Lost in the Night: Go Bang! 3 Year Anniversary
Friday, Nov. 26, 2011
Better than: The Shagadelics live in concert.
Somewhere in the mid-'00s, the impossible happened. Disco, arguably one of the most reviled (or, really, misunderstood) forms of music, somehow worked its way back into being cool. Along with this, San Francisco saw a boom in disco parties and the growth of a community that had been dormant in previous years. This new disco scene saw a bridge formed between a new breed of mostly straight disco DJ/promoters and the city's older (and mostly gay) underground disco community. No party in the city is a better example of this phenomenon than Go Bang!, the monthly disco party at Deco Lounge that just last Saturday celebrated its third anniversary.
The Deco Lounge looms large over the intersection of Turk and Larkin. Its neon blue lighting and curvy faux art-deco décor stand in bombastic contrast to the street's natural shade of Tenderloin grey. The overall effect is something like a transposed Reno strip club; it's a sleazy kind of place that looks like it's seen its fair share of depravity. Inside, the feeling is even more pronounced. A mazelike space, the Deco features more nooks and crannies than most any other dive bar I've been to: there's the bar, the dancefloor, the back room with the pool table, a rather conspicuous basement, and (I hear) an upstairs room as well.
Yet, while the Deco is quite a trip in its own right, it's really what Go Bang! does with the bar that deserves description. It's a highly decorated affair, with huge black and white posters, balloon clusters, and homemade decorations thrown about everywhere in a chaotic mess of primary colors. The feeling was a lot like Tubesteak Connection, with a fetish-like devotion to invoking the past through iconography. Also present was a strong sense of internal mythology, with lovingly selected images of the club's many DJs and affiliates lining the walls.
We arrived just in time to catch the set of local production duo (and one time Go Bang! residents) Tres Lingeries. Known for their '80s R&B influenced productions (check out this video of them performing "Desperate" live with vocalist James Anthony), they stayed true to their roots by dropping an all-vinyl set of '80s garage and jazz-funk. Tracks like Serious Intention's "You Don't Know" and The Real Thing's "Can You Feel the Force" warmed up the small but growing dancefloor.
Up next was Gemini Disco's Nicky B. (full disclosure, we started that party together), who kicked the party into high gear with a set of era-spanning cuts. His selections, which included Bob Sinclar's "Disco 2000 Selector," Vicki Sue Robinson's cover of Bobby Womack's "Daylight," and Midnight Magic's cover of Native Underground's "Push4Love" were some of the evening's more eclectic offerings. Midway through his set, the dancefloor became almost uncomfortably packed with an electrically enthusiastic crowd that interacted directly with the music by clapping along, screaming during breaks, and playing an assortment of tambourines. At one point, I looked over to find a man in a Remember the Party T-shirt doing elaborate fan dances.
All around me a diverse group had converged under the evening's inclusive spirit. Many present were wearing Go Bang t-shirts, a testament to just how dedicated the party's following has become. The sense of community created an energy that even overcame the Deco's modest soundsystem (which could be criticized, but let's be honest, it's a dive bar). That being said, it ought to be mentioned that there was never a moment where the system was too loud or distorted, all the DJs seemed mindful of the room's limitations.
Also worth mentioning is the visual array in the Deco's dancefloor, which is extremely impressive given the size of the room. Thick lasers crisscross each other to create a Tron-like grid of neon green, while spinning disco lights project pulsating multi-color rings on every surface. Easily the best part of the lighting rig is that it's controllable from the booth, effectively allowing a creative DJ to envelop the room in a comprehensive audiovisual experience.
Sergio Fedasz and Steve Fabus took control of the room at 12:30. The current resident DJs of the party, their arrival was met with wild screams from the now packed room. They plunged immediately into a set of straightforward disco classics that was so well programmed it sounded like a prerecorded mix. Tracks like Dan Hartman's "Vertigo/Relight My Fire" and Sylvester's "I Need You" floated in and out of the soundscape with a razor sharp precision that was buffeted by ample and creative usage of their mixer's delay and flange effects. The highlight of the night was easily when they dropped their brand-new re-edit of the club's namesake disco anthem, Dinosaur L's "Go Bang!" People screamed as they became hypnotized by the new arrangement, which emphasizes the classic's trippiness through extensive loops and dub-like effects.
Finally, Honey Soundsystem's Ken Vulsion took over. Starting his set with Candido's "Jingo" he segued from classic disco into a house groove that kept the room packed and sweating until at least when we stumbled out, tired from dancing, around 2:30.