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Deep Six

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Matt Ipcar

Sound Decisions: Boppers and ravers are drawn like lemmings by the audio system at Six.

A casual atmosphere draws fearless clubbers to Civic Center after dark

By Michael Stabile

It's not that Pete Glikstern hadn't thought of everything when he opened his newest club, Six. He's the first to admit: achieving everything depends less on ambition than on timing. Perhaps he's merely modest, but as a work in progress, the multilevel club (located on Sixth Street, half a block south of Market) is as impressive in its current state as it undoubtedly will be when his ultimate vision comes more into focus. New light projections, for example, have recently been added to the first-floor lounge, but Glikstern's work is an embodiment of a specific desire with increasingly inspired incarnations.

The owner and driving force behind the wildly successful club Liquid, Glikstern has fused a spacious chill-out bar featuring local trip-hop and world-beat bands like New Native with a basement bar and dance floor, the sound system of which rivals the exhaustive speakers of South of Market dance spaces as much as it does the THX surround sound of the new AMC 1000. In its current incarnation, Six bridges the post-rave teeny (albeit over-21) boppers and cocktail-culture alcoholics, assembling a crowd as intriguing in its fashion as it is in its commingling.

The entrance pairs the patina of an old movie theater with the modernity of a night-savvy doorman. The ground floor is akin to an extended living room and relies on multitudinous couches that, unlike their Mission counterparts, match. Rows of car seats as sofas supplant standard bar tables, encouraging socializing among disparate cliques. But without the televisions to glue potatoes to their plush seats, emigration from the casual lounge to the intense beat of the minimalist dance floor becomes imperative.

Boppers and ravers are drawn like lemmings to the deep house and trance emanating from under the stairs. Cocktailers who normally would limit themselves to disinterested posing are lured to the lineless, if abbreviated, dance-floor bar. It's not quite social fusion yet, but as Mercury's Dr. Winkie has pointed out about his similarly structured venture, mixing oil and water requires a strong and dedicated shaking.

Like Liquid, whose location is just far enough from the liver-saturating Mission and Valencia bar corridors to qualify as slightly treacherous, Six sits in a risky locale, maybe even a degree more risky. Although other venues like Theater Rhinoceros and Tu-Lan have not suffered too much from the presence of broken crack pipes and tent cities, Six is the first to bring such a large nocturnal following to the seedy blocks surrounding the Civic Center. Glikstern is hesitant to predict that Six's placement will revitalize the neighborhood. But in a city where safety is often of little concern, Glikstern's edgy clubs separate the staid from the adventurous.

Though Six has been open only a few months, few other bars and clubs have garnered such an avant reputation so quickly. Publicity and bragging would be out of place. While most clubs spend heavy allowances on promotion, Six has gained through word of mouth a dedicated following of those who count. And although liquor, according to city ordinance, may not be poured after 2am, the staff doesn't treat the patrons as if they were being evicted from a high school dance at 1:53am either. The prodigious success shows no sign of flash in the pan or child-star fading. Glikstern promises more changes, original if understated. If his dedication continues, we may be witnessing the birth of a San Francisco staple.

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From the February 1, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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