Are clubs moving out of reach? Plus: Masters at Work, Gary Bartz, Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito, SuperDre, Rocket, and C.L.A.W.S. in a church
SUPER EGO Let's be honest. Let's start the new year out a month late with honesty. (Gung Hay Fat Choy, btw). Going out these days can really cost you someone, and that someone is named Pretty Penny, if not Armina Leg.
The average cover charge in the city, according to my professionally drunken self-survey, is pushing from $10 to $15, if not $20. Officially a night out — drinks, cabs, cover, recovery pizza slice — can run you upwards of $50. (Unofficially, you may just have to put out for your ride and pony up for new Underoos when the flask seal breaks in your back pocket. I am not advocating anything here. Just don't opt for Drano instead of blow.)
Some parties are absolutely worth it. If Radiohead tickets are, like $144, then the party of the year so far, Laurent Garnier at Public Works — a four-hour live set with three musicians, full digital effects, huge bass boost, and a Thursday night crowd of serious dance fiends — was $25, $15 presale, invested in the supreme life force. There are fortunately still many parties hovering around the $5 mark where you can hear fantastic innovation and occasional international stars. And by all means, if you want to cough up $35 to hear some pop-EDM millionaire douchnozzle vomit down your earhole, be my guest. Just bring me back a pair of neon shutter shades. (Full disclosure: I gladly pay to get into about 70 percent of the parties I attend.)
But nightlife appears to be recession-proof here, possibly because of our tech bubble, and I wonder if one of the most democratic of art forms, dance music, is turning into a prissy connoisseur enterprise that only the wealthy can fully experience and enjoy. The answer, of course, is to go outside and make our own damn noise.
Bull sessions The Red Bull Music Academy has become quite a thing in the past 14 years — championing some mighty forward-thinking dance music, linking past legends with newbies through interviews, workshops, lectures, and lively parties, and putting me in the funny spot of sounding like a full-on Red Bull product placer.
The Academy itself could number you among its ranks. It's a group of talented musicians, DJs, and producers chosen to attend a massive, globe-roving yearly summit full of cultural and clubby goodies. A Hogwarts of hip-hop, an Exeter of electronica, a Quattrocentro of Moombahton. This year's takes place in NYC in October, but to kick off the Academy application process — get in gear and apply starting Feb. 2 at www.redbullmusicacademy.com  — Red Bull's launching a series of tasty events here in SF that are open to all.
In the taurine ring? Saxophone deity Gary Bartz (Wed/25, 8:30 p.m., $30. Yoshi's SF, 1300 Fillmore, SF. www.yoshis.com ) — whose African-rooted jazz of the late 1960s and '70s became associated with the Black Panther movement — drops some fierce "Uhuru Sasa " with Aloe Blacc and Bilal. Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito (Thu/26. 10 p.m., $8. Mighty, 119 Utah, SF. www.mighty119.com ) revive their groundbreaking hip-hop days as hosts on Columbia University's WKCR in the early '90s. And finally, in a coup that has the classic house community abuzz, Nuyorican heroes Kenny Dope and Lil Louie Vega, a.k.a. Masters at Work (Fri/27, 10 p.m., $15. 103 Harriet, SF. www.1015.com ) will reunite for the first time in 10 years.
I'll take them wings, gimme.
A newly-formed passel of local queer techno DJs, the Rocket Collective  (Mat Dos Santos, Brian Maier, Trevor Sigler, David Sternesky) is shooting for the moon with this underground sound-oriented party which benefits different Burning Man camps every month. Always-energetic drag astronauts — dragstronauts! — Ambrosia Salad and Miss Rahni perform.
Sat/28, 10 p.m., $7. Rickshaw Stop, 155 fell, SF. www.rickshawstop.com 
Superhot funky bass and minimal tech DJ and Bass Candi label owner flaunts her supreme technique  — her sets are wide-ranging surveys of the best various current dance music genres have to offer, but who cares we're dancing. With dirtybird's Worthy, Little Jon of Raindance, and more.
Sat/28, 9 p..m.-3:30 a.m., free before 10 p.m. with Facebook RSVP, $5 after. Public Works, 161 erie, SF. www.publicsf.com 
Reverend Bertie Pearson, the cool cleric who brought us the absolutely epic Episcodisco parties  at Grace Cathedral, is now at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist — and there's no way that church won't see some nightlife blowouts as well. Like this all ages blast featuring longtime local experimental tech cat C.L.A.W.S. with cute "proto-synthpop without raping it" band Shakes Gown and also Earth Jerks.
Sun/29, 6 p.m.-10 p.m., all ages, $5–$10 sliding scale, no one turned away. Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, 1661 15th St., SF. www.saintjohnsf.org