Debaser presents Last Nite
Friday, April 12, 2013
Growing up in the veritable golden age of cultural nostalgia that was the '00s, it never really occured to me that my own decade might eventually be revisited. Even now, it's surprising that anyone would care to go back and try to relive much of those days. If you'll recall, it was a pretty dark time under George H.W. Bush's presidency. The bleakness of the American situation created a kind of nihilism that seemed to seep into the club culture and music. In San Francisco, this found its expression via the emerging scenester clubs that first began popping up in weird places like the basement at LiPo Lounge and the loft at Edinburgh Castle, then later at bigger parties like Frisco Disco, Club i-D, and Popscene.
But not much of that matters when talking about Debaser's new '00s revival party, "Last Nite." In the same way that '80s parties conveniently push Reagan under the rug, this new event strives to revive the music of the '00s in the vastly different present. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't aware that all happened, but I think we may enter a whole new weird universe before I'm done," says principal promoter Jamie Guzzi. He's more or less succeeded in doing this.
Dissolve and arrive at an interior scene: The Elbo Room at Midnight. I had just arrived and was making my way up the club's wide stairwell toward the dancefloor above. "You're on the phone, you're all alone. Hand to phone, hand to phone." The twisted arpeggios and femme-dominatrix blare of Adult.'s "Hand to Phone" grew louder as I entered into the faded blue light projected off the fog hanging in the air. Despite the magnetism of this weekend's Coachella festival, a sizeable group had gathered to dance beneath the Chinese lanterns and Orientalist decor. The crowd looked like the kind of people who used to go to Popscene when it was still at 330 Ritch -- college kids, albeit grown up now, with a lot of horizontal stripes on the girls. Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" popped onto the speakers and more fog drifted out from the front of the room.
Guzzi himself danced around on stage while DJing, providing a dynamic spectacle to go along with the music. He's a natural showman, with a highly theatrical style that had him making faces and throwing his arms in the air to highlight lyrics as though he were doing jazz hands. His mixes were seamless, which allowed him to switch effortlessly between songs like Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" and DJ Assault's "Who's Fuckin' Tonite." He mostly stayed on the campy side of things, with an emphasis on hypersexualized electroclash and jiggling bootie house.
By 1 a.m. the crowd had waned a bit, but the dancing in front had gotten more intense. I drank a beer at the bar and noticed that the men's bathroom line was inordinately long. The Baltimore club remix of The Marvelettes "Mr. Postman" came on and caused a bunch of girls to rush the stage and dance around the DJ booth. Guzzi pulled the bass out and worked it back in before returning to his computer to cue up the next track. With a look of tense deliberation he reached over and teased in the analog synthesizers of LCD Soundsystem's "I Can Change" for a singalong moment. I took another sip of beer -- that song was released only three years ago. I wonder what the future will remember of 2013?