Thanks to another generous donor, we were able to upgrade our subwoofers for full compliance with the Dubstep Accords of 2015. This took a little longer than we had hoped -- we thought we might be able to get these in before reopening -- but they're in now! We replaced two of our four EAW DCS2 subwoofers with a pair of EAW SB2001 subs. They each have two independently powered 21 inch drivers, run by a pair of Crown Macrotech 5000i amps.
The new ones are half the size of the old ones (and about twice the power) so we're going to pack that gap above them with insulation and wall it off. No camping in the bass bin.
The old subs cover an effective range of about 45hz to 80hz, whereas the new ones go down to 20hz! But they are best below 50hz, which is why we're using both models. At 20hz you are feeling it more than hearing it, but modern production has been favoring frequencies that low, particularly in the dubstep world, and it really provides that extra oomph! It will rattle the drink out of your cup, as demonstrated in this video:
The two old subs are going to go up in the Lounge, giving that room quite an upgrade. We use all parts of the buffalo.
Also! Today is the 20th anniversary of DNA Lounge's re-opening, back in 2001 when I bought the place. The club has been DNA Lounge since 1985, but my tenure here has now hit two decades, which is kind of hard for me to comprehend.
The thing that struck me most about our Friday night re-opening party, Turbo Drive, was that it wasn't the usual Turbo Drive crowd. I got the impression that a lot of people said to themselves, "I don't know what synthwave is, but I'm going anyway." And they stuck around, too! Also they all dressed up, but everyone dressed up for a different party. Here's a girl dressed for the symphony, here's a guy dressed for a punk show in 1977, here's Lara Croft swing dancing with Snake Plissken.
I very much hope that this wasn't a one-off and that people hold on to that attitude: "I don't know what this is, but let's check it out anyway". Nature is healing and you are allowed to try new things.
Then Saturday, we had three events: the early show was Hubba Hubba Revue, followed by Bootie in the main room and Lower Underground in Above DNA. The audiences for these parties were more traditional; it was the usual Hubba, Bootie and dubstep/rave crowds, but, there were nearly twice as many of them as in the Before Times, which was awesome.
I had wondered whether people would stil be skittish about being in crowds, and the answer to that is, NOPE. They were happy being absolutely packed in, sweating all over each other. Though all our staff are still wearing masks, I'd say that less than 1% of the customers were. No soft re-entry here: they have embraced the Full Florida.
I also very much expected to see some people getting seriously sloppy by about 1am, since everyone is out of practice at drinking in public, but nope again: they mostly held their shit together pretty well! Good form, SF.
Our crew were all pretty exhausted by the end. It's going to take a little while to get our sea legs back. And also we are still hiring -- bartenders, security, restaurant and floor. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tonight: The Return of Death Guild! Bereft (I am reliably informed) in deathly bloom.
Aaaaahhhhhh it's almost time!!
Thanks to another extremely generous donor, we were able to re-surface the main stage, in the same manner as the dance floor! For the first time in the stage's 32 year life, it is actuallly level, and that weird bump in the middle (from a solitary glass block that used to poke through) is gone.
Last year I put out a call for people who wanted to paint murals on some of our blank walls, but nothing really came of that, so last week I painted some chevrons on the balcony:
I'd still like to get something painted on the walls inside the DNA Pizza and Above DNA restrooms, if only to cut down on the tagging. If you want to volunteer, let us know!
Oh yeah, and since I mentioned last week that we could maybe give some old chandeliers a good home, three have shown up already! Apparently I underestimated the prevalence of the problem: "Why do I have this chandelier, please get it out of my garage". Keep 'em coming.
All the beer kegs have arrived, and they finally took away all of our year-old kegs full of spoiled product (something like $7k in spoilage). However, it's still far from certain that we're going to have draught beer on opening night. We still need to get the lines cleaned, the glycol system un-hibernated, and the kegs actually hooked up to our new CO2 tank, and when the beer distributor's contractors came in to do those things, they found a series of excuses to "come back later", as they nearly always do. So we might be bottles-only for a little while. I'm not too stressed about that, though, because never in the history of bars has someone said, "Oh, you don't have anything on tap? I find that I am no longer thirsty."
I am also eagerly awaiting word on whether on opening night we will have front doors that actually lock or whether we will be screw-gunning them closed every night. Early in lockdown, someone really went to town on our doors with a crowbar. They were not able to break in, but they did manage to completely destroy the doors, the closures, and the frame, and so for the last 14 months, the doors have been welded shut and boarded up. But now we'd sure like them to work again...
I am assured that "parts have been ordered" and that "they should be here soon". I agree! I agree that they "should"! But, we're assuming it's gonna be a screw gun scenario.
You probably cannot imagine, or maybe you can, how insanely fucking expensive secure doors with panic hardware are. So thanks for that, Incompetent Burglar.
But look at this, we have a calendar again! These are just the events in the next two weeks! And ticket sales have been pretty good so far, so maybe people will actually show up?
We hope to see you all soon...
One of life's simple joys is pointing a video camera at a TV. We should all do that more often. We recently got a screaming deal on this gargantuan 75" TV, so we turned it into an instagram trap under the main stairs. I think it's going to be very popular! "What software does it use?" None, it uses none software.
Video feedback works better if it stays in the analog domain, as with 30+ year old camcorders and CRTs rather than that four letter word "HDMI", but one does what one can.
Hey, here's an interior decoration project maybe one of you could help us out with. The Green Room, that room to the South of the Lounge that you enter from the stage-left stairs, has always been less inviting than we'd like. People treat it as more of a hallway than as a place to hang out. I think it could use a bunch of overstuffed thrift-shop couches and chairs -- really gaudy stuff -- and also a shitload of chandeliers. It has a surprisingly high ceiling, and I think that filling that space with dozens of chandeliers might look pretty cool.
So, if you are a person who already has the hobby of frequenting thrift shops and estate sales, I'd love to give you a small monthly budget for broken down chandeliers and couches to dress up that room. (The couches, I assume, won't long survive contact with the enemy and will need to be periodically replenished.)
Here's the worst part about switching to a new point-of-sale system: buying a whole stack of new iPads. And this is less than half of them.
Because of course the perfectly functional iPads we already have are now unsuitable. These things would have been considered supercomputers in the 90s, but I'm to believe that they are so old and obsolete that they are incapable of keeping up with someone clicking the button that says "cheese slice". A task like that obviously requires the absolute bleeding edge. Apple has stopped shipping OS updates for our existing iPads, and vendors don't support old versions of iOS, largely because Apple intentionally makes it nearly impossible for them to do so even if they wanted to.
The second worst part is that nobody offers data portability of any kind. If we want to look at trends (or do our taxes) we have to spend the next year looking at that data using two different, incompatible systems. So that's fun.
Anyway, we're switching from Revel to SmartTab for the restaurant and bar. Wish us luck.
It's a new point of sale that is focused on bars and nightclubs, so we have to do a lot less work to get good reports, and there are some cool features related to how bar tabs work that we're looking forward to trying out. By constrast, Revel was designed for low-volume retail, with restaurants and bars added later as a afterthought, and it still shows. Also SmartTab is cheaper than Revel, and they're based in San Francisco, which helps with support. If you want to try it out for your bar, email email@example.com (DNA Lounge's former booker!)
Revel, meanwhile, lost our business for several reasons.
First, they refused to pause our licensing fees during the pandemic while the club was closed. They offered a short reduction but only on the condition that we first sign a new multi-year contract!
Second, their EMV readers are terrible. The banks have finally required everyone to switch from swipe-based card readers to EMV (chip-and-PIN or touchless). The way we had it set up before was that the card reader bolted onto the side of a rugged iPad case which the bartender could carry with them as they moved around behind the bar, and hand to the customer. But the only EMV readers that Revel is compatible with are gigantic, bulky things that basically require the iPad to be bolted down in a fixed location, which might be fine for retail checkout, but doesn't work for us at most of our bars.
Third, in order to use EMV readers at all, Revel is now insisting that you use their in-house payment processor. Of course as a special sign-up offer they say they'll match whatever rate you have with your old payment provider, which is a way of saying "we will reduce this one line item on your invoice and hide our profit in a different line item instead". Interposing themselves on the payment transaction is the same scam that the delivery services use. (Revel business model: "Uber for cash registers".) Rather than charging for the service that they actually provide (be that delivering a box or developing software) they instead want a cut of however much money you make while running your business.
Imagine if it went like this:
- "Hey, how much will you charge me to install a dance floor?"
"That depends, how many people do you think will walk on it? How about instead of me charging you for my time and materials, you give me a taste of what all of the people who ever step on that floor pay you, in perpetuity?"
I hope we figure out something useful to do with all of those old iPads, but speaking of ancient hardware, as I often do, check this out. Here's a camcorder that we forgot about that I just pulled out of the ceiling today. It was a part of our old SD / NTSC webcast system that was in place when we first opened.
This camcorder has been quietly and without complaint sitting there displaying video since 2005. It has been powered on that whole time and, despite a layer of dust nearly half an inch thick, it is still working fine!
Now that right there is the opposite of how Apple does things.
Here's a final photo of our new dance floor, after being painted and before anyone has thrown up on it, or dragged a road case across it where half of the wheels have been replaced with jagged pieces of sheet metal:
We re-surfaced the Above DNA stage. No more burlesque performers complaining about getting splinters in their butts!
We replaced the floor in our walk-in fridge. Ten years of dragging beer kegs over it took quite a toll:
And we built a new VIP booth. We've replaced the two upstairs 6-person booths with a single 9-person booth. It's raised on a platform like downstairs, and has three benches and is a bit more enclosed than the others:
Only 35 more days until we get to invite you back inside!
Please welcome DNA Lounge Brand Dark Rum to the family, complementing our existing selection of Silver Rum, Vodka, Gin, Whiskey and Bourbon. Order your bottle today from DNA Pizza or pick up a bottle in person tonight and collect the whole set!
Ladies and Gentlemen, DNA Lounge will be open for your indoors, in-person festivities on Saturday, June 19th!
Our lineup that evening begins with Hubba Hubba Revue at 7pm, the full, seated Big Show; then at 10pm, we bring you the triumphant return of Bootie Mashup! And in Above DNA, Xile Collective presents Lower Underground!
Obviously the Feds or the State might pull the rug out from under us on this, but our understanding as of today is that in mid June, all restrictions will be lifted in California, and we get to party like it's 2019. Or, "The Full Florida", as I've been calling it.
We are all incredibly excited to invite you back into our house, show you our lovely remodeling and upgrades, and return to something like normalcy -- after having been closed for (what will have been) fourteen months!
I'm sure you have questions. I probably don't have answers. We're all still figuring this out.
This is the first two days of the floor installation. They also came back for a third full day of sanding, but that wasn't very interesting to watch; and now we're going to paint it, which will take another day or two.
(We do have an older video where you can watch paint dry, if you're in to that sort of thing.)
We set up a laptop recording 24/7 all weekend with OBS, and that generated a 98 GB TS file. Fun fact: guess what Quicktime Player, VLC and ffmpeg really don't like to deal with? That's right, 98 GB TS files. So my plan to just scrub through it and find the timestamps to extract didn't work because no player would let me scrub. I ended up splitting it into 10 minute segments with:
- -map 0 -f segment -segment_time 10 -reset_timestamps 1 $encode_options
With "-codec copy" it wouldn't split at all, so I had to re-encode it. Then I was able to manually page through and delete the segments that were in the middle of the night. Next, I time-lapsed like this:
- -f concat -i file_list.txt -vf 'tblend=average, setpts=PTS*0.01, tmix=frames=30' -r 30 $encode_options
The "tblend" filter is what gives the ghostly motion-blur effect on the people walking around. Without that, time lapses have a much more flickery, stuttery quality to them.
That final encode took twenty hours to convert 22 hours of source video into a 13 minute time lapse on a 3.2 GHz iMac Pro. So this is maybe not the ideal procedure.
Thanks to three generous donors who prefer to remain anonymous, we have a new dance floor! And it looks fantastic.
The existing floor was a festive pancake of concrete, then a quarter inch of neoprene for springiness, then two layers of plywood. After two decades of dancing, the old plywood was extremly torn up, meaning the surface was rough and splotchy and paint would no longer stick to it well. It was a finished surface but a soft wood, probably pine or Douglas fir.
After repairing some soft spots in the old floor, we laid down a new layer of 3/4" birch. That is the same hardwood that we used on the go-go boxes and the Dazzle dance floor, which have held up exceptionally well. It turns out that we didn't need to tear up the old floor first. The new layer is glued and screwed on top of the old floor, which means that you are all now 3/4" taller.
During and after:
We hope to have you dancing on this new floor very soon.
Birch is normally one of the more expensive woods, but as it turns out there's some kind of supply-chain fuckery going on affecting most of the softer woods, so this is currently the least expensive plywood available, because the price of the lower quality stuff has gone through the ceiling!
We're going to paint that gray, like the old floor. We considered staining and varnishing it instead, since we can always paint it later if we need to, but the downside of that is the varnish would make the paint adhere less well. So we're just going to go with paint from the start.
I must say, I am surprised and gratified that my Hail Mary "Wanna buy us a dance floor?" post succeeded. Without these donations, we would have just kept lumbering along with our fairly-scruffy old floor. Thank you again, dear anonymous donors, you are the best!
We do have a few other renovations that we'd love to do if there are any other generous folks out there willing to help...