Night Crawler

Night Crawler's guide to Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Booze and Boogie

Esta Noche
3079 16th St. (at Valencia), 861-5757
This festive Mission hangout always has a handful of pouty queens smoking outside, surrounded by muscular, Latino admirers. There are fabulous drag shows Wednesday through Sunday; in between, the dance floor heats up with salsa, merengue, and house music with a Latin rhythm. Practice your steps, because these folk know what they're doing. This little club has been around since the '70s but the crowd is generally young, good-looking, and well-acquainted. There are rare altercations under the year-round decorations of balloons, streamers, and tinsel, but if you keep dancing you should avoid getting caught in the fray.

295 China Basin (at Third Street),

On the last Saturday of the month, "Club Mamie" presents "Colors" in this cozy bayfront dance spot where Latina women and their friends pack the small dance floor and outdoor patio jiggling to salsa, merengue, cumbia, and Latin house. Historically, it's been very word-of-mouth and very cool. Look for the giant eight ball with 50 painted on its side.

N' Touch
1548 Polk (at Sacramento), 441-8413
This is the only club in town committed to packing as many young, good-looking, gay, Asian men into one room as possible -- every night of the week. The 10-year-old bar is fairly nondescript. The dance floor is small, tucked out of sight, and very cruisy. The long, narrow throughway, leading from the front door to the dance floor, is lined with occupied barstools on one side and "wallflowers" with creeping hands on the other. Suffice to say, it makes for a very eventful stroll. Tuesdays offer karaoke. Wednesdays offer pitchers of beer for $3.50. Thursdays are the hottest, with female impersonators and male strippers. Friday through Sunday you get go-go boys and nonstop techno.

101 Sixth St. (at Mission), 278-0940
Every Sunday, "Trannyshack" celeb Pippi Lovestocking brings "Bootybump" to this very cool Tenderloin bar with a hyper-colorful Japanimation theme. While Lovestocking and her guests regale you with stories, songs, and comedy, you can enjoy the "Bootybump" shot of the week -- Mint Juleps, Blue Hawaiians, or Blue Breezes -- or you can watch anime on the video screen, or play kung fu games on the large gaming monitor, or hang out in the bathroom admiring the vivid manga characters on the wall.

Power Exchange
74 Otis (at Weise), FEAST-IT
There are plenty of reasons to check out this multilevel sex club: fully equipped dungeon, sprawling camp site with tents and wooden swing, glory-hole maze, porno parlor, jail cells, banquet hall, waterfalls, '50s lounge, gymnasium, and nurse's office. Once a month, the erotic playground becomes the surreal "Feast," a pansexual cabaret with well-known gay comedians, tranny celebrities (including, but not limited to, Heklina from "Trannyshack"), porn stars, slave auctions, human buffets, fire parades, go-go dancers, and other sumptuous surprises.

Rawhide II
280 Seventh St. (at Harrison),

This is the only C&W dance club within 50 miles of San Francisco, but you couldn't ask for much more. The eight bathrooms, three pool tables, two bars, and 2,100 square feet of two-stepping space comes with a state-of-the-art sound and light system (with live operator) and 17 years of owner-operated history (which means you can smoke if you ask real nice). As large as it is, the space has all the cozy comforts of a ranch home: barstools made of tractor seats, countless stuffed animals, stories, and a rooftop patio with rosebushes and a barbecue. Over the last few years, owner Ray Chalker has noticed an influx of straight line-dancing lovers, but while everyone feels more than welcome, the crowd is still predominantly queer wrangler types. A fabulous weekly variety show with Cockatelia and Wenda Watch was recently added on Sundays.

399 Ninth St. (at Harrison), 863-6623
Easily my favorite dance club in San Francisco, every night at this corner SOMA club is packed with super-fab and freaky folks who love dancing above all other sports. Tuesday's "Trannyshack" is hosted by the irrepressible Heklina, and cannot be topped for trannies, trash, and tasteless good fun. On Fridays, DJs Otter and Downtown Donna spin tempestuous tunes for punk-loving lesbians at "Dollhouse." On Saturdays, the utterly fabulous Phatima hosts "Club Sugar" with Joan Jett-Blakk on lights, Avis Marie-Sandar on tarot deck, and hip gay and lesbian twentysomethings on the dance floor. Other nights include "Funk Mondays," the new wave "Relapse," the monthly "Klubstitute Kollective," the monthly hip-hop for girls at "Club Red," and "Junk." Regardless of the night, the crowd is always mixed guys and gals.

Ten 15 Folsom
1015 Folsom (at Sixth Street), 431-1200
This is a multilevel nightclub with four to six dance floors (depending on the night), one of the better sound systems in town, and fine upper-level vantage points for scoping out the crowd. Each floor offers different music, everything from house to funk, trip hop, and disco. The crowd for Friday's "Nikita," Saturday's "Release," and Sunday's "Spundae" is generally comprised of straight, young, affluent, Martel & Nabiel-style raver kids, but they are very gay friendly. During "Come-Unity" (held on the first Wednesday) the mix is much more diverse, with lots of very positive gay and lesbian raver-types. During "Mass" (legendary tea dance held on the first Sunday) it's wall-to-wall muscle-bound circuit boys (646-0890).

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