No Way Back presents Mark E Quark
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Better than: A club without such an amazing lighting array?
It had just barely become Sunday morning when our cab rolled to a stop at the corner of Turk & Hyde. Traffic whizzed behind us as we got out and integrated with the small pocket of stragglers assembled in a makeshift line at the door. Nervous clouds of smoke floated through the air as I watched a man in busted shape try to sell a DSLR camera body to a group of hipsters. We were back in the Tenderloin at 222 Hyde again.
It's a strange thing, but I feel as though I have a nostalgic connection to the place. Back in the early 2000s, 222 Hyde was where I first tried to cut my teeth as a novice promoter, with a soul night that never really went anywhere. In those days, the club was a shadow of its current self, with an underpowered soundsystem, hostile neighbors, and only a beer and wine license. Go to the club today and you'll find little evidence, beyond the pizzas, of what its was setup like back then -- and I have to admit that's a good thing. More than any other club in the city, it seems to be a place of constant change and surprise. Over the years 222 Hyde has managed to transform itself from a modest bolthole into one of the city's most unique spaces. The past couple months saw the club close down and renovate once again, with the newest addition being an unreal lighting array that you'd imagine would only exist in a high-tech city like Berlin, London, or Tokyo.
Then, we were inside, ordering a round of drinks. The upstairs at 222 Hyde is a narrow space, about a person wide. The counter-top dominates the room like one of those old railcar diners, forcing clubbers into close physical contact with one another. Bricks line the back wall, and muted lighting provides the room with the kind of relaxed ambiance you might expect from some monosyllabic wine bar. Music broadcast over the P.A. hinted at heavy activity on the dancefloor below.
Downstairs, a comfortably spaced crowd had already started to perspire as DJ Mark Quark carefully adjusted the knobs attached to the club's rotary mixer. Looking like someone long dedicated to his craft, Quark held a steady composure, maintaining an eye on the dancefloor as he served an immaculate mix of uptempo house. Flipping through his records, he pulled out one from the back of the pile, cued it up, and slowly worked it in. The anxious rhythm of the previous record dissolved into a tail, as the techy rhythm of Blond:ish's "It's Too Late" came into being.
Soon, Colin Blunstone's recontextualized vocals filled the room with the lyrics of The Zombies' "She's Not There", and the song erupted into a dub-like bassline. Above our heads, the ceiling began to glow and move. Looking over I saw, local DJ and producer Navid Izadi perched in the corner pushing faders and buttons on a master control. Squares of multicolored light pulsed to life, reorganizing themselves and flashing (for strobe effect) in time to the music. In seconds the dancefloor resembled one of those geometric Exploratorium exhibits. With Izadi controlling things, the light show synced up to Quark's set, adding a trippy extra dimension of immersion to the evening.
Quark shoved his glasses up his nose and reached for another record. Out in the crowd, a man in an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt shook his pecs while a girl in a skimpy dress and sailor hat fell all over herself. There was space made for the flashier ones, but the mass of dancers kept going. Lights circled around our heads as Quark fed into the oddly appropriate euphoric disco of Dr. Dunks' "Keep it Cheap." The vocal in constant refrain chanted, "Now we here forever/ Moving lights all around me" as the track chugged towards an ecstatic '70s trance crescendo.
Yet, as soon as it had begun, it was over. One thing that unfortunately hasn't changed is that 222 Hyde and San Francisco both have a hard time partying past 2 a.m. The lights came on, and a bouncer came downstairs to try and scare the room empty. Regardless, those still present stood around and cheered Quark on, a hero from old San Francisco back on the decks in fine form.