In retrospect, 2012 was one of the best years for San Francisco nightlife in a long time. A part of that was the way in which many of the city's new venues seemed to finally come into their own: 222 Hyde re-opened with a dazzling lighting array, Monarch set a new standard for sound, and Public Works has become the go-to spot for some of the biggest names on the global touring circuit. Older venues kept up by honing in on subcultures: 1015 Folsom became the spot for leftfield beats, and Mighty continued its reign as a local parish for the church of old-school house. What tied it all together was a feeling of near-constant activity that had the weekends spilling out into the week. With so much going on everywhere, it was hard to keep track of it all. Keeping that in mind, here are our top 10 picks for the parties we were able to attend.
"It was an eye-opening evening of total sensory overload and derangement by way of abrasive noise, heavy smells, and bizarre sights. Yet while this may or might not sound like your idea of a good time, the evening was characterized by a beautiful (and rare) sense of total youthful exuberance."
"In the front a group of people in animal body suits and costumes enjoyed champagne on ice; behind them a pack of girls in slinky knockoff couture giggled and laughed over screwdrivers; back further still, you could find an edgy group of jocks in Ed Hardy trying to give it one last shot before going home hungry. Every once in a while the disco lights would catch a stray hand on its way up a thigh."
"At the head of it all was the cool figure of Green Velvet. Effortlessly working the decks, he wore a pair of leather-sided aviator sunglasses and a T-shirt that proudly declared "Chicago - Cajual Records." To walk into the room was to be exported to another dimension."
"Wringing its hands and twitching out towards the audience, it resembled an alien Mussolini. And, for a moment, the sound drifted away, leaving only the reality of the situation to sink in. Looking around at the people cheering while dancing beneath the bug's creepy visage, I concluded that we all probably looked pretty ridiculous -- like some imagined horror fantasy in a Jack Chick tract relating dance culture to satanism."
"It was like something out of a historical account of club culture... This night would be a form of pilgrimage; an ultimate schooling in the arcane rites of New York house music."
"He pushed the volume to within an inch of its life, bringing the levels past redline into an overdriven realm that could be described as near-deafening... You don't always need perfectly clear sound to have a good time, and the rawness of the speakers made it feel like some freaky underground warehouse rave."