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Keepin' gay club nights safe for the Moral Majority.
March 1, 2009 7:00 PM   Subscribe

Homophobia is still alive and well in... San Francisco?! The DNA Lounge, the high-tech nightclub of former Mozilla/Netscape wunderkind Jamie Zawinski, has apparently run afoul of the local Alcohol Beverage Control board. In 2008, during a period of time when the DNA Lounge -- with SFPD and neighborhood approval -- successfully appealed an ABC decision blocking the club from offering all-ages live music, the ABC sent agents into the club during their GLBT nights, and are now trying to shut the club down for "lewdness", "discrimination", and "running a disorderly house injurious to the public welfare and morals".(NSFW!) The DNA is determined not to go quietly into this goodnight.
posted by markkraft (36 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry, I think it takes more than a single case of hysterical, entitled nerds getting fucked by The System to demonstrate actual discrimination. You could at least have linked to an opposing viewpoint. This is pretty GYOB.
posted by nasreddin at 7:13 PM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Homophobia has always been alive and well in the state of California.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:22 PM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, what are the conditions of the liquor license? Legal permission to distribute (heavily marked-up) alcohol is a privilege not a right etc etc.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:45 PM on March 1, 2009


If you read the BAR article, you'll see that the position of the club and its defenders is not that they weren't breaking the rules, but that the infractions in question usually only rate a fine and / or temporary suspension of license. It may still be an outrage for the state to insist on revocation instead of suspension, but the tone of the FPP suggests that the charges are trumped up or unfair, while even the club's proprietors and defenders aren't taking that position.
posted by grobstein at 7:49 PM on March 1, 2009


Couldn't they just claim that the public lewdness was hetero?

That'd make the cops back off!
posted by codswallop at 7:50 PM on March 1, 2009


Also, Violet Blue makes me wish I was the authority responsible for handing out licenses to be fucking irritating, because hers would be revoked in a flash.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:50 PM on March 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Homophobia sucks.

DNA Lounge is fucking awesome, for more reasons than I have time to recount here.

That is all.
posted by lekvar at 8:06 PM on March 1, 2009


I've been following jwz for a few years now, and he's always had good stuff to offer. I hope he's able to extricate himself from his legal troubles.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:18 PM on March 1, 2009


What does the Folsom Street Fair have to do with this?
posted by spiderskull at 8:19 PM on March 1, 2009


Sorry, I think it takes more than a single case of hysterical, entitled nerds getting fucked by The System to demonstrate actual discrimination.

Yeah, I have to say that the "discrimination" angle here kinda bothers me. It's a stretch, although it IS telling that the ABC picked two gay nights to show evidence of public lewdness.

I do think this is a fucked-up situation -- the ABC is clearly selectively enforcing the law here, in a manner intended to punish business owners for trying to exercise their right to appeal decisions. Someone is wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars in government resources in a bankrupt state to get into a pissing contest with a guy who sells beer.
posted by xthlc at 8:21 PM on March 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Spent many a night at the DNA when I was in the Bay Area. I miss it, but I see the music has changed to meet the current trends. Still has industrial, which is good ...

To those who don't know, SF's is notoriously difficult on its DJ nightclubs, but a lot of it is ABC, which sometimes does seem to act simply out of spite. This doesn't surprise me too much, but it's really too bad. I hope the ABC has to spend a lot of time explaining themselves, but not sure if anything will change. For such a cosmopolitan city, the local liquor control treats it like Mayberry.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:23 PM on March 1, 2009


The thing is, anyone who has ever been around the S.F. club scene knows that it's commonplace for the charges against the DNA to take place at GLBT nightclubs... and far more graphic, as in actual fullblown sex.

For the ABC to to try to remove DNA's license entirely, without warning, for something that happened with one third-party event promoter a year ago, where the promoter was already fired?! And concentrating on behavior which is commonplace in nightclubs that are specifically LGBT-oriented? In the middle of a major dispute with the ABC?!

"I think it takes more than a single case . . . to demonstrate actual discrimination."

Discrimination is quite possible, even in single case. Of course, this *wasn't* a single case... but rather, monitoring that specifically and repeatedly targeted the club's LGBT nights.

You could at least have linked to an opposing viewpoint."

Great. Find me a single San Francisco publication that doesn't think that this is a load of crap.

What it comes down to is that the ABC are accountable to Gov. Schwarzenegger, whereas the appeals board -- and the city's police, who helped overrule the ABC -- are accountable to the Mayor of San Francisco.

The part I find amusing is that one of the ABC undercover officers stated he was unsure if a performer named "Lola" who was part of the behavior cited was a man or a woman. Apparently, they had never seen a drag queen before.
posted by markkraft at 8:33 PM on March 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


"What does the Folsom Street Fair have to do with this?"

It indicates what the people of San Francisco are willing to accept as far as their public morality.

Basically, you're supposed to judge morality issues based upon local standards... and there was nothing at the DNA Lounge that appears to have been out of the ordinary for any LGBT club night in San Francisco.

Clearly, the ABC folks need to get out more often. Maybe they should, you know... try keeping alcohol away from minors or something instead of basically threatening the longterm existence of LGBT nightlife.

I mean, who would want to buy or run a non-hetro club or bar if they knew that they could lose their livelihood and savings based on whether one of their customers or a go-go dancer engaged in a simulated sex act?!
posted by markkraft at 8:41 PM on March 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Discrimination is quite possible, even in single case. Of course, this *wasn't* a single case... but rather, monitoring that specifically and repeatedly targeted the club's LGBT nights.

The plausible explanation here isn't OMG GAY CRACKDOWN, it's that the ABC had it in for this club and was looking for an excuse to close it. As you yourself point out, there are plenty of other gay events and establishments that have remained unaffected. Trying to frame this single instance as homophobia being "alive and well" is laying it on pretty thick.
posted by nasreddin at 9:02 PM on March 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


while I hear you nasreddin, there's no reason this process can't be both a desert topping and a floor wax, in that ABC's actions are a cynical exploitation of homophobia among the state legal establishment.
posted by troy at 9:09 PM on March 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


"I hope the ABC has to spend a lot of time explaining themselves, but not sure if anything will change. For such a cosmopolitan city, the local liquor control treats it like Mayberry."

It's worse than that. I've seen the ABC used as a weapon by big club owners against smaller competing clubs.

In San Jose a few years back, the Cactus Club was forced to shut down, because a competitor -- whose family are multimillionaire real estate investors in San Jose, with multiple highrises and buildings downtown to their name -- launched an upscale, trendy nightclub called Agenda Lounge. At first, it was a complete flop... while the nearby Cactus Club was successfully booking live bands and bringing a lot of people out to enjoy San Jose's nightlife.

So, the wealthy family started getting involved leaning on the local downtown Chamber of Commerce people and on the ABC over the course of several years, and eventually made it too expensive and difficult for the Cactus Club to operate. The club shut down as a result, and was immediately purchased by the wealthy club owner and his family, who reopened it later, with very limited success.

After that, a once thriving club district in the downtown basically got boring and moved up the road a bit...
posted by markkraft at 9:12 PM on March 1, 2009


I've never been to the club, but I've loved following jwz's blog. Give 'em hell, man.
posted by boo_radley at 9:24 PM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The plausible explanation here isn't OMG GAY CRACKDOWN, it's that the ABC had it in for this club and was looking for an excuse to close it. "

Oh, I don't doubt it.

But just because their motive may have been to close them down in any way they could, that doesn't mean that using the "lewdness", "public indecency" schtick exclusively in a LGBT nightclub context isn't discrimination, or that it doesn't send a nasty cold chill through every other club owner who thinks about having a LGBT dance night to ideally make a few bucks while serving the local community.
posted by markkraft at 9:27 PM on March 1, 2009


I have fond memories of performing at the DNA. Our shows there preceded the 1992 Lollapalooza tour, and were sponsored Jack Boulware and his wonderful Nose magazine.

Fakir Musafar showed up, and we got to hang out with him. Later he invited us over to his house. A most genteel and erudite host, his "dungeon" was carpeted in deep red shag.

Most people who fainted during our show did so during Tim's Human Pincushion act. Amazingly enough, on this night, a gal who was assisting the Nose crew fainted during my can smash act. Thankfully she recovered, and I met her after the show. She became a most gracious hostess during my time in San Fransisco.

For performers, most clubs are largely interchangeable and forgettable, but I'll always remember the DNA.
posted by Tube at 9:59 PM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know if you could really call it discriminatory, it sounds like selective enforcement in order to target a specific operator, using LGBT behavior as an excuse. This isn't going to end gay night life in S.F, come on.
posted by delmoi at 2:05 AM on March 2, 2009


DNA vs. ABC and SFPD over GLBT? OMG!
posted by Eideteker at 4:22 AM on March 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


First they came for the hysterical, entitled nerds but I said nothing because I have a girlfriend.
posted by DU at 5:58 AM on March 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Basically, you're supposed to judge morality issues based upon local standards.
I'm not sure that this is the sort of statement that most people would agree with.

Legal precedent generally holds that indecency and obscenity ought to be judged in the context of local standards. That's far afield from judging morality in the context of local standards.

I'll avoid the obvious Godwin, but this is a hair worth splitting.
posted by DWRoelands at 5:59 AM on March 2, 2009


Bad choice of a lead link for this post; Violet Blue, aside from name-dropping her moms, cites ABC actions from half a century ago to justify the "homophobia" angle. Fail. This is the sort of petty political gamemanship that goes on across the country with local alcohol control boards, and while it sucks that your favorite bar has been targeted by the local panty-sniffers, crying "I'm being oppressed!" is not a winning strategy.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:22 AM on March 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


knows that it's commonplace for the charges against the DNA to take place at GLBT nightclubs... and far more graphic, as in actual fullblown sex.

Is it not common at mainstream nightclubs? Why the difference?
posted by jacalata at 7:41 AM on March 2, 2009


Local folks are telling me it's not that it's having gay events, it's that it's gay and lesbian of color events which are standing out here.

SF still has shit like "double carding" minorities at gay clubs.
posted by yeloson at 8:24 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Violet Blue, aside from name-dropping her moms, cites ABC actions from half a century ago to justify the "homophobia" angle. Fail.

Yes, I also thought that Violet Blue's dragging The Black Cat into this was particularly inapt. Comparing what's going on with the DNA Lounge with the raids that were happening in SF in the 1950s and 1960s? Come on.
posted by blucevalo at 8:28 AM on March 2, 2009


Ah yes, the remnants of Prohibition continue to haunt us to this day.
posted by tommasz at 8:34 AM on March 2, 2009


SF still has shit like "double carding" minorities at gay clubs.

What is that?
posted by delmoi at 10:08 AM on March 2, 2009


First they came for the hysterical, entitled nerds but I said nothing because I have a girlfriend.

Then they came for Violet Blue and still I said nothing, because I WANTED them to take her.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:59 PM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Homophobia has always been alive and well in the state of California.

If's it a post on GLBT in California, here comes Blazecock Pileon to tell us all how homophobic we all are.

You know, many of us CA residents are VERY upset and embarrassed about prop 8 being passed but we were one of 3 states to legalize gay marriage (even if only temporarily, for now) with thriving and open gay communities in L.A. and SF among other places.

I'm not gay, but if I were I still think I'd chose to live in L.A.

Do me a favor, BP, live in Utah for a while and then tell me how homophobic California is.
posted by cjets at 2:34 PM on March 2, 2009


"Choose." God damn it. "Choose."
posted by cjets at 2:35 PM on March 2, 2009


Do me a favor, BP, live in Utah for a while and then tell me how homophobic California is.

The two states are blending together, at least with respect to how laws indirectly regulating sexual behavior are being written.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:50 PM on March 2, 2009


delmoi: It's where you show your card to get in, but then you gotta show more ID than just your driver's license. It's officially illegal but enough places pull it and get away with it. More than a couple of friends have told me a night out ended for them at the door.
posted by yeloson at 11:08 AM on March 3, 2009


markkraft,
The thing is, anyone who has ever been around the S.F. club scene knows that it's commonplace for the charges against the DNA to take place at GLBT nightclubs... and far more graphic, as in actual fullblown sex. [...] And concentrating on behavior which is commonplace in nightclubs that are specifically LGBT-oriented?
Wait, your argument against the alleged discrimination is that the government should discriminate based on sexuality and allow certain conduct to gays but not straights? Based on the assumption that gays and their clubs are promiscuous, lewd, etc but straight ones aren't? I'm so confused about what we're all supposed to believe about the gay lately....
posted by vsync at 9:41 PM on March 3, 2009


...meanwhile, they're still serving drinks at the local topless lapdance club.
posted by markkraft at 3:43 AM on March 11, 2009


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