt Charlie’s Lounge in the Tenderloin into a tribute to the gay bathhouse disco cruising days of yore. Come down for a little taste of old school vibes with a new school crowd at this special Dore edition. 10m-2am, $5. Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, SF.
Thu/26 CLUB BEAUTIFUL: SKATEPARK One of the wackiest drag shows and dance parties around lands on this theme this month: “Don’t cry over the loss of Warped Tour just yet. This month Club Beautiful: Skatepark celebrates the divas that inspired drag queens the world over: L7, Courtney Love, Sleater Kinney, No Doubt, Paramore. It smells like hormones and angst.” OK! 10pm-1am, $10. Elbo Room, SF. More info here.
Thu/26 ENVELOP W/ PARAMOUR AND PIANO RAIN“Immersive live performances from diverse artists and DJs working with Envelop for Live, our open-source spatial audio production tool set.” Sounds technical, but it’s a lovely showcase for Oakland’s great Piano Rain and producers Roche and Bleie as Paramour. 7:30pm, $30. Midway, SF. More info here.
🐷 Thu/26 JUNK: DORE ALLEY EDITIONAn underwear contest hosted by one of my favorite queen, Dulce De Leche, with tons of “pop up” surprises no doubt (and DJ Bougie, too). 9pm-2am, $5. Powerhouse, SF. More info here.
Fri/27 PENDER STREET STEPPERS The Canadian duo always brings the spirits down with their soulful mixes. Here, they’re joined by fellow Canadian act Project Pablo at the Brouhaha party. 9:30pm-3:30am, $20 advance. Public Works loft, SF. More info here.
Fri/27 EROL ALKAN The ravey-delight Lights Down Low party brings in the Turkish-Cypriot (via London) DJ and producer for an extended moment: “We’re giving Erol Alkan full control of Audio’s powerful sound system and immersive lighting, presenting his unifying and unpredictable vision of club culture for 6 hours. On a winding musical journey that has seen Alkan thrive as a producer, chameleonic remixer and radio host, from the era of seminal club ‘Trash’ to the present day, his spiritual home has been in the DJ booth.” 10pm-3:30am, $20. Audio, SF. More info here.
Fri/27 CLUB LONELY “Freeky Foggy Houz Music 4 Our Friends-N-Fam 4″—exactly! This sone of my favorite parties in SF, with a true underground feel and an incredible crowd. DJs Primo, Vin Sol, and Jeremy Castillo light up Club OMG’s weird domed dancefloor with classics and more. 10pm-2am, $10. Club OMG, SF. More info here.
🐷 Fri/27 UHAUL Dirty fun isn’t just for dudes! This beloved (and hilariously-named) lesbian party gets naughty at the Stud with “LEATHER, LACE, WHIPS, CHAINS, DARK AREAS” and DJs Ms. Jackson and Jibbz. 10pm-3am, $15. The Stud, SF. More info here.
🐷 Fri/27 BETA The Fog City Pack, a herd o’ pervy pups, brings in some great DJs for this play (in al senses) party: Clark Price from the Honcho techno crew in Pittsburgh, Brian Rojas from Atlanta’s Deep South parties, Otterbots’ Charley Ten and Michael Romano, and Fog City Pups Astro and Fawks. Arooooo! 10pm-4am, $40. Club Six, SF. More info here.
Fri/27 BAUERNFIENDRecord store RS94109 throws the best instore parties: This time Berlin DJ Bauernfiend team’s up with owner Sohrab for a night of fun tunes and outlaw feelings. 8pm-midnight, $5. RS94109, SF. More info here.
Fri/27 JUANITA MORE LISTENING PARTYThe drag goddess celebrates the release of two of her tracks on vinyl—at a pot club, of course. There will be dancing and shenanigans, with DJ Josh Cheon, a dab bar, and lots more. Buy the record for $15 to benefit Trans Youth – Truth Project. 6pm-9m, free. SPARC, SF. More info here.
🐷 Sat/28 LOVE HANGOVER: GAY MARVINEAfternoon dancing to killer disco edits at the bear bar? Why yes, oui oui, sí sí. Detroit’s Gay Marvina pulls out all the stops for pre-Dore lust and lunges. 3pm-9pm, $5-$10. Lone Star, SF. More info here.
Sat/28 GOLF CLAP So much love for this Detroit duo that beats a dancefloor up with energetic house sounds. If you like to bounce to bass, this is your destination. With “spacey to bassy” Brooklynite Codes. 10pm-4am, $5-$20. Halcyon, SF. More info here.
🐷 Sat/28 DEAR PERVERTS Earlier this year, the Stud received hate mail from some preacher telling us we were all going to hell or whatever—but the hilarious part was that it started out “Dear Perverts.” Perfect name for a party! And a chance to showcase the best local queer techno DJ talent of SF. With Trevor Sigler, Oscar Pineda, and Siobhan Aluvalot. 10pm-4am, $5-$10. the Stud, SF. More info here.
🐷 Sat/28 SNEAKS Folks who say classic fetishist looks are dead need to lace up their trainers and head to Sneaks, the Dore party for athletic-wear addicts that is in fact one of the best ragers of the year. True quality house and techno tunes from DC’s Keenan Orr and StrikeStone! plus our own Chuck Gunn, Jr. and the Polyglamorous crew. MUST WEAR SNEAKERS. (I’ll be turning out some luxury athleisure/retro health goth styles.) 10pm-6am, $50. Club Six, SF. More info here.
🐷 Sat/29 MASTER & SERVANTOur pre-eminent practitioner of darkwave and rare synth cuts of the past and present, Josh Cheon, joins up with bondage master Mark Sade for live demos. 9pm-2am, $10. SF Eagle. More info here.
Sat/28 A CLUB CALLED RHONDA Chicago house legend Boo Williams headlines this adored pansexual party from LA. You better not miss Rhonda! 9:30pm-3:30am, $5-$15. Monarch, SF. More info here.
Sat/28 MNML:FUN A banging techno experience from some awesome players at this maximally fun party. Featuring Cavalier and Count + Dragon, with the MNML:FUN players.
🐷 Sun/29 AIRTIGHTIf you don’t know the sexual definition of “airtight,” I’m not going to go into it here—but I’m not gonna recommend you Google it at work, either. Anyhoo, this will be a dyke-centered rager (“boys we love you, but leave those circuit party vibes at the door, K?”) during the daytime during and right after Dore, with a brilliant lineup: The Creatrix, gayphex twin, DJ Gag Reflex, bondage demos, and more. 2pm-9pm, $5-$8. The Stud, SF. More info here.
🐷 Sun/29 HARD FRENCH DOES DORE ALLEY The city’s cutest queer soul party rubs your face in fun, bringing in DC’s Baronhawk, LA’s amazing live-techno wonder Marvina7, and more for a post-fair, free-for-all fooforang sure to get your juices flowing. 6pm-midnight, $10. Oasis SF. More info here.
🐷 Sun/29 COMPOUND The name sounds serious, but this is really a cute getaway from the hurly burly of the man-fair, up to Oasis’s awesome rooftop deck for a cocktail and a look-see at all the action below.2pm-6pm, free. Oasis SF. More info here.
🐷 Sun/29 SUNDIES Sunday funday underwear! DJ Collin Bass pumps out the tunes at this tighty-whitey, big-and-bearish party. 9pm-2am, free. Lone Star Saloon, SF.More info here.
🐷 Sun/29HARDER New York’s naughty dance party lands in SF for Dore Alley, with lots of queer energy to help you power into the week. DJs Mike Etc, Juan, and the awesome Eric Bloom make sure there’s lots of musical twists and turns. 9pm-4am, $15-$20. The Stud, SF. More info here.
PARTY RADAR That disco music has been the recent historical music of oppressed people of color and queers is a cliche — but that doesn’t mean it’s any less true. Or useful, since we seem to be entering another time where we’ll need to gather together at underground spots and hold each other on the dance floor.
Thus it’s a perfect moment to celebrate our most “authentic” disco (and more) experience — DJ Bus Station John’s weekly Thursday night party at Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, The Tubesteak Connection, which, on Thu/10, becomes the longest-running weekly party in San Francisco. For twelve and a half years, Bus Station John has transformed beloved Tenderloin dive bar (hanging plants! carpeted dance floor! popcorn machine! too-strong drinks!) into a direct tribute to gay bathhouse discos past, with vintage porn on the walls, cheeky retro beefcake videos playing onscreen, DIY lighting and special effects, and a strict “no cell phones” policy.
And of course there is extraordinary music. Bus Station John spins rare vinyl disco and funk (plus more) classics from pre-1983, many of them gleaned from record collections of men who died of AIDS. Disco nights that stretch beyond the wedding party hits may seem common now, but a dozen years ago they were mostly unheard of, outside of corny (and sometimes pretty racist and heteronormative) retro ’70s night. Besides carving a space out for older gay people to reminisce, The Tubesteak Connection has provided a necessary education to young gay men — especially DJs and party people who would otherwise not encounter such wonderful, organic sounds in their native habitat. The party is a legend, and as San Franciscan as high school students marching from their classrooms to protest Trump’s election (happening as I write this).
Below is my lively email conversation with Bus Station about the Tubesteak Connection, the long arc of disco, and the contemporary gay nightlife scene.
48 HILLS Congratulations on becoming the longest continuously-running gay weekly party in SF nightlife history! I know you’ve been counting the days! How many Tubesteak Connections is that? Has there been a “secret formula” in managing your longevity?
DJ BUS STATION JOHN Thanks, Mx. Bieschke! That would be 655 Thursdays — I did the math, ha ha. A seamless DJ blend of perseverance and insanity? Seriously, I’d say it’s still going because of my drive to share the rare vintage dance music I have such a passion for, mixed with the gorgeous inspiration I’ve gotten from the thousands of people who’ve visited my tiny, threadbare, carpeted dance floor at Aunt Charlie’s since that fateful spring night back in 2004.
48HWith the Tubesteak Connection you’ve maintained the same basic format through the years, even as the nightlife world continues to swirl and change around you. You’ve now entertained generations of gay clubgoers. How would you characterize the importance of what you do?
DJ BSJ Wow, generations! Yeah, it’s pretty wild to think of how I’ve watched so many of these kids “grow up” in the bar, seeing them through from their ’20s into their ’30s, or their ’30s into their ’40s. Now a lot of them are complaining about being “old,” ha ha. Honey, I was already “old” when we started! Anyway, it took a long time before I began to consider that what i do might have a larger significance than just throwing parties, and I’ve thrown a lot of them, starting around the turn of the century with TRASH at the Powerhouse, then Tubesteak Connection at Aunt Charlie’s, followed by The Rod at Deco Lounge, Double Dutch Disco at The Transfer, MANQUAKE! at The Gangway, Le Perle Degli Squallor & Love Will Fix It at Hot Spot, and currently DISCO DADDY! at The SF Eagle and occasionally Akbar in L.A..
There have been many peaks (and a few valleys) over the years, but that The Tubesteak Connection should make it to this milestone is pretty great. It means the world to me that a club that’s about old-school Tenderloin realness rather than mainstream branding is taking the crown for The City’s longest-running GLBTQIAXYZ#@%!!! weekly party, especially in our current gentrified climate. To my mind, this truly represents what the real spirit of the San Francisco is all about.
48H You’ve preserved a glorious past moment in gay culture for so many years. Has the Tubesteak Connection taken on different meanings for new audiences as time has progressed?
DJ BSJ I’ll start off by saying that despite the supposed impending demise of gay bars and parties (and the proliferation of sex apps), this night is and always will be a homo-centric gathering place. The fact is, a great many gay men still want to find tricks & lovers, friends & boyfriends, live-in-the-flesh the good old-fashioned way, in a space created specifically with that desire in mind. The Tubesteak Connection serves that purpose while continuing to be a connecting thread to our gay night-lives past. Is it still a musical celebration of gay bathhouse-era culture? I’d say aesthetically, visually, yes, but the music has expanded well beyond its original “bathhouse” parameters as I’ve discovered more and more musical treasures from multiple dance genres over the years — so in addition to the gays, the club attracts music heads of all orientations.
In terms of audiences, I’m not sure we or any other club will ever be quite as colorfully-freaky as we used to be, since the demographics of San Francisco have changed so dramatically. What was once “Gay Mecca” has become largely inhospitable to the new generations of young queens who’ve historically come here to find themselves and in turn create new waves of alternative queer culture. They can’t afford to move here — and, heart-breakingly, so many others (of all ages) have had to leave, including many of the characters, creatives, and tastemakers who’ve contributed so much to the scene
Where does that leave us? It’s tempting to say we’re fated to live in a pretty but blanded-out husk of a city, overrun by a flood of “normals” — and sometimes it seems that way. The good news is there are still enough interesting people here — as well as tourists (fresh meat!) –to make for a lively party. I’m lucky because the people I attract, regardless of their socio-economic status, have a clue — they’re into the vibe, the music, and can handle the no-cell phone policy, and the ones who can’t don’t come back.
48H How have you changed since starting the club, personally or as a DJ?
DJ BSJ You mean in addition to morphing into a big-bellied, big-bearded “bear-daddy?” Well, I think you know that for many years I’d earned a reputation for being secretive — even territorial — about my fave rare vintage dance tracks. And the truth is, I was. It totally worked my nerves that treasures I’d dug so long and hard for — spending countless hours in record stores, dusty basements, garages & other interesting places — were suddenly becoming available on the internets at the click of a mouse. This is coming from a vinyl addict who at times had blackened fingertips from diggin’ the crates in her feverish quest for that next great cut.
It took a long time for me to make my peace with this reality. Then one day i thought, “ya know, the technological Pandora’s box has been opened, and there’s absolutely nothin’ I can do about it, so I’d best chill out & see how I can work with it.” I also came to the rather obvious realization that, in the end, it really is all about the music, music with soul, creativity, musicianship & imagination that stands the test of time, music that can still fill dance floors 35+ years later. In this digital world where most dance and pop songs are disposable “product,” people are starved for something real — so whatever means we can use to turn more people onto the good stuff can only be a good thing. I’ll even admit I’ve discovered my fair share of vintage goodies online via Youtube and Discogs.
So, yes, these days you’ll find a changed, mellower, hopefully more giving BSJ behind the turntables. I still have a large cache of gems I wanna keep special, just as a magician doesn’t want to give away all of his secrets — but now, more often than not, I’m happy to spread the love & tell you what i’m playing — so never be afraid to ask. (No more fear of being caught and Shazam-shamed behind the DJ curtain — yay!)
48H When I interviewed you 11 years ago for the Bay Guardian, you said, “I don’t see what I do as conscious rebellion, just my natural reaction to the steady decline of gay culture and nightlife over the last 20 years.” More than a decade on, do you still see gay culture in decline – despite major advances in civil rights and a surge of interest in the art, nightlife, and fashion of the AIDS and pre-AIDS era?
DJ BSJ Civil rights are great, but gay mainstreaming and conformity have also increased as well, and I see that as a form of decline after decades if not centuries of queens being on the cutting-edge. We want fewer boring people, not more, ha ha. Social networking –like cell phones, a massive phenomenon now but barely a thing when I first started the club — can bring people together in a good way but other times ends up compartmentalizing them, dividing the nightlife community into groups of queens who only want to hang out with those who most closely mirror themselves. I do understand someone looking at facebook and going “hey, that hot guy’s gonna be at this party, maybe we’ll have sex, count me in!” That’s cool, but then the whole concept of diversity kind of goes out the window — and the music can easily become secondary to socializing, even when there are “name” djs on the decks.
48H Aunt Charlie’s is one of the last of its breed. What does it mean to you?
DJ BSJ There are fewer and fewer spaces left in San Francisco for the non-monied classes to hang—the working poor, the queer, the old folks, the oddballs, people of every color and stripe who don’t fit into “The New San Francisco,” and have no desire to. Aunt Charlie’s offers us a refuge. Yes, bachelorette parties have largely appropriated the Hott Boxx Girls’ shows on the weekends — drag queens are catnip to the “woo” chicks — but the rest of the time Aunt Charlie’s can be pretty magic. We have an amazing family of regulars, day-drinkers, night-drinkers, bartenders who range in age from 30-ish to 90(!), super-cheap, super-stiff drinks, free food on holidays, tons of benefits, High Fantasy on Tuesdays and The Tubesteak Connection on Thursdays. While the bar has yet to succumb and disappear like so many others have — and I’m happy to report that we’re not going anywhere anytime soon — it still needs the support of people who appreciate the charms of a classic gay dive.
It does get my dander up when one of our city’s beloved institutions dies, as so many have in recent years, and people just click some little sad face emoji and cry extra loud on facebook about how terrible it is. My response to that is, “Honey, when’s the last time YOU showed face and supported?” Queens need to represent now more than ever. Start by stepping up and (re)claiming your cruising grounds. Non-LGBTQ people who are truly our allies understand and respect the fact that we still need a few places on this planet to call our own — and they know when to gracefully step back so we can maybe find a little app-free man-to-man action.
48H Yay, man-to-man action! Let’s talk more about the music. You “revived” disco before trends like disco edits, nu-disco, and the disco rival via Daft Punk etc. became mainstream. How has it felt to watch this music morph and change in pop culture over the past decade?
DJ BSJ To be honest, I haven’t paid a lot of attention because I don’t find most of what I’ve heard nearly as compelling as the original music. Many of the kids mistake nu disco, edits and the like for actual disco, having not been exposed to the real thing. This is where it’s on older DJs like me, Steve Fabus, Lester Temple and Jim Hopkins among others to educate the dance floor by playing dedicated disco sets — we lived the music the first time around and know our onions, ha ha.
Speaking of “the music,” I have to confess that over the years I’ve rather lazily let my style be defined by others who use “disco” as a convenient umbrella term for all old-school dance music. It’s been simpler than explaining that I cover a lot of ground from the mid-70’s through the early 80’s, playing not only rare disco, but an eclectic mixture of hi-NRG, funk, soul, R&B, “boogie,” electrofunk, italo/eurodisco, new/no wave, left-field, very early hip hop and more recently, even throwing in a touch of early house — so I’ve just kind of gone with it. It’s been cute to be dubbed “SF’s Godfather of Bathhouse Disco,” but it’s always been a challenge to figure out a name for what i really do — I’ve never wanted to paint myself into a corner. I follow my muse in the moment, rarely planning anything in advance; I just try to keep the (disco) ball in the air and the dance floor humming.
I try not to let public expectations come into play too much, though I sometimes fret over potentially disappointing the older gay man who comes to the club after reading about me, waiting to have her hi-NRG bathhouse flashback, only to find I’m in an italo-disco mood when he shows up. Or the young italo head who came for quirky synthetic beats & chirpy vocals and unexpectedly got served some soulful disco-funk instead. Hopefully they both stick around anyway and have a good time. My best advice for first-time visitors (besides phones only in the bathrooms or outside) is to keep an open mind and expect the unexpected.
48H You also prefigured “the new gay underground,” as it’s been called — exemplified by groups like Honey Soundsystem, Honcho, Men’s Room, etc. — that used the imagery and sometimes the music (thinking of Dark Entries Records’ popularization of hi-NRG here Patrick Cowley here) to transform gay nightlife away from circuit parties and towards a different kind of more “authentic”-feeling gay experience, one that was hyperconscious of history, but embraced the latest underground techno and house. Many of its participants have directly acknowledged you as a source of inspiration. How do you feel about this movement?
DJ BSJ I’m down for anything that steers our nightlife away from the circuit-pop / ‘tween-girl top 40 video mess that predominates in gay venues worldwide, so good on these guys—but while a “new queer underground” sounds sexy & intriguing, “underground” as we once knew it is no longer really exists, as most modern parties are typically facebook-driven. For better or worse, everything’s on the internets, so a lot of the mystery of going out has been lost. Even my classic tea dance DISCO DADDY! (though it’s administered by “myveryclosefriend,” Scott Tobereal, wink-wink) is on Facebook, albeit at the Eagle’s behest. I personally am still holding out, participating minimally in social networking and rarely featuring myself (i don’t have a BSJ page) or The Tubesteak Connection. There are no facebook invites for Thursdays; as always, I promote the night via flyers and rely on word-of-mouth (and, as a nod to the 20th century, an email list, ha ha), so you never know in advance who’s gonna show up, and i love that unpredictability. I reckon we’re as “underground” as a club can be in an internet age.
To answer your question, it feels nice to be acknowledged as an inspiration; I think it’s the best gift humans can give each to other. And I respect and admire the dedication Josh & the Honey boys have shown in rescuing the “lost” Patrick Cowley tapes. I was actually invited to go through the vinyl in John Hedges’ record dungeon (the DJ of yore who handed down large chunks of his vast collection to both HSS & myself before moving to Palm Springs), & saw a bunch of tapes sitting on a shelf as i was digging through her basement. I looked at their labels and thought “wow, this is history, I’m sure she’ll want to hold onto these” (plus they were kinda funky-mildew-y), so I left them behind. I’m glad HSS had the presence of mind, technological means, motivation & social-networking skills to clean them up and present them to the world. If I’d picked them up, they’d probably still be moldering somewhere in my archives, ha ha.
Aesthetically, it’s been nice to see some of the kids put more old-school homo style & creativity into their “looqs” and graphic designs, especially after years of hum-drum GAP separates haunting our big city streets, not to mention all the utterly unimaginative glossy club posters featuring interchangeable photo-shopped porn stars — but musically what I’m looking for are those moments which transcend the surface aspects of a retro revival trend and sincerely bring the old-school music to the dance floor. What really makes me happy is hearing new guard DJs who have a genuine, deep appreciation for disco & an eagerness to learn more about its history — the ones who wet their pants at the mere thought of digging for and playing the old records — they’re the ones who warm my cockles. Among these would be locals like Kenneth L. Kemp, “Lil’ John” Cartwright, Joe Prince Wolfe, Carrie Morrison, and Chaka Quan. While some of them mix old & new stuff together, which may not be my personal cup of fur, they feel and unabashedly love the original old-school music. When I hear them play disco, it’s a passing-of-the-torch, full-circle moment.
48H Name three things you’d like to see more (or less) of in the San Francisco night life scene.
DJ BSJ 1. Fewer glowing screens, cell, plasma, or otherwise
2. More vocals
3. More (tubesteak) connections!
THE TUBESTEAK CONNECTION officially becomes the longest continuously-running weekly club in SF history Thursday November 10th 10pm-2am / $5-20 sliding-scale cover Aunt Charlie’s Lounge 133 Vicki Mar Lane & Gene Compton’s Cafeteria Way (aka Turk & Taylor) Partial proceeds will benefit The San Francisco Night Ministry As always, this is a cell phone-free event.
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.”
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.