Stefanie Doucette: Is San Francisco Losing Its DNA?
What hits you first is the wall of color -- flamingo pink, neon green and electric blue. When your eyes adjust, you can see the solid black poster frames, corralling decades of concert memorabilia packed tightly together like the people on the dance floor in the next room over. There's no hierarchy to the posters -- Prince is up there, but so are ones for The Coup, Imperative Reaction, Go Betty Go and The Dollyrots. Obscure artists get equal real estate on the wall. This wall is a shrine to the 32-year history of DNA Lounge, an institution among San Francisco clubs. [...]
With seven bars and a labyrinth-like layout of performance space, there's room for everyone here. Ariel, the floor manager, describes the cultural diversity among her hardworking staff -- queer, straight, black and white, ranging from Mohawked punk-rock kids to super-fashionista girls. Formerly a graphic designer and an avid patron of DNA Lounge's "Death Guild", Ariel eventually made the switch from regular to employee. "They say if you come here often enough, eventually you'll be offered a job," said an anonymous patron who chimed in during our conversation. It's an environment where it's easy to get to know each other, where the regulars are family.
I felt I'd achieved a level of acceptance on par with the regulars last Tuesday at their Valentine's Day "Cyberdelia" event: a Hackers screening and '90s dance party complete with a skate ramp. A girl in a yellow fishnet shirt came up to me while dancing and asked, "Can I join you? You girls are dancing hard. I came here with boys, and all they want to do is talk about tech."
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