Ready for a good time? Well, we hope you are, because the work week is almost over, which means its time to blow off some steam. The best way to do that is to head into San Francisco's clubland for a night on the town. To assist you in this vital endeavor, we've assembled this handy list of parties that you really shouldn't miss, with entries that touch on familiar sounds like diva-led retro house and slamming techno, as well as relatively obscure genres, like dub-wise and heavy U.K. dubstep. Whatever you're into, read on -- your weekend awaits.
Friday, Jan. 10. $5-$10
In 2013, one of the best performances on the online mix show Boiler Room came from an unknown DJ named Mr. Ties (real name: Francesco De Nittis). He played entirely on an esoteric '70s-style rotary mixer, he had three vinyl decks running -- one of which he used to blend a capellas and off-the-wall snippets over his selections -- and his track choices were widely varied, gleefully switching between rugged techno, soulful house, and upbeat disco classics. It was refreshing and it was new, but more importantly, it was the wider world's introduction to one of Berlin's most respected but underpublicized working DJs.
In his adopted hometown of Berlin, De Nittis is known for his residency at Homopatik, a monthly queer party he throws at ://about blank, a one-time underground venue that's since gone legit but retained much of its anarchic spirit in the process. There, he plays sets that often last longer than six hours -- sometimes much longer. To keep the attention of a dancefloor for so long without falling into drudgery requires some seriously honed abilities and an innate talent for picking the right sounds. De Nittis has both, but the latter is why he's become such a favorite.
His sets defy the conventional boundaries of contemporary dance music, incorporating classical interludes and movie theme songs, like Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger." This eclectic approach reflects his open-mindedness toward music in general. "You have to listen without prejudice," he told Resident Advisor last year. "I think only, 'Is this a good production?' Nothing else. Genres will be gone in 10 years, what matters is the composition. Does it have four beats in the measure, what key is it, how fat is it -- this is what matters. If I'm mixing, to know that it's techno or disco doesn't help me."
Despite his popularity in Germany, De Nettis has only recently become better known in the outside world, partly a result of his commitment to underground principles. Unlike many producer-DJs traveling in the global dance music community, he doesn't openly court the press, preferring instead to focus on his craft. "If you put yourself out there too much, people come to you for the wrong reasons," he told RA. "If you put nothing out there, the right people find you." Apparently this strategy has worked, as his aesthetic has a sympathetic foil in local queer party collective Honey Soundsystem, which has tapped him to headline its latest late-night bacchanal at F8 this Friday.
9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10. $15-$20
Residing somewhere between the complementary worlds of New York and Berlin techno is Ambivalent (aka Kevin McHugh). He's a minimal specialist, and he trades in a driving form of dance music that's stripped down to a tight core of mechanical, percussive elements. That aesthetic has aligned him with Richie Hawtin's acclaimed M_nus imprint, which means McHugh ought to fit right in as the latest headliner at Direct to Earth's latest hardcore techno affair. Check out his recently released Blackfish EP on Spanish techno label Octopus Recordings.
10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11. $5-$15
Despite their Motor City references, Detroit Swindle's members are not actually from Detroit. Instead, they're a duo from Amsterdam, and, though you might assume them to be techno-heads, their music is an open celebration of the exuberant diva calls and jazzy rhythms of '90s garage house. Expect moody Fender Rhodes stabs, flashy hi-hat work, and plenty of vocals in their set this Saturday. Check out this mix of them serving it up live at Mixmag's DJ lab.
9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11 $10-$15
There are a lot of parties in San Francisco, but there are few that truly live up the implications of the word. One of the few that does, however, is Isis, a relatively new event whose every detail reflects its core message of "polysexual partying." This month it welcomes the turn of Kim Ann Foxman, a NYC favorite whose DJ sets are more ravey than her past work with Brooklyn supergroup Hercules and Love Affair might suggest. (Full disclosure: I'm dating Avalon Emerson, one of the opening DJs.)
9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11. $17-$20
Dubstep is a whole lot more than Skrillex. Benga is a south London producer who's been a key player in the development of the sound since it first emerged in the
U.K. in the early '00s. Unlike American variants, his style is truly bass-heavy, reflecting the genre's dub-reggae roots in its occasionally terrifying atmospheres and brown-note-inducing sub-bass frequencies. First, listen to his classic cut "Skank," then check out "Forefather," his latest single featuring UK grime MC Kano.