Before we rundown the parties, let's just get one thing out of the way: it's freaking cold! Whoever accidentally tripped the winter switch ought to go and figure out a way to reverse the process. Until then, however, you'll just have to move around a lot to stay warm, and what better way to do that than to get lost in San Francisco's thriving nightlife? Here are our top picks for the weekend, with options that include sweat-drenched '70s disco, cutting-edge tech-house, and even a party entirely dedicated to Stevie Wonder. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
9 p.m. Saturday, Dec 7. $7
Though it's hard to believe now, San Francisco once played host to a thriving disco scene. Evolving alongside the city's gay culture, the first real dance boom saw the rise of numerous discotheques, record labels, pop stars, and even a distinct style of music that was identifiably local (the "Hi-NRG" sound of Patrick Cowley and his followers). AIDS, unfortunately, ended everything all too early, casting a dark shadow on what was otherwise one of the Bay Area's most free-spirited eras. Today, much of that time would be lost were it not for the efforts of Go Bang!, a party and rotating DJ collective that's dedicated to recapturing the feeling of San Francisco during its jubilant disco peak. Go Bang! celebrates its fifth anniversary this Saturday.
It might be disco, but don't even think of wearing your wig hat or plaid polyester pants. Go Bang! stays true to the underground side of the sound by playing the same classics that used to power the city's bygone party institutions. "We help people key into the memory of disco's past," says Sergio Fedasz, Go Bang!'s founder and one of its primary resident DJs. "We're not trying to throw a retro party, we're trying to show people the roots of where everything came from."
That ethos is apparent in Go Bang!'s reverence for local dance music history: It often features lavishly decorated tribute nights, dedicating entire evenings to remembering free-wheeling places like the I-Beam and larger-than-life divas like Sylvester. Likewise, Fedasz's resident DJ partner is Steve Fabus, a jockey who's played in San Francisco discotheques since he first moved to the city in the early '70s.
The way Fedasz sees it, Go Bang! and the discotheques it takes cues from are more than just nightclubs; they're vital community hubs that allow people shelter and release from the troubles of everyday life. Looking back to the sound's dark past, he says, "Disco was important for keeping the community together. Though there was a chill in the air [during the '80s AIDS crisis], discos provided a place where [people] could go to meet up and come together in the artistic release of dance." And, while things have changed substantially since those days, Fedasz thinks there's a place for disco in San Francisco today. "It'd be a disservice to the city if that tradition went away," he says. "We think that it's a great responsibility and real honor to keep that fire burning." Get ready for the party by listening to this mix.
9 p.m. Friday, Dec 6. $20-$30
Screamin' divas and four-to-the-floor rhythms -- the U.K. is jumping to a retro-informed style of house that sounds straight out of 1994. At the head of this movement is George FitzGerald, a London-based producer whose roots in the U.K. dubstep scene give his soulful dancefloor anthems a clean and contemporary polish. Check out "I Can Tell (By The Way You Move)" and then listen to his Boiler Room set.
9 p.m. Friday, Dec 6. $5-$10
In San Francisco, there's no better place to catch live-with-hardware house performances than at Haçeteria. This month, it turns its focus to the local scene, with a euphoric release party for Queen of Cups, the latest piano-drenched rave EP from Bay Area-based house producer Cherushii. Support comes by way of Glenn Jackson, an Oakland-based producer of atmospheric, sample-heavy deep house.
10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. $15-$20
Though it's still off the radar for most, The EndUp, S.F.'s only 24-hour venue, has been enjoying a renaissance lately. A large part of that is due to the efforts of Play, a party that's spent the past year bringing deeper sounds back to the SOMA hotspot. To celebrate its first anniversary, the party is bringing out British progressive house legend Danny Howells for a long night (he's playing for six hours!) of intense revelry. Listen to this recent five-hour set recorded live from the board at Honolulu's Asylum nightclub.
9 p.m. Saturday, Dec 7. $25
Without question, Stevie Wonder has created some of the most awe-inspiring musical works of the 20th century (Songs in the Key of Life, anybody?). That said, it's only appropriate that he'd have a party dedicated to celebrating his legacy. Wonder-Full, an annual celebration of all things Stevie, is that event. This Saturday marks its 10th year in San Francisco. Listen to "Another Star."