By Derek Opperman
Certain record stores are kind of like coal mine canaries: When they start dying off, it's an early sign that the health of a city's electronic dance music scene is in jeopardy. Following such logic, San Francisco's scene was almost near death in the late aughts, when nearly all the smaller shops folded, leaving only larger retailers like Amoeba and Rasputin to stock dance records. But this past year has seen the arrival of two new, vinyl-centric shops that provide local house and techno DJs with the kind of bangers that keep dancers on the floor till the wee hours.
Vinyl Dreams (593 Haight; soundcloud.com/vinyl-dreams-records) was the first to open last May. Over the years, this location has been the site of a number of important record stores, including Black Pancake Records and Tweekin' Records, which occupied the space from the '90s to the mid-'00s. Owner Michelangelo Battaglia keeps his store focused primarily on new releases, with weekly restocks of some of the most interesting and forward-thinking labels in contemporary underground dance music, like L.I.E.S., Ostgut Ton, and Golf Channel. Every month or so, he hosts in-store performances, which temporarily transform the space into a community hangout, sometimes with a fair amount of dancing.
Last October, Josh Woods, along with brothers Sohrab and Askander Harooni, opened up RS94109 (835 Larkin, 590-2943; rs94109.com) in the heart of the Tenderloin. Unlike Vinyl Dreams, its focus is less on new material than on providing a library-like resource of quality secondhand tracks. The Harooni brothers spent some time in Berlin, and wanted to replicate aspects of the German capital's thriving record store culture. So the aesthetic at RS94109 is minimal: a large space filled with record bins dedicated to every strain of house and techno, as well as more avant-garde forms like '80s industrial and noise.