The Showdown on 6th St. is Closing
Oh man, I have had some very strange nights at the Showdown. A few years ago Sonny Phono and I threw a monthly party there called Freaky-Deaky Friday. It was a “costume box party” which meant that if you didn’t show up in a costume we had a box full of them you could choose from. Check out these weird photos from one of them. The party only lasted a few months because it just didn’t get the traction that we needed to keep it going and so like so many other wonderful things, it rode off into the sunset.
Unfortunately the Showdown itself is also doing the same thing. Johnny Venetti, co-owner of the “Urban DJ Saloon” informed me a little bit ago that May would be the Showdown’s last month.
This is loss to The City because it means one less solid place where you can cheap drinks. But really it’s even more of a bummer because it’s one less place that does truly unique events like David Lynch movie night and hair metal nights where you’re encouraged to wear wigs.So this means that you gotta get out and support them while they are still here.
Below is a list of all the remaining events and below that is the Weeknighter column I wrote about the Showdown to give you an idea of the joint in all its glory.
The Weeknighter: The Showdown
You know you’ve been in a city for a long time when you remember what a place was two businesses ago. Before it was The Showdown it was Matador. I never went there…in fact, nobody did. I guess that’s why it’s no longer around. And before it was Matador it was an absolute shit show of a joint called Arrow Bar. Anyone who lived in San Francisco in the early aughts and was of the hipster/PBR/dive bar inclination did some time at Arrow Bar. The interior of the bar looked a half-assed version of Plato’s Cave, you could smell the murky bathrooms from the front door, and cocaine practically spewed from the soda guns behind the bar. Oh god, there was so much cocaine there. I can barely feel my face just thinking about it. Arrow Bar was the perfect bar for the neighborhood at the time; an unapologetic hot mess that mirrored the daily transgressions and tragedies that happen at Sixth and Market. Though there’s a very, very small part of me that misses it, I’m glad it’s gone. All of San Francisco should be glad it’s gone and we should celebrate that The Showdown is here instead.
Billed as an “Urban DJ Saloon”, The Showdown is the love child of Anita Dah and Johnny Venetti, two veterans of SF nightlife. It’s also the perfect bar to mirror what that little stretch of South of Market perdition is now. Crackheads and junkies still buzz and twitter in the street like velociraptors, while the buzz that Twitter is moving in up the street is giving other local businesses (Dottie’s, Pearl’s Burgers) the confidence to open their doors. The Showdown’s beauty is that it has the edge necessary to hold its own in the neighborhood, while also appealing to more than just wispily mustachioed kids looking for cheap thrills and cheaper beer.
Darkly lit with a vaguely Deco-ish back bar and vintage lamps dangling from the ceiling, The Showdown certainly lives up to its billing as a saloon. The DJ part is absolutely on the mark too. Most evenings you can find someone in the DJ booth with music as varied as a Golden Age of hip-hop night on Wednesday and a Smiths night on Thursday. Industry Night is on Mondays where all well drinks are 2-for-1, and every night of the week you can order from Show Dogs and have your grub delivered to your barstool until 10pm.
There’s more going on at The Showdown than just DJs, hotdogs, and strong drinks; Anita and Johnny are using the space to host all kinds of other fun and strange events. One Sunday a month is Bonanza where you can eat spaghetti and watch Spaghetti Westerns and just the other night, I popped in to catch the end of Big Hair Bingo, a night of hair metal music, PB&J sandwiches and of course, bingo. Johnny Venetti was wearing a long black wig and looked like he was in Ratt. It was a good look for him.
San Francisco is in an interesting place right now. We’re neck deep in a second tech boom that many people hope will lead to the Mid-Market area no longer being a zombie wasteland resembling The Walking Dead. Whether or not that’s gonna happen remains to be seen. In the meantime, at least we have The Showdown as a refuge for those of us who wanna get a little bit weird and little bit funky while waiting to see where the cards fall.