We deeply regret to inform you that we are no longer requiring proof of vaccination to enter DNA Lounge.

Let's start with some facts:

We held out until the bitter end. DNA Lounge was among the first nightclubs to require proof of vaccination, long before it was legally required. We were the only nightclub to actually verify that proof by scanning QR codes rather than accepting any old easily-photoshopped picture.

But within the last few weeks, nearly every other nightclub has stopped requiring vaccinations. We surveyed 40+ venues, and it's basically universal at this point. Most of them haven't made any announcement of this, they just quietly stopped. A few have updated their web sites with the new policy, but many have just scrubbed the word "COVID" from their web sites entirely.

So why are we following suit? Because we can't afford not to.

Being the only nightclub checking vaccination status doesn't really do anybody any good. It costs us business without actually making anyone safer, since all of our customers are going to be comingling with the unvaccinated at every other club and restaurant in town. (It's like you're at an orgy with a hundred people and there's one dude wearing a condom.)

And because it has been making booking be more difficult. We've lost some shows because the artists' agents believe, rightly or wrongly, that our vaccination policies will mean lower attendance.

And because our COVID grant money is about to run out. We can't afford to continue excluding such a huge proportion of our potential customers when none of our competition are doing the same.

"I wish the nightlife community would come together and have consistent vaccination policies."
"Wait, no, not like that."

Venues that are no longer requiring proof of vaccination include:

All of the AEG Golden Voice venues (Warfield, Regency, Great American Music Hall, Coachella); all of the Live Nation TicketMaster venues (Fillmore, Masonic); all of the Another Planet venues (Greek Theatre, Bill Graham, The Independent), 1015 Folsom (but their vax checks had always been performative at best), Midway and Great Northern (they never checked at all, that's probably why Breed likes partying there); Cat Club, Yolo, Audio, Oasis, Temple, The Chapel, Public Works, August Hall, The Grand, City Nights / Club X, Cafe du Nord, Swedish American Hall, Bottom of the Hill, Brick and Mortar, Neck of the Woods, Bimbo's, Monarch, Holy Cow, Halcyon, F8, End Up, Ivy Room, New Parish, and UC Theatre.

We didn't check in on every corner bar, but that's most of the larger places, and it's certainly a statistically damning sample. Also, a couple of venues on that list are accepting a negative test result in lieu of vaccination, which counts as not checking at all. You can be infectious and asymptomatic for a week or more before a test shows positive.

There are lots of things that we could be doing to bring this pandemic to an end, but we as a society are simply not doing most of them.

We can all look forward to years of people telling us, "It's just a cold, everybody gets it twice a year, whatever." And your personal experience may support that in the short term, because with vaccinations, probably very few people you know will be hospitalized. But Long COVID is a god damned hurricane of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, chronic fatigue, weird clots, loss of lung capacity, brain damage, and inexplicable neurological conditions, and it's coming right at us.

And in this hurricane, instead of building levees and storm drains, the government is telling us, "everybody should take personal responsibility for deciding what level of moistness they are comfortable with".

And in this hurricane, as it uproots trees and batters your storm windows, your friend rolls their eyes and asks, "Are you just going to stay home forever?"

To the many of you who have thanked us for our policies, who have told us that DNA Lounge was the only venue in which you felt safe -- because we were the only ones who seemed to be taking this pandemic seriously -- thank you for your support. And I'm sorry. We are no longer able to provide you with that island of safety.

A while back someone on Twitter said something like, "I'll be wearing a mask at all shows until DNA Lounge says you don't need them at theirs." That was a very nice thing to hear, a vote of confidence in our science-based policies.

To be clear, that is not what we are saying.

What we are saying is, you should absolutely still wear a mask, and you should only congregate with others who are all masked and boosted. But DNA Lounge can no longer mandate that, because Capitalism Says No.

We are welcoming back with open arms the unvaccinated, the unboosted, the unmasked. We intend to pack them in, shoulder to sweaty shoulder, spittle flying everywhere. We are doing this because we can't afford not to. Much like our mayor, and the CDC, we are not following the science, we are following the money.

If that sounds horrible to you, that's because it is.

Pitchfork, Nina Corcoran:

"Yes SXSW was a superspreader event, and yes my entire band got COVID, as did many others," tweeted Canadian singer-songwriter Charlotte Cornfield. "We obviously knew there was a risk going in, but really feeling for everyone whose tours/lives have been derailed by this thing." Several other bands and radio DJs, music promoters, and record label employees have tweeted similar sentiments after testing positive. [...]

"Large swaths of the live music industry are overeager to pretend we're out of the pandemic. We're leaving behind many folks with disabilities and illnesses, which is not a new problem -- just a new way the ableism inherent in many venue spaces is being expressed since COVID," Speedy Ortiz singer-guitarist Sadie Dupuis tells Pitchfork. "When mask mandates first went away, the largest nurses' union in the country petitioned the CDC to reverse its decision and reinstate masking due to breakthrough cases. Because, vaccinated or not, masks are incredibly effective at preventing infection. With many of us having received boosters six-plus months ago, their efficacy is waning. A breakthrough case could wind up costing your favorite artist tens of thousands of dollars of expected income, the difference between a profitable tour and a tour in the red." [...]

Harpist Mary Lattimore says she still doesn't feel comfortable performing live, but knows it's an essential part of her job. "I link it to the lack of streaming revenue for artists," she explains. "Tour income is basically the only income. It was nonexistent for years so we have to get out there, but we're pretty vulnerable, going from place to place every night. One case of COVID and bands potentially lose thousands and thousands of dollars." [...]

For other touring artists, mask policies aren't necessarily up to them, but rather the headliners they're supporting. Wednesday are slated to open for Beach Bunny on a two-month-long tour, and their newfound discomfort around COVID-19 policy isn't reason enough to bail on such a big opportunity. "Because we're just openers on the tour, I don't feel like we have a ton of authority [to ask for that]," [...] The most I've felt comfortable asking people to wear masks so far is saying, 'Please wear your masks tonight; we have more dates we gotta play,' into the mic.

But "catching COVID might scuttle the tour" is only the start of it, as all of this completely ignores the specter of Long COVID. Wait until two years from now when you learn that your favorite band isn't a band any more, because the financial pressure to crowd into small rooms with antimaskers and antivaxxers means that now they have MS, or diabetes, or 20% lung function, and -- oh yeah -- no health insurance. (Are you kidding? They were in a band.)

Here's a nice write-up about our upcoming Just Add Heather show this Sunday:

SF's Only Show With Live Cabaret and Live Baking

It started with a dessert -- remember how all of a sudden during lockdown, everyone was baking? "Nobody could go out and buy pastries," Thiel says. "I thought, why don't I just do my recipes and sing?" [...]

And once things did open up again for live performance, opportunity came knocking. Jim Sweeney, producer of The World-Famous Hubba Hubba Revue, approached her about potentially creating a live stage show for the DNA Lounge. With his encouragement, and with a new direction to go in with the show, Thiel found herself an old portable Wolf convection oven that could be brought onstage -- and the rest, as they say, is history. Just Add Heather Live premiered in the DNA's intimate upstairs lounge, and after an extremely successful first show, they've been upgraded to the main stage for this Sunday's blowout showcase. [...]

There aren't many backyard pandemic web series that can say they've found their way onto the DNA's Main Stage (trust me, I tried it myself), but of all the ones that can, Just Add Heather might just take the cake -- because at this show, you might actually get to EAT the cake!
This week was the return of the Game Developers Conference, which is historically significant as the cancellation of GDC 2020 and our week of related events was our first indication that the shit had, in fact, hit the fan. The whole city went into lockdown shortly after those GDC cancellations. (And that was back when our daily case rate was about a quarter of what it is today. You know, before everyone was just "over it".)

It was extremely nice to see that GDC was requiring both masks and boosters. Weird when a tech conference cares more about safety than the city of San Francisco!

Also last week, we finally had the Haru Nemuri show (and here's a nice review of it). This show was originally scheduled for March 29, 2020; then it was rescheduled to Sep 11, 2020; then to Mar 27, 2021; then to Nov 4, 2021; and finally to this one! I think that's the last of our 2020 reschedules.

Some POW photos, with our epic projections:

Also our GDC Meetup party the following night was so popular that a full 10% of GDC's total attendance came to DNA Lounge that night. That's pretty good!

We also have a bunch of other live shows coming up soon:

D.O.A + The Death Set
John 5 + The Haxans
Nascar Aloe
Front Line Assembly
Brujeria + Goatwhore
And I haven't done a photo roundup in a while, so here are some recent galleries. As you look at these galleries, you may be saying to yourself, "Hey, self, the DNA Lounge stage lighting is looking pretty amazing these days". Thank you, you're right!

Kool Keith
So Stoked
Noise Pop: King Woman + Spiritual Cramp
Noise Pop: Tipling Rock + The Rare Occasions
Indie Nite

Haru Nemuri
Taylor Swift Night
Psyber Punk
Omnium Gatherum
Bridge City Sinners

23-Mar-2022 (Wed) Wherein we raise the roof

Happy 99th birthday to the DNA Lounge roof! This photo was taken on this day in 1923:

And pictured in this slightly earlier photo is the fellow who built this building, Dave Lerer, who was our current landlord's grandfather. He's the one in the dapper waistcoat.

More details on the 1906-1998 page.

Here's John Oliver's piece from last night on multinational superpredator TicketMaster / Live Nation:

You may remember TicketMaster from such hits as:

Noted public-health policy scofflaw Mayor Breed recently announced that proof of vaccination will no longer be required to enter restaurants, bars and nightclubs. She framed this as helping our businesses. Well, this business does not need or want that kind of "help". And I know of quite a few other San Francisco bars and clubs that feel the same way.

DNA Lounge's policy is unchanged: we will continue to take steps necessary to reduce the risk of infection to our staff, families and customers:

  • Proof of full vaccination is required for entry.
  • Fully vaccinated means 2 weeks after your booster, if it has been 6 months since your first round.
  • Masks are required inside.

The Mayor and SFDPH are playing politics with peoples' lives. Pretending that the pandemic is over does not make it so. These are the facts:

  • SF is only 65% fully vaccinated -- not 83% as the mayor continues to disingenuously claim.
  • If you aren't boosted, vaccine efficacy drops to 50%. These days, unboosted is the same as half vaccinated.
  • The BA.2 variant is outstripping Omicron in our wastewater samples. It is 30% more infectious.
  • Most SF cases are breakthrough infections.
  • Long COVID is a real threat to everyone, even the young and healthy, and it is still poorly understood.
  • The bars are going to be packed for St. Patrick's Day.
  • Kids are going to go away for Spring Break, return, and spread their new infections to schools, families and workplaces.
  • Then cases will spike again, just like last time!
  • When you are 3/4ths of the way to the finish line is not when you stop running.

Short of another lockdown, the most effective ways to fight the pandemic are:

  • Vaccinations -- we require them of our staff and customers.
  • Masks -- we require them of our staff and customers.
  • Airflow -- ours is very good.
  • Testing -- we continue to test all of our staff weekly.

Also, just a reminder: CDC recently re-colored the maps to declare victory. These two maps represent approximately the same data:

They made the new "low" threshold be twice the old "high" threshold.

That old map, the all-red map on the left, is a map of new infections per 100k people: it correlates well to your chance of exposure and infection. CDC's term for this is "Community Transmission".

The map on the right is the new one that they say we should be paying attention to instead: the "Community Levels" map, which is basically new infections DIVIDED BY available hospital beds.

So they're saying that it's ok to unmask as long as there is still freezer truck morgue capacity available in your city.

This is all just so exhausting. We are finally almost back down to pre-Delta-surge levels, and that's when they decide to go full YOLO and eliminate every possible mitigation measure. Like all of you, I would also like the pandemic to be over. But, again, wishing does not make it so.

In other news, DNA Pizza opened 11 years ago today. Happy birthday to us!

Update: I have disabled comments on this post because it had become a honeypot for antivaxxers and out-of-state trolls. If you have questions, comments or suggestions about our policies, you can email me directly. Thanks, and stay safe!

Tonight is our final Bootie! We hope to see you there -- after all, everybody loves a funeral! Here's a video of 16 years of Bootie flyers, 2006-2022. RIP.

You may have seen today's announcement from San Francisco's Maskless Mayor Breed (D-Coronavirus) that SF will be dropping all pretense of requiring masks, against the guidance of both the WHO and the CDC.

I truly cannot comprehend peoples' aversion to wearing masks. It's an itty bitty piece of fabric. How is this even a big deal? These people react to being told "you have to wear a mask some times" as if they're being told they can never eat chocolate again.

My new favorite Twitter account:

Neoliberal John Snow: The father of epidemiology, but neoliberal. Addressing preventable disease through deregulation and individualism.

Cholera cases are declining in our community. Now's the time for everyone to resume drinking fecal contaminated water from the Broad Street pump! #FecalUrgencyOfNormal

According to our front door staff, we have been turning a lot of people away for not being boosted, so that's going great. Even though CA lowered the definition of "mega event" to 500 capacity, it seems that the other large local venues have all decided that they'd rather just cap their attendance at 500 than obey the "mega event" rules. Every venue in town that is not named "DNA Lounge" has decided that requiring boosters is a step too far, and they'd rather allow the infectiously under-vaccinated inside.

It is also driving me bonkers that so many people -- even friends -- have developed this attitude of "I'm tired of the pandemic, everyone's going to catch it anyway, so YOLO", and say things like "if you're boosted you're bulletproof".

I'm tired of it too. But you are not bulletproof.

Nobody seems to be taking the prospect of Long COVID seriously, or even considering that it is a thing that exists. To some degree it is hard to blame them, because the press on it is almost nonexistent.

All of the Long COVID articles open with a heart-wrenching profile of some mom who can't get out of bed because of 24/7 debilitating migraines, or some former triathelete who can no longer walk up stairs, but these are anecdotes, not numbers. Many of the articles say that somewhere between 10% and 30% of people who have even asymptomatic cases of COVID will have some Long COVID symptoms. But how severe and what are the odds of those severe outcomes? That's what nobody seems to be able to tell us.

For some people, the symptoms go away in a few months, but for some (how many??) they don't go away at all. Or COVID results in degenerative neurological conditions. There's some evidence that COVID can cause multiple sclerosis (!!) by re-activating and supercharging other viruses that you likely (90%) already have in your system.

COVID is more like polio than it is like the flu: a virus with a long-term impact.

What causes Long COVID?

Long Covid is a condition that arises after acute infection and often includes shortness of breath, fatigue, and "brain fog" but can also involve a wide range of debilitating problems in the heart, brain, lungs, gut, and other organs. According to the WHO's working definition, long Covid usually occurs three months after symptomatic Covid-19 begins and lasts for at least two months. Sometimes, the symptoms just never go away after the initial infection. Occasionally, they appear months after recovery or after an asymptomatic case. This means that if you've recovered from Covid-19, you're not necessarily in the clear.

Short-term and Long-term Rates of Postacute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection

More than half of COVID-19 survivors experienced PASC 6 months after recovery. The most common PASC involved functional mobility impairments, pulmonary abnormalities, and mental health disorders. These long-term PASC effects occur on a scale that could overwhelm existing health care capacity.


We don't remember polio nowadays, only longpolio.

In 29.5%, it presents as diarrhea, GI distress. Only 0.5% of cases present with neurological symptoms. For the vast vast majority of people who got a disease which left hundreds of thousands disabled for the rest of their lives, polio was a few days of having the shits. If that.

There is absolutely no way the US would recognize polio as a problem nowadays, or do anything at all useful to try to stop it.

The First Epistemological Problem of Long Covid:

The question that everyone wants an answer to, "What are the chances that if I get COVID-19 I will also get Long Covid?" isn't one that has an answer. We are not going to get any sort of useful statistics about the prevalence rates of Long Covid, not for a long, long time, and maybe not ever. Because two years into this thing, we still don't have a working definition of Long Covid.

A few weeks ago a good friend said to me, "Eight week ago I caught COVID, boosted, and I still feel like shit" -- and then in the next sentence said, "So are you coming to my birthday party?"

If I believed that the worst thing that might happen to me, being boosted, was a few weeks of having to deal with the worst cold I'd had in my life, I'd have gone to my friend's party. But when I'm reading about possibly-double-digit percentage odds that I could end up with a condition that leads to having to drag an oxygen tank behind me for the rest of my life, or losing the use of my legs, I think I'll be staying home for a while longer.

In the US alone, we're having one 9/11 worth of deaths per day, and will be hitting one million deaths in just a few weeks. The first Omicron surge isn't even over yet and Omicron BA.2 is coming up fast and is 1.5 times more infectious and more able to re-infect.

But Maskless Mayor Breed says "YOLO" so here we are I guess.

Emma Silvers in The Chronicle:

As the omicron variant began to surge last month, some in the Bay Area arts community saw the waves of cancellations as reminiscent of the pandemic's early days, when shelter-in-place orders brought live events to a screeching, definitive halt. But there's a glaring difference this time around: Event organizers and performers are the ones doing the canceling. That's because local officials' current approach to restrictions is a stark contrast to the position they took in March and April 2020. Namely, there aren't many. [...]

"We could have gone through with the show and no one would have stopped us, which is a little insane," Goff told The Chronicle a few weeks later. "The reality is, we as musicians are not qualified to be making these decisions." [...]

"You're backing people into a corner," said Patrick Brown, founder of San Francisco music label Text Me Records. "When it comes down to it, most people will risk their health rather than go bankrupt if you're not giving them any other options." [...]

Indeed, in the absence of new citywide mandates, an increasing number of Bay Area venues have voluntarily adopted new policies aimed at keeping staff and attendees safe. [...]

"We are getting no guidance or support from the city," DNA Lounge owner Jamie Zawinski told The Chronicle. Zawinski referred to Breed's recent statements as "the Trump approach: telling people to 'personal choice' their way out of a structural, societal problem."

"If the mayor cared about protecting people rather than protecting capital, all restaurants and bars would be closed right now ... (but) for us to just unilaterally close down, while every other nightclub is going full speed ahead, isn't really an option. For that to happen, we would need support from our government, both legal and financial, and that support doesn't exist anymore." [...]

Low ticket sales due to COVID fears aren't helped by the reality that people don't want to buy tickets if they're not sure a show will actually happen. Then there's the fact that most hourly venue staff have no safety net when they're called off work because a performance was canceled -- as opposed to when clubs were shuttered and they could file for unemployment.

I am sorry to say that Saturday, Feb 12 will be the final Bootie at DNA Lounge. There's one more remaining before that, this Saturday, Jan 29.

Bootie began as a monthly party at Cherry Bar (formerly Covered Wagon, later Codeword) in August 2003. They first joined us here at DNA Lounge in February 2005, when they began hosting the Lounge during our monthly Pop Roxx parties. Then, having outgrown Cherry Bar, Bootie moved to DNA Lounge as a monthly party starting in March 2006. It was an immediate hit, doing impressively higher numbers than the tiny CW room had allowed. By February 2008 we expanded it to twice a month, then to weekly in October 2009, and eventually to four rooms in October 2012.

Bootie was more than just another DJ dance party; every event included a hugely varied cast of underground and alternative performers -- drag, burlesque, aerialists, circus arts. At the height of its power, Bootie was not only giving those performers access to a huge audience that would otherwise be inaccessible to them, but it was also exposing that audience to a wide variety of performance art that many of them had never seen before. And that's a public service. At every event, you could look down at the crowd at the edge of the stage and see a bunch of faces looking up in amazement, with "what the fuck am I even seeing right now?" written all over them.

And when Bootie first started at DNA, it was also one of the horniest crowds I had ever seen. You don't even know.

For many years, it was far and away our most successful event. Bootie was what paid the bills and kept the lights on. When other events were slow, or there was a bad month, at least there was Bootie. In fact, Bootie's great attendance in the 2010-2012 era was a contributing factor to our decision to expand into next door and open DNA Pizza and Above DNA: we needed the space!

But, what goes up must come down...

We started getting concerned about Bootie's attendance around 2017, and we tried a bunch of different things to reverse the trend. We switched it to 18+, and then we began spending a huge amount of money on promotion, not just online advertising but also getting posters and flyers wayyyy out into the suburbs. Our thinking was, "It's a pop party on a Saturday. If people aren't showing up, it's because we aren't reaching them."

Though, to me -- and not all of our team agree with me on this -- one of the biggest red flags was when we reached the point where half of the people coming in immediately asked our staff, "Where's the hiphop room?" They came to Bootie, but they weren't here for Bootie. What they wanted to hear was exactly the same music you can hear for no cover at every corner bar in town, or any town. And they sure had no interest in seeing a drag show. What made Bootie unique wasn't what drew them to us: they were here just because it was a Saturday. The "community" aspect of the party had faded.

Anyway, that aside, our big promotional push actually seemed to be working! In mid- to late-2019, our Bootie attendance numbers began trending upward again...

And then, oops, pandemic. And it never really recovered.

Now obviously everything has sucked in 2021 and 2022, across the board, but even in comparison to our other events, Bootie was in the ICU. So, it was time for it to stop being weekly. We hoped that it could recover as a monthly, and we were planning on giving that a shot beginning next month. But, Adriana decided that instead of continuing at DNA as a monthly, she'd rather find a smaller room and take Bootie to another venue. We wish her the best of luck.

It's a bummer, and we will miss Bootie, but 16 years (or 19, depending on how you count) is an incredibly long lifetime for a party. It is nearly unprecedented.

We hope to see you at those final two parties! Masked and boosted.

Dooooooooon't stop........ belieeeeeeeeeeevin'........