Parties without borders - Page 2

In the age of social media, San Francisco's wildest clubs (and shrewdest promoters) are taking over the world


"Bootleg mashups are an integral part of the whole 'open source' debate," D told me. "So we wanted to take that one step further and experiment with open source nightlife. We're the party everyone associates with mashups. And there are people making mashups on their laptops in bedrooms around the world. So when they want to start a regular party, they write us and ask us how. These are mostly people who've never dealt with venues, never promoted before. Obviously we can't come there every week and host. So we talk to them more, see if they're the right people, and guide them through it. We only ask that they conform to our quality standards regarding look and feel. It's our baby. And if they can add in the performances and fly us out to play once in a while, that's great, too."

"In fact," Adrian added, not joking, "we're developing a Bootie in a Box extension kit for people to download and start their own." (Said box would include such things as hi-res logos and flyer images for consistent branding, a copy of the Bootie font, music downloads, DVDs of looping visuals, server space and a URL on the Bootie site, and, yes, a six-foot inflatable pirate design.) "It's about making the Internet do the work for us."



The Internet has certainly worked for knockout photog Ava Berlin, who puts on Blow Up ( with her husband, Jeffrey Paradise, and genius-eared DJ Richie Panic. She told me, "People know Blow Up from the videos they see on YouTube. A lot of promoters in other cities are like 'How do you get the crowd to go crazy like that?' They see what's going on in San Francisco, and it really inspires them to go buck wild."

Ava Berlin and DJ Jeffrey Paradise. Photo by David Espinoza, styling by V Vernard

Until it was recently shut down due to capacity issues, Blow Up was our infamous winning entry in the balls-out electro party sweepstakes, for five years drawing a glamour-forward, sensually uninhibited 18-and-over crowd to the Rickshaw Stop. (The party still survives — Blow Up launches a monthly "summer concert series" on Sat/12 at Kelly's Mission Rock.) It was one of the first club nights to truly harness the power of social media, posting shareable party photos and slickly edited vids practically before last call was over.

"Three or four years ago, people started sending us links to websites in other countries — young people in Germany, Japan, Paris, Bangkok that collected Blow Up flyers, photos, and videos on their blogs and MySpace pages," Berlin continued. "These people hadn't even had a chance to go to one of the parties, but through the Internet they're part of it."

Some of those people wanted to throw their own Blow Ups, and the party quickly spread to Los Angeles, Tokyo, Atlanta, Osaka, Miami, and New York. Before the Blow Up promoters license their name, though, one of them might go out first to check out the scene. And, except in L.A., where a regular franchise has been operating for some time, they consider their presence crucial to the event's success. (A physical compensation for virtual fame?) "We never appear as Blow Up unless we know the promoters personally or they're recommended by trusted friends," Berlin said. "We work closely with them on almost everything, even the type of security guards. People need to feel free to make the right vibe. We're really particular."


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