9-Oct-2012 (Tue) Wherein some days you just can't get rid of a bomb.

So they make us put in this ridiculous fifteen-fucking-thousand dollar fire alarm system, which is the most useless thing in the world. Both buildings already have sprinkler heads every three damned feet: heat opens the valve, water flows, flow detector calls FD. Done. But no, that's not good enough, now they insist on literally dozens of sirens and strobes (um, in a nightclub) and a sound-system cutoff, and smoke detectors (um, in a nightclub). The guy who installed it said, "Oh, yeah, your fog machine will definitely set off the smoke detectors. Anything sets them off, even bad breath, if you get too close." So that's gonna be, you know, A Problem.

All these extra sensors required miles of additional hard conduit, because you also aren't allowed to put them in the same conduit as anything else. That's not labor-intensive or anything. Just running the wires took weeks.

This alarm does absolutely fuck-all to improve safety. All it does it guarantee that we're going to have more false alarms because of its ridiculous and unnecessary complexity (we've already had several), and it will eventually make us need to issue a bunch of refunds when the stupid thing kills the sound in the middle of an event.

So we had our inspection for this white elephant of a fire alarm and the inspector insisted on some tweak to one sensor, and wanted to come back and re-inspect once that was done. This was last Monday. "Oh, but I'm out of town until next week." So we called to see if we could get a different inspector to do it sooner. That other guy said, "Hey, you have a hood above your ovens, that's not on the fire alarm plan." "That's because it wasn't in our scope of work at all, we didn't touch anything over there." "Well it's got to be hooked in to the alarm, too." "But... these plans have been approved for months... And the hood's not even electronic, it's fully mechanical... What... Our real inspector didn't have a problem with it!" "Well I guess you'd better get him to sign off on it then, because I'm a dick."

So that lost us a week. For no reason.

We finally passed that alarm inspection, which was our last, so at this point we've gotten job-card signatures on everything, and all that's left is for the building inspector to sign, basically just confirming that all the other inspections are done. It's a meta-signature. Can we bring the paperwork down to him and have him just sign it? No. He wants to come back out one more time. But he's so busy, he can't make it until Thursday. "Busy? But it will be faster for you if I bring it to you!" "No, I'm too busy for that." As far as I can tell, he's not coming back out here to actually inspect anything, but just to... sign the card while he's in our building.

So that lost us a second week. For no reason.

Gaaaaaaah! We're supposed to be open in 18 days! We have no time for this nonsense!

16 Responses:

  1. nooj says:

    Fifteen thousand!? Holy god!

    What's your legal requirement if the alarm goes off? Do you have to get everyone out of the building? Or do they just leave of their own accord because it's go goddamn loud? I lived in a brand new building in Palo Alto for a year, and we had stuff like this. After three false alarms, I kept 35dB earplugs (the best I could find) by the bed. It was still deafening.

    The Fireman's comment when he cleared the alarm? "Don't burn your toast."

  2. James says:

    Does the fire department charge for the false alarms? If so, is there a civil liability angle that could be used to get the fog-detecting smoke detectors turned off during business hours?

    • nooj says:

      False alarms in our building were $1000 each, unless someone got a phone call to the FD to cancel before the engine left (which never happened). (Real alarms surely start at the $1000 appearance fee.)

  3. Ian says:

    I used to be responsible for the safety of bands etc who came to perform at my university. The earth leakage circuit breaker on the main 200A electricity supply for the stage tripped at something like 15mA, compared with something like 50mA for one for a domestic 13A socket. Obviously, the first thing I was taught to do by my predecessor was how to disable it.

  4. Ian says:

    Who signed this off as fit for purpose in that environment? How good is their professional liability insurance?

    • nooj says:

      His name is Mr. Fire Marshal, and it's fantastic. He's protected by deeply intertwined, foot-thick layers of bureaucracy, case law, and policy. Remember, no one ever gets fired for overreacting to a tragedy/threat/risk.

  5. madopal says:

    I expected more nuns and ducks in this story.

  6. Something's rotten in SF. We are currently refitting a a venue (UK) and there are only heat detectors on that floor of the building.

    PA trip is standard though.

  7. Sirenidae says:

    (wherein Jesus isn't holding up an exit sign, but the old exit gets resurrected anyway)

    Most women don't especially enjoy having to walk through such bright lighting as in DNA pizza,

    ***every single time they exit or re enter the club***

    Please let people exit through the old exit....?


    It's ruined the whole experience of being able to go outside and re enter club,
    and truly isn't fair to women who only work up the nerve to wear more revealing outfits
    by telling each other :

    "It's fine, because it's so dark in the club, nobody can see anything"

    Almost every woman I have ever known at a nightclub has
    uttered those words at some point. If there's a nightclub open somewhere
    now, a woman in the ladies' restroom is saying to her friend
    these exact words:

    "It's fine, because it's so dark in the club, nobody can see anything."

    Well, that comforting thought is history now......as few women are comfortable
    wearing revealing outfits under harsh exacting lighting such as in DNA Pizza.
    Females might play along for awhile and keep quiet for the sake of being supportive,
    polite or liked - but DNA Lounge has broken the cardinal unspoken rule of
    nightclubs everywhere.

    DNA is now the ONLY SF CLUB that forces females to walk through almost
    super market bright lighting (twice, once when going out, and yet again when
    coming back in / extremely awkward if they have to put on a coat to cover up
    to just come AND go) in order to smoke or get some fresh air.

    Is coat-check prepared for all the extra action? And is a tip expected for it,
    on top of the hassle?

    It makes me wonder if there are enough female managers working at the
    DNA Lounge, that nobody considered this.

    It's doubtful with even a small amount of female input this issue
    wouldn't have been considered extremely important.

    A priority even.

    While the DNA Lounge has a great track record for progressive shows,
    tolerance, and authentic support of diversity, this never having occurred to
    any of the managers before it being made policy highlights that females voices
    (with policy making power) possibly are in short supply….???

    A matter that might merit some real attention.

    DNA Lounge may have cutting edge appreciation for,
    and celebration of women, but it has left female comfort out of the equation
    when instituting this thoughtless new policy.

    The comfort level of females who frequent the establishment,
    bringing in the mother lode of profits, should be as much a priority
    as observing any building code.

    In the long run, its the more crucial, and the less costly of the two imperatives.

    Common courtesy toward the female experience may not be enforced like the city's
    zoning laws, but neither is tipping.

    And we all know what we say about people who are poor tippers…..

    Don't let DNA Lounge become the "poor tipper" of the industry when it comes to
    the treatment of females. Taking, but not giving back, in equal proportion
    because their hand isn't being forced by the law.

    Of course, exceptions like go go dancers and performers and
    very drunk women may contradict this,
    but the vast majority of regular women want to exit and re enter a night club
    with as little extreme lighting on their bodies as at any other nightclub.

    Less is ~more~ when it comes to nightclubs and light.

    Why else are the lights at the end of the night called the "ugly lights"
    by industry professionals ?

    Why do women call it :


    When women are accidentally required to have to walk home in dawn's early light,
    still dressed in extra revealing sexy clothes from the night before ?

    Partly...because they are uncomfortable in a well lit public space in risqué attire, and
    the loss of privacy/control/dignity that entails.

    Nothing else can produce the magical glamour
    of what one talented nightclub lighting technician can perform for a woman's
    self-esteem, image, or persona in a nightclub.

    Standard artful nightclub lighting also allows the introvert to
    dabble in low-commitment extroversion or exhibition, without heavy consequence,
    worry or fear.

    Less fear = more fun.

    Traditional nightclub lighting = less fear.

    Women depend on it to boost their self esteem
    and make possible a glamorous evening where they feel sexy
    and desirable.

    Standard shadowy nightclub lighting essentially airbrushes away the ravages of
    mortality with flattering lights, which is relaxing for more than
    just women. It's win-win for both genders.

    It may amount to smoke and mirrors in the end,
    but the confidence it gives women adds to their poise/grace and
    interestingly enough, with enough confidence, they sometimes
    transcend their actual physical limits
    and achieve genuine beauty…..from the inside out.

    Funny how that works, huh ?

    Feeling beautiful, they often become radiant with
    authentic beauty, which is the ~genuine magic~
    that nightclub's are celebrated for.

    A "magic" worth preserving.

    Now, women who frequent DNA Lounge are obliged to endure
    the 'ugly lights' so many times in an evening, the charm of
    the night life experience is lost.

    The 'magic' so transitory, weak
    and fleeting, the night's inherent seductiveness
    nose dives before anybody's dream can get off the ground.

    If attending ANY event at DNA requires a 'walk of shame'
    that forces girls to reveal flaws that they, and their boyfriends may not have
    noticed in standard nightclub lighting….suddenly a glamorous night out on the town
    feels more like an x-ray machine at the airport…..sharing much more
    information about the state of their body/health/sexuality, or even who
    they are leaving with……than they might voluntarily choose.

    The difference is : Limited options for airports make
    the intrusive and uncomfortable mandatory, whereas with a
    nightclub, this intrusion into people's personal space isn't a matter of
    safety - it's 100% unnecessary, and unlike with the airport, there ARE
    other nightclubs, in fact all of them in SF, that would never dream of
    imposing this on their female patrons.

    Now, at DNA Lounge, women are required to pass through not just a short expanse,
    like the old exit, but an ENTIRE RESTAURANT with their short skirts, cleavage,
    and other clothes, they call "club clothes" in part, because they would only ever
    wear them under the gentle, women friendly light/darkness of a nightclub!

    It's insensitive and unfair to one gender in particular.

    The one that benefits most from respectful lighting that allows both privacy and dignity.

    Women should be free to choose to dance in revealing clothes on the dance floor,
    and take a risk, live a little !

    Then not be ~forced~ to have unflattering, invasive and uncomfortable lighting
    on them during the rather lengthy, unwieldy and circuitous walk to the outside area
    (that exiting via DNA Pizza necessitates).

    Forced to show much more skin than the darkness clubs are known
    and cherished for, by sometimes shy and or imperfect bodies.

    If you don't relate, consider
    the last time you took your girlfriend, wife, sister, mother, daughter,
    or female friend shopping for clothing.

    99% of the time females are slightly depressed afterward,
    not over the selection of clothing,
    but by the painful encounter with the unflattering lighting in the
    dressing room.

    If a brief singular visit to a private dressing room is disheartening to
    most females….imagine just how much worse walking a lengthy expanse
    of a brightly illuminated restaurant would be, in skimpy clothes?

    Not alone mind you, but surrounded by people to judge them?
    All those private/physical shortcomings suddenly common knowledge…?

    How would men feel about their private physical shortcomings
    made common knowledge, every time they come and go?

    How many times a night ?
    How humiliating and bizarre, for the typical female.

    It may not be nudity, but most girls showing more skin than they are
    accustomed to - do feel almost naked.

    And that's how girls like to dress at nightclubs, wearing less than
    they are used to wearing….counting on the nightclub to veil
    and blur the difference between fantasy and reality.

    So that they feel "sexy" and not "trashy".

    The difference between a girl feeling sexy or trashy
    is determined by the lighting more often than not.

    No girl I know wants to parade her barely covered bottom
    past seated men eating pizza under lighting that makes the pizza
    look better than it makes her bottom look!

    Let's do some quick and dirty math here :

    1. Women are the lifeblood of the nightclub industry.

    2. If women decided to no longer dress to entice men
    and express their sexuality
    wearing revealing clothing at DNA Lounge
    just how long would DNA Lounge create enough profit
    to stay viable….?

    Without the magnetizing pull of feminine allure,
    how else would DNA Lounge attract the throngs of
    heterosexual men that keep the business open?

    3. When DNA Lounge puts women's needs first,
    DNA Lounge is helping DNA Lounge.

    4. Women spend how much? Billions? On beauty products
    and plastic surgery and diets in the pursuit of an ideal

    5. And now DNA Lounge, unlike other clubs,
    might charge 8 to 15 dollars for a drink, maybe 13 or
    18 for an event and then more for coat check,
    and that's after the woman has already paid for parking,
    gas, the latest fashion, manicure, make-up etc.

    6. Then women can't even rely
    upon DNA to support their agenda of looking and
    feeling good in the most rudimentary way?

    The way every ~other~ club does?

    80% of women have cellulite, and if you don't believe it,
    it's because the lights in nightclubs help preserve the illusion
    that they don't.

    At best, nightclubs and females are a symbiotic relationship.
    If women's most basic preferences/needs are not considered,
    The more seedy underbelly of the nightlife industry is
    exposed to be at worst it's worst….parasitic.

    Some people think :

    "If girls want attention onstage, they must want it all the time
    everywhere in a club, under any light!"

    To assume scantily clad girls will automatically enjoy ~additional exposure~
    such as exiting/re entering via DNA Pizza is akin
    to saying because a girl sleeps around she will automatically sleep
    with you, and then treating her accordingly.

    The 'naughty', 'saucy', 'racy', 'daring' attire men so enjoy watching women wearing
    is only fun…….when it's consensual.

    When it's the female's choice, and her choice alone.
    Not when it's mandatory, or the result of peer pressure,
    or the product of a binding conformity…..NOT when it's more
    convenient for :

    * * * s h o w c a s i n g the most expensive new doors in the club * * *

    Not, when it's the price of admission….or price of exit/re entry in this
    rather unusual case.

    In the past, it was almost a forgone conclusion that the treatment of
    women at DNA Lounge was superior to most other nightclubs in SF,
    in many ways.

    At this juncture, with this new, pointless burden placed on any women
    wanting to go to ANY event at DNA, the other clubs in SF are
    starting to seem as if they place women on a much higher pedestal,
    and right about now…..that seems like a wise and refreshing idea.

    In this burgeoning era for DNA Lounge, please don't leave women
    out of the equation? Please don't, via oversight, deprive them of
    what amounts to a community resource? Women are DNA's bread and
    butter. Allow them a place at the table.

    If there are so few policy making female voices present at DNA Lounge
    that this policy wouldn't be stopped dead in it's
    tracks from the get go - in what other ways are females at
    DNA Lounge maybe not being given equal time/resources/opportunity
    comfort and input…..?

    Please also take into consideration that it takes a lot of people some courage
    to even walk in the dimly lit door, the front door, and then more courage to take
    off their coat even in the dimly lit club. So this new set-up will only wear on,
    discourage and ultimately, gradually, exclude the less than perfect people,
    and women will feel it first.

    If some would imagine that sets up conditions to weed out the 'ugly' girls
    and fill the DNA Lounge with local supermodels,
    THINK AGAIN, in my experience I have found the most exceptionally "beautiful"
    women (by conventional standards) are often the MOST critical of their appearance
    as they are so close to society's ideal that they
    have the most to lose by the illusion being shattered - or by
    frequent strolls through the 'ugly lights'…

    Something 'pretty' girls could get sick of, pretty quickly.

    So, even the 'beautiful people' may opt out of 'the walk of shame'
    in DNA Lounge's new exit and re entry points via DNA Pizza.

    Once the novelty of the new renovations have worn off,
    other options will be explored, or people might
    even leave before the novelty has worn off, trying to literally save
    face….and maintain their self-respect/dignity/privacy/image/fun.

    It's surprising that this glaring new disincentive to females patronizing
    DNA, would be introduced right before the opening of the new,
    valid, and rumored to be posh areas,
    that DO warrant legitimate excitement and celebration.

    It's surprising as DNA makes such admirable strides forward
    they seem content to advance only one gender in this instance,
    and actually go backwards in terms of serving regular
    women's needs and preferences.

    It would be sad if after the hard work/expense of
    remodeling DNA Lounge and finally meeting the relentless demands
    of an army of building inspectors….the end result was :

    Building into the very structure/architecture itself
    a reminder of women being marginalized/forgotten.

    A standardized "walk of shame" diminishes an entire gender's
    enjoyment of the club. Does DNA Lounge really want to
    open up those new areas and launch this new era, with evidence
    of the paucity of women managers built into the very design?

    With the extra level of stress/embarrassment of mandatory exiting
    and reentry via DNA Pizza, in addition to the cost of drinks
    and the cover to get in, women, and the men who love them might
    find DNA Pizza/DNA Lounge to be asking for much more than
    they are being given back in the nightclub equation.

    Please allow women, and maybe everyone, to exit and re enter through a
    considerately/compassionately, and faintly lit area, like it was before.

    It was a good system.
    It worked.


    It ~DID NOT showcase~ the most expensive doors in DNA history.

    But it DID facilitate a quick, smooth, healthy, fair exit and reentry FOR ALL.

    Let's get back to basics for a moment shall we?

    The old exit was :

    Tested and patron/worker approved?
    Tried and true?

    Easy to find.

    Easy to access - by the drunk, the disabled,
    the confused, and even the stupid among us ?

    I vote for THAT in an exit !

    ( especially in the case of fire or earthquake )

    Hold the pepperoni please?

    Perhaps, maybe, everyone would prefer the dignity and privacy of a clean
    painless escape from the club when they want/need it?

    Not having to meet and greet everybody eating pizza
    with a super sized hassle
    and Kmart lit fuss just because they want to go home?

    Maybe most people prefer a direct, logical and brief exit route
    over an obstacle course that a crowd of meandering drunk people
    ordering pizza creates?

    Maybe it's too convoluted and exhausting a journey for customers
    to find their way out a maze like exit?

    Their eyes still blinking, trying to adjust to
    suddenly being in a bright room, having just come
    from a dark room?

    A walk of shame?

    All to just get away from the maddening crowd ?


    Remember that quaint idea of form/function ?

    The function part of DNA Lounge's exit vanished,
    when the real exit vanished.

    Why not just make patrons locate the holy grail,
    and alphabetize the liquor bottles before they are
    permitted to return to their lives in the lands
    rumored to lie beyond DNA Pizza….?

    DNA is requiring people to ~think too much~ when
    they just want to leave.

    It's asking TOO MUCH OF PATRONS
    by expecting that they can, under the influence of alcohol,
    gracefully plot a course through a crowded restaurant,
    when they just want OUT.

    Between the inevitable walk of shame many women will
    feel defeated by, and the lengthy confusing maze that
    navigating through tables, will create for drunken men,
    when exactly are you planning for people to relax enough
    to have a good time?

    I'm vaguely reminded of amusement park lines circling
    around rides stagnant with congestion. At least those places
    are big enough to support it. There's not enough space inside
    DNA Lounge to accommodate the throng of human
    traffic jams the new 'exit' creates.

    Also, at least at amusement parks, you don't get
    trapped inside a building with all those strangers.

    It's was ALREADY strenuous enough, trying to find your way
    out with a reasonable and obvious exit.

    Also, I fear it's truly dangerous in the event of an emergency
    like a fire, earthquake, or power outage.

    The "pepperoni exit" is creating too much irritation and
    unneeded aggravation, adding extra layers of strain just by
    the crowds attempting to utilize it.

    Aside from how this adversely impacts females,
    I can't imagine why DNA would even ~consider~ adding
    unnecessary stress and fatigue to their already hardworking
    security team.

    Unless burn-out was the goal.

    What exactly do you expect to
    get with the combination of confused/aggravated patrons,
    human traffic jams,
    uncomfortable, marginalized women and potentially
    burned out security?

    Maybe that's just a typical Saturday night in the
    USA for some, but multiply that by 100 and you get what
    DNA Lounge has introduced by removing their valid
    and functional exit - and replacing it with nothing really.

    It feels like there's no exit at all now.

    Like it does when you have to walk through somebody's
    cluttered bedroom every time you need to get to the kitchen,
    trying not to step on their clothes on the floor,
    because they are living in a make-shift crawlspace,
    not an actual bedroom. Oh, they can sleep there pretending
    it's ok, but it's awkward for everybody who wants to use
    the kitchen.

    Whatever the rationale was
    for "trying" this state of the art imposition on women,
    security, and intoxicated male patrons was - it wasn't worth it,
    and it isn't working.

    There isn't some minor adjustment or repackaging for a non-functional
    system that will salvage it. You can talk about how much
    money the project cost all you want and that does not justify
    burdening patrons who need a workable and fair exit.


    It's so awkward it's ~taking away from all the positive changes~ made in other areas.

    In a perfect world, where all bodies and all egos are ideal and equally loved,
    free from imperfect insecurities and damages from abuse,
    scars and stretch marks, maybe the current set-up would delight all
    but here in the real world, the vast majority take comfort in the mystery
    and the obscurity of ~night club lighting - when going to a night club~

    And hey.....?

    That perfect idealized world with all those super ideal bodies
    and egos isn't really what the DNA Lounge is all about....? Right?

    If DNA Lounge truly wants to live up to it's "progressive" aspirations and
    innovative reputation in SF nightlife culture - please include women's
    most basic needs, and the less than perfect,
    less extroverted patron's comfort level in your blueprint for the future ?

    If DNA Lounge is evolving into something somewhere between a community center
    and a counter culture empire…..please remember that those empires
    that get "locked-in" to systems of operating that ignore or marginalize
    those with less power…..are often seen as barbaric to future generations,
    or perhaps even the current generation?

    Worst case scenario would be that in DNA's flourishing expansion and
    crowning growth other nightclubs followed suit, and instead of
    The DNA Lounge leading the way into new lands of technological innovation and
    maverick amelioration, what if, instead, it led us backwards into the dark ages,
    in terms of consideration for women and those with less immediate
    power and influence ?

    Thank you for your time reading this.


    A women with a voice that wants to
    be heard at The DNA Lounge,
    amidst all the much louder voices of building inspectors
    and architects,

    and all the other builders of the way things will be….

    A loyal Customer

    • Kevin Keeler says:

      I ... I have so many feelings about this. All of this. So so much of this.

      I don't know what else to say. I am honestly overwhelmed.

      I admit you made great efforts to support your point.

      I am ... Convinced? I guess. Convinced and vaguely offended? Certainly unsettled. I am not even involved in any of this in any way, and yet the emotions. Rhetoric gets me a bit worked up sometimes.

    • Terran Osiris Rex says:

      So...you're speaking for roughly 51% of the world's population and declaring that all women are the same?

      You, my dear, are far more sexist than DNA Lounge could ever imagine to be.

  8. Sirenidae says:


    wherein women are allowed a place at the table


    It was brought to my attention that DNA Lounge restored the old exit for Monday night's
    weekly event Death Guild, yesterday evening.

    I want to extend my appreciation for accommodating not just my request, but the needs of
    the community, and females especially, so promptly.

    Assuming that is, that the restoration of the traditional exit had any connection to my post/and,
    if it's a permanent change extending to all nights of the week at DNA Lounge.

    If this change only extends to Death Guild, I want to acknowledge and validate Death Guild for
    it's commitment and sensitivity to the community's needs and women in particular, and thank
    DNA Lounge for supporting Death Guild in that choice.

    Thank you to everyone who read the post and who have shown support about this issue and
    I encourage you all to give voice to your opinions about it as well.

    I look forward to DNA Lounge's continuing active participation in allowing women a place at
    the table in many more ways as time goes on, and hope the imminent opening/launch of the new
    additions to DNA Lounge also serve as a reminder to keep moving forward toward the day
    both genders have equal influence at DNA Lounge - and the fresh new opportunity to do so.

    Thank you


  9. Sirenidae says:

    DNA Lounge is NOT sexist.

    DNA Lounge are, overall, THE GOOD GUYS.

    Therefore~worth~ all this trouble.

    Why would I waste my time on the ' bad guys ' ?

    (I'm refraining from crosstalk for the most part, but should anyone have misunderstood,

    or just skimmed, leaving them with the impression that I have implied "sexism", read it

    again - SLOWLY. )


  10. Guest says:

    Just out of curiosity, will you be voting to re-elect San Francisco's mayor and other officials in the next election?

Comments are closed because this post is 10 years old.