World Town Presents Chocolate Puma
Saturday, September 17
Better than: What you think Ruby Skye is like.
Big, expensive, and a little gaudy -- there are few clubs in San Francisco that provoke such an immediate visceral reaction among dance music aficionados as Ruby Skye. Ask a local and they might rattle off some quip about venereal diseases, spray tans, and/or fist pumping.
Yet, despite some of the negative mythology surrounding the place, Ruby Skye has one of the most loyal followings of any club in the city, boasting regular sold-out performances from some of the biggest names in electronic dance music. With an interest in finding out what it's really like on the inside, my photographer and I headed down to Union Square Saturday night.
If you've been downtown on a weekend, you've probably seen the line at Ruby Skye. To say it's massive is an understatement: the line runs from the mouth of the club at 420 Mason on down around the corner of Geary. It's a boisterous and loud scene that resembles a junior United Nations: a place where tourists of all flags meet a diverse assortment of Bay Area residents. We cued up and waited a good 45 minutes before finally getting in. During that time I got a good look at our neighbors. Directly in front of us, a Vietnamese family (from Grandma on down) awaited bottle service. Behind us, two middle-aged Australian men flirted with a group of scantily clad girls. The vibe was friendly -- the common ground between everyone was an unpretentious desire for a good time.
The Ruby Skye experience is all about total sensory overload. The first thing that hits you as you walk into the main room is the sound. Ruby Skye has one of the best systems in the city, with non-fatiguing highs and a killer bass that you can feel in your gut. The next thing you notice is the sheer visual spectacle of it all. High on the ceiling is a disco ball surrounded by a moving, flying saucer-like lighting array. Lasers, disco lights, strobes, and projections bathe the room in a bewildering grid of pulsating color. Fluorescent go-go dancers work the stage, providing tasteful aerobic encouragement for the packed dance floor. At the back of the room, a DJ booth built from flat-screen TVs provides an ever-shifting focal point.
We joined the throng of dancers and made our way to the center of the floor to enjoy some tribal house played by resident DJ (and World Town promoter) Trevor Simpson. On our way, he dropped the room deep into a breakdown. The lights went immediately dark and two spotlights started searching in time to an endless rising tone. An aggressive electronic drum roll snapped the room to a peak of tension, highlighted by the dull glow of red lights. Then, out of nowhere (but completely on time), the beat dropped and the room exploded. Giant streams of CO2 steam shot out of five ducts on all sides of the dance floor. It felt like the entire building had just had an orgasm.
As we danced, Dutch classic house production duo Chocolate Puma took the stage. They played a two-hour set of well-mixed house with an emphasis on tribal sounds and a few forays into more straightforward filter disco. Like Simpson, they worked the crowd with huge breakdowns (sometimes going to dead silence) and buzzy risers. Their set was a textbook example of precise DJing: everything mixed in key and with a rhythmic smoothness. My only complaint was that it sometimes seemed too perfect, at times almost bordering on algorithmic. When my girlfriend was snapping their photo, she asked, "You guys could have just kept on going, couldn't you?" To which they responded in heavily accented English, "Yes, it's vat vee do."
The musical highlight of the evening occurred later on, well after Chocolate Puma stepped off. Local DJ Vin Sol took the decks for a full two hours. Playing a set that matched Chocolate Puma in its energy, Sol took a chance and tried Robert Hood's Detroit techno classic "The Pace." Granted, it was about 3:30 in the morning, but the sizeable crowd of dancers ate the flashing burst of energy like it was a PowerBar. Needless to say, we all stayed till the party finally ended at 4 a.m.
Check out more of Kahley Avalon Emerson's photos from the party here.
1. Together - So Much Love To Give
2. Rogerseventytwo - You Take Me Higher
3. Congorock - Babylon
4. Prodigy - Everybody in the Place
5. Danny Daze - Your Everything feat. Louisahhh!!!
6. Calvin Harris - Feel So Close
7. Duck Sauce - The Big Bad Wolf
8. Robert Hood - The Pace
9. Swedish House Mafia - Save the World Tonight
10. Chocolate Puma - Whohaddrums
Lost in the Night is a column that follows the adventures of former promoter Derek Opperman as he reviews the shifting world of San Francisco nightlife. If you have a party that you would like covered, email firstname.lastname@example.org.