While the nightlife scene seems to be trending toward bottle service clubs booking homogenous EDM DJs, there are still a good number of local clubs that choose to keep it alternative, whether it be an '80s, goth, or industrial night. One of those is Cat Club, and if you've have been, you know that the chance of running into Damon Boyle, aka DJ Damon, is fairly high. Starting his nightlife career as a bartender at DNA Lounge in the early '90s, he began working his way up to DJing by taking on dead nights or last minute fill-ins. After much arm-twisting, he finally got his first weekly in 1992 with Matt Chambers. “It was called Raw Power but everyone just went because it was Tuesdays at DNA. Matt and I were playing and if you were into anything from the Sisters of Mercy and The Cult to Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails, we were the spot for you,” Boyle says.
Since then, DJ Damon has become known for his impressive ability to spin almost any '80s genre you could think of and is a local staple at Cat Club, where you can find him VJing on long-running nights like Club Gossip or playing dark underground jams at Bondage A Go Go.
We caught up with DJ Damon to talk about his favorite '80s videos, over twenty years of history at Cat Club, and VJing. He plays this Saturday, May 9, for Club Gossip’s10-year anniversary at Cat Club.
What type of music do you typically spin?
I’m known for playing a lot of '80s music. I also play alternative, goth, and industrial music with modern pop and dance music.
Tell us about Club Gossip.
My partner Randy Maupin and I were always talking about what was going on at the Cat Club, we wanted to do more than what we were doing at the time, and we talked about what kind of twist we could add to our club environment that we'd like to see and for whatever reason weren't seeing a lot of. We decided playing music videos might be kind of cool and would make us different than clubs with similar music. We were really adamant about billing ourselves as a video club.
What's a common misconception about VJing?
That there is a video for every song. Sadly, there is not. For instance, if you've seen a Joy Division video at the Cat Club, it's because we made it with whatever footage we could buy or find.
What's special about celebrating 10 years of Club Gossip this weekend?
Having anybody come to your club is great, and then making it to your first year seems unreal. It takes so much work, so celebrating 10 years and looking back on all the parties and memories we've had, it speaks of our (and our friends’) commitment to a good time. I've met a lot of nice people and we share the culture of enjoying dancing at a loud nightclub and mingling with others. When we are there, dancing with our friends, that might be as good as it gets, you know? Life can be so busy and stressful, when we're at the club, it's our time to enjoy the here and now. Me time.
What’s your club faux-pas?
Introduce people who already know each other. But when they are not talking to each other, I say “hey, so you know so and so…?”
Name your favorite '80s music video.
The night version of “Girls on Film” by Duran Duran. It's the perfect video and song, it's pretty to look at, it uses a special mix of the song and it's by Duran Duran.They used to show it only at night on MTV because of the content of the video.
If you could bring back something musical from the '80s to current music, what would it be?
You also do Thursday nights at the Cat Club, which has been running for almost 17 years. What's special about Thursdays?
We are two rooms of music and video every Thursday, and we have to think of something special to celebrate our 17th anniversary soon… it's like we can be your chosen family, you know? We understand you in ways not everyone will. The love of the music binds us together, the music makes us smile, we move and dance, and we become happy. We meet every Thursday, so it's a regular thing, like going to yoga; you've got your spot in the room, you remember the moves and you feel better for going almost every time.
Cat Club has been around for quite awhile. What about it do you think about it makes it quintessentially San Francisco?
It's a flexible space with two nice-sized dancefloors; you get to run back and forth between the rooms so you can dance if you want to. If you have dancing ADD, this is a good place for you. The staff and everyone at Cats are great to work with.