San Francisco is ready to party again, confetti cannons and all

Juanita More, activist, community leader, DJ, party planner and philanthropist, had to apologize for letting Ronnie comb his wig.

“I’ve worked with Ronnie for 12 or 15 years,” she said. “And I’m lucky because everyone has to go to his place, but for me he comes to my apartment.”

More has hosted a legendary Pride Party in San Francisco for the past 18 years. Last year, she organized the People’s March and Rally – Unite to Fight! with drag king and activist Alex U. Inn, intended to bring pride back to its roots of protest.

But now, with around 70 percent of San Franciscans vaccinated, More is happy to be back at 620 Jones with three indoor bars and one outdoor space. In addition to DJs, drag performances, and music, her parties include surprises, she says, like high school students hitting the streets playing drums. In 2016, More herself was surprised after reading the names of the 49 victims murdered in a shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

“We released butterflies, and they all flew up in the air, then came back and landed on me,” More said. “It was really special.”

The beneficiaries of the ticket sales this year include the SF Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund and the San Francisco Imperial Council, where More was recently appointed Empress. (“We had a meeting and I asked everyone to stand up and then I said, ‘Now please bow down.’”)

“I want us to feel like we’re coming home,” More said. “It looks different this year in several ways – we are still coming out of the pandemic physically and emotionally, and we are still sensitive to the presence of people. Hopefully we can all give up.

The spirit of celebration is reborn throughout San Francisco. People ditched it at Madrone Art Bar, says owner Spike Krause. After a few more modest events with masks and social distancing, the bar, regularly ranked among the best in San Francisco, is fully open. The Madrone hosts events like Phat Tuesday, open mics and Motown on Mondays (MOM), which started at Madrone and has spread to 45 cities around the world including Stockholm, Sao Paolo and Manila, and bills itself as the the world’s largest weekly dance party.

Donovan Hall, the founder, kicked off the event in 2009. He says music has universal appeal and he had people in the music industry in mind to hear something different from what they had played. during the weekend.

Hall, based in San Francisco and San Jose, has performed around the world and says the MOM crowd is of all ages.

“We do a lot of remixes and also play originals,” he said. “I’ve been DJing in San Francisco for over 20 years, and it’s a really mixed group in terms of age and breed.”

Throughout the shutdown, Hall hosted dance parties on Twitch and raised funds for different groups including Know Your Rights and the Minnesota Freedom Fund. Now, after months of confinement, and washing his groceries is just a distant memory, he can’t wait to be on a crowded dance floor.

“I’m used to seeing a lot of regulars, whom I call family,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how we managed to get to the other side.”

The Saint Joseph’s Arts Society and Foundation, located near many of San Francisco’s clubs in the South of Market area, also offers opportunities to party. Designer Ken Fulk was determined to prevent the old 22,000-foot church from becoming another downtown office building and to create a non-profit organization to support the artists. The space is now used for concerts, performances and openings, with memberships ranging from $ 50 to $ 25,000.

Sarah Lynch, who works with Fulk, said smaller events, limited to 100 people, such as jazz performances and a discussion of the current art exhibit with curator Erica Deeman, returned in June. In the fall, they plan to return to the biggest parties they’ve had with hundreds of people.

One pre-pandemic event was “Heavenly Bodies,” a performance by six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, with cafe tables and an accordion player in the front yard. Then it turned into a nightclub with a DJ and someone playing bongos, Lynch said.

Space is also available for private events. One of the most significant, according to Lynch, is the marriage of star chef Mourad Lahlou with Mathilde Froustey, principal dancer of the San Francisco Ballet.

“It was the best kind of private event,” said Lynch. “They had confetti cannons and food trucks outside and her ballerina friends played. It was amazing, and it turned into a crazy late night party.

In addition to clubs, museums are starting to organize parties again. The California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park and the Exploratorium on the Embarcadero held Thursday night parties after work before the pandemic. The Academy has started again, with restrictions such as only 30% capacity and food and drink outside, and the Exploratorium will resume hosting its public events in July.

But Amy Adkins, who oversees the rental of the museum, says she’s gotten plenty of calls from people interested in hosting parties and weddings at the Water Science Museum, where guests can explore exhibits like “Colored Shadows “.

At the Academy, guests can also wander around a museum at night, looking at aquariums full of fish, the rainforest exhibit, and Claude, the albino alligator everyone likes. Later, the museum plans to resume scientists’ discussions, performances and indoor bars.

“There is a lot of pent-up energy and things are selling out much faster than in previous years. I think we’re all so excited to find some semblance of normalcy.“

– Andrea Kirk

The Midway is a multi-purpose place that, according to Assistant General Manager Andrea Kirk, is at the intersection of art, technology, food and lifestyle. As they reopen, Kirk says most people are ready to return to the gallery, where artists in residence present their work, concerts, events with robotics and themed dinners, like “A Taste of California “.

“There’s a lot of pent-up energy, and things are selling out a lot faster than in previous years,” she said. “I think we’re all so excited to find some semblance of normalcy.”

At the Oasis, known for its drag shows and cabaret, the full mask-less opening at the end of June is exciting – and a bit odd, says house manager Carissa Hatchel.

“We’re super excited and there’s this feeling of relief that we’re nearing the end of this,” she said. “But we’re constantly uncertain, and now there’s this mad rush after we’ve sat on our hands for 14 months anxiously awaiting the reopening.”

Spotlights on the club stage mean patrons can walk into the front room or on the rooftop and watch the show, which she says will ease the minds of patrons who are a little wary of being in a crowd of strangers. sweaty.

Rob Ready, the artistic director of PianoFight in San Francisco, said they would resume the events in July. Ready, who gleefully asks you on his outgoing voicemail to leave a reason he’s insanely sexy, says the club is unique in that it’s almost entirely local acts.

“Shakespeare can eat one,” he said. “We have three stages, and we have tournaments and improvisation plays and magic and music and video games and everything in between. In the past, we had 1,200 to 1,400 performances per year.

Ready plays in PianoFight’s house band and sometimes gets up. He can’t wait to be back at a crowded club.

“Imagine a Venn diagram with a safe side and a mystery side. We aim to be right in the middle.“

– Eli clark davis

“I’m personally excited to take the stage and make people feel things, laugh, sing and dance,” he said. “And I’m thrilled to be in an audience and doing these things too.”

It’s not just the nightlife that’s coming back. There’s Daybreaker, which hosts sunrise parties with breakfast, yoga, DJs, MCs and a brass section, which Eli Clark-Davis, the co-founder, calls “dance parties and a dance center. joy”. The first post-pandemic event in San Francisco occurs in early July. Clark-Davis says Daybreaker, which first came online during the pandemic, was launched as an alternative to nightlife.

“Imagine a Venn diagram with a safety side and a mystery,” he said. “We aim to be right in the middle. “

Radha Agrawal, founder of Daybreaker, says morning parties are a great way to connect with others.

“Sometimes an underground space can be an escape from ourselves rather than a return to ourselves,” she said. “When we come back to ourselves, finding community is so much easier.”

But others say they see kinship at nightclubs, like Hatchel, who says Oasis is still standing because patrons donated $ 270,000 to a fundraiser.

“Oasis is a magical place,” she said. “It’s a bit like Cheers where everyone knows each other.

And More says she’s always had a knack for connecting people.

“I am creating a community,” she said. “As big as they are and as many people as these parties have, it doesn’t sound like a rave. It’s intimate, as if you are connected to me and to each other.


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