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How the DNA Lounge is Keeping SF Weird During the Pandemic

Updated: Sep 17, 2020 09:54
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By Jim Sweeney

In its 35th year, landmark independent nightclub DNA Lounge is doing everything they can to survive the current lockdowns. With the city paralyzed by the Coronavirus, it is a huge struggle to keep San Francisco’s cultural identity and live entertainment culture afloat, but they are trying!

Already imperiled by homogenizing, multi-billion dollar entertainment monopolies like Live Nation and AEG / Golden Voice, the pandemic has been a death sentence for many of the dwindling number of independently owned and operated venues in the Bay Area.

DNA Lounge Turbo Drive Webcast:

The DNA Lounge webcast — — has, for nearly 20 years, been piping audio and video of its live events onto the internet. Now, under the direction of general manager Devon Dossett, and with crews of dedicated producers, promoters, performers and techs, the club has significantly upgraded its webcast technology, and has transformed itself into a de facto television studio, for broadcasting live events from its stage to the world.

Hubba Hubba Revue

DNA Lounge has been the Bay Area home of a vast number of alternative communities since opening in 1985, and a dedicated supporter of diversity, local music and performing arts. Despite the realities of the pandemic, that tradition continues on the DNA webcast.

Events so far have included live variety shows, projection-mapping artists, DJ parties with full club lighting and go-go dancers, and even an appearance by EDM luminary Shlump, on his way to perform at an outdoor, drive-in rave in Colorado.

Death Guild, the long running goth club happening every Monday, has so far spent its entire 27th year in a live-webcast-only format: Death Guild’s 27th anniversary celebration was scheduled for that fateful day that ended up being the first night of SF’s COVID lockdown. Turbo Drive continues its neon and laser-drenched affair of cyberpunk and synthwave music, twice a month on 2nd and 4th Fridays. Apothecary Raree was the first live cabaret show on DNA‘s stage in the COVID era, and returns in September.

Death Guild

One long-time staple of DNA Lounge is the world famous Hubba Hubba Revue burlesque and variety show, which enters its 14th year this September. Prior to the lockdowns, Hubba brought its blend of comedy, spectacle and tease to DNA every Monday night upstairs, and once a month for its themed big shows in the main room. Now, unable to pack the house with cheering fans of good, clean naughty fun, the venerable Bay Area revue is working hand-in-hand with the club to produce webcast shows direct from the DNA Lounge stage.

Hubba Hubba Revue

Star Crash, one of the newest additions to the DNA calendar, began 2020 as a monthly live synthpop dance party centered around local Bay Area talent. But after hosting just the first two parties (in January and February), Covid struck. Star Crash has since taken their show online with Star Crash From Afar, which features exclusive performances and show clips from 15+ artists per show; and Star Crash: Covideodrome, a music video show harkening back to the early days of MTV. The next Star Crash: From Afar show on Sept 24 will feature a set from local band Great Highway, performing from DNA Lounge’s main stage.

All of these events have been produced within health and safety guidelines, including face masks, social distancing, and limited personnel on-site. Even the DJ booth now includes clear, plexiglass barriers.

Awesome projection mapping by Victoria Del Castillo

Hopefully better Federal leadership and real solutions will come soon, and we’ll be able to return to live shows and live gatherings before it’s too late for local venues and local live entertainment. In the meantime, DNA Lounge, and all its partners, are doing what they can to keep San Francisco’s independent, non-corporate entertainment business alive and viable for the Bay Area’s future.


To Support DNA:

To support DNA Lounge, become a Patreon member at: make a one-time donation at:

DNA Pizza, their attached restaurant, is open for pick-up and delivery, including delivery cocktails:

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