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Bars in San Francisco rarely seem to die; instead, they change owners and become new bars that are often the best places to spot the latest drinking trends, one of which seems to involve unique signage (as opposed to no sign). For example, on Folsom near 11th Street, the façade of the former El Bobo is adorned with letters the size of refrigerator magnets.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Region: South of Market
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"What's the name of this place?" asks Calamity, who wandered in after a show at Slim's sold out. That would be Wish(www.wishsf.com), a slinky, lounge-type bar with cushy banquettes, tremendous mirrors, and drinks such as the Del Mar, a sort of Blue Hawaiian accented with Stoli Vanilla. The place is thronged with aspiring fashionistas on a Saturday night, from the woman with the Barbarella-style headband to the kook with the unfortunate, leopard-print lapels. Prateek is looking casual in Adidas track pants. He misses El Bobo -- "Where else did you have a jukebox with Ted Nugent?" -- which is now a DJ bar. Code 3 mans the wheels of steel.
"He's got soul breaks, some funky disco-house," says KB, a friend of Code. "He's bringing it back, the old San Francisco, pre-dot-com shit." As for Wish: "This is going to be the new hot spot in the city," KB predicts. "It's all about location, location, location."
Speaking of locations, a trend that began with Club Six and Pow! has reached fruition: The open-air crack market known as Sixth Street is a bona fide hot bar corridor now that Club Charleston has become Arrow. This sign eschews words altogether (instead, look for the glowing arrow just off Market). Step inside and you'll find sparkly, cavelike décor and the hot sound among the altcrowd, a dark, grinding new wave/drum 'n' bass/rock-techno. Trisha came for "Jeffrodeeziack."
A hot new drug?
"The DJ," she says. "That's the new lingo." Attire leans toward studded belts, ragged bangs, and sideburns the size of Delaware. Charles opted for the old skirt/lipstick/faux fur fez look. Down the bar, three freaks wear hats shaped like four-fingered hands. Michael, the leader of this four-fingered hand hat posse, contemplates the three-headed neon cobra on the wall.
"Although the emblem of the snake is much more potent than the finger, the finger is a potent symbol as well," he says. "We have four of them, but there's only three snakes. We're here to dominate."
Meanwhile, in the fashionable Tendernob district, the former Light, on Geary near Larkin, is now Julip. Drinks include trendy classics such as a lemony Caipirinha and an oaky-sweet Mint Julep. Bare branches, Parisian-style streetlights, and a bench that swirls when you shake your heinie imbue the place with a voodoo-esque vibe. Tonight, the crowd numbers just over a dozen, giving us time to hear an Englishman named John tell a tale of life in the so-called fast lane.
It's a long tale, so we'll truncate: "I walked into me room one night ... I was fucking off me trolley ... The whole room was spinning, the sun was coming up, and I was like a bat that hadn't had its smoothie ... I unloaded me pockets, and I had five red lighters. I didn't go out with any red lighters, and now I had five ... It was like a really bad tarot card: the Five of Red Lighters."
Was a higher power sending John a message? Perhaps not, but two meanings can be divined: 1) Red is the hot new color for smoking accessories; and 2) If an Englishman named John asks for a light at Julip, hand the sticky-fingered bastard a pack of matches.
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