Features & Columns

Annual F/X Reunion Party
Comes Full Circle This Black Friday

After more reunions at what's now the Continental, this year's bash
shall erupt in mythical fashion.
TABLE TOPS: Every F/X holiday party featured a dance on the bar by staff, including this 1992 Halloween bash.

Twenty years ago, the celebrated F/X nightclub in downtown San Jose closed its doors after a gloriously blasphemous six-year run. To bring it all back, starting in 2008 original F/X owner Fil Maresca began staging annual F/X reunions every Black Friday at the Blank Club. After a few more reunions at what's now the Continental, this year's bash shall erupt in mythical fashion.

For the first time, the get-together takes place in the original F/X building, now reincarnated as The Ritz.

That building can be understood as a microcosm, with the entire community operating as the macrocosm.

With the reunion returning to 400 S. First St., the narrative has now come full circle, similar to the Hero's Journey monomyth by Joseph Campbell. That is, F/X departed its normal dimension in 1995, leaving its community behind. From there, it traveled into the unknown abyss for the proverbial mysterious adventure, only to resurface in its first few reunions at the Blank Club, owned by a former F/X regular. After all the necessary stages of transformation and atonement, decisions were made, battles were won, and now the reunion organizers have come back home to First and San Salvador in order to teach us what they discovered along the journey.

From its disappearance in 1995 to the first reunion in 2008, F/X vanished for 13 years—pretty much the same length of time that Jesus bailed for India before returning—and now the historic nightclub's unique environment will enter a new cycle of life. When Maresca walks back into that building for the reunion, it should be understood in mythological terms as Joseph Campbell's "Crossing of the Return Threshold."

For the non-adepts, F/X in its day was one of four alternative music-centric clubs in a pocket of downtown. At the time, South First was a red-light district where washed-up tranny hookers went to score bad speed and shoddy pervs slithered into peep shows. Along with the other clubs, F/X helped spearhead the original SoFA music scene and the original SoFA Street Fair by unleashing a visionary mixture of alternative music, dance, film and themed nights for any persuasion. There was no other club in San Jose quite like it.

The front bar, located in the main foyer area, previously sold candy and smokes when the building was the Pussycat Theater. When Maresca opened F/X, he turned the front area into a bar separate from the main club. From the front bar's inception, a slew of hard-drinking punk rock types held court, usually because they didn't care for whatever was going on in the main space. Corey O'Brien led that crew of regulars, and on many nights, it really seemed like the entire 1980s San Jose skater scene comprised the front bar clientele while everyone else danced away in the other room. When the first F/X reunions unfolded at the Blank Club, beginning in 2008, it felt like everything was already coming full circle, because O'Brien and his partners owned the Blank Club. The people Maresca used to serve at his own club were now serving him at the reunions.

But now, the original front bar at the original F/X building is reincarnated as the Ritz Front Bar, also owned by O'Brien, epitomizing the way in which this whole cosmic narrative has circled back to the beginning. Originally, Maresca owned the club and O'Brien was the customer.

Now it's the other way around—just one example of what many old wise guys in the East refer to as samsara, the repeating cycles of birth, death and reincarnation. For me, this is how I naturally experience the San Jose condition. I gave up trying to see it any other way.

Special secret shenanigans are planned Friday just for the front bar, while everything else unfolds in the rest of the club—just like the old days. In the main club, original F/X DJs will command the decks like sages. The minions will gather into the fold and the journey will continue. From the grave, Joseph Campbell sends his regards.