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Public Works: Tucked into an alley at the northern edge of the Mission District — look for a Banksy stencil and a bunch of other great street-art murals on the outside wall — Public Works is a multi-use space that hosts art shows, DJ dance events, live music, and more on its two floors. It's become one of the city's hippest hangouts in only a short period of time, attracting diverse crowds that include queer party fanatics, electro-house hipsters, exploratory foodies, gallery crawlers, and other San Franciscans looking for the latest in artsy underground entertainment. 161 Erie, 932-0955, publicsf.com.
The Riptide: With its roaring fireplace, wood-paneled walls, hearty drinks, and amazing free live music calendar, the Riptide is a cozy home away from home for many. DJs spin punk, ska, and metal on Wednesday through Friday nights, with folk, bluegrass, and Americana bands and players taking over Saturdays and Sundays. Homemade vittles on Friday evening, surf videos on the TV, and a friendly staff make this a perfect after-beach warm-up spot. 3639 Taraval, 759-7263, riptidesf.com.
Ruby Skye: One of San Francisco's most well-heeled dance clubs, this multilevel venue is host to steamy house-music and trance DJs (with several special guests and events each month), weekly concerts, and corporate parties. 420 Mason, 693-0777, rubyskye.com.
Slate Bar: Som Bar has rebranded itself as Slate, but the mod-minimalist decor and funky DJs remain. 2925 16th St., 558-8521, slate-sf.com.
The Stud: Although small and cramped when packed, the Stud rules over other gay clubs with some of the best local DJs, innovative club nights, wild drag queen performances, and overall atmosphere. This old SOMA standby eschews the flashy glitz of trendy new nightclubs, instead cultivating a comfortable, almost bordello-like environment with lots of warm wood surfaces and plenty of dark corners in which to canoodle with your latest date. 399 Ninth St., 863-6623, studsf.com.
The Uptown: So you're a new hipster in town. Or you've just decided that you want to have sex with a hipster. Where should you go? Try the Uptown, particularly on Wednesdays when beer is extra-cheap. You'll know you've arrived when you begin to feel vaguely uncomfortable and notice all the chained-up fixies, their owners puffing cigarettes outside and snubbing homeless people. Head inside, though, and the quirk, red-tinted innards of Uptown and its warm weirdness welcome you to stay a while. Maybe it's the cushy old booths, or the pool table that's slightly off. All we know is that seven PBRs later, you'll be playing Simpsons pinball against some guy with big sunglasses and a pet rat on his shoulder, wondering when your Steely Dan jukebox selection will come on. That is when you know you are home. 200 Capp, 861-8231.
Underground SF: This small, dark, and unpretentious Lower Haight spot attempts to inject a subversive element back into the nightclub scene — and, for the most part, it succeeds. The music runs the gamut (from vintage disco to drum 'n' bass to hip-hop to reggae), as does the crowd. A good place to escape from upscale and trendy nightclubbers. 424 Haight, 864-7386, facebook.com/undergroundsf.