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Jungle Love

[whitespace] Eklektic
Matthew Ipcar

Jungle DJs: Dmarie, Emily Griffin (Miss E) and Langan (Q, as in Susie Q) started Eklektic--an antidote to those cheesy, fashionable events packed with superstar poseurs.

The jungle music at Eklektic, a weekly drum and bass party, is fast, funky and raw

By Michelle Goldberg

Sometimes it takes a really bad party, a stiff, boring, subtly hostile party, to make one appreciate the distinct exhilaration of a club where everything clicks. Eklektic, a weekly drum and bass party, is a place where, on the right night, you can shut your eyes and dance and empty your mind of every thought except how good it is to be alive in San Francisco in 1998. Beyond that, though, it's an antidote to those cheesy, fashionable events that can lead even an ardent club-goer to long for a weekend of sweatpants and video rentals.

When I got to Eklektic a few Thursdays ago, I was choking on the sour taste in my mouth left by a chichi soiree for a trendy magazine that featured free martinis, skeletal models parading around in a fashion show, a gaggle of PR hacks smoking cigars and acting hearty, and dozens of gorgeous girls in fur-lined coats, open-toed Mary Janes and silky dresses pouting and rolling their eyes. Held in the atrium of the San Francisco Design Center Galeria, it felt posh but oddly sterile, like the food court at an upscale mall. The event had a big-name DJ--New York's Superstar DJ Keoki--but no one seemed to appreciate him. In fact, a girl waiting in line behind me in the bathroom said, "Just say no to techno." She giggled, so impressed by her little couplet that she repeated it.

Then I arrived at Eklektic, and within a few minutes I was dancing to a cascade of breakbeats and grinning at the DJ's polyrhythmic alchemy. A girl in cutoff fatigues moved with liquid grace at the back of the dance floor, while a bunch of the dolled-up guests of the first party lounged by the bar. An MC named Butterfly rhymed over the music and then started crooning in a sultry, snaky torch-singer voice. "Jungle is like crack," said Rinse, a member of the drum-and-bass collective Bass Krew and the boyfriend of Susan Langan, one of the three girls who run Eklektic. For a few hours, at least, it was hard to disagree.

Eklektic was started in mid-September by three women, Dmarie, Emily Griffin (Miss E) and Langan (Q, as in Susie Q). Two of Eklektic's resident DJs are also women, Sage and Stareyes. But while the female vibe may be what makes Eklektic feel so welcoming, Dmarie stresses that it isn't an all-girl party like Sister. "We do let men play. We highlight female DJs, but it's more about talent. People are here to express themselves. They come here and say, 'I don't do drugs, but I felt really high when I left.' " She adds, though, that there are lots of new female jungle DJs. "All the new DJs that are women are spinning jungle. It's hard-core, and women want to feel strong."

It is hard-core. The music they spin at Eklektic is gritty, funky, fast and raw. Unlike so much house music, with its otherworldly optimism, drum and bass seems like the soundtrack to SOMA's steel and concrete cityscape. "There's so much depth to it. There's a dirty, urban feel to jungle that suits the city. The music came out of inner-city pressure," says Langan.

I wasn't the only one to find relief at Eklektic. "People are having fun here!" said designer and fashion show coordinator Andrés Hermés, who was dressed up in a suit with a big silver Chanel pin on the lapel. "It's so much better than the design center party, where everyone was busy showing off attitude. Keoki is a very good DJ, but tonight he was not into it, because those middle-aged kind of people cannot get used to Keoki music!"

It's not as though the crowds at the two parties were so different. In San Francisco, glamour is democratic, and I was at the design center party only a few minutes before I realized that the short man chatting up a Naomi Campbell lookalike by the bar was the guy who owns my corner bodega, and the lovely, feline model-boy sashaying around the stage was the waiter at the noodle shop a block from my apartment. Everyone would seem more like real superstars, though, if they didn't try so hard.

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From the May 4-17, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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