Monday night mainstay Death Guild has been bringing the noise for 25 years, and celebrates its anniversary both Sunday and Monday night at the DNA Lounge with a special Sunday night live band lineup before Monday night’s Death Guild 25th Anniversary Party with burlesque and all your favorite Death Guild DJs. To commemorate the occasion, SF Weekly spoke to the club’s founder David King (DJ Decay) about what dark arts have made Death Guild the “oldest weekly goth/industrial dance night in the country.”
Image: Death Guild
The above photo is from the very first Death Guild, March 15, 1993, at a bar called The Pit (it’s now AsiaSF). “We gave away 100 skull necklaces the first Death Guild,” King tells SF Weekly. “I know I still have one. But it’s in a box somewhere in the basement.”
Death Guild has been grinding out industrial dance nights every Monday since, moving to legacy clubs like the Trocadero Transfer, Big Heart City, and the Glas Kat, before taking it’s current residence at the DNA Lounge in 2008.
Famous visitors like Marilyn Manson and John Lydon (a.k.a Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Limited) have popped in to Death Guild over the years. But the most meaningful contribution from a famous person came from Kurt Harland of Information Society, who indirectly led to Death Guild establishing one of the most popular annual installations at Burning Man.
“I ran into him at Burning Man, and the car on the album ‘Hack’, he was driving it around,” King recalls. “He’s like ‘I gotta go find a place to set this car on fire, I’m done with it.’ I opened my mouth and said ‘You have a responsibility to your fans to keep the car alive!’ So he handed me the keys.”
The crew King assembled to manage and maintain that car would grow into the team that operates Thunderdome, a real-life steel cage jousting arena based on the one seen in the 1985 movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
But Death Guild’s biggest accomplishment is lasting a quarter century here in San Francisco, through both boom and bust times. “We have been a stable sanctuary every Monday night for the last 25 years,” King says. “We’ve always worked really hard to make it a safe place that was affordable that people could come back to. We want people to think of it as a home and a sanctuary, and we’ve never charged a lot.”
Appropriately for a club called Death Guild, Monday night’s party will have an acknowledgement of Death Guilders we’ve lost. “It’s a little bit somber,” according to King. “It usually turns into a celebration of the people that we’ve lost over the previous years. And the celebration that we’re still here. A quarter century later, and we’re still around and kicking. We try to keep the party a happy occasion, but still remember our past.”
Death Guild XXV presents Informatik, Vile Augury, and Striplicker, Sunday, March 11, 7 p.m., $10 advance,$15 day of show; Death Guild 25th Anniversary, Monday, March 12, 9 p.m., $5 before 9:30 p.m., $10 after; $20 Two Day Pass, at the DNA Lounge, 375 11th Street, Tickets here