2925 16th Street (at South Van Ness)
I glance at my watch. My G-shock smiles at me, then winks, aligning those numbers. It's 11:11, and the darkness of the corner seems fitting somehow.
As I stroll past a misplaced Victorian, between an empty lot and a Chevron on South Van Ness, a breeze, the typical icy, humid bay breeze many have come to associate with that certain little bastard, rips down the street. The breeze parts my coat, reaches in and wraps its fingers and arms around my stomach, then ribs, then back, swirling and pulling me closer, as a lover reaches around his prey and yanks her in for a kiss, her body curved and limp, dripping off his body for that moment. I zip up my black, plastic jacket and turn the corner.
16th and South Van Ness on Saturday night is eerily abandoned. Every other building boarded up and just a smattering of parked cars, this end of 16th endures in marked contrast to the other end, just blocks away and full of life.
Appealing both to my sense of drama and anticipation of finding my own little corner, the south end of 16th, dark and uncharted, is the perfect environment for walking directly into the unknown. And Liquid is my hunting ground. Finally reaching the sliver of a front door, I exhale a blast of warm, wet air, hand over my two bucks and propel myself inside, past the black velvet drape in the antechamber. The drape always conjures memories of my past spent in the secret places of the theaters and churches. Liquid often feels like both.
People seem to gather with intent, an urge to seek meaning or messages or energy from others. The crowd hunts for symbols or words from others that provide resonance. I hunt for things concealed.
Having arrived a bit early, I saunter over to the bar. Sauntering, at this point, is rather easy. Later, as the crowd thickens and Dave Kirkland brings it to a boil, nothing, including walking, is so easy. For now, however, I peruse the well-stocked bar for the familiar blue bottle but have to settle for a clear one with trees on the label. Although the staff is usually different from week to week and a bit uneven in their approach to mixology, the bartenders aren't bad. My martinis do vary, though, from very wet to very dry, unless I explictly ask for the arid version.
But I don't go to Liquid for the drinks.
As people start flooding in through the doorway, Dave ambles toward the small, elevated platform in the back. A florescent light directly above emits a faint, even light that slightly illuminates the pale blue walls and places sea green highlights on blond hair.
In general, the hunters who frequent Liquid are social beings, friendly and open. Although conversation is minimal once the music overtakes the small room, a vibration that encourages organic, unhampered dancing exists, enabling independent and unattached people to synchronize their moves to others' grooves without inhibition or obligation. The combination of these hunters and Dave's music fashions together a pleasant and productive atmosphere for me to stop thinking so much and just react for a while.
Dave, a dreadlocked sound sculptor who has only been spinning for about a year, has managed to develop a small but fiercely loyal following at Liquid. Dave is constantly experimenting and inventing new sounds with produced vinyl. Dave immerses himself in the electronic music, reshapes it intelligently and presents it with his interpretation, just as premier classical musicians do with Mozart or Beethoven. Dave's interpretations take us to new places from Erica Azim's Zimbabwe, in which a gentle buzzing with dashes of lilting chant create trance-inducing sounds to Bjork's Iceland, where little frozen electronic sounds thrown from the volcanic cliff shatter as they pummel the rocks below. Dave, with childlike and ecstatic mixing, deeply scoops and adds drum and bass, then rhythmically stirs in trance with an ever-so-light sprinkling of ambient, and dishes up highly blended techno flavors that explode on your palette and melt in your mouth.
With two in the morning approaching all too rapidly, the master chef leaves the crowd full of exuberent energy and hearty intoxication. And with no aftertaste.
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