Riff Raff

Death of a Disco Punk Dance Club The Trocadero is in trouble. On Feb. 16 the SOMA nightspot and concert venue will forfeit two after-hours permits and close for a police-mandated 90-day suspension. It probably won't open again. When the Troc dies, San Francisco will lose yet another after-hours club. Police say that's part of their plan. The Troc was once a gay disco; it's now primarily a punk venue and a goth/industrial dance spot, known for its long-running "Bondage A Go-Go" nights. A few months ago Troc owner Dick Collier quietly put the lease up for sale, says club booker George Lazaneo. A small group of local restaurateurs, thinking the space would make a nice supper club, were close to making a deal. Police, noting an increasingly uptight community housed in nearby converted live-work spaces, suggested that the new investors hold a neighborhood meeting to talk about their plans. Two days before the scheduled meeting there was a fatal shooting outside the Troc. The police say that victim Michael Burdette had been in the club that night (Jan. 25) with two female friends. A couple of hours after the club closed, at around 3 a.m., the two women were allegedly groped by another patron; police say Burdette stepped between the women and the suspect and was shot several times with a medium-caliber handgun. Police say Burdette did not have a weapon. The shooter got away. The SFPD's Lt. David Robinson says witnesses described the suspect as a light-skinned black man with a ponytail and a couple of gold teeth. Needless to say, the shooting put a strain on the neighborhood meeting, though the deal is still pending. But the incident did cause the police to rule the venue an "attractive nuisance." This sounds like a great name for a club to Riff Raff, but in the world of liquor licensing and police crackdowns, it's a bad thing indeed. The ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control), which suspended the Troc briefly in 1992 and 1994, is also riding the club for recent complaints about "disorderly operation" and "lewd and nude acts," the latter probably stemming from "Bondage A Go-Go." Lazaneo says the police are out to get the Troc as part of a plan to curtail nightlife in SOMA. He may be right. As it is currently operating, the Troc uses four permits, two of which allow it to stay open past 2 a.m. When the Troc closes on the 16th, it'll give up those two permits. The police, who consider after-hours clubs a magnet for trouble, won't be issuing them to anyone else. Says SFPD Capt. Dennis Martell, "We are attempting to limit the number of these establishments." (J.S.)

The (Supposed) Death of a Mission Rock 'n' Roll Club The padlock on the Chameleon's door on Jan. 14 and 15 didn't look good. The following week a beer shortage left patrons drinking cans of Bud during the US Bombs show. Rumors that the club would close were spreading through the Mission almost as fast as the water was rising on the banks of the Russian River. Before owner Karen Carney could say, "Rock 'n' roll never dies," the nightclub version of ambulance chasers were approaching her in the street, asking if they could "buy in." But reports of the Chameleon's demise were premature. The real story: Carney was in a financial crunch because of a minor personal-injury claim filed against the club. She says she closed the doors for two days only while negotiating new insurance coverage. "I couldn't open my doors without insurance," says Carney, admitting that she found it emotionally taxing to battle the rumors of closure while also navigating legal and monetary woes. "I've worked my ass off to own my own business, and I've run it for over seven years. I'm not going to let something like this close me down." With the injury matter settled out of court and a new insurance plan in her pocket, Carney is happy to say that the door is open and the beer is flowing. She is looking to recoup losses with a little help from some old bands that got their start at the Chameleon; she says the Galbraith Brothers and Family Scott -- who were shut out -- will reschedule. (S.T.)

Stipe Hunt A few months ago we heard that R.E.M. were going to record the follow-up to New Adventures in Hi-Fi, the band's first record without drummer Bill Berry, at San Francisco's Toast Studios. That day is here, but we know as much now as we did then. The band's Warner Bros. publicist didn't bother to return Riff Raff's calls. And the woman who answers the phone at Toast hung up on us. Twice. In lieu of any real news at this time, we document only recent Stipe sightings. A week-and-a-half ago Mr. R.E.M. was seen sipping a cocktail at the Make-Out Room. And a couple of days later the singer was at Spaghetti Western in the Lower Haight for a 2 p.m. breakfast. Then, Stipe chatted about guitarist Billy Zoom at last weekend's second X show. (Also seen: Jakob Dylan.) Finally, we hear Stipe's on his way to becoming a regular at Annie's Cocktail Lounge, the alley bar across the street from the Hall of Justice. (J.S.)

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