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Women who Love Women; A Guy Who Hates Noise 

The CW Saloon morphs into a lesbian bar, and Kimo's tries to stay open

Wednesday, Sep 18 2002
Wait, does this mean Dinah Shore was gay? You win some, you lose some. It's an age-old saying -- overheard as far back as the Crucifixion -- but now it's taking on new meaning thanks to the recent sale of the CW Saloon. The change in ownership brings both good and bad tidings, depending on your druthers. Over in the loser's column, you've got live-music fans, who watch their options shrink once again. In the winner's circle, there are a whole lot of women who love women.

As of this writing, the CW has gone bye-bye, to be replaced by the Cherry Bar Lounge in mid-October. The new club is the latest venture of Mariah Hanson, best known for promoting the longtime lesbian dance nights "Girl Spot" and "Club Skirts." She also founded Palm Springs' Dinah Shore Weekend and the Monterey Women's Festival, two Sapphic retreats considered to be the premier events in the country, and started lesbionic vacation getaways to Mexico, Hawaii, and the Spice Islands. As for why she's taken on this new venture, Hanson replies via phone, "I was fed up with dealing with club owners and their fixation with the bottom line."

Hanson says she feels the time is right for a lesbian-centered, seven-day-a-week club, which hasn't existed in San Francisco since the Bay Bricks closed 10 years ago. That doesn't necessarily mean that her idea will fly. "Everyone thinks I'm crazy -- lesbians think I'm crazy!" Most dance venues rely on a variety of customers to foot the bill; that way, if your gay Latino boys don't show on a Friday, you cover your ass with bisexual Asian girls on Saturday. But Hanson has a secret weapon: She's enlisted promoters from throughout the lesbian community so she'll have various audiences coming in. Thursdays will feature "Club Q," the long-running night of hip hop DJ Page Hodel; Saturdays will house "Backstreet," a salsa, hip hop, and house event, as well as "Girl Spot"; Sundays will be the province of DJ Gray's deep house night and the popular tuneage of "Club Skirts"; Mondays will include everything from comedy to Sex and the City parties to occasional striptease specials. For those rockers who decry the loss of yet another venue, the Cherry Bar Lounge will feature live music two nights a week: women-led bands on Wednesdays, and Tuesday's heavy-metal showcase "Lucifer's Hammer," a holdover from the old CW. "It made sense to keep one night and keep roots with the past," Hanson says. "Also, it was a strong night for a Tuesday."

"I'm not looking for a pot of gold," Hanson says about the new club. "I'm just happy to be at the end of the rainbow." Literally and figuratively, of course.

No, you shut up You'd think Matt Shapiro, the booker for "Lucifer's Hammer," would be happy that his event's been saved. But he's got more important things to worry about -- like if Kimo's, which hosts his other baby, "Metal Church," will be around much longer. It seems that the Polk Street club is still getting noise complaints, even after doing $20,000 worth of soundproofing. Last week a persistently pissed neighbor (who told the club he's called the cops more than 100 times in the last couple of months) made a citizen's arrest of Shapiro for disturbing the peace. "The cops have been very cool about this up till now -- they'd tell us to turn it down and then leave," Shapiro says via phone. "But this time they said if he continues to complain, they'll take our permits away."

Hoping to pacify the neighbor, Kimo's manager met with the man last week. According to Shapiro, the guy said the soundproofing and the club's offer to stop live music at midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends "was not enough."

Shapiro says there's little left to do. He's looking to move the stage higher so that sound doesn't travel through the floor as much, but otherwise he's stumped. He claims that the other person who once complained a lot hasn't said a peep since the noise-abatement work was completed, and tests done by Shapiro have shown that buses on the street make more noise than the bands inside the venue. "Is anything going to be enough for this guy?" Shapiro asks in exasperation. "Will he ever be happy?"

Perhaps we can buy this dude a one-way ticket to France, where he can hang with the mimes -- although I hear they make a hell of a racket when the makeup comes off.

About The Author

Dan Strachota


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