- Trocadero Transfer
The Trocadero Transfer was the most popular
gayafter hours dance club in San Franciscofrom its opening in December 1977 to the early 1990s. It was located at 520 4th St. at Bryant in the SoManeighborhood. In 2000 a new owner took over, the name was changed to the Glas Kat, and the club was remodeled.
Origin of the name
The stylish connotations of the name "Trocadero" derive from the
Battle of Trocaderoin southern Spain, a citadel held by liberal Spanish forces that was taken by the French troops sent by Charles X, in 1823. The battle was commemorated in the Place du Trocadéro, Paris, and the monumental glamour of the Parisian site has given rise to a variety of locales bearing its name.
Londonthe Trocadero Restaurant of J. Lyons and Co.opened in 1896 in Shaftesbury Avenue, near the theatres of the West End. It offered magnificent cuisinein building constructed in an Opera Baroquestyle, and the various Trocaderos of the English-speaking world have derived their names from this original, the epitome of grand Edwardian catering.
Consequently, Trocadero is the name of several restaurants and clubs throughout the world: see
The Trocadero Transfer was founded by
Dick Collier. The club stayed open on Saturday nights until 6 a.m. The entire Golden Gate Business Association(San Francisco's Gay business association) had to go down to the San Francisco Board of Permit Appealsto make sure that the Trocadero got its after hours license, and even then it was a while before the club was allowed to serve alcohol after hours. [ Diebold, David "Tribal Rites:San Francisco's Dance Music Phenomenon" Northridge, California:1986--Time Warp Publishing Page 128 ] People came to the Trocadero after the I-Beam closed at 2 a.m., and after the Trocadero closed at 6 a.m., those who still wanted to dance could after 1980go to The EndUp, which opened at 6 a.m. Sunday morning.
Description of the dance space
Somewhat off-center of the dance floor, there was a narrow metal spiral staircase with clear plastic arms that went up from the dance floor to the balcony above where people could watch the dancers below. This spiral staircase was sometimes called The
Crystal Staircase. ("Crystal Staircase" is a slang term used by gay African Americans. It refers to situations where someone has an easy life [someone who is born wealthy, has received a large inheritance, has gotten a job that is a sinecure, etc.] . Of course, "crystal" also refers to methamphetamine, which many patrons of the club took to stay up all night dancing.) Gender illusionists made a great show of ascending or descending the "crystal staircase".
Hanging from the ceiling at the center of the dance floor, there was the "hypnotic mirror ball cluster"--about a dozen mirror balls of various sizes which continually spun around and were the focus of the dance floor. [ Diebold, David "Tribal Rites:San Francisco's Dance Music Phenomenon" Northridge, California:1986--Time Warp Publishing Page 129--picture of the "hypnotic mirror ball cluster" ]
It is said by many who reminisce about the Trocadero that the
golden ageof the Trocadero was between 1978 and 1981 before it became more commercialized and the music became less disco musicand more modern rock. [ Diebold, David "Tribal Rites:San Francisco's Dance Music Phenomenon" Northridge, California:1986--Time Warp Publishing Page 128 ] Some of the DJs who played at the Trocadero included Bobby Viteritti(the primary DJ at the Trocadero when it was at its zenith from 1978 to 1981), [ Diebold, David "Tribal Rites:San Francisco's Dance Music Phenomenon" Northridge, California:1986--Time Warp Publishing Page 154 ] Gary Tighe, Michael Whitehead, Michael Lewis, Billy Langenheim, Steve Smith, Ralph Zepeda, Rob Kimbel, Michael Garrett, and Steve Fabus.
There were many disco parties (the smaller, local one-night predecessors in the late 1970s and during the 1980s of what became after 1990 the much larger multi-day circuit parties) at the Trocadero. The names of some of these parties were the "White Party" (held
Easterweekend), the "Black Party" (held the weekends before Walpurgis nightand Halloween, at which many danced in skimpy black leather outfits), and the "Red Party" (held the weekend before Valentine's Day). At the height of the AIDSepidemic, because fewer people were going out dancing, from 1987 to 1989, the Trocadero was partially closed down and only hosted Disco Parties and special events.
In the spring of 1989, San Francisco gay dance party promoter
Gus Beanbegan his first house musicclub at the Trocadero, the Crew Club.
A couple of times in the early 1990s, San Francisco's first massive
rave, the Toontown Clubwas held at the Trocadero.
The most notoriously infamous club to be held at the Trocadero in the 1990s was the
Bondage a Go-Go. This fetish clubbegan on Wednesday nights in early 1993 and continued at the Trocadero until 2000, when it moved to the Cat Clubon Wednesday nights at 1190 Folsom Street near 8th St. Then in 2004 it moved back to the Glas Kat (the successor nightclub to the Trocadero at 520 4th St.), where it continues to be held every Wednesday to this day (2007).
The other long-running club at the Trocadero is
Death Guild, which moved to the Troc in 1994 from the Pit (after one night at DNA). This legendary gothic industrial club steadily built a cult following on Mondays, which continues to this day, and also in the mid-90s spawned a theme camp at Burning Manof the same name, widely known for its Thunderdome, first built in 1999. Spike's Vampire Bar is another outgrowth at Burning Man, from 2004 on.
In 1995 and 1996, the
Temple Club, a gay nightclub, was held at the Trocadero Transfer on Saturday nights.
Nostalgia parties since 2000
When the Trocadero was remodeled in 2000 and renamed the Glas Kat, the Crystal Staircase was removed. Before the Glas Kat remodel, a large birdcage-like go-go dance cage resided on a corner of the stage in the club since 1989. In the mid 1990's a second, similar cage was hung from the ceiling. In early 2007, the original cage was hung on the ceiling.
Since 2000 a number of Trocadero Transfer disco nostalgia events have been held at the
Glas Kat. These are called the Play Partyand the Remember the Partyparties. At these parties, the original sound of the Trocadero in the late 1970s and early 1980s is reproduced by today's DJ's (this time with go-go boxes to dance on for those so inclined, which did not exist in the original Trocadero). The "Remember the Party" party (produced by Chris Njirich) includes as one of its DJ's the DJ Steve Fabus, who played at the original Trocadero Transfer during the 1980s. [http://www.remembertheparty.com/review-20040418.shtml]
* Diebold, David "Tribal Rites:San Francisco's Dance Music Phenomenon" Northridge, California:1986--Time Warp Publishing--"Trocadero Transfer" Pages 128-143.
* Trocadero--a San Francisco road house,
gamblingjoint, and dance hallthat existed from 1892 to 1930.
* [http://www.discomusic.com/clubs-more/2651_0_6_0_C/ Pictures of the Trocadero and reminiscences about the Trocadero from the website discomusic.com]
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