New Blog

Some of you may have noticed that I've not posted here much of late - partially this was due to illness and an excruciating trip back to Virginia for my grandfather's funeral. Mostly, though, it has to do with my having decided to start a new blog, one where I'm trying out a different approach and writing style. Here's the URL:

Please come by, check it out, and leave comments. I've been doing a lot of writing there, and right now I have an open thread entitled Why Do We Care?, in which I have invited folks who are DJs, or are into music and write about it, or who throw parties, etc., to explain why it is that they care about something as ephemeral as dance music, club culture, etc. I know there are plenty of folks here who share these interests, so I'd love to see what you all have to say.

New Blog

Well, through a series of random events I wound up creating a new blog on blogger. Initial reaction is that LJ really does suck as much as I thought it did.

The new blog is, and it's a continuation of some things I started here, though I'm working on a new style and voice for the site that's more "journalistic." Best part - if you have an Atom reader, you can get it as a feed, I'll probably continue to post here, when I want to write things that I'm sure will never be seen by people outside my friends list, but sfscene is probably going to become my main blog for posting about music, events, etc. I've been working on it for the past week, come check it out.

The End Up : "Kontrol" w/Derek Plaslaiko

When Jeremy and I were in NY over Thanksgiving one of the highlights was certainly "Bunker" at Sub-Tonic, where we heard Derek Plaslaiko. We chatted him up a bit after his set and told him how much we'd love to hear him come play in San Francisco. This past Saturday we got our wish as Derek took to the decks at the End Up for the latest installment of Kontrol. As always, Kontrol can beat up pretty much any other DJ night in the city, but Derek's set was even better for the blast of techno that it brought to an evening that began to feel ominously like another night of tweaky End Up house.

In our typical can't-wait-to-get-to-the-party early arrival fashion (which is often in preparation for a let's-get-the-hell-out-of-here early departure), we were standing outside the End Up at 10 while Jeremy smoked a cigarette, waiting for the doors to open. Once past the rather intimate pat-down (it's rare that anyone puts a finger down my pocket these days) we had a drink and waited for the arrival of our party companions Mr. J and Mr. T. At that time someone who I think was Nikola Baytalla was on. His first few tracks were completely mesmerizing and brought Jeremy and I around to talking about the relationship between trance and techno, how the kids who were once into the crazy 303 acid lines of trance seemed to have made the shift to techno producers. But then, something happened between drink number two and a trip to the bathroom, a moment when the acid lines dropped, the beats deepened, and we were back in familiar house groove territory. This went on through the arrival of the Mssrs. Consonants and the switch of Craig Kuna. By this time the club had filled up considerably, and as we surveyed the scene on the back porch it once again seemed to be a mix of Mission meets Marina. Mr. T., who had met Mr. MDA earlier in the evening, nonetheless spent most of his time by the periphary of the dance floor, smiling, to be sure, but of the opinion that the music was just "too house" for him to find a groove. Mr. J and his companion Mr. D, meanwhile, were all arms-akimbo on the dancefloor.

Jeremy and I managed to have our fair share of dance floor fun, but the energy wasn't close to what we were expecting. Groovy, yes, and even stimulating, but I had spun through a practice set of Kompakt and Platzhirsch and other related discs before coming, and had been hoping for more of the sawtooth knarz than the mellower sounds of loping house basslines. Mr. J. and Mr. D departed around 2.00, and Jeremy and I waited for Derek's set out on the back porch, where we had an extended conversation about the merits of going out and what we got from it. Derek finally came on at 3, and we could tell that the evening had taken a significant turn. The crowd was smaller than the past two events, but we did run into more of the dedicated techno heads, and if it was less crowded, it was perhaps more spirited, driven as it was by the harder rhythms Derek was pumping through the system. Unfortunately, by 3.30 we were running out of energy, as was Mr. T, despite his earlier ingestion of stimulants, so we walked him back over to his small space, hung out for another hour or so, and then made our way home in the dark, cold, small hours.

I see from the Kontrol website that Alex Under is coming next, and I'll certainly look forward to that. But the Kontrol vibe seems to be undergoing a change, perhaps somewhat from the influence of the End Up's longstanding reputation as the home of San Francisco deep house, and also from the new crowd that comes there looking for what they know, rather than adventures in the land of crazy German techno. I'll continue to mark it on my calendar, and wish the Kontrol kids the best of luck in their new digs, but I hope that they will also find other venues and events where they can connect back to that underground vibe and push harder on the boundaries of San Francisco dance music.

The New Coke

At The Cinch the other night I was surprised when I was standing next to a younger acquaintance at the trough and he produced a tiny vial of cocaine (and, in clear violation of chewing gum ethics, didn’t offer me any). This was just after a drag performance that involved a bit of comedic miming around a baggie of white powder. Then, the next night, another friend told me about how tired he is of always having to be responsible at parties, how one night he just wanted to get “coked up.” Cocaine seems to be coming back in a huge way on the party scene, and I’ve read that this may have to do with the stepping up of hostilities between the military and guerillas in areas where it’s produced – they need more money, so more is being pushed in the consumer market. Aside from economic factors, though, coke seems to be making a comeback that is also culturally determined.

Among gay party boys you could probably track a shift from E to crystal to coke as the main party drugs. As Jeremy and I were talking about it the other night he made the point that E is a “big deal” drug – you do it, you get hammered, you dance and tell your boyfriend how beautiful he is, you romp around on the bed for a couple hours after coming home, do some bong hits, and then crawl under the sheets for some warm snugglies. E is about the special occasion, because you just can’t keep doing it all weekend (I know, I’ve tried), nor can you do it weekend after weekend without putting yourself in such a state that you cry over allergy medication commercials. Crystal gets you up and going, imparts some of the ego inflation of E, and has the added benefit of being something you can just keep doing, even if it does turn you into a zombie after about 48 hours. With the passing of meth out of fashion recently (meth mouth isn’t something you want to kiss), that only leaves coke for the gay boy party favor of choice. It’s cheap, it doesn’t have nearly the stigma of speed, and it’s even glamorous in an 80s kind of way.

It’s that association with the glam era of gay culture that I think has brought coke back with some force in San Francisco. When you look at the big gay party nights like Double Dutch Disco and Drunk and Horny, they’re all about the days when coke was king of the club drugs, well before E and crystal really even existed (the only people who did speed back in the day were total losers and beatniks, after all). Back some months ago I was at Bus Station John’s Tubesteak Connection at Aunt Charlies with a lil' red bumper in my pocket, and after a trip to the bathroom I came back and found everything to be just fabulous. That’s the whole vibe of that music and that era – weed, booze, coke. When I’m on the dancefloor at Drunk and Horny and I hear “He’s the Greatest Dancer” I flash back to all the usual disco associations, mirror balls and lines cut out on a mirror. Coke has become popular among gay boys in the same way as retro disco, because, I think, both evoke an era and a vibe for which gay boys are nostalgic. E is too much to deal with, crystal is too gross, so let’s do some coke, dance to some disco, and all feel fabulous, just like they did back in the day.

The unfortunate part of this is something that Jeremy and I also discussed - the fact that coke turns people into reptiles. When that dopamine buzz kicks in one's whole perspective turns inward - it's all about you, babe, and what you can get. For me, it brings out the worst aspects of my calculating, analytical nature, and if I've just gotten a bump from someone I start thinking about where I can get another. It also drives me away from interacting with other people - when I'm high on coke other people are just a distraction from whatever pleasure centers are whirring away deep in my reptile brain. It's all about me, me, me, gimme, gimme, gimme. Nothing could be as diametrically opposed to the loved-up sociability of E as coke.

I cannot take myself as the measure of all men, but I wonder if the shift from E to crystal to coke has changed the nature of how people relate to one another in the club scene. I can remember nights out at The End Up when everybody wanted to talk, hug, hang out, make friends, kiss, etc. Now, wherever I go, I get much more the feeling of people trying to hide or protect something, doling out whatever they have to only a select few. Coke engenders furtiveness and secrets, and the ego boost that goes with it revolves around feelings of power and dominance. It's all about lizard emotions, and at times I have this frightening image of being consumed by giant Komodo Dragons on the dancefloor.

I'm sure that eventually all this too will pass, and I'd say the signs are there already. Personally, I'd love a new drug, a new club, a new nightlife that's actually fun and happy and celebrates the here and now. Meanwhile I guess I'll just wait for those special occasions, and hope that the lizards don't get me first.

England's Rave Renaissance

According to an article in today's NY Times there's a bit of a "rave renaissance" going on in England right now, but, aside from glowsticks and E, I'm not sure what relationship it has to "raves" as we all knew them, since most of the music seems to be indie rock.

Hope You Saved Your Glowstick:

The King's Holiday

Long weekends are lovely, especially when you have nothing to do and no place to go. Resisting my usual urges to fill every minute of my spare time with activity, this weekend I helped celebrate the triumphs of America’s greatest civil rights leader by drinking a lot, buying new clothes, and being lazy, lazy, lazy.
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Anti-Meth Coffee Campaign

I don't know why this has gotten me so riled up, but it has. I've sent links to Jeremy's post about speed-related advertising, with emphasis on Meth Coffee being in SF, to the BAR, and the SFWeekly (those losers at the Guardian don't have an email contact). I also sent an email to Cory Doctorow, who first published the article on boingboing - looks like she's helping to promote it. I told her to be ashamed of herself.

So now I want to try and get an actual email campaign going against these people. It's very simple: everybody send them an email, via their contact page ( that just says "Meth isn't funny." Spread it to your friends and get them to send them as well. If they start getting a bunch of emails with just that message, maybe it will get through to them that there is a group of people who really have a problem with what they're doing. If you send an email, let me know. Next stop, I'm going to find a contact for and see if they would like to say something to these folks.

Disgusting: Meth Coffee

Jeremy just forwarded this me:

Meth Coffee

This is one of the most disgusting advertising/brand ploys I have seen in a long time. If you agree, please send them an email and let them know. And if anybody wants to hit them with a DOS, you didn't get the idea from me.

Kontrol with Audion and Daniel Bell

First, a Big Announcement: Derek Plaslaiko, the DJ Jeremy and I heard in New York and totally dug, will be spinning at the next Kontrol in February. His groove is deep and progressive, with elements of trance sprinkled around, and it should be an excellent, excellent hour or so on the floor. Come and check it out if you want to hear some really excellent techno stylings from New York.

This past Saturday was the second Kontrol at the End-Up, this time featuring the big names Audion (Matthew Dear) and Daniel Bell, with guest DJ Suz. The event was once again packed, though this time I was less enamored of the crowd and the music, and have begun to wonder if the move to a big club doesn’t threaten the underground vibe that made Kontrol seem special in the first place.

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