Aug. 18, 2012
Better than: Uhhhhh...
One of the only stable rules in nightlife is that things change. In a city as small San Francisco, those changes can be particularly noticeable, with longstanding institutions seemingly changing directions on a dime. Recently this has been the case with the parties of Jeffrey Paradise and Ava Berlin, the main promotional force behind Blow Up. Long catering to the city's 18+ dance scene, the duo took a season-long break only to re-emerge last month with a "Blow Up Reunion" party at the Rickshaw Stop. However, their return brought with it two notable changes: there's been a musical shift towards disco, and the club is now 21+ exclusive. Berlin and Paradise may be back, but the reunion has been the only party labeled with the old "Blow Up" label so far. This Saturday, the duo was at the Rickshaw Stop with their usual cast of club kids promoting a nameless party headlined by Brooklyn-based disco band Midnight Magic.
It was 10:45 p.m., and we were on the the balcony looking down toward an immobile and almost empty dance floor. DJ Tron Jeremy was on deck spinning a warm-up set of easy indie-dance cuts that formed a soundbed for conversation and mingling. Dotted reflections of the mirror ball floated across the walls, creating an illusion of motion. On stage, two dancers -- a girl and a guy -- gyrated around in time to the subtle beat, presiding over an empty dance floor in thongs and short shorts.
I was viewing all this from a distance, perched up in an overhanging balcony with Avalon. Over the next half-hour the club slowly come to life, with a crowd of people trickling in that seemed like they were there more for the band than any sort of pre-designed spectacle. Small currents of club kids augmented this group, working almost like the Go-go dancers to keep the atmosphere light and social.
There was a feeling in the air that the night was headed towards something big. The first few signs of life on the dancefloor came as the controls passed over to DJ Vin Sol. He eased the room forward while pulling Storm Queen's "Let's Make Mistakes" through an epically long blend. White noise and hi-hats gave way to deep synth tones and the titular urging of vocalist Damon C. Scott. Stiffness began to fade, and pockets began to fill between the socializers with some limbered up dancers.
One drink at the bar, and when I turned around the band was already on. By now, the room had almost packed up to an uncomfortable level, with a sweaty humidity filling the air. From the stage, small trumpet hits shot out, just barely grazing the hair of the assembled mass. A galloping disco bassline reached out and pulled us close to the stage. This was Midnight Magic, easily one of the tightest bands I've ever seen live.