SUPER EGO The best thing about childhood obesity is I can fit in all the clothes now. Dora the Explorerwear, Juicy Couture for Kids, even Mary-Kate and Ashley Teen Look. No door, no path, no avenue is closed to my cheap and whimsical fashion tastes. No "Barfin' BILF" tube top for toddlers can squeeze me out of my juvenile fancies. Thank you, overweight preteens of America! Viva los junk foods!
And so goes the mind. I was rifling through a rack of knockoff baby Baby Phat the other day when the fluorescents at Thrift Town grew one shade of puke green lighter, and I fell into a consumerist reverie — my thoughts rippling and stretching like the toxic, Korean-stitched Spandelux beneath my gas station press-on fingertips. Tell me, has Clubland become a tangle of infinite niches? Do the tight, glowing pockets of each individual scene form a Great Barrier Reef: part of a vibrant, neon nightlife tapestry, yet each a total entity unto itself? Do the hefty-boobed metal-chick wonders at Crash form a silicone wall, the sideways-haired Casanova scruffsters a moat of cold shoulders, the overexcitable twinks at Bar on Castro an army of flamboyant spastics, their tweezed brows raised like little red flags, two high-pitched shrieks of warning?
And while we're at it, what's up with Nancy Pelosi's eyes? Girl looks spun as a dinner plate at a Chinese circus. Nancy, meet Tramadol. Tramadol, Nancy.
There, like, used to be this thing that happened. The "cool" kids would start a music and nightlife scene. They'd get a couple months to revel in cooler-than-thou, bonding with freaks of like mind. Eventually, the scene would get too big for its britches and start being overrun by "normals." Everybody wanted in, diluting the scene's insular charms and making the original fans bitter, smugly smoking their pastel Nat Shermans and sharpening their claws on the newcomers. But that hasn't happened since house and techno were bastardized into horrid music for aerobics classes. It's not the kind of music that matters anymore, it's the attitude that defines. My dreamboat rock critic, Kalefa Sanneh, calls this phenomenon "mini-monoculture." I call it kind of boring (although I'm lovin' the lack of scene cattiness). Without overpopularity to push you on to the next scene, it's all too easy to get stuck. That may be why we're all still falling backward into the ’80s. Aa-aaahhh ...
But sometimes something refreshing comes totally out of left field, something no one can claim to own or hole up in. I'm talking about clubs like the monthly NonStop Bhangra, one of my favorite places to watch people of all stripes let their J/A/S/O/N/-gelled hair down and get a little silly, which does an end run around the whole American underground malaise by packing a woven hemp record bag and flying us off to the world of Bollywood and Bangalore, fronting a cosmopolitan style that totally disarms.
Punjabi by way of London, bhangra music is the tabla-driven electroclash of now, mixing 15th-century Indian folk music with bass-heavy hip-hop (henna-tinted hyphy?) — without an inkling of disco drama. Other great joints such as Dhamaal at Club Six and Bollywood Nights in Santa Clara have pumped the bang-bang-bhangra for years, but NonStop, started a couple years ago by Vicki Virk and Suman Raj-Grewal of dholrhythms dance troupe and DJ Jimmy Love, delivers the whole Punjabi enchilada to the heart of mini-mono scensterdom, Rickshaw Stop. Professional dance performances, lessons for beginners, live painting and drumming, superduper psychedelic visuals, and the fabulous, mini-multicultural sight of people shaking their bangles in glee — what's better? The upcoming NonStop, Nov. 18 with guest DJ Sep, is the last one of the year, and it'll be a doozy of a Delhi, a much-needed tonic for anyone feeling trapped in their scene.