Kinky SoMa Cafe Wicked Grounds Will Close

Not long after the closure of nearby Brainwash, it's another indication that SoMa's wealth is killing street-level culture.

The sandwich board (Wicked Grounds)

In a post on its site today, kink- and fetish-centric SoMa cafe Wicked Grounds announced its closure — effective yesterday, Saturday, Jan. 6. No specific cause was given. In part, it reads:

It is with heavy hearts that we announce Wicked Grounds Café & Boutique is going out of business. We are truly grateful for the years that we’ve been a community hub, and thank you deeply for your support, your engagement, and your vibrant community building. We are particularly grateful to our Patreon subscribers, VIPs, street teams, and munch leaders, who made it possible for us to keep operations going this long.

Our last day of full café operations was yesterday. We will be keeping the doors open for all scheduled events as well as a going out of business sale through this Tuesday evening, January 9th. We will have very limited food and drink options during this time. We are very grateful to our team and community for making this soft landing possible. 

Unique among S.F. coffeehouses in that it was an alcohol-free gathering space for people interested in alternative sexualities, Wicked Grounds hosted podcast recordings, munches for various groups — such as neuro-divergent kinksters and polyamorous people under 40 — plus coffee and tea socials for people involved in magick or hypnosis, and regular discussions on topics like “BDSM and God: Can Faith and Fetish Co-Exist?” It was also a boutique where you could get a book on shibari and other erotic merch, and one of the tabletops had a “Map of the Lands of Human Sexuality” that people would stare at at length. (There’s an island of vampire erotica.)

Wicked Grounds has closed once before, in 2o11, and later reopened — so there’s still hope. But this turn of events is particularly upsetting since Wicked Grounds had long been a place for young people and newbies, brimming with curiosity but unsure of how to engage with more experienced practitioners of various scenes, to learn the ropes — proverbial or otherwise. You’re probably not likely to find a sign that says “We Love Genitals. But you MUST keep ’em covered in the cafe” anywhere else. If you happen to be a member of FetLife, the social network for kinky folks, one user posted a heartfelt goodbye that’s worth a read.

It was also a good spot to get caffeine and some affordable, vegan-friendly food at 9 or 10 p.m., something that wasn’t always easy to do in the neighborhood, whose cultural life is otherwise pretty bar-centric. Hot on the heels of the loss of Brainwash, the laundromat-cafe-bar-venue that shut its doors on nearby Folsom Street, it’s another example of culture draining out of Central SoMa. Further, Wicked Grounds’ location is in the middle of the forthcoming Leather Cultural District, showing the precariousness of community-oriented businesses even with such city-sanctioned designations.

In that vein, Wicked Grounds will host a play party at Tenderloin playspace SF Citadel this Saturday, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. But we will still miss the Black-and-Blue-Plate Special.

Wicked Grounds, 289 Eighth St., wickedgrounds.com 

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