The Top Five Parties in San Francisco This Weekend

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The spirit of the Paradise Garage lives on at BeatBox this Friday night and Saturday morning.
These days, San Francisco is just one long party. Sometimes it can be difficult to wrap your head around all the fun, which is where we step in. It's not all about SF this weekend, though -- there's also a local celebration of a very influential New Yorker. To find out what it's all about, you'll have to do as usual: Read on -- your weekend awaits.

Odyssey presents: A Tribute to the Paradise Garage at BeatBox
11:45 p.m. Friday, May 23. $10

New York: 1977-1987. These were the years of the Paradise Garage, one of the most important institutions in the history of dance music. The Lower Manhattan nightclub hummed with the intense, multigenre selections of Larry Levan, who became a godlike figure in the world of DJing. Though he's since passed on, Levan was responsible for the stewardship of "garage," the post-disco electronic sound that's since come to stand as shorthand for New York house music. "The Garage" and Levan are both revered in the dance music world; in the years since his tragic death in 1992, Levan has since become a figure somewhere between Jesus and Robert Johnson, with the Garage as his liberated, secular temple. Today, Levan's legacy has been celebrated in a number of ways: This month, Red Bull Music Academy helped to sponsor a bid to name a street after him in New York (King Street, where the Paradise Garage once stood). Closer to home, however, local polysexual party outfit Odyssey has decided to take over Beatbox for a whole evening of old-school partying dedicated to the unique vibe and energy of Levan and his beloved nightclub.

"Old-school" is not a term to be taken lightly in this context. The Paradise Garage was an after-hours juice bar that took advantage of New York laws (once also extant in California) allowing all-night dancing at venues -- provided that alcohol was forgone in favor of more wholesome fare, like smoothies. Back in the day, these "juice bars," as they were called, would open at strange hours; naturally, Odyssey's tribute to the Paradise Garage will follow suit. The festivities begin promptly at midnight, and promise to continue through the early morning hours (alcohol will be available midnight-2 a.m. and 6 a.m.-onward. You can thank California's liquor laws for that).

To properly nail the pre-'90s feeling, Odyssey is employing a host of knowledgeable selectors who'll provide a deep soundtrack of Garage favorites -- including one, Steve Fabus, who played at the venue back in its late '70s/early '80s heyday. The others, like New York re-edit veteran Eli Escobar, and S.F. bathhouse party academic Bus Station John, will offer their own disco-fueled spin on things. Of course, this isn't your usual plaid pants and funny wig affair -- expect the real, underground sound of Manhattan and house music's roots, with '80s proto-electronic classics like Peech Boys' "Don't Make Me Wait" and Eddy Grant's "Time Warp" sharing equal time with soulful tracks like Martin Circus' "Disco Circus" and Instant Funk's "Got My Mind Made Up."

Odyssey's eight-hour affair promises the next best thing to an experience made inaccessible by the march of time. Whether you're new to the history of electronic dance music in the United States or not, this Paradise Garage tribute offers a vital, can't-miss trip to the bleeding heart of what the scene is, or should be, all about.


Werk It! Heidi at Monarch
9:30 p.m. Friday, May 23. $15-$20

Not all DJs evoke a sense of fun on the dancefloor, but Heidi does. The Canadian ex-pat (she lives in London now) built her reputation off the sweat-drenched house sets she plays at Jackathon, her roving party turned label. Her specialty, a mixture of contemporary polish and soulful charm, has made her a regular fixture on the Ibiza circuit. Check out her Boiler Room mix.

Icee Hot with Shackleton, Silent Servant, and Austin Cesear at Public Work
10 p.m. Friday, May 23. Free before 10:30 p.m., $5 till 12 a.m., and $10 after

It's a cross-genre meeting of bleak textures at the latest Icee Hot: This month's party was set to mesh the dark, polyrhythmic bass experimentation of old-school UK dubstepper Shackleton (who now won't be able to make it) with the industrial-grade abrasive techno of Los Angeles' Silent Servant (listen to his killer Boiler Room mix). Somewhere between the two (okay, more toward the latter) is Austin Cesear, a local favorite, who'll be playing his last local show of his own spiky ambient house and techno before moving to New York. Since Shackleton won't be performing, the party is now free before 10:30 p.m., $5 'til 12 a.m., and $10 after.

Sound Department presents Chymera at Monarch
9 p.m. Saturday, May 24. $10

Not all techno is stark, minimalist, or industrial -- in fact, some of it has melody. Chymera, a Berlin artist, specializes in teasing out the melodic interplay of his tracks, fusing the mechanical repetition and futurism of the genre with lush, complex synthesizer work whose narratives recall techno's very early Detroit roots. Listen to his Flux podcast.

Sunset and Stompy present Metro Area Live at Cafe Cocomo
2 p.m. Sunday, May 25. $20

Another one bites the dust: Cafe Cocomo, long a San Francisco dance music staple, is finally closing its doors. We've been warning about it for a while, but this one will be the last time Sunset and Stompy take the space over for one of their massive bashes. To send it off right, they've got legendary New York '80s disco revival outfit Metro Area -- "Miura" is one of the best tracks of the 2000s -- on deck to perform live.

-- @derekopperman




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