6th Street Strip Report : Lawyers, Launches & Last Blasts

It may be hard to imagine that 6th & Mission once had it’s own miniature golf course, but here it is in a 1930’s photo from the SF Public Library collection. Nowadays the recreational pursuits in the neighborhood are quite different, and hardly as wholesome looking.

The current strip of nightclubs along SF’s seedy 6th Street strip and it’s offshoot alleys provide a classic study in contrasts. Fresh faced suburban bred 20-somethings careen intoxicatedly in and out of clubs looking to partake in some sort of overpriced quasi-glam nightlife activities, whilst dozens of ever present ne’er do’ells, derelicts and addicts of various sorts bob about, some actually laying sprawled on the concrete.

Word filters out that after a good few years of pioneering the attempted hipster takeover of the block, The Arrow Bar operators are tired of struggling and are calling it quits. This weekend is the last hurrah, with Monday night being the last chance to grab a PBR at their farewell blast. The place had been for sale since early this year, and the business opportunity to own your own urban squalor centric club was listed for about $160,000. I’m not sure who the new caretakers of the license might be, but we’ll wish ’em luck.

You might notice how empty the Arrow Bar bar is in this real estate website photo, and that’s either because the cover charge to get into the 900 sq ft dump was normally so high on a typical Monday that no one bothered to come in, or that everyone is quite possibly in the bathroom getting high…

Me thinks that white powder ain’t leftover Comet bathroom cleanser on the handy counter by the sink y’all…

Meanwhile, over at the sleek 1000 capacity Mezzanine club on Jessie, the cavernous concrete club was packed with dancing fools last night gulping down $8 & $10 cocktails while grooving to the U.K electronica mash maestros Soulwax. The “no ins & outs” Mezzanine is seemingly raking in dough from it’s captive audience, where even a 60 cent roll of lifesavers can set you back $2…

The joint is staffed to the gills with 4 bars pumping out top shelf drinks, there’s state of the art sound, video and ventilation systems, a comfortable VIP area and backstage replete with shower & eye pleasing art, furniture, fridge and dimmed recessed lighting.

Meanwhile the largest demographic segment of tenants in the square mile around 6th street are people making under $10,000 a year and most literally don’t have apot to piss in, unless you count a communal toilet down the hall…

If you’d like to read more on the 6th Street Strip and trivia and travails of Club Six and it’s neighbors, follow after the jump. We’ve even got a link that’ll get you onto the guestlist for a private JetBlue sponsored showcase at Mezzanine this Tuesday night, May 1st with Sweden’s current hottest musical exports The Teddybears STHLM…

Long the city’s most dreaded skid row, for the past half decade or so a new breed of 6th St entrepreneurs has been trying to cash in on an area even the cops are afraid to hang out in. The city’s official half assed attempts at “beautification” are beyond laughable, seemingly the main noticeable aspect being banners proclaiming 6th Street is being beautified via “Urban Solutions”, a taxpayer funded non profit boondoggling arm of the ubiquitous and almost always asinine autocracy known as the SF Redevelopment Agency. Local activist Randy Shaw’s BeyondChron website noted in 2005 that one “need only look at how the Agency failed to eliminate blight on Sixth Street despite spending over $100 million.” According to the SF Chronicle $6 to $7 million was spent recently just on extending sidewalks an extra foot and a half , which i guess was meant to give crackheads & clubgoers, and wheelchair wielding whiners more room to congregate and sell stolen property?

Meanwhile the 6th street clubs & loft developers feed on a frenzied fatuousness & and ignore the detritus and decay around them…

I’ve seen bold robberies occur at the same time patrons are waiting behind velvet ropes, guys attempting to sell stolen goods on the sidewalks back to the same people whose stuff was freshly taken from their cars parked right the in the alley. No wonder those cheap CD’s look familiar eh?

Saga of Club 6

The nightspot at 60 6th was The Frisco Club, recounted ias far back as David Dodge’s hard boiled 1941 detective novel “Death & Taxes” and a spot in the 50’s where Benny Velarde & Carlos Frederico played Mambo or in 1975 where Peter Case’s pre-punk band the Nerves played covers. It later was known as Frisco Disco in the late 70’s, and gay go go boys were the entertainment when it was Frisco Royale. I first attended it as Chel’s Rendezvous when it hosted punk bands in the latter 80’s and early 90’s.

Now called Club Six, and was named best SF dance club not long ago by the Bay Guardian. The place has come under fire recently at the Entertainment Commission as a problem on 6th St, apparently for it’s sound levels. Residents have ratcheted up complaints to the E.C despite the club supposed compliance to the original arbitrary level set by the city’s party czars.

Nearby SRO residents are saying that Club Six has “traumatized” them “for many years”. One claimed that he is on “medication for sleep deprivation from the sound of the Club Six” and added “there were blocked cars and violence and stabbings and robberies and sideshows and the venue creates a problem. ”

Note that in the mind’s of the complaintant, it’s not the neighborhood, it’s definitely the subterranean dancefloor containing venue that has sat on the corner of Jessie for more than 50 years that has ruined the quality of life on 6th street…

Rick Cleveland, a resident at The Seneca Hotel and apparently a self-appointed cultural arbiter of the block, complained to Club 6 owner Angel Cruz at an Entertainment Commision hearing earlier this year

“Your clientele look like people from suburbia. We don’t need people like that coming here…”

Despite the fact that there’s been a nightclub business at that address since the 1930’s, and the local cops said only one noise complaint was filed in the last 3 months, a new wave of NIMBY SRO dwellers whose rent is subsidized by governmental entities are now empowered and want the joint silenced by other governmental entities. Enter the “Entertainment Commission”, presided over by Jim Meko, the same guy currently going after The Eagle Tavern…

The current owner of Club Six, that wily Harlem raised investment broker named Angel Cruz is ironically also a board member at “Urban Solutions” the aforementioned Redevelopment Agency offshoot that’s supposedly set on improving the area. Cruz claims he’s spent $110,000 on sound proofing and built a second ceiling with double layered sheetrock and filled in all the holes and cracks. His original set of sound readings from Vajra Granelli, the city’s official level checker,had found no problems with sound. Yet after the initial tests found Club Six in compliance with decibel levels, more tests were done later at the behest of neighbors living near the club, and these secondary readings were now found to exceed an 88 decibel limit by 10%. For reference, it ain’t like it’s unusual for the crickets to be drowned out in the hood, as standard ambient background noise on the block itself is often around 65db to start with.

Attorney Mark Rennie , a former South of Market club operator himself, who now represents Cruz has said that Club Six posts 4 security guards each night outside to keep the club’s patrons in check and that “Angel is fully committed to being a good neighbor and working this out.”

None the less, the city has started the license suspension process with Club Six…
CC licensed pic at left from Mark Ellinger’s fine local website Up From The Deep, which beautifully documents architecture of SRO hotels and life in the 6th street corridor.

If you’d like to ramble on down to check out 6th street’s nightlife zone yourself, here’s link where you can get admitted for free to Mezzanine at 444 Jessie behind the Old Mint this Tuesday night May 1st


The occasion is in celebration of JetBlue Airways launching new low cost service from SFO to New York City and Boston on May 3rd!

RSVP now to be placed on the guest list and maybe we’ll see you at the Teddybears STHLM show!

enlarge photo

No plus ones — just tell any of your friends to RSVP, there’s less than 500 spots remaining for the party so the sooner the better…

Also apparently everyone who RSVPs will be automatically entered to win a FREE JetBlue
trip to the New York City event with Albert Hammond, Jr on May

note: must be 21+ to enter Mezzanine, but even if you don’t go, you can still be “empowered” and complain whenever you wish to the city’s entertainment czars here www.sfgov.org/entertainment

3 Comments so far

  1. plug1 (unregistered) on April 29th, 2007 @ 6:58 pm

    thats a dope post dude. remember that bar that used to be there before arrow? i used to get my ups packages delivered there when i lived on market street in the mid-90s. remember chucks hip hop shop at 7th next to where the psychadelic shop used to be? remember toms liqour store before he died?

    i miss sleazy sixth sometimes, but im glad i dont live there anymore.

  2. dln (unregistered) on April 29th, 2007 @ 7:50 pm

    Great post. Six is indeed a sweet club. Their sound is ace, especially the bassment, and the vibe is always great.

    I really hope everything gets settled, ’cause it’s a great space for bass culture events like surya dub and dubstep parties.

  3. lil mike (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 5:25 am

    yep i do recall the pre-Arrow bar…it was The Charleston I believe… across the street where they have Anu was Ginger’s Too…and down on mission at 6th where “pow!” and some other ill suited fools have made ridiculously short lived assaults on true urban sensibility’s I only remember the OG joint that was there in the 80’s & 90’s as “Shot & Beer $1.50”

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