THE YEAR IN NIGHTLIFE: Queer hip-hop, porn music, spruced-up venues, virtual techno, classical near-riots, and the '90s big-room revival ruled 2013
YEAR IN NIGHTLIFE The drink of the year was the Chinese Mai Tai at Lipo Lounge. It's $9, but it's huge and you only need one. Or maybe a half, if you want to remember your pants. Oh, just drink the whole thing.
It was another supersweet, neon-bright yet sonically sophisticated year of clubbing and dance music, full of ups, downs, and twirl-arounds. Celebrated rave cave 222 Hyde and Hayes Valley drag outpost Marlena's closed (boooo). But Mighty and 1015 got mindblowing new sound systems, Monarch and DNA Lounge expanded, Project One inherited 222's speakers, Public Works and F8 doubled-down on adventurous bookings, and ambitious venues Audio Discotech and Beaux opened (and are still finding their footing). And we got a new dance music record store, RS94109, and rising dark techno star, Vereker.
As far as music goes: we've managed to fend off the worst of pop-EDM, while welcoming the drum 'n bass and big-room '90s sound comeback with open underground arms. (Also, there is an actual underground!) San Francisco's still a major destination for techno up-and-comers — and even though you may stumble across some clueless tech-bros sporting 2k7-wear or novelty rasta wigs on our finer dance floors, give them a hug and hope they improve! It's all good.
Before I get into some of my favorite 2013 things, let's tip a hat to two legends we lost this year: Scott Hardkiss and Cheb i Sabbah. Between them, they brought a whole world's worth of music to our dance floors and spanned generations. Dancing forever in their honor.
HIP-HOP, Q'ED UP
Hip-hop got so good in 2013, the Year that Twerking Ate the Internet. Trap sounds and molly pops seemed to invigorate the East Bay scene: E-40 dropped a zillion slaps, while Iamsu! and Sage the Gemini (who can totally get it, hellieu) swerved onto the national scene. Buffed-up SF legends Latyrx dropped a nifty disc after two decades. In the bigtime, Kanye bought up every edgy electronic producer he could to impress Pitchfork, while Danny Brown and Kendrick Lamar recontextualized essential '90s rap tropes — gangsta and concept albums, respectively, but in a party way.
Unfortunately, another '90s rap trope, tired homophobia, was also revived, with Eminem and Tyler, the Creator fumbling bigtime. This time, however, there was such a huge and thriving queer hip-hop party scene that we could look right past all that lazy ish. Queer rap broke big in 2012 when eye-catching artists blended witch-dark sounds, quantum vogue moves, and afro-surreal poetry with R&B licks, broken bass boost, and neon-bright performance art.