I arrived at the club on Wednesday afternoon and one of our bike racks was missing -- torn out of the concrete at the root -- and two others were bent and wobbly. Also, our parklet was dented and had been moved a few inches. Some neighbors tell us that around 2AM, a bus took out a traffic light, a bolted-down city trash can, the bike racks, and then crashed into our parklet. I haven't heard any more details about that yet.
Then this afternoon, Devon rolled up the garage door to discover a bunch of paramedics out front. It looks like someone used their belt to hang themselves in the parklet, and so our entrance was blocked off as a crime scene for a few hours.
Today was the first day when businesses can apply for the "Save Our Stages" grants, AKA the "SBA Shuttered Venue Operators Grant". You thought getting your vaccine appointment was hard? This is a national program and there's not enough money in it for everybody so they set it up as some kind of first-come first-served Death Race where every bar and nightclub in the US was hitting reload on the page at 9AM and trying to fill out forms and upload PDFs at the same time. This went about as well as you'd expect:
Good to know that the Federal Government has decided to let Burning Man run their ticketing operation.
Meanwhile, the SF Mayor's Office announced a few days ago that "indoor live events" can resume next week. So when I said that based on past experience, they'd probably give us six days notice, I was being overly pessimistic. They gave us more like ten days notice!
Anyway, this "re-opening" plan they've announced is not real, it's just a PR stunt that doesn't actually help our industry. It caps attendance at the smaller of 15% capacity or 200 people (35% capacity if you demand an easily-forged vaccine receipt!) Nobody can operate a nightclub under those restrictions. We can't even afford to renew our insurance for that level of capacity. The response to this from everyone on the email thread of our local venue operators has been one giant eye-roll.
Governor Newsom's talk of re-opening in mid-June sounds like it might mean at 100% capacity, so that's more substantive, but a lot can change between now and then so I'm not holding my breath (so to speak).
I know you're all as anxious as we are to know when we can re-open (well, you're not, but it's nice that you think you are) but we're not announcing any re-opening plans yet. You'll be the first to know!
Meanwhile, stop by this weekend for our sidewalk parties at DNA Pizza: Friday at 7pm: Turbo Drive. Saturday at 4pm: Matinee Sessions with Sneakerz and Stefan, immediately followed by Bootie, live in the parklet at 7pm. Then Saturday from 4pm to 10pm, house and techno with Warehouse Connection.
If you didn't know that these events were happening, might I recommend that you join our mailing list?
We've started doing DJ events in the DNA Pizza parklet. It's been going pretty well so far!
We also got the webcast configured to do two live video streams at once, for the still-hypothetical future when we have live events in both the Main Room and Above DNA. In the Before Times, before the network upgrades necessitated by the plague, we had to pick one room or the other, but now we have bandwidth for both.
You can watch yesterday's parklet party here.
We've got another one coming up this afternoon at 4pm. Stop by and check it out!
Yesterday the Mayor's Office announced that the Entertainment Relief Fund will be getting a $3M endowment, which sounds great until you do the math. If they were to divide that among all of SF's nightclubs, I think that would keep all of us alive for like, 3 or 4 weeks.
Their plan of record for getting money into this fund is still "maybe a friendly billionaire will step up", so don't hold your breath on that. And the Federal "Save Our Stages" fund has still distributed $0.
So with no money to speak of, and still no plan for distributing it, San Francisco's financial support for nightlife is still very much in the "thoughts and prayers" category.
However! Vaccines have actually been happening!
Last week we had a meeting talking through some re-opening scenarios. Like, once we get word from the Government that we're allowed to re-open, how much notice do we think they'll give us? Based on past experience, we're guessing six days. So what's our plan on re-staffing on such short notice? And what if they tell us we can only run at 10% capacity or something? Do we just ignore that and stay closed? Or try to do... something... that won't pay the bills but might be juuuust slightly better than being dark?
Anyway, it's all pretty bleak, but at the same time kind of exciting to be acknowledging the idea that this might actually be over some day, and we might actually have a business again, even if we have no real guess as to when that might be.
Since it's possible that we might be open again in... let's say, months rather than years? Let me just throw this long-shot idea out there one last time...
Tearing up and replacing the dance floor is a multi-week process. In the Before Times there never would have been a time when it would have been practical for us to be closed for that long. That means that there is literally no better time to do it than right now, except for the fact that we don't have any money. It would be a shame to let this downtime go to waste, but that's what we're gonna do, unless a noble benefactor appears.
When we installed this floor over 20 years ago, it was a festive pancake of neoprene and plywood over a concrete base, but all that dancin' in the intervening decades has left it no longer springy, not to mention the hundreds of layers of paint atop the now-splintering and divotted plywood... And the need for re-painting only becomes more frequent as the plywood further frays. Really, it's time.
So, wanna buy us a dance floor? It'll probably only cost fifteen or twenty grand. Think of the bragging rights! The nobility of being the one who saved the orphanage. Hell, we'll give you a plaque if you want.
Order now for pick-up or delivery. We are open from 4pm - 10pm every day.
And don't forget to check out our webcasts: we have six free webcast shows over the next five days:
- Have you noticed the gigantic 3D grid of lights that has been taking up most of our stage during many of our recent webcasts? It's called The Qube and tonight at 7pm, its creators will be putting it through its paces.
- Following that at 8pm, another installment of Apothecary Raree, our electroswing-themed burlesque and variety show.
- Tomorrow night: Turbo Drive, live DJ sets from the main stage for all your synthwave needs.
- Saturday: Bootie DJs in a rare main room live appearance.
- Sunday, 4pm: The Warehouse Connection, live house and techno DJs on the main stage.
- And of course Death Guild every Monday.
So please make a donation, contribute to our Patreon, and order our delicious pizza, appetizers, pre-mixed cocktails, and DNA Lounge brand liquor.
And also, we have now been in lockdown for one year. Our last in-person events were Death Guild and Monday Night Hubba on March 9th, 2020.
Well, one of those anniversaries is worth celebrating.
In honor of ten years of DNA Pizza, today all of our appetizers are half price!
Might I recommend the loaded tots? They're so good.
Order now for pick-up or delivery. We are open from 4pm - 10pm every day.
Between the San Francisco Entertainment Relief Fund that has no money in it and the Federal $15 billion "Save Our Stages" fund of which $0 has been spent, we're really doing great! As long as we can keep paying our employees and creditors with "thoughts and prayers".
Congress Approved $15 Billion to Save Entertainment Venues -- Why Has Not a Penny Been Spent So Far?
Lobbyists for the entertainment industry cheered a $15 billion bailout for music venues and other independent entertainment outlets closed by the pandemic, which Congress passed in late December and President Trump signed into law in January. But relief has turned to frustration, as not a single penny from the Save Our Stages Act has been sent out yet.
"We honestly don't know how much longer we're going to have to wait," said Audrey Schaefer of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a group created during the pandemic to lobby for federal aid. "Thousands of live venues need the money fast, and for many others it's now too late."
The Small Business Association (SBA), which was charged with disbursing funds to independent cinemas, performing arts groups, music venues, museums and theatrical producers, has not even opened the application process for receiving grants.
We are just one week away from having been closed for a full year. A year!
Our neighbors at The Oasis are doing a telethon this weekend, check it out:
Oasis could close for good. To stop that, S.F. drag club is putting on old-school telethon
"It's easy with all the stuff we're doing to make it look like we're winning this," Drollinger says. "In a lot of ways we are, with what we're doing for the community, but it's not realistic to run a venue of this size and be closed. I thought rather than let things totally fall apart, I would ask for help."
For the well-known South of Market club and alternative performance venue to survive the next few months, Drollinger is trying to raise $100,000 via a telethon to be aired on the club's streaming service, Oasis TV, and the crowdfunding site GiveButter.com on March 6.
"The harsh reality is our rent is $20,000 a month, and there's another $8,000 to $10,000 in other costs we have to meet, so we're looking at about $30,000 a month just to exist," Drollinger says.
And here's a sad article about the recent closure of Virgil's Sea Room:
With Virgil's closure, SF loses another great queer space
Meanwhile, Thirkield was running through her savings hoping the pandemic would pass, and found she was approaching an amount that no GoFundMe could fix. "I had a cut-off number. If we hit that, I would have to call it quits. We managed to negotiate something with the landlord, but we would still have to pay them back at the end. We cut back everything.
"I saw other bars taking out these really big loans. I absolutely love what we did with Virgil's, it was a very special place. I love the community we built together. But I don't want to spend the next five or more years of my life digging out from under this huge debt. That kind of stress and risk, when who knows even now when we can open again -- it's not worth it."
May I remind you that DNA Lounge has a Patreon? It is a big part of the reason that we're not dead yet. Especially given the nearly complete lack of support from of our City, State and Federal Governments. Please order some pizza and gets yourself some lovely DNA Lounge face masks and old-skool slip mats. Every little bit helps...
It had been a while since we had to re-order these, and -- this may shock you -- in the intervening time, the printing company we had used went out of business. So we had to start over from scratch. But we finally got the new ones in, and they look great!
The minimum bulk order on these was kind of large, so don't make me regret re-stocking these, ok? I know all of you hipster bedroom DJs are still spinning vinyl, and we've got what you need for it.
Turntable not included.
It's a start! We're very grateful to Supervisor Haney for his work to make this happen. Now the fund just needs to have some money in it. And nobody seems to know where that might come from.
SF Will Prioritize Struggling and Legacy Venues for Entertainment Relief Fund -- But the Fund Needs Private Donations
The SF Board of Supervisors voted this week to establish the San Francisco Music and Entertainment Venue Recovery Fund, as a way to funnel money to struggling music venues and arts institutions that have been shuttered by the pandemic. But right now it seems like a "fund" in name only, and it will need private funding to provide the kind of help that local venues really need to recover. [...]
The mayor subsequently allocated $1.5 million toward the San Francisco Relief Grant program for these venues, but this is just a tiny sum compared to a need that is most certainly in the tens of millions.
Last year, the San Francisco Venue Coalition drafted a proposal for a $48 million fund to get the city's venues back on their feet, estimating each venue's overhead expenses at $18,000 to $35,000 per month.
Haney's legislative aide said of the fund that private donations from the Bay Area wealthy who want to see SF thrive after the pandemic are likely the best hope for the fund.
"We should not overlook the fact that we have more billionaires in our city than almost any other city in the world," Mahogany said. "If San Francisco is the place they want to live, they should have an interest in keeping it a place where people want to visit and stay. If they don't want to see that disappear, perhaps they can spare a few million to see the city survive."
"And then a miracle occurs."
Relying on the generosity and civic-mindedness of billionaires always works out so well. Hey, look at how great that went for Paris a couple of years ago:
The lesson from the ruins of Notre Dame: don't rely on billionaires.
You remember the story, of course you do. One of the most ancient and holy buildings on Earth, Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, goes up in flames. Barely has the fire been put out before some of the richest people in France rush to help rebuild it. Within just three days, France's billionaire class has coughed up nearly €600m. Or so their press releases state. [...]
Weeks go by, then months, and Notre Dame sees nothing from the billionaires. The promises of mid-April seem to have been forgotten by mid-June. "The big donors haven't paid. Not a cent." [...]
Meanwhile, the salaries of 150 workers on site have to be paid. The 300 or so tonnes of lead in the church roof pose a toxic threat that must be cleaned up before the rebuilding can happen. And pregnant women and children living nearby are undergoing blood tests for possible poisoning. But funding such dirty, unglamorous, essential work is not for the luxury-goods billionaires. As the Notre Dame official said last month, they don't want their money "just to pay employees' salaries".
My own personal experience with trying to solicit donations from the very small number of "high net-worth individuals" that I know personally was an exercise in learning how very impoverished most of the extremely wealthy feel. You can't even imagine.
DNA Lounge Alert!
The 3rd stage in this game features a mini boss battle on a Turbo Drive level, with a little 8-bit Devon Dossett (DNA's General Manager and Turbo Drive founder) DJing in the background. You can see this at 9:30 in the gameplay video and again at 12:40 where the final boss fight features Devon throwing boxes to help the boss, Big Jerry.
They also made a retro-style strategy guide for kickstarter backers, pictured above, which talks about Turbo Drive!
It's been a little while since we were featured in a video game. You may recall that DNA Lounge is the game intro sequence for 2007's SingStar Amped.
Check out Turbo Drive for real (sort of...) on our webcast this Friday!
Scott Wiener is taking another shot at ABC. This bill would be great for everybody, and I wish him luck.
California liquor bill aims to make restaurant parklets permanent, plus zones for open containers
"As we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel with this vaccine, we need to help these small businesses recover," Wiener said in an interview. "Now's the time to make common-sense changes to our alcohol rules that tangibly support small businesses." [...]
The bill would make permanent some of the changes that have been temporarily allowed since the pandemic began, such as allowing restaurants to serve alcohol in outdoor spaces like parking lots and sidewalks. [...] Also, music venues would no longer need to have full kitchens to get liquor licenses. [...]
Some other emergency alcohol measures enacted during the pandemic, such as legalizing takeout and delivery cocktails from restaurants, are not addressed in this bill.
Like the previous attempts at changing our liquor laws (by Wiener and others before him) this rule change would be a change to state law that would allow municipalities to enact these changes if and only if they wanted.
As such, and as before, we can doubtless expect the fundamentalist, prohibitionists nutjobs to sing their usual chorus of: "I don't want this in my suburb, therefore you shouldn't be allowed to have it in your city, either."