DJ Stanley Frank Reflects on the “Jell-O Parfait that was ‘80s Dance Music” and His Favorite SF Memories

In his fifteen years as a San Francisco resident, DJ Stanley Frank built a reputation as an artist, performer and promoter whose influence is still felt in the city’s nightlife, despite his departure to Los Angeles two years ago. He first began throwing and DJing parties in 2005, when he started a weekly queer disco party called Chilidog! at the now defunct Transfer on Church Street. Centered on Italo-disco, the event also rotated through genres like rare electro-funk, boogie, and house as well. Three years later, the party evolved and moved over to Underground SF, where it took on the new name of Viennetta Discotheque with the motto of “a high class, low standard type of joint!”

This Saturday, Stanley Frank returns to play disco jams at Go Bang!’s anniversary, where he is considered a founding father since he graced the decks of their very first party seven years ago. We chatted with Stanley about growing up in San Diego, his time in SF, and coming back to play Go Bang!’s seven-year anniversary. Go Bang! takes place this Saturday, [12/5] at The Stud.

[jump] How did growing up in San Diego influence your musical tastes?
San Diego was the ‘80s personified; palm trees, sunny beaches and roller skates in neon colors. Janet Jackson's album Control was made for our summers. That was my first taste of the Jell-O parfait that was ‘80s dance music – unpretentiously melodic hooks, bouncy synths and unashamed optimism, (think Nu Shooz's “I Can't Wait”), an element I believe carries through my sets. Also, San Diego had the most amazing alternative radio station, 91X, that played everything from Enya to Beastie Boys to Pato Banton. It was crazy. On Sundays, they would have Resurrection Sundays where they would play throwbacks of all kinds. This really exposed me to some weird and eclectic stuff, which I like to throw into my sets, like Captain Sensible's “Wot” or ending sets with Billy Idol's “Eyes Without a Face.”

Most of my family on my mother's side lives in Mexico, where I would spend my summers. Every year, I would come with mixtapes I had meticulously curated, spray painted and stamped, knowing they would become the soundtracks to that summer. I think that was my first taste of that element of DJing, some sort of Prometheus complex, I suppose. 

You lived in SF from 1998 to 2013. Tell us a little about that.
I started as a video DJ at the Moby Dick bar in the mid 2000s. I began a Tuesday night weekly in 2005 called Chilidog! at the now defunct Transfer Bar. We had all sorts of guests and people play there. We had one of the first Honey Soundsystem parties. Horsemeat Disco visited, Juanita More performed, Glass Candy played a show on top of the beer kegs — it was a great time.

What do you miss most about the party scene here?
I guess what I miss about the SF party scene most is all my friends, walking into a club and knowing everyone, laughing, kiki-ing, not having to make plans knowing you'd see everyone that night at the bars. SF has a wonderful cross-pollination that is unique. We are all like explorers in each other's scenes.

You've been called “a DJ for the DJs.” Can you elaborate a bit on that meaning?
I'm flattered when I'm called a “DJs’ DJ.” I believe it's partly due to the fact that, like many of my friends, we play for the respect and love of the music we are spinning. I get excited hearing music I've never heard before that turns me on. It gives new life. I can also appreciate other DJs playing whatever music turns them on. I can enjoy any type of show and get into it, as long as the DJ is too.

Since you played the very first Go Bang!, can you tell us about the first party and what it was like?
The very first Go Bang! was in the basement of 222 Hyde. That place was small and seemed excitingly dangerous. You went into that dungeon with abandon, like [you] didn't mind the “risk” because you were a die hard music fan. I remember being in awe to play next to all these DJs from parties that I respected so much at the time, Gemini Disco, Sweater Funk, and Honey Soundsystem. Our friends showed up and we just danced and smiled and geeked out on hearing each other's version of disco and laser-funk Shangri-La.

What's a song we can definitely find you playing this Saturday?
I never know what I'm going to play but on the ride down I was thinking what a perfectly great disco classic is Cerrone's “Give Me Love.” Love those conga drums. Expect that!

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