I remember a chain of clubs called Polly Esther's that fetishized the '70s (and a bit of the '80s) that was around when I was in my 20s. There was one outpost in the Tenderloin that bridge 'n' tunnelers flocked to in their flared polyester pants and giant afro wigs, eager to get lost and wasted in bygone eras. Now the idea of a '70s club seems so outdated, especially as we move on to deepening our obsession with the '90s. I mean, we have the huge fashion trend of flannel shirts and cut-off shorts that's been around for a while now, the bleached hair dyed in shades of Kurt Cobain Easter eggs that's on every other twentysomething girl in this city, the Iggy Azalea Clueless homage for her hit "Fancy," and now we have a bar, Raven, that proudly emailed us recently about the fact that it has an "all '90s format." So you can bask in the hip-hop, R&B, grunge, and Spice Girl hits of that decade and basically live in the '90s any night of the week.
Nineties club nights are nothing new here, of course. Debaser has been bringing the big jams of that era to the Knockout for the past six years, DJing both the golden oldie singles and hosting cover bands reinvigorating the hits of the time. It's been a huge success in this city. And then stories about everything from how to host a '90s party to the return of '90s design trends have been popping up on blogs.
I was talking about this snowballing obsession with all things '90s with a friend recently, and we concluded that not only does it make us feel old, but it also makes sense. The '90s were a simpler time in San Francisco when you look back with rose-colored glasses. It was right before the first dot com bubble and crash. Culturally the country was moving from the bloated (and, yup, fun) pop of the '80s into edgier indie and hip-hop acts. And, well, since our flashbacks move in 20-year cycles, this one should be moving along soon to make room for '00s nostalgia, right? (I mean, I just bought Interpol tickets because I loved them 10 years ago). Oh wait, I am behind the times here. There's already a '00s party in San Francisco, called Last Nite. It's apparently celebrating its 1-year anniversary on August 29.
So back to this Raven bar – if the occasional '90s club night isn't enough to satiate you, they offer something different every night of the week, from hip-hop and R&B themed Phat Tuesdays to Alternative Wednesdays and '90s music video Thursdays. The full schedule for the SOMA bar is here.
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Photo by Bob Jagendorf