Nothing sucks more than paying an overpriced cover, only to be greeted by beer Pong or frat bros — especially since the recession is making everyone save those extra pennies for stronger cocktails. So after risking cirrhosis and DUIs to deliver regular club reviews to SF Weekly's All Shook Down blog, I've whittled down the city's nightlife options to the champion parties of 2008.
Club Night: Pink Slip
Location: The Stud
How often: Every Tuesday
Style of music: Ranges from Morrissey mash-ups to Peaches
Crowd: Drag queens and Castro kids
Details: The demise of Trannyshack birthed this new drag show. Host Virginia Suicide reigns over random comedy bits and a medley of (perverted) cabaret performances, making for a very entertaining night. If you stay long enough after the show, guerrilla performances by the staff and attendees get down and dirty.
Club Night: Infatuation
How often: Every Wednesday
Style of music: Indie-electro; basically anything that enables you to freak out and dance
Crowd: Hipster central
Details: This impressive dance party is hosted at the oh-so-chic Vessel. Although it's jarring to see so many stylish youngsters drunkenly dancing to the latest Justice track in such a decadent venue, Infatuation is so popular in part because it's free. On the booze tip, the Wednesday weekly has two-for-one drink specials and, for early birds, complimentary booze tastings. Another selling point: The club lassos big DJ headliners like Steve Aoki.
Club Night: Debaser
Location: The Knockout
Style of Music: The best of the '90s
How often: First Saturday of the month
Crowd: Kurt and Courtney protégés
Details: Tucked away at the Knockout in the outer Mission, Debaser hosts the only legitimate '90s party in the city. Relive the birth of the Alternative Nation as DJs spin tracks by Luscious Jackson, Nirvana, and Hole while revelers mosh in front of the turntables. Bonus tip: If you show up wearing flannel, you dodge the cover charge. During my last visit to Debaser, I witnessed an Irish woman flash her tits every five minutes. These '80s babies know how to have fun.
Club Night: Electrik Mayhem
Location: KoKo Club
How often: First Thursday of the month
Style of Music: Disco, house
Crowd: European tourists and neighborhood locals
Details: The recently renovated KoKo Club is one of San Francisco's more intimate clubs — and it never charges a cover for DJs. During Electrik Mayhem, rotating DJs spin music ranging from deep house to disco for a crowd completely devoid of pretentious urbanites. The promoters have a sincere interest in spinning for friends and not money, allowing for a superchill night regardless of whether you have dibs on the dancefloor.
Club Night: Tutu Tuesdays
How often: Second Tuesday of the month
Style of Music: Techno, house
Crowd: Postcollegiate Marina folks
Details: Creator of the infamous No Pants Party (also at Vessel), Carla G throws the best themed club nights and has an eye for detail. Tutu Tuesdays allow your inner ballerina to come out while playing on the "tu" in the name. If you're lucky, maybe you'll come across one of the temporary tattoos, get your change in the shape of a two-dollar bill at the bar, or just don one of Carla's handmade tutus. Satisfy your sweet tooth with desserts including chocolate-covered strawberries and ice cream cakes.