Hyperproductive fashion designer and revered fantasy engineer Jean Paul Gaultier was in town last week for the opening of a (very cool) retrospective of his work at the de Young. His nightlife stops included the Some Thing drag show at the Stud on Friday, a cruisy interlude at the Powerhouse on Saturday -- and of course a lavish opening gala celebration at the de Young itself on Friday evening.
"The best form of government ... is no government at all!" announced singer Meredith Monk in the second program of the SF Symphony's rollicking American Mavericks festival at Davies Hall on Sat., March 10, her trademark braided pigtails and Shuffling Elf gait in full effect. And while I could hear the pleated pants of several libertarians around me surely being wetted (and a few liberal feathers ruffling in the back), this was no mere Ron Paul back-pat, though it was delivered with all the empty bluster we've come to expect from the current campaign season.
We were in the midst of an astonishing presentation of John Cage's epic, random Song Books from 1970, after all -- revered experimental vocalist Joan La Barbara had delivered a beribboned gift of apples or cranberries to an arbitrary audience member, magnificent diva Jessye Norman (in a stunning Issey Miyake gown) had joined in a boisterous card game and typed a letter on a mic'd typewriter, and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas had chopped up various fruits and veggies and Cuisinarted them into an orange-y beverage for the pianist. Cage, our 20th Century channeler of chance, would never allow such an inflexible utterance to stand unchallenged.
"I have been around the bhangra block," says DJ Rekha, NYC's ambassador for the highly danceable contemporary Punjabi (by way of London) sound, and founder of the popular, long-running Basement Bhangra party. "The biggest gig was definitely the White House. I have played all over the US and in Brazil, Sweden, New Zealand. I've done a bunch of music festivals and performed at cultural spaces including the Kennedy Center in DC."
Talk about "world music" (even if that term has fallen from fashion). Rekha brings her Basement Bhangra spin -- which includes a good bit of hip-hop and global bass influence -- to our own beloved Non Stop Bhangra this Sat/11, joining the monthly party's dholrhythms dance crew and DJ Jimmy Love for its reboot at Public Works, as I detailed in this week's Super Ego nightlife column. In an email interview, Rekha wrote about bhangra's changing scene, her favorite moments from the past 15 years at her club (Padma Lakshmi, anyone?), and her favorite bhangra bangers of the moment.
Watch your snowballs: the First Lady of Beatdown, Lady Blacktronika, is hopping on her magic sleigh and coming down the mountain for Honey Soundsystem on Sun/22. She'll be giving SF some much-needed transwoman power on the decks, and it will be the tea.
That mountain would be Mt. Shasta, where the prolific, San Jose-born producer and DJ has been headquartered lately, releasing track after track of absorbing, soul-seizing grooves on her Sound Black Recordings label. Her aesthetic takes the expansive and unrushed Detroit beatdown blues-house sound (with which she's had some personal experience) and the mesmerizing moodiness of artists like Theo Parrish and Alton Miller in unexpectedly deep directions -- using her notable experience as a singer and some lovely dubby effects shared with her former production partner Mattski to give the malleable beatdown sound some intriguing new shapes.
In anticipation of her first DJ gig in San Francisco after spinning around the world, I chatted with her over email about her gospel music-loving roots, the challenges of being a transgender woman in the electronic music industry, and some of the women on the scene that she admires.
In this week's Super Ego nightlife column in the paper, I write about this coming weekend's giant Edwardian Ball at the Regency Ballroom, which spans five events and welcomes thousands into its playful goth-steampunk-burlesque embrace. Named for Edward Gorey but encompassing more than a few winks at the Edwardian Era of the last turn of the century, the all-ages ball has come to act as a summit for a certain essential, instantly recognizable San Francisco nightlife subculture.
The ball was launched in 2000 by Justin Katz of "premiere pagan lounge ensemble" Rosin Coven and Mike Gaines of the neo-cirque Vau de Vire Society, and has grown enormously in the 12 years since -- including branching out to Los Angeles. I interviewed the genial Katz over email about the ball's Gorey origins, the challenges of expansion, combatting the dreaded FOMO, and welcoming a new generation of Friends of Ed.
SUPER EGO Wax up your handlebar mustache, dust off your stripy topcoat, burnish your steampunk petticoats, and oil those wheezy accordions: The Edwardian Ball, that phenomenal annual gathering of exquisitely decked-out freaks, is back for its 12th installment of mannered mayhem. This time it aims to quell any kvetching about crowding by stretching itself over five official local events (and a satellite ball in Los Angeles next month). But the Fri/20 World's Faire and the Sat/20 Ball itself will still be the main attraction for thousands of Friends of Ed.Read more »
As I affirm in this week's Super Ego clubs column, I adore the weekly Some Thing drag party every Friday at the Stud -- and now it's turning two years old. The special Some Thing confluence of onstage shoestring razzle-dazzle, challenging themes, uninhibited embrace of drag diversity, afterhours dancing to braintickling tunes, DIY genius Haute Gloo's craft table, and hot-hot crowd has strengthened the city's club scene, although to many it still remains a secret.
I'm fine with keeping this wonderfully successful event just between you and me, but why? Joy like this should be shared. And I already made out with you anyway.
SUPER EGO The slightly "meh" body of 2011 isn't even cold and already we have two completely ridiculous yet ridiculously adorable, new deliberately manufactured subcultures to pretend argue on blogs about, because who blogs anymore? Seapunks and bronies, yep. I hope they fight, too, because it'd be the 2012 apocalypse in one cute, handy metaphor. Sparkly rainbow annihilation now!Read more »
[UPDATED BELOW] Gah! One of my favorite SF nightlife people, DJ Toph One, is in intensive care at SF General after being struck by a hit-and-run driver while bicycling on Sunday morning. As reported yesterday by SF Appeal: