Oakland Ghost ship fire is a tragic day in house music history

You know the more i hear about this absolute tragedy in Oakland at the Ghost Ship wherehouse, i can not help but compare the party on friday night to one of the parties we had back in the day of early underground rave parties.  Not only would and did we do parties in places like this we also broke into abandoned wherehouses, turned on a generator or 3 and powered up.   This tragedy could have very easily happened to us at our parties any number of times.

There was an incident back in the early 90’s where a hillside caught fire on private land at a party in Livermore.  Thank heavens the promoters of this party were not only conscience but also on the ball by having a water truck on site and acting quickly. I remember that fire. (see videos below) It didnt last long and it didn’t get  very big, but i do remember it  being scary all the same.  The thoughts of the whole hillside going up in flames and us getting trapped crossed my mind a few times that night.

 

 

There was also a party that i went to in the early 90’s that was at the Fashion Center in San Francisco.  It was in the basement and i remember someone letting out the contents out of a fire extinguisher.  I remember that you could not breathe.  You just wanted to get out of there and find some air.  No one could see where an exit was with all the smoke from the smoke machine and people smoking and the fire extinguisher contents.  It was just like thick white smoke that you could not breathe.  It was terrifying.  I was lucky i was able to remember what color lights were near an exit.  But people did not know where to go.  There was nowhere to run.  Luckily that situation ended without any injuries.  We were lucky no one was trampled.

So when i hear about this absolute tragedy it hits very close to home.  I feel we all got very lucky that there was nothing like this that we ever had to contend with when we were throwing parties in a similar fashion.

My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of this fire.  They predict that the count of victims may be over 100 people to parish.  It is unthinkable.  All young people just starting their lives who just wanted to go and enjoy some good house music.  It is an extremely sad day in house music.

I dont know exactly how this is going to change the way people put parties together but i guarantee that there will be changes.  We can say goodbye to any spaces with code violations which unfortunately means probably greater loss of artists and musicians and bohemians to the fabric of our communities and will force more gentrification within the bay which is also a tragedy.

I will say thank you to the people who put on all of the parties that i attended as a young person.  And that they had been more aware of safety than i was clearly aware of.  If this had happened back in my day, it would have practically ended all of the house music parties on the spot.  The rave movement would have ended before it started.

House music usually heals.  But on this dark week, it killed. 😦

 

**my prayers and hope goes out to all the family and friends and loved ones of the victims of the Ghost Ship Party.  You are all in my thoughts!

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To take us back to the real stuff! The true timeless house music of the early 1990s!

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This one for me personally is dedicated to DJ Aaron O of San Francisco’s Love Garage held at King Street Garage. He was one of the first of our scene to pass and one of the last friends i really remember dying from AIDS (thankfully!). Aaron was a resident DJ at Love garage in 1993 and any and every time i hear this track, i think of him and the amazing music and times we had with the true amazing early 1990’s house music! Here is to you Aaron! You will live forever in my memory as this tune does….

This is how cool San Francisco USED to be! Boy those days were GOOD!! **UPDATE!!

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My friends started this company called Bulletproof in San Francisco in the early 1990’s. Continue reading

Oh how things have changed for me… (from High School to House music… some of the things that influenced who i became….)

I have not always been the person you may see me as today.  As a girl growing up I was much sweeter and sentimental and isolated.  I suppose that is because i lived in a well grounded, well loved and well disciplined family out in the redwoods with little to influence me into bad things other than maybe being defiant or talking back.  But, when you get grounded and can not watch tv or talk on the phone and live near no friends or civilization, (keep in mind that this was in the days of no computers, cel phones or hand held devices let alone more than 4 channels to watch on tv… no cable) one tends to stay in line pretty much.  Plus i always wanted my parents to be proud of me and i felt terrible if they were ever disappointed in me.  Psychological manipulation!  Boy it sure worked like a charm on my brother and me.

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I lived in this lush dark wonderland for the first 14 years of my life.  By the time i had gotten to Junior High, i had gone my entire k-6 education in the same school and the last 2 years with the same teacher! (Hi Ms. Daniels!).

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I had tried out at the end of 6th grade to be a cheerleader in 7th grade.  I made the squad so that pretty much kept me busy after school after we moved into the big house in 8th grade.

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I think i may have been the last generation of kids that lived their high school years closer to the way the movies in the 80’s portrayed.  To give you an idea of how different things were back then, the first year i was in high school, we had a smoking section ON CAMPUS!  The next year, they said they (the smokers) had to go down the trail to smoke.  I only walked down the trail a couple times because my car was usually on the other side of campus since i lived a 20 minute drive from school.  The trail was a side cut down into town, with no room for cars to pull over or park.  I never felt weird going down the trail.  I had friends down there too.  I had friends in the library, in the Ag dept.  In the quad, in the doughnut, and in the art room.

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Everyone was friends with everyone.  There was little divide by color.  More by the sport (or activity but since it was a great weathered surf town, sports were everywhere) you chose to associate yourself with… Football player, Surfer, Drama crowd, Basket ball guys, WATER POLO guys (gosh i loved the water polo guys!!), cheerleader, student council etc.  But it was ok to cross mix.  We all mingled.  if people did not get along, they did not on personal grounds not because they were mexican or in band.

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We were able to come and go on and off campus at will.  You could drive to lunch downtown or you could walk down to the mini mart across the street and down from the school.  You did not ever even think about someone coming to school with a gun and kids were not having sex in 3rd grade.  Not even 5th grade as far as my school went. (we all would have known!  Trust me! It was school news if someone was seen kissing sans tounge!)  We went roller skating on the weekend and went to school dances and pep rallies.  We stayed late to make posters or watch swim team practice.  We had REALLY good teachers and faculty for the most part.  They were intelligent and challenging and loved their jobs and cared.  And we showed up!   We did the work for the most part as well.  We liked and knew each other and it was cool.

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The year after i graduated, i had heard that the school had gotten a lot rougher.  They had a closed school policy and there were a lot of fights at lunch time… one time there were 10 fights one lunch, 6 of them being between two girls!  Woah!  that would have never happened while i was at school.

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(i am third from the bottom second from the left.)

By the time i was in Jr. High, i had become one of those that would rather not make waves than rock the boat.  It was just easier to just agree to do something that i thought was boring then make a big stink.  I did not know how to say no either.  People knew this and really used it to their advantage.  This started as a pattern very early on.

Grad Night Party. 1992

Grad Night Party. 1992

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By the time i had graduated, i was already practically more in SF than i was at home.  I was a raver.  Now this was the early 1990’s in San Francisco and there was something that was incredible that happened there at that time so i will never be ashamed of saying that i was a raver in the early 90’s.

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I was not wearing day-glo paint on my face and blowing whistles and sucking on lolly pops.  I was hiking over rock and sand to dance under the full moon on the beach on the coast of California.  I was going to map point parties that would take several maps and destinations/hand off/ exchanges for new map point parties. I went to weekly’s on Thursday nights. I would go and hear the Hardkiss Brothers play in the basement of Coctails which is now Asia SF on the corner of 9th and Howard St.  The basement club was called The Pit and its ceiling rained sweat on you.  It was gross but amazing too.

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I would go to Townsend and King Street and Big Heart City, Trocadero, DV8 and . as well as DNA Lounge (where they would lay grass out in front of the club on Sunday mornings for people to hang out on), and of course the EndUp.  There were many others places and parties…(The Gathering, Bulletproof boat parties,Comeunity, Wicked, Love Garage, Groove kitchen, Pleasuredome, Martini Fridays, Spundae,  Equinox, Osmosis, Universe… the list goes on and on and on).  It was amazing.. Kinda like our own little version of our Woodstalk.  So, to me, drugs were something that were experimented with not pushed on street corners and to little kids.  It was fun and enlightening and i would have to say that that was maybe the best times in my life.

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The music and the acceptance of diversity and warmpth from strangers was an amazing thing.  Truly it was the music though that brought us all together, and has remained powerful enough to have kept a lot of us all still connected.

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I digress.  Fast forward 20 years and i have come around 180 degrees.  I definitely know how to say no now.  In fact, i will probably be the first and the loudest to say “Hell NO!!  Have you gone lost your mind??”  I know how to defend myself and others around me.  Sometimes it feels like i am the only one who will stand up for someone.  People dont want to get involved these days for the most part it seems.  Which to some extent is smart, but if someone is being unfairly picked on or if some one is unfairly attacking someone eles i have no problem stepping in and telling them to lay off.

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I suppose i have come so full circle that my nickname in the house is “The Hammer”!  Hahaha.  That is so funny to me i tell you.  The Hammer!?  Who ever would have thunk!  Not me if you had paid me back in the day.

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My bottom line here people, you can change and you do change as you get older.  You slip into bad habits and you break out of others.  You figure out who you really are and realize that that was not who you thought you were going to be.  You become ok with yourself and you start being able to use your experiences to help you to avoid doing it again the same way.

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You get over those things that you used to procrastinate so, because you realize that it takes up so much more energy stressing over trying to forget about it (but not) than actually just getting up and doing it.  Your learn to appreciate some bigger things in life and thus life gets smaller and simpler.  You dont feel the need for the same amount of attention from loads of strangers.  You just want attention from those that you love.  You enjoy time. You realize what time is and how if you have your health and your family and food and a roof then the rest is just toppings.  You learn to want to enjoy life on simpler terms.

Photo with no makeup is proof that i have grown up!

Photo with no makeup is proof that i have grown up!

Yet you still love your good house music!! …and always will!

I think i have helped unlock to the key to my unease of the gentrification of San Francisco… Again!..

 

 


 

A conversation with one of my roommates led us to talking about the infamous after-hours nightclub / gay bar pioneer in SF, The Endup.  (It has quite the story ending with a fight for power after the third brother of the founder challenged the former club manager for the estate after his two first brothers passed away, one from AIDS and the next from a shooting accident.  I have not gotten that far in my research to tell you what happend there…. The Endup was turned over to brother 3 because of mismanagement of the moneys and some shady unpaid bills type history, which enraged the manager which kinda made him go kinda crazy to the point that he shot the brother in the back and then committed suicide after a 10 hour stand off with police two weeks later….anyway…) The Endup is a legend and thankfully to historical landmark distinction will be for years to come.  It is the one place they are gonna have a heck of a time getting rid of!  It is true SF fabric.

Of course in normal fashion, my roommate and i got into a good healthy discussion (argument) that i was not buying (one of my roommates has a vivid creative mind and memory!) and decided to try and fact check him (which is a regular activity for me and i hate to brag, but i am 98 out of 100 times right, or at least proving he is wrong actually usually.)

This in turn led me back down memory lane  which has become a bit foggy in areas which is always surprising (remember… WRITE IT DOWN NOW!! You will not remember it in 20 years most likely no matter how sure you could not forget!), and right into my old beloved home away from home…The Endup!

The Endup is a SF Landmark and now thankfully a little more protected for the future generations to use and experience and find themselves as the last almost 4 decades of generations have.  The Endup sits right under the Hwy 80 overpass and merging onto the Bay Bridge part of the freeway that runs right between Harrison and Bryant at 6th St.  Ironically it is also across the street (and on the opposite side of the 80 overpass from 850 Bryant, AKA the Hall of Justice (the popo station and jail.) ( Infact, now days, when you forget to move your car at 6am for commute flush down 6th, and your car get towed, you only have to go one block to not only retrieve your car, but pay your tickets that release your car.  In the old days, you had to go to 850 to pay and release and then (usually back) to 11th and mission to get your car from the infamous City Tow… unless you were REALLY having a bad day and they were full at City Tow and they took it to the city overflow lot at Pier 70 (way out down by Bayshore/ HP.).

When reading different articles about the crazy end of the era that i was there regularly (1992-1998ish) attending, i came across this AWESOME article that is truly the pre-curser to my writings regarding the fear and sadness in the changes i have seen in this city.  It brought it all back.  It is incredible that i forgot truly how horrible the dot com loft explosion fucked up our town.  It really took a huge blow.  One that was so immense that i did not know if it ever could truly recover.  I guess we will never know now because it hit before full recovery.  I was watching closely, but never imagined a just few years later it would happen all over again only instead of the all the industrial and lot spaces being made into these so called live/work-loft conversions all over town and especially SOMA and China Basin, but now, the only difference is that it is vertical.  They are putting up more high rises than i had ever realized until i watched a video on utube of the city from 1992.  It was so sparse then.  It is filling in and in and in and in!  And not picking the most beautiful of high rise structure always either unfortunately.  Hopefully the ugly ones will soon be covered  by yet another new layer of bldgs. OR, an earthquake takes em back down!

I am so upset by this, because i have lived this before!  How could I have forgotten so soon?  It is like tangible Deja Vous.  The kind that you can go back into for hours and bite onto.  I have watched the soul of this beautiful bohemia get sucked dry one time already and now i am horrifically watching it happen all over again.

To give you an idea of what it was like, you must read the article.  It was so close to home for me because i know a bunch of the people mentioned in the article (Kato, Charlotte the baroness, Martel & Pollywog).  These were my people.  This was my 20’s-30’s.  Now all over again for my 30’s-40’s only unfortunately now, without any real kind of kick ass underground or at least grounded parties:(.  Heart breaking i am telling you. H E A R T B R E K I N G !!!! ! ! !

Now re-live the boom that was the 90’s dot com invasion….

A huge THANK YOU and BRAVO to Michelle Goldberg circa 1998 in its full form….

 

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All We Want to Do Is Dance

[whitespace] IllustrationSan Francisco may not be facing the end of nightlife, but we are looking at the end of the mega-club, the end of the club-as-institutionBy Michelle Goldberg
Illustrations by Katherine Streeter

 

 

 

At 3pm on a Saturday, the EndUp is still going from the night before. On the dance floor, a girl–totally bald except for a tiny gelled spike of hair like a baby unicorn–gyrates in lime-green platform shoes and fluorescent orange hip-huggers. A stunning white-blonde from Austria sits on a banister and sways while her boyfriend, a compact man from Ethiopia with a long, black goatee and tiny rectangular glasses, moves with funky, serpentine grace on the dance floor. He’s been at it since midnight the night before, she tells me. The dancers spill out onto the Edenic back patio, where the sound of fountains mingles with the insistent thump of house music. Bright and lush with palm trees, the back yard of the EndUp is a kind of country club for the underground, where people who still look shockingly attractive after nearly 20 hours of partying stretch out in the San Francisco springtime sun. No wonder local scenester Miss Polly called her book I Found God at the EndUp.

But the EndUp, like nearly every other club South of Market, could be gone by 1999, forced out by a locust-like invasion of lofts and their attendant noise complaints. “It’s a basic struggle for life. It’s almost like the Native Americans that were overrun,” says Carl Hanken, the EndUp’s avuncular, white-haired owner, a former research chemist. “The EndUp could go. It’s a distinct possibility. It’s almost a week-to-week existence for the club industry. Each week I hear of some other problems.”

San Francisco may not be facing the end of nightlife, but we are looking at the end of the mega-club, the end of the club-as-institution. It’s one of many ironies in this unfortunate situation that San Francisco’s booming economy is threatening the very vitality that accommodated so much of our region’s famed technological development. The fate of SOMA could indicate something much larger–whether bohemia can coexist with our decade’s gonzo postindustrial hypercapitalism.

“Money has destroyed San Francisco’s bohemia and attitude,” says Hanken. “Young people were once more driven by idealism; these are more driven by the buck. They operate more with the head than with the heart. That’s why we have the confrontation.”

Hanken says that it would be impossible to open up a club like the EndUp today, and most club promoters agree that for the last few years the club scene has been moving to smaller bars and lounges. There’s currently a moratorium on after-hours permits in SOMA, and while some of San Francisco’s best parties are held in small bars–Kate O’Brians, Liquid, The Top–they can never approach the grandiose decadence of a 1015 or a Club Townsend.

Whether or not SOMA nightclubs are able to survive depends on whether the notoriously apolitical nightclub scene can pull together to fight a gentrification process that has become so ingrained in big cities that it’s seen as inevitable–first the “pioneers,” the nightclubs and artists, move into an industrial wasteland, making it both habitable and hip and popularizing its new name. The yuppies follow, rents skyrocket, and the nomadic creative types start the whole process again somewhere else. Many see it as a foregone conclusion that what happened in New York’s SoHo–where an artists’ neighborhood became a shiny maze of chichi boutiques–will also happen to San Francisco’s SOMA.

“What happened in SoHo is clearly happening here,” says San Francisco senior planner Paul Lord. “In New York, Alphabet City wasn’t far behind. Here, Alphabet City could be the back side of Potrero Hill or the South Bayshore, but where’s Manhattan’s Alphabet City now? That’s gone yuppie, too.” New York’s quality-of-life-obsessed Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been padlocking nightclubs and yanking licenses for years now, and San Francisco is following in his ignoble footsteps.

Of course the greatest irony in all this is that SOMA is becoming a victim of its own coolness. The professionals who are moving into SOMA lofts go there seeking hipness–the new live/work spaces are essentially condos built to look like converted warehouses, their faux-industrial chic as transparent as that of an Urban Outfitters or a Starbucks. And just as the notorious coffee monolith has strangled so many of the boho java joints that inspired it, so SOMA’s culture is being trampled by developers selling “authentic” hipster lifestyles for half a million bucks.

As a result of land-use laws passed in the ’80s in order to make SOMA more hospitable to artists, the area is zoned for both living and light industry. That means that nightclubs are being forced to comply with the same noise-abatement limits as residential neighborhoods. SOMA lofts were supposed to go to artists, people who really did live and work in their spaces. But here we have the situation’s second great irony–there are no guidelines in place to decide what constitutes an artist because the artists themselves resisted efforts to legally define them. They didn’t foresee that SOMA would become a hot address for technology professionals who can afford to plunk down the $250,000 to $500,000 asking price for the area’s new lofts or “live/work units.”

Loft development has risen exponentially–there are 1,000 units pending right now, according to land-use attorney Sue Hestor. And as new residents with early bedtimes move in, they’re calling the police and demanding enforcement of noise laws. As a result, the VSF is close to having its permits revoked, the Holy Cow has had its permits temporarily suspended, and other clubs are feeling an increased police presence. “We haven’t had a noise complaint in 10 years, until last weekend, when noise abatement was knocking on people’s doors and asking them if they had a problem with us,” says Robin Reichert, owner of the Paradise Lounge. “In large cities, noise ordinances are a way to select or select out what kind of businesses are going to be in an area. In the next three or four months, we could lose all the clubs.” The officer in charge of noise abatement, Edward Anzore, responded that Reichert is “a pain in the butt” and said that knocking on neighbors’ doors is standard during noise-abatement investigations, which are conducted “the same way we would do a criminal investigation. We knock on neighbors’ doors and say, ‘Do you hear the music?’ If the noise can be heard inside a person’s apartment, it’s a violation of the noise ordinance.”

SOMA loft-owners don’t see themselves as interlopers but as a fledgling community. “Longtime SOMA residents are bitching and moaning about yuppies like me moving in,” says one new-media professional who recently bought a $350,000 loft at Seventh and Brannan. “There’s a core group of people who won’t be satisfied until SOMA returns to what it was five years ago, an industrial no man’s land, but the bottom line is that people like me outnumber people like them 10 to 1.”

He continues, “The fact that they close SOMA’s nightclub district doesn’t mean that San Francisco is going to lose all its nightclubs. They’re just going to have to find a new place. If you go to China Basin, it’s like SOMA used to be. Very few people live there, and more and more nightclubs will be moving into that neighborhood.”

But the yuppification treadmill has speeded up tremendously in the past few years, and San Francisco is only about 50 square miles. Perhaps the clubs could move to China Basin, but the lofts will surely follow, and after that, there’s just ocean. “We are right now in the middle of a white-hot economy where the pace of change is very fast,” says Richard LeGates, director of the urban studies program at S.F. State. “Processes which may have taken 20 years in Greenwich Village are happening in the space of a few years in San Francisco.”

IllustrationBesides, club owners who have owned their buildings for decades can’t just pick up and move every few years–the EndUp has been on Sixth Street for 26 years. The argument that neighborhoods necessarily go from clubland to yuppieville is just “onanism of the mind,” says Hanken. “They like to massage themselves in comfortable places. It’s a sugar-coated excuse. These people are nine-to-fivers. They’re not involved in the club scene, and they see us as transient. That is their problem. They simply do not understand us. We cannot move. We have many encumbrances. There are handfuls of licenses to maintain. All they need is another buck, or five hundred thousand, and they’ll move. We’re stuck.”

Lord says that even if the clubs did move, they can’t be assured that the new neighborhoods will remain conflict-free. “Until we get some controls in place, the club owners don’t have a high degree of certainty about where they can locate and not be in proximity to a residential development,” says Lord. “Right now all of the industrial areas are fair game for live/work development.”

The building that houses the Holy Cow has been a fixture in San Francisco’s nightclub scene since 1966, when it opened as The Stud. Last year it was bought by Jeff Thompson, Matt Goodrich and Bill Herrmann, three 31-year-old guys who met as barbacks in the club in 1990 and traveled the world together in 1992. The three work in the club up to 20 hours a day, and under their ownership the Holy Cow had been an overwhelming success. Then, a month ago, they lost many of their permits–they can no longer allow dancing, DJs, pool or pinball. While they wait for provisional permits, their business is down 70 percent. It’s like some kind of twisted version ofFootloose–they’re forced to patrol their club and make sure patrons don’t start dancing.

“Moving for us means bankruptcy,” says Thompson. Adds Herrmann, “For the people who have told us to move to China Basin and Hunters Point, my answer to these people is that if you like that area so much, you move down there. That’s a long way for people to go just to go dancing, especially for tourists. There’s a need for residences, but you can’t blanket the whole city and turn San Francisco into a suburb.”

Then there’s a third irony. Tourism is San Francisco’s No. 1 industry, and the nightclubs are a huge part of our city’s draw. Mayor Brown is often criticized for being wildly pro-business, yet he’s sitting back as developers blithely destroy one of San Francisco’s most vital industries–entertainment. What’s even stranger is that Brown is known as the party mayor–he’s been spotted at the EndUp and at the New Year’s Eve Treasure Island rave, and his son, Michael Brown, is one of the city’s biggest club promoters.

“Maybe Willie Brown’s son should be sensitizing him to this problem,” says Lord. “If you have that natural sort of entry, maybe the nightclub owners really need to get to the mayor’s son and say, ‘Look, you’ve got to bring this to his attention or get us a meeting with him so we can bring it to his attention.’ “

Lord continues, “What seems strange to me is that this city will sit and watch while certain types of nighttime entertainment disappear for youth, while things like Crazy Horse and the Gold Club are going in their place. I don’t understand the city’s priorities when it comes to giving young people an alternative. Dancing is a healthy thing to do. A lot of people have seen that if young people do not have some place to go and let off all this incredible energy that they’ve got, it’s going to lead to trouble in one way or another. I don’t know what the state of the rave scene is anymore, but that was something where people said, We want to keep partying, and we’re going to do it after-hours, we’re going to get into buildings that maybe we shouldn’t even be in.”

The club owners will need an economic argument to counter the financial powers behind loft development, says Lord. “One of the major industries in San Francisco, one of the things that drives our office market, is insurance and real estate,” he says. “Mortgage brokers and financial institutions, they’re making the loans on these properties that are selling from anywhere from a quarter of a million to half a million dollars. There are literally billions of dollars involved in the live/work development process. If you look at the major downtown businesses that are involved as brokerage agencies, as mortgage companies, as title companies, as lawyers representing the condos, these are major, major players in the San Francisco political scene.

“The club owners themselves need to be organized to protect their rights,” Lord says. “They are a legitimate business concern in San Francisco that brings large numbers of tourists and visitors to the area. In fact, a case could be made that the proximity of the nightclubs to the Yerba Buena center has an influence on people deciding to have conventions in San Francisco of one sort or another. The club owners need to let their decision-makers, from the mayor to the Board of Supervisors to the Planning Commission, know what is at risk. If you look at the gross receipts, payroll taxes and other influences that the clubs have on attracting visitors and tourists to San Francisco, it’s an important aspect of the richness that is San Francisco and the diversity that is San Francisco. Visitors and tourism are the No. 1 industry in S.F. [Clubs] need to be able to demonstrate that they are a significant and important player in that sector of the economy and, in doing so, show the city what’s at risk if they aren’t here anymore.”

The organization that Lord spoke of has already started. On a recent Tuesday night, a hundred or so club owners, musicians, artists and old SOMA residents gathered at the Transmission Theater to form a coalition aimed at fighting development in SOMA and saving the area’s businesses. Hestor, who’s been in the thick of the loft controversy for years, explained the conflict’s history to the crowd of political novices. Said Brainwash owner Susan Schindler, “We need to know what we’re talking about besides knowing what pisses us off.” The crowd got increasingly passionate as Hestor elaborated on live/work abuses. One girl shouted, “They’re for people who want to live like pimps with their exposed brick walls!” Someone else added, “We created the fad, that’s the whole problem!” To which a third person replied, “We can’t help it if we’re cool!”

But despite Tuesday evening’s energy, some in the club scene feel that it’s not necessarily the city government’s job to safeguard hipness, and others are just giving up on San Francisco. Even Martel Toler, who with his partner Nabil Musleh is the owner of Sushi Groove and the club mogul behind parties like Release, Eye Spy and Leopard Lounge, says he was thinking about splitting. “San Francisco already is not a major party town or a town where there’s a ton of places to go out at night. I was even thinking about moving, especially in the last year, to Miami, New York or L.A.”

Some of the city’s biggest promoters and DJs believe the club scene thrives on adversity. “I don’t want it to happen, but I also believe in the natural evolution of things,” says Kato, the impresario behind Royal Jelly. “Until alternative art culture and club culture have no place to go, it’s a matter of not holding on to situations and realizing that maybe we do need to be uprooted sometimes. I actually have been getting tired of the same old spaces.”

DJ Charlotte the Baroness is reluctant to blame gentrification for destroying the nightclub scene. “You haven’t been able to open up a major nightclub in this city for years, but we have a Catch-22, because while the gentrification that’s going on in SOMA is definitely affecting the ability to have more nightclubs, at the same time gentrification has really helped the nightclub scene. Those people are the ones going to clubs and spending money on drinks. Those are the people who are paying our bills.”

She continues, “This challenges people. The rave scene has now moved back into the big club scene, and now if there’s going to be a problem there, it will motivate people to start doing underground parties again. It’s just another chapter in the dance-music scene. I would welcome people starting to get more innovative about parties again.”

DJ Pollywog says she’s so frustrated with the lack of venues to play at in San Francisco that she’s planning on moving to New York. “Clubland for the most part has been pretty weak,” she says. “It’s the same old clubs doing the same parties. I love San Francisco and I wish there were more opportunities out here. If there were a more thriving nightlife here, then there would be no reason for me to leave.”

Like Kato and the Baroness, Pollywog thinks that clubland could find new energy away from the SOMA corridor. “When you change to a different location, you change the vibe of your party. That’s why, in a lot of ways, San Francisco nightlife is tired. It’s ‘Oh, same club, same thing.’ It’s a little bit stale if it’s the same spaces over and over. Part of the underground is wanting to stay fresh, and it takes those creative, pioneering types to build up something. Established clubs make it easier because all you have to do is show up. Creative people in the underground are almost against that, because it’s important to have fresh energy.”

Still, Pollywog says that without the big clubs, San Francisco can’t attract big-name DJs. “If we lose these big clubs, we’re going to lose so much credit on the international scene. No small club has the capital to fly in Dimitri from Paris or Dimitri from New York. Some underground people are like ‘Oh, the big clubs suck,’ but I know that they definitely have a place and are vital in keeping the scene alive. It’s important to have yin and yang.”

Back at the EndUp, DJ Jason Hayes says that the lack of replacements for the big clubs is affecting his career, and his friend Peter Letourneav fears that San Francisco is being turned into a kind of faux-chic Disney World. Inside, though, manager Alison Page is smiling as she surveys the crowd, convinced that bulldozing developers are no match for the ecstatic energy that keeps people dancing through the dawn and into the next evening. “After the comet hits,” she says, “after the earthquakes and tidal waves, the EndUp will be left standing.”

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From the May 18-31, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

 


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berg who wrote the following piece written in i believe the mid late 1990’s.