Love Will Fix It
Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012
Better than: Watching your night unfold via Instagram.
In the latest edition of club-related technophobia, cell phones have grown increasingly under fire. It wasn't but a couple weeks ago that Francois Kevorkian publicly mused on his Facebook page that it might be better if certain parties in New York began explicitly banning their use as "necessary measures taken in order to maintain the balance between the listener and the music." In some ways this is the logical extension of the way in which certain parties and cultural institutions ban photography inside their premises. After all, usage of cellphones is just as bad if not worse, as they tend to disconnect and mediate away from the present physical experience. Go out to most clubs and you'll invariably run into large groups of people staring like vidiots into their mobile device of choice. While there does seem to be something obviously wrong with this, it's hard to measure exactly what it is without an alternative -- something we seem to have lost in the past decade.
Luckily, in San Francisco, one promoter has led the charge on this since even before Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram began virtualizing reality as we know it. "No cell phonz thanks! & Please no "texting" at the bar" reads the sign on the door at every single Bus Station John party. This grew partly out of nostalgia -- he's most famous for Tubesteak Connection, an event that strives to bring back aspects of '70s cruising culture, with all the accompanying technical constraints -- but also out of a demonstrated philosophy that's humanist in nature: his parties are about the pleasures of contact both social and physical. Momentarily barred from the digital escape of SMS and the Internet, Bus Station John events have a feeling of cohesion and honest intensity that is often sadly lacking elsewhere. All of this and more was on display last Saturday at Love Will Fix It, his newest party, which was celebrating its first anniversary.
Going to Bus Station John's nights is always an adventure. Probably one of the only promoters in the city still actively looking for new venues, he ignores the larger clubs in favor of mostly unknown dive bars. The Hot Spot, his latest find, is a dingy sports bar on the wrong side of Market Street near Van Ness. When I arrived, the only thing signalling the party inside was a hunched over man in a Mummy costume and a layed-out drunk holding a pink balloon. Maybe this disparity between destitute surroundings and party interior (Aunt Charlie's and Turk street also comes to mind) helps to amplify the overall vibe.
Chandeliers swayed, balloons bobbed, and lasers beamed as a mass of sweating bodies angled for position on the cramped dancefloor. The street outside might have been desolate, but in here Luther Vandross' silken voice was easing through the verse of Change's "The Glow of Love." Smooth rushes of harmony filled the room, and mixed with the sweaty humidity to create a warm glow that seemed to pulse off the walls.
In control of this stream was Bus Station John, the bearded disco svengali himself. Flipping through a large binder of CDs and occasionally holding up a remote to control the lights, he was like a technician working behind the scenes. Tucked away, he allowed the party to grow naturally and chaotically. In fact, I almost would have missed him if it wasn't for the gigantic poster of Grace Jones behind him. In his place was the unfolding party: the ballet-like dancer twisting and pacing across the dancefloor, the kissing couple beneath the disco ball, the elaborately done rag-doll drag queen, the man in a 10-gallon hat and crushed velvet three-piece suit with three girls in tow, and the scores of other individuals getting off to the music's natural euphoria.