2005's top five nights for dancehall, dub, and worldly beats.
By Tomas Palermo
1. Give Thanks "The pressure getting hot / And the youths them a get so co-oh-old," a packed audience sang down in the basement of Club Six at a recent edition of weekly reggae extravaganza Give Thanks. The racially and socially diverse crowd recognized Rasta singer Richie Spice's hit on Bobby Konders's Massive B label, bawled for "rewinds," and expertly flexed the latest dancehall moves. Culture is available in spades at this party from the Caribbean food and reggae clothing for sale by local vendors to the night's perfect blend of new and old reggae (as well as R&B and hip-hop in the upstairs room), spun by a veteran DJ crew that includes Shortkut, Polo, Dougie, Common Sensi, Irie Dole, and Daddy Rolo. Spice would be smiling if he saw SF together inna one love at this consistently fun night. Thursdays, Club Six, 60 Sixth St., SF. $5. (415) 863-1221, www.clubsix1.com.
2. Non-Stop Bhangra SF possesses a half dozen excellent little Indo-Pakistani restaurants where your dinner boom box serenade is hot Punjabi bhangra music. Now, thank Gurus, we have a place to dance to it too. At Non-Stop Bhangra, resident DJs Earflaps and Jimmy Love mix South Asian hip-hop and electronic beats laced with Dhol drumming, pop vocals, and traditional instruments, while Dholrhythms dance troupe shows the audience how to move. And the monthly party recently added tabla master Ferhan Qureshi and VJ Christo (Future Primitive) to the night's artistic fusion. "The unique mix of a DJ and dance company creates a balance [for] this dance floor craze still just hitting the Bay Area," says Dholrhythms cofounder Vicki Virk. Call for information. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. $15. (415) 861-2011, www.rickshawstop.com, www.nonstopbhangra.com.
3. Misturada DJ Vanka has tapped into a vibe that clubs like Bar Rhumba in London have been promoting for years: organic and electronic Afro-Latin dance music. Vanka's hardly late to the game, though; he DJed for 10 years with Stellar Trax soundsystem, playing everything from reggae to drum 'n' bass. Now the Belgian native focuses his energies on the Worldwide crew (which includes DJs Wisdom and Ruben) and makes sure the Make-Out Room is packed with dancers every Saturday for Misturada (Portuguese for "mixed"). As Vanka works his way through a mix of salsa, samba, reggaeton, cumbia, Latin house, and Brazilian batucada breaks, the place becomes a sweatbox of swirling bodies. Saturdays, Club Six (in The Dark Room), 60 Sixth St., S.F., $5, 9 p.m. - 2 a.m., 415- 863-1221, www.clubsix1.com
4. Dub Mission DJ Sep's weekly event turns 10 in 2006, but the KPFA-FM DJ and club veteran continues to invent new ways of showcasing dub and roots reggae music. It helps that she brings some of the biggest international names to the Bay Area artists you might otherwise only dream of seeing, like On-U Sound record producer Adrian Sherwood, eccentric dubmaster the Mad Professor, and even reclusive Jamaican engineer Scientist. Keeping the vocal and instrumental reggae varied, and playing signature tracks like Tenor Saw's "No Work on a Sunday" (irony intended) and Sister Nancy's "Bam Bam," DJ Sep and her weekly guests keep the regulars skankin' easy and the momentum for Dub Mission moving forward. Sundays, Elbo Room, 647 Valencia, SF. $5. (415) 552-7788, www.elbo.com, www.dubmissionsf.com.
5. Bless Up "We focus on making the crowd happy with hits that they know, as well as busting new artists or tunes," says DJ Ivier of his weekly "bashment" dance club, Bless Up. And Ivier knows something about pleasing crowds as a member of Jah Warrior Shelter crew, the Bay Area's five-year reigning soundclash champions. Bless Up, whose maxim is "reggae, dancehall, remixes," gets packed early and stays that way, as it's one of the few places in town to hear Shelter's own exclusive dubplates (tunes cut just for their soundsystem) and blends of popular dancehall tracks over club-friendly hip-hop beats. Many of the tracks come off the shelves of Ivier's San Francisco shop, Wisdom Records, but if you come by the club, he'll bless you with them all the same. Tuesdays, Milk, 1840 Haight, SF. $7. www.milksf.com, www.jahwarriorshelter.com.
Honorable mentions: Club Dread (Mondays at Studio Z), Spread Love (Tuesdays at Madrone Lounge), Yard (Thursdays at Little Baobob), Enter the Dancehall (monthly at Club Six), Cheb I Sabah (Wednesdays at Underground SF).
Read Tomas Palermo's blog at forwardever.blogspot.com.