This Friday is the Hubba Hubba Revue Holiday Spectacular, and that reminds me of a story I don't think I've told here before.
You may be aware that most people in theatre say "break a leg" rather than "good luck". Well, here at DNA Lounge we say something else.
It is some time in the mid-oughts. One of the Hubba Hubba Revue performers is doing a bait-and-tackle show: she's doing an aerial routine where she is suspended by large meat-hooks stuck under the skin of her back. She does her routine, and as a finale, she pulls a knife out of her boot, reaches up and cuts the rope. She drops ten feet to the stage, and lays there. BOOM! Very dramatic!
Meanwhile, squatting down on the stairs to the right of the stage is the guy who was belaying her, holding the other end of the rope. Well... she never told him that this was how the act ended. So he thinks he did something wrong and now there's a dead girl on stage with her back ripped off. He's white as a sheet.
Someone goes over to him and asks if he's ok.
"I just shit my pants."
"I just shit my pants. I have to go."
Then he gets up, waddles out the front door, and gets in a taxi.
And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why we at DNA Lounge don't say "break a leg". We say "shit your pants".
In this season of giving, won't you support DNA Lounge by increasing your donation to our Patreon? You're not going to get local live entertainment like this with your Disney Plus subscription, I'll tell you that much for sure.
Vodka, Rum and Gin for now; Whiskey will be arriving next month. The labels are by our pal R. Black. Each of them is a custom blend, and we had a few of our bartenders do a taste test to pick the mix they liked best. Our drink specials for the next few months will be our staff experimenting with cocktails that compliment the new product, so check those out!
Here are some recent photos. I haven't posted a photo round-up in a while because I was waiting for the last batch of Halloween photos to come in (the ones actually on Halloween) but I think it's time to admit that I'm never going to get those. Photographers are a fickle lot, and sometimes it's just too much 'puter for them. So here are the Halloween Week photos that have surfaced:
They didn't actually announce who was performing until the event was half over, but people seemed to get what they expected I guess? Kučka was awesome! They put a ton of production into it, and brought a huge, blinding light show. And here was something that I haven't seen before: they sent us a pre-visualization of the light show based on my 3d Sketchup model of the club!
Contrary to the above renderings, the performers were wearing pants.
I guess this means that our 35th Anniversary Celebration starts tomorrow and lasts 364 days. That's how this works, right?
On this anniversary, let me toot our own horn a little bit.
As San Francisco's local music scene is being systematically taken over and dismantled by the multi-billion dollar international media conglomerates AEG and Live Nation / TicketMaster, DNA Lounge holds the line as one of the city's very few remaining independently owned and operated venues. And we also have one of the most diverse lineups of any club you're going to find anywhere. It's one of the things that we are most proud of.
Of course we have our regular concerts and dance parties: we have all the metal (e.g. Goatwhore) and all the dubstep (e.g. Sequence and Wasted). And with So Stoked, we are one of the very few clubs willing to take the chance on all ages raves, giving the under-18 crowd a safe place to party. And there's Bootie, the world's greatest mashup party, which is still going strong after 16 years (and happily, attendance has been climbing lately!) And Death Guild, at 26 years old, is the nation's longest-running goth club and is still brooding and spooking it up here every Monday.
But we do so much stuff that's a lot harder to categorize, and is definitely not normal nightclub fare. Just to list a few upcoming and recent examples, in no particular order:
- At Dorkbot last week, we had lectures on how to make your own video microscope on the cheap, as well as a kookoopants explanation about how cats are space aliens.
- Each month we do at least five burlesque shows bringing you hilarious comedy and dance, which, really, is quite a lot.
- Entering its eighth year here, the monthly comedy stylings of Mortified, where people read from their real teenage diaries, is still hilarious.
- We have Dr. Sketchy's an extremely-nonstandard live figure-drawing class.
- In a couple of weeks we have Astronomy on Tap, where real-life astronomers get drunk and tell you what they've been working on.
- Twice a year we host Debut, a runway show by the graduating students of the Paul Mitchell school down the street: their hair designs are way more sculptural than you might expect.
- Every year we host the Western Hemisphere's only Cocktail Robotics event.
- You may have heard that Q Bar was recently the victim of a fire, so until they can rebuild we're hosting Bump, their weekly Wednesday gay hiphop party.
- And though it's been a little while since we've repeated this one, who else is going to build skate ramps on their dance floor for a party celebrating the movie Hackers?
- A couple times a year we host Mercury Soul, a very cool event that mixes a classical orchestra with DJs and electronic artists. They also host a daytime version of the show for local high school students, where the kids stage their own dance routines to it. It's amazing.
- Then of course there's this blog. How many nightclubs do you know of that have a blog, that isn't just their calendar? For 21 years now I've been documenting in great detail the process of building and running the business, and all its ups and downs, with level of transparency that terrifies most business owners. Over the years, many industry people, both old-timers and those just starting out, have praised us for being so open and informative about how things work, and helping them avoid pitfalls and run their own business better. I've often suspected that my true mission in life is to serve as a warning to others.
- Webcasts, we got webcasts. We have webcast every event, in both audio and video, free to watch to anyone anywhere in the world. That is nearly 6,000 events, comprising over 30,000 hours of local live entertainment.
- One of the things I really love doing here is what I call "crossing the streams". We often have completely unrelated events in the Main Room and in Above DNA, but as often as we can, we try to mingle them together. Sometimes we just open the connecting doors and see what happens, but most often, we allow the earlier event to exit into the later event. When we have a punk show and you leave the building by walking through a candy rave first, most of those punks probably aren't going to enjoy it per se, but they might be entertained by it enough to stick around for a little longer, and they're certainly going to remember it.
A great example of this was our sold out show with The Ocean Blue in Above DNA last week. As the band ended, we exited people into Mercury Soul. You've just seen your favorite jangly 80s dreampop band, and now you're looking over the balcony at a live string quartet performing their arrangement of Madonna's Die Another Day, what?
All the animals come to the watering hole eventually.
And so, that's what we do and that's why we do it. None of this stuff makes us any money, but we do what we must because we can. Thank you for showing up and making it possible.
Please join our Patreon to ensure that we can keep doing it.
For the financial situation remains apocalyptically dire, and we are still rushing headlong toward the cliff.
Oh yeah, today is also the 32nd anniversary of the Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion event, so there's that!
The pizza oven had been being a pain in the ass for a while because (it seemed) that the "light the pilot light" button was gummed up, and this cause the oven to occasionally revert back to the low-gas-flow mode used for lighting the pilot, meaning it would suddenly stop being hot enough. Since it holds heat for a long time, this exhibited itself as someone noticing halfway through the night, "Hey, why aren't the pies cooking like they used to?" We had a repair guy come look at it and several times he jiggled the button and said, "There, I fixed it." When we said "that's not a fix" he rolled his eyes and said, "Whatever loser, I'll be back in a few weeks maybe."
And then some time later, it seemed like the thermostat broke, causing it to be on full blast unless we turned it off entirely. So that was fun. So we got a different tech out here, and saw this:
Apparently one of the burners had cracked and was venting more flame than it should have been, which melted a hole through the bottom deck of the oven.
This injury cannot be new, but none of the repair techs we've had through here over the last few years noticed it. Apparently you can't even see these parts of the oven unless you've disassembled half of the thing first. It's a huge amount of work. It's all sealed up and enclosed, you can't just pop off the front panel and peek in.
You're probably thinking, "Wow, you should have been maintaining and inspecting this thing better," and you're right. But I assure you, when we bought this oven brand new in 2015 we asked the manufacturer, "What's the maintenance schedule on this thing?" and they unambiguously said, "Oh, change the stones every couple of years, that's it."
So that's awesome. Maybe their official maintenance program is "wait for it to turn into a geyser of molten steel and fiberglass then buy a new one."
It's mostly fixed now. Some parts have been replaced, and a few more are on order.
We've also been having a slow-motion plumbing nightmare in the DNA Pizza toilet drains because apparently our customers are in the habit of taking great heaping fistfuls of paper towels and flushing them down the toilets. This does not end well. I can't even fathom what they're doing in there. The paper towel dispensers aren't even near the toilets. Why would you grab a hundred paper towels and take them into the stall with you, and whatever it is you're doing, wouldn't toilet paper chafe less? Nevermind, I don't want to know.
So we got some new paper towel dispensers that are the kind where you pull down the handle to get one sheet, instea of the tri-fold "grab a ream or two" variety. Maybe this will help? At least it will slow them down.
Also, "Someone took another of our soap dispenser tops as a trophy" is a thing I have to say on the regular. Whyyyy. Do you put it on the shelf with your empty Budweiser bottles? Punch it in bro.
You say rejected ad, I say emergent new flyer design.
Since then we have hosted 4,209 events in that room, 910 of which were live shows, for a total of 1,838 different bands. That's 19 shows per month!
Let's take a look back...
When we first opened, the room was extremely white. That looked pretty cool, but then we let customers in and they got their filthy footprints all over the walls, so we went with the red curtains.
And here's what the Dazzle Room looked like before we dazzled it in 2013:
Before we moved in, that back room had been an illegal grow-house for several years, so it looked like a Dexter kill room in there, except creepier and less tidy.
Something you might not remember is that DNA Pizza was open for about a year and a half prior to Above DNA, and during that time there was no connecting door between DNA Pizza and DNA Lounge. We didn't get the permits to cut those holes in the wall until July 2012. Here's a video of the hole being cut:
You can still see what pre-hole DNA Pizza looks like on Google Street View. Google came through one day in 2012 and took pictures of the interior. They used to do that for free, but now they charge businesses for it, so probably those old views will be there forever.
Hopefully we will be seeing you at an Above DNA show soon. Hey, how about tonight? It's the 3rd and final night of Kristeen Young's residency. Is good show, you come.
We put a Five Party Multipass on sale! It includes admission to our full week of Halloween festivities: All Hallow's Eve, Booootie, Death Guild, So Stoked, and Turbo Drive! Because we go hard on Halloween and so do you!
As we have for the last 18 years, we've got a full week of Halloween festivities planned for you!
That may sound like a lot, but we all know that if you're a Real San Franciscan, you have both a "closet" and a "costume closet", so I'm sure you can handle it. We believe in you.
First the dance parties: four massive parties, four rooms each! And costume contests on three nights, each with cash prizes!
- Fri Oct 25: So Stoked: "Everyone's a raver on Halloween!" The So Stoked crowd definitely embrace costuming, so we expect great things from them. 24 DJs in four rooms, spinning house, drum and bass, trance and hardcore. All ages!
- Sat Oct 26: Booootie: The Monster Mashup Spooktacular, in its tenth Halloween here at DNA Lounge! Costume contest, spooky drag show, and four rooms of eclectic music: mashups in the main room, 80s and 90s pop in the Lounge, bass house, trap and drum and bass in Above, and hiphop in the Dazzle Room. 18+!
- Mon Oct 28: Death Guild: If you don't go to a goth club on Halloween week, what are you even doing? This will be Death Guild's eleventh Halloween blowout here at DNA! Costume contest, gothic, industrial, synthpop, and of course the gothiest, gothiest little burlesque freakshow in the world from Monday Night Hubba. 18+!
- Thu Oct 31: All Hallow's Eve: This is the one, this is the main event, and it's our eighteenth year throwing this party! This is happening on Halloween proper, and it always brings out the most amazing costumes. I'm impressed every year. Plus, of course, DJs in all four rooms (including some surprises I can't talk about yet), aerialists, ambient ghostly performances, and even more horror-themed burlesque to make you feel all funny inside. 18+!
I know I'm biased, but having been to quite a few Halloween parties over the years, I can say with confidence that we throw the best one.
Now, if you need some live music in your Halloween, we've got that covered as well:
- Sat Oct 26: Eyehategod: "The elder statesmen of sludge metal!" This is an early show, prior to Booootie!
- Sun Oct 27: Witchripper: Aside from being a great name for a metal band, it's a great name for a Halloween event.
- Tue Oct 29: Neighborhood Brats & Plot 66: Your halloween definitely needs a zombie pop-punk band in it (or is that a zombie-pop punk band?) However, this show has a super secret headliner that I can't tell you about yet! Update: That secret headliner is the legendary Subhumans!
- Fri Nov 1: Turbo Drive: Glitch Black: Technically this is the day after Halloween, but if you need some synthy cyberpunk darkness to wash it all down, this is for you. Don't put the Xmas decorations up just yet please.
If you look at any of those "What to do in San Francisco on Halloween" lists, you'll probably be pretty disappointed. Oh look, douchebro Stadium Trance DJ is spinning! His music was in car commercials before half of our customers were born! How edgy. Or, you can drive 3 hours out to Meth Valley for a corn maze! Fun!
Seriously, spend your week at DNA. We got this.
And please, spread the word! Exercise that little muscle in your index finger over the "Share" button. We typically don't get a lot of press about our events, so you telling your friends about them is the most important thing in the world.
(Seriously, I don't want to see any of you hitting "Like" but not "Share" or "Retweet". That does not help!)
I realized that the reason I hadn't blogged in a while was that I had written this blog post a while ago, and then realized, "nothing good will come of that." I hate it when that happens, but since it was stuck in my queue, it kind of prevented me from writing anything else.
So, to get that out of my system, and in the spirit of completeness, here's that blog post that I didn't publish back in September:
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Then, Kælan Mikla's flight was delayed. ██ ████████ █████████ ██ ████ ███ ████ ██████ ███ ████ █████ █████ ██████ ██ ████ ██████ █████ ██████ ███ ███ █ ███████ ████ ████ ███ ███ █████ ████ ██ █████ █████ ███ ████ ████ ███████ ██████████ ████ ███ ██████████ ███ ████ █████ █ ██████ ████████ █████ ███ ███████ █████ ██ ███ ████ ███ █████ ████ ███ █████ ████ ███████ ██ ████ ████ █████ ██ ████ ████ ███ ██ █████ ███ ██ █ ███████████ ██████████ ███ ███ ███████████ ████ ██████████ ███ █████ ████ █████████ █████ ███████ ██████████
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Whenever we ████ █ █████████ ████ like this one, I often run into people I haven't seen in a years: people who used to be regulars and possibly even still consider themselves regulars. The conversation often goes something like this:
- Them: Heyyyyy how's it going?
Me: Oh you know. Apocalyptic.
Them: I heard you were having trouble here, but it's all better now right?
Me: No. No it's not. I have no idea how this place is going to survive.
Them: Oh, that's too bad. Hey, how's that other place?
Them: You know, that place you opened. Down on, um, Folsom?
Me: We closed that place two and a half years ago. It was a disaster. Opening it was worst decision of my entire life.
Them: Oh. I think that place was the last time I saw you! Pretty crazy, huh?
Me: Yeah, it's been a while.
Them: So, everything is good now, though, right?
Me: No! No it is not, not even remotely!
Them: Oh, ok! great! See you next time! This place is awesome!
Conversations like this are the face-to-face version of someone hitting "Like" on your post about your cat dying.
As foretold by prophecy, you the people have once again declared DNA Lounge to be "Best Nightclub" and Hubba Hubba Revue to be "Best Burlesque" in the 2019 Best of the Bay. Thank you for your support!
Here's what you should be checking out this week and next: the first night of Kristeen Young's three night residency (she's great!) Then there's Hubba Hubba Revue's Witchcraft (did I mention they just won an award? "Nothin' says lovin' like somthin' from the coven!") Then we've got Jessie Evans in Above DNA on the same night, which is inconvenient for me because I'll be seeing both. And then on the 22nd, The Chameleons -- ticket sales are brisk on that one, so don't wait until the last minute.