Well, San Francisco, this time around you're in it for the long haul. From megaparties to videotheques, this weekend's festivities have something for just about everyone. For dance music fans, it's a rare time when choices and sacrifices will need to be made. But that's enough preamble, let's get into the action. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
Friday, Feb. 17
Where: Public Works
When: 9:30 p.m. - 4 a.m.
Why: It's safe to say that San Francisco is living through an era of megaparties. Lights Down Low seems to have realized this: The once-intimate electrofest at 222 Hyde has grown into one of the city's biggest promoters of forward-thinking entertainment. Now celebrating its sixth year, Lights Down Low returns to Public Works for a can't-miss, festival-sized event of cartoonishly large proportions. Topping the bill is big-time British remixer Ewan Pearson, whose work has graced the music of such diverse acts as Junior Boys, Depeche Mode, Metronomy, Goldfrapp, and The Chemical Brothers. Also on the bill are Danny Daze (who tore up the charts last year with "Your Everything"), Tim Green, Worthy (from local staple Dirtybird), and Dax. And, as if that wasn't enough, party organizers have packed the OddJob loft with an equally impressive bill headlined by Jersey sound innovator Todd Edwards. His many tracks, like "Guide My Soul," "Can't You Believe," and "Oh Baby," are considered the missing link between US and UK garage. Lending further weight are Creep's Lauren Flax, L.A.'s LOL Boys (listen to this epic re-work of the Art of Noise's "Moments in Love"), and Jamie from Acid Girls. If you've made it this far, then I might as well mention that all the Lights Down Low residents past and present will be in attendance (yes, that means RCHRD OH?! will be up from San Diego). Oh yeah, one more thing: free vodka shooters before 10:30.
When: 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Why: This column frequently makes references to a mysterious radio show in New York known as Beats in Space. Going on for more than 10 years now, its broadcasts have come to inform and define the direction of an entire generation of dance music aficionados. The man behind the WNYU staple is named Tim Sweeney, and he happens to be an incredibly skilled DJ in his own right. The recent launch of a Beats in Space music label has him out of New York and touring. Expect a set that's as tasteful and well-curated as his long-running program. Check out this recent mix from his radio show, as well as Paradis' "Parfait Tirage" and Secret Circuit's "Nebula Sphynx," two big releases from his label. Also on the bill is Mexico's own Rebolledo. A regular at Playa del Carmen's La Santanera club, Rebolledo has garnered worldwide attention for quirky tracks like "Guerrero" and "Fresh," which were released on Matias Aguayo's Cómeme label. All that, and to top it off is Monarch's fantastic horn-based Void sound system.
Saturday, Feb. 18
When: 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Why: Going on six years now, Booty Bassment is the city's premier purveyor of ass-shaking low-end frequencies. Now celebrating its anniversary, the party returns to the Knockout for an evening dedicated to former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's favorite body part. More than just a haven for Miami bass heads, the party also boasts the return of its infamous "Booty Shake" contest, a chance for the well-endowed to shake it for a cash prize. Helmed by resident selectors Ryan Poulsen and Dimitri Dickinson, you know you're in good hands that will play both the well-known and the obscure. Get in the mood by watching this video of 2 Live Crew performing "Face Down Ass Up" to an audience of geriatrics on the Phil Donahue show.
When: 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Why: Too straight for Badlands? Not a problem. Fringe is a monthly party at Madrone that distinguishes itself by blending together the music and videos of all your favorite tracks. A staple of the Divisadero party scene, DJs Blondie K. and subOctave guide an evening's worth of journeying through the sights and sounds of contemporary indie rock and electro, with moments provided by groups like Passion Pit, Friendly Fires, M83, and Franz Ferdinand. To get an idea of how the concept works, check out this promo video that neatly sums up an evening at Fringe in four minutes.
When: 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Why: Few people have had such an indelible effect on the development of techno as Detroit native Carl Craig. As the head of Planet E, he's released some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful tracks ever committed to wax. It's hard to pick favorites, but songs like "Bug in the Bassbin," "Falling Up (Carl Craig Remix)," and "Throw" all stand out as testaments to his unique vision. Legendary is a term I throw around a little loosely, but in this case, it's totally warranted. As a DJ, few can come close to his technical precision and classically sharp programming. Check out this live performance he did for Boiler Room just last year. If you missed his secret show in Oakland, now is your chance to take a ride with one of Detroit's finest. Who knows when he'll be able to take another break from his hectic European tour schedule.