420 Mason (between Post and Geary)
San Francisco, CA
The sign was so large and bright that I almost didn’t see it. "Ruby Skye" emblazoned in red letters across the marquis made it seem as though the line that stretched to the end of the block was filled with people waiting to see a hot new Broadway show as opposed to a new dance club. I had decided to bite the bullet and check out this new, swankier than swank club night put on by famed producers Martel and Nabiel an old theatre just off Union Square. It was supposed to be all glitz, glam, and spectacle and, from the amount of people lined up at 10:45, it smacked of promise.
Waiting in line at a club, especially one that hasn’t been around long enough to attract a loyal and regular following, gives one plenty of time to observe a rather diverse cross section of bay area culture. The age range was staggering- lots of people in their early twenty’s all the way through the over fifty crowd. Excuse me while I wax critical of some of those spotted in line. One of the "over fifty" set was a gentleman in a suit whose hair would have spoken volumes about him had it not been completely suffocated by some type of greasy pomade. Half of his long gray curls were pulled back into a ponytail that reminded me of a bad hockey player’s hair-do of yesteryear. One of my other favorites was the tiny girl in exceedingly tight white pants, a pink mesh t-shirt and the shoes, the shoes did it for me, lucite platform stiletto stripper heels, very classy. Amidst some of the cheese the crowd was dressed fairly well, mostly black and gray, although the occasional Marina chick was spotted with gold hoop earrings and a small black backpack.
The line moved along fairly well and we soon checked our coats at the door and headed towards the thumping bass that seemed to push the walls ever outward. Because it is an old theatre, the layout lent itself to a bit of surprise. When you attend a play and you cross from the lobby into the seating area you might pause to fully breathe in the effect of glamorous chandeliers, plush seating and thick curtains letting them lull you into a state where you become ready to suspend your disbelief. Much the same effect here. The interior of the theatre has been more or less preserved: only the seats are gone, a wooden dance floor in its place, and where you would have expected a crystal masterpiece hanging from the ceiling there is instead a circle of lights that would occasionally be lowered, to hover a few feet over the pulsating masses below. There is access to a spacious balcony with a bar and the right wing cordoned off for the VIP section. Above the old stage is another balcony from where scenic backdrops would have been lowered in the theatre’s play days. This was screened in and contained a few hired dancers. Friday night they were wearing cat outfits and prancing about clawing at the air. A smoking bar is also upstairs where people can puff away at cigars while trying to look like they are actually enjoying them.
Although my friend had remarked that there were a lot of good looking men there, my sense was that most of them sat on that razor thin edge of being comfortable in their own skins and needed to play the part of cool pimp-daddy out to score with some hot babe. There were definitely some attractive and nice people but I must admit I was a bit turned off by the man, we’ll call him Guido, who tried to physically haul me off to the bar for a drink. Desperation is not exactly a turn-on.
Above and beyond this, the music was fun- although, at times, I had to look around to make sure I wasn’t at one of my college formals or, God forbid, a prom. A multitude of lighting techniques kept things visually stimulating as they were constantly highlighting different corners of the vast interior space. Ruby Skye was too much of a spectacle for me to want to frequent on a regular basis (that and the cover charge - $15! Ouch!) but could be a great place to take out of town guests or a younger sibling who may have just turned 21 to show them what "real" adults do to unwind. If nothing else the people watching is fabulous and will supply anyone with enough fodder to fertilize an entire garden of comic anecdotes for days.
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