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[whitespace] Bars, Clubs and Coffeehouses 2000

Kids on Motorcycles
Photo: George Sakkestad. Stylist: Rachael Knoester. Clothes: Bizzo, Los Gatos. Anna Tse (in foreground) & Linda Quek's hair: Adeline Emmerling. Rob Patterson's hair: Gigi Gue Salon; Nirvana, Los Gatos. Cycles: Moto Italiano, San Mateo.

Bars, Clubs & Coffee Houses: An Abridged History

By Dan Pulcrano

For 15 years, Metro's staff has hit the bars--for professional reasons, of course. (Hey, it's the least we can do for you, our awesome readers.) Along the way, we sampled apple martinis (they're green), avoided anything with blue curaçao, and let Andrew at Fuel make us a Russian something-or-other that contained Stoli, Midori, Southern Comfort and sweet-and-sour mix. We'll stick to Cosmopolitans, thanks.

When Metro first published what we believe was the newspaper industry's original (and much copied) "Bars and Clubs" annual, the valley had music clubs like the Cabaret, Smokey Mountain Saloon and Keystone Palo Alto that featured long-haired guitar bands and watering holes that opened at six in the morning. We recall only one coffee roaster--Los Gatos's--hardly enough for a category, and downtown San Jose had but one destination nightclub, the Miami Vice-influenced DB Cooper's, complete with pink palm trees and neon.

The post-punk/new wave era hit the valley when One Step Beyond, the Vortex, the Oasis and F/X brought danceable British pop to town and black clothing to the valley's fashion landscape, which was previously dominated by guys wearing Levis and women with foofy hair.

Along the way some clubs--Laundry Works, Marsugi's, Ajax, Manny's Cellar--achieved legendary status and disappeared. Some, like JJ's, Mountain Charley's, the Palace and the Cactus Club, survive as local classics. And others, like Dimensions and San Jose Live, neither achieved critical acclaim nor survived.

Operators who have managed to endure smoking bans, ABC decoys, political and bureaucratic wind shifts, partnership disputes and fickle consumer tastes are the subject of this informative and useful 160-page volume, one of the largest this publishing company has produced.

As we toast our way into the new millennium, we see one club, the Edge, abandoning live music to become an upscale Silicon Valley supper club. We're also witnessing a proliferation of excellent Latin dance clubs, the growing popularity of electronic music and heavy interest by national operators in what was once considered a backwater market. In the SoFA district, Polly Esther's took over an old theater. Starbucks opened a brewpub in the former 42nd Street's Palo Alto location. And House of Blues is angling to open a venue.

I contemplated this transformation at the lobby bar at the Usual, where I bumped into a few friends last Saturday night. The club was a porn theater when Metro opened its first office next door, and now the corner of San Salvador and South First is the epicenter of valley's most lively club district.

As I'm standing there, suddenly, bright headlights reflect off the mirror behind the bar. The bartender, who is used to this, puts on his shades and screams, "last call." Now red lights are reflecting off his lenses; it looks like the whole bar is being pulled over. The crowd streams out under the marquee.

I lean against a jacaranda tree outside that's dropping its messy flowers on Redevelopment's unwashed designer sidewalk and scribble notes on a napkin. A cop trains his searchlight on my eyes to try and coerce me to leave, but I've got a job to do just like him and this is a public street, so I wait him out and he splits. The only movement on the sidewalk are two women in strappy tops, one of whom is giving her Hotmail address to a guy in an orange Karmann Ghia.

There is a price to pay for keeping the peace in a diverse community, but I am not sure SoFA always needs to look like a homicide investigation at the close of weekend business. The San Jose area has come a long way since Metro started covering its club culture a decade-and-a-half ago, and the next stage, hopefully, will encompass the development of a thriving after-hours scene.

Our thanks go out to the majority of the cops, who exercise discretion and good judgment while keeping the club experience a safe one.

We especially salute the employees whose labors enable our fun. They are the genuine heroes of the valley's dotcom-ravaged service economy. DON'T FORGET TO TIP the bartender, the cocktail waitress, the barista. A buck a drink's the respectable minimum these days, and it's always nice to recognize exceptional efforts with a five, a ten or a twenty--even a hundred if you just made a killing in the stock market.

Most of all, party sensibly, so we can have you as a reader next year.

Where to Drink Your Liquid
A handy condensed guide with all the basics you need to know for getting out and about in the valley.

Campbell | Cupertino | Los Gatos | Milpitas | Mountain View | Peninsula | Santa Clara | Saratoga | San Jose downtown | San Jose outskirts | South County | Sunnyvale

Staff Picks

Guilty As Charged: Trials Pub, the best place to make friends with a publican.

Viva Lost Wages! Fear and loathing without the drive at Bay 101's Sutter's Sports Bar.

Public View: The Shark & Rose offers the simple pleasure of sipping from a bustling city sidewalk.

Huge Head: At Kings Head Pub, some will kilt to get a dollar off a beer.

True Blue: Real deal blues, down-home digs can be found at JJs Blues.

Oso Special: The simple life endures amid the mayhem at Great Bear.

Fuel in Love: A place to fill your tanks and then some.

Miami Vice: Club Miami is the best spot to meet a man with snakeskin shoes.

Citizen Canes: Seven Bamboo--the best place to sing off-key and receive applause.

U-Style: Find your nightclub fashion prototype, or invent one yourself. What to wear out.

Contributors: Jimmy Aquino, Corinne Asturias, Broos Campbell, David Cohen, Dara Colwell, David Espinoza, Will Harper, Nate Huff, Joe Izzo, Jeff Kearns, Chantal Lamers, Kelly Luker, Margaret Meriwether, Nikki Medoro, Dan Pulcrano, Sarah Quelland, Genevieve Roja, Kelle Schillaci, Sam Scott, Mary Spicuzza, Sharan Street, Jesse Taylor, Jena Torres, Richard von Busack, Gordon Young, Heather Zimmerman

Photographer: George Sakkestad

Design and Production: Marty Stevens, Dan Pulcrano and Dianna Woods

Editorial Coordinator: Melissa Hunt

Fashions: Special thanks to Rachael and Joey of Bizzo, Los Gatos for their assistance

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From the June 22-28, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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