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Society of the Spectacle

[whitespace] Satur9
Matt Ipcar

Modern Primitives: The evenings entertainment at the Satur9 party began with AWD, a local performance troupe who dressed like post-WWIII club kids and danced and spun torches.

Satur9's multimedia mayhem

By Michelle Goldberg

Among the twisted and bizarre happenings at the second monthly Satur9 party at the DNA lounge was the sight of metalheads and modern primitives moshing and grinding to the jungle, hip-hop and ecstatic house music of XLR8R DJ Professor John Smith. It was a scene-smashing night at which modern dance, fire twirling and electronic music were interspersed with headache-inducing rock, all climaxing with the neopagan metal mayhem of San Diego's legendary cult band Crash Worship.

The crowd, 99 percent of whom surely had upper-arm tattoos, included tons of silver body paint, stretched earlobes, fuzzy hats, six-inch platform boots, boas, bald heads and devil horns. A woman with a stylish rat's nest of long, teased bleach-blonde hair was dressed like the star of a Thunderdome-themed porn film, her perfect body barely covered with strips of bondage, black rubber, hot pants, fishnets and metal studs.

Her Conan the Barbarian boyfriend, who looked like a refugee from a Magic the Gathering convention with long strips of fabric tied around his arms and a muddy-colored skirtlike thing, headbanged to the rave music and jumped and crawled around the floor. Both simulated sex with a variety of other dancers; at one point, she mounted a boy in a wheelchair and started grinding like a stripper who had a grand stuffed in her G-string. A topless woman wearing a wolf's head mask shimmied near the stage. On the balcony, punk couples made out on couches; girls took pictures of their nipples in the sticker booth.

It was a different, darker scene than is usually found in San Francisco nightclubs, and it's going to happen every month. The idea behind Satur9, produced by the multimedia company 1rstbyte, is to create an evening of ever-shifting sensory immersion, both for the live audience and for those watching the event online, broadcast from five cameras set up throughout the DNA. The next event will feature the thrash band Suicidal Tendencies along with two opera singers, a string quartet and robot wars.

The sign outside the DNA at the last Satur9 read, "We are not responsible for your safety or your clothes," and indeed both were imperiled throughout the night. The evening's entertainment began with AWD, a local performance troupe dressed like post-WWIII club kids.

As the show began, two girls climbed into cages suspended from the sides of the DNA's balcony while drummers paraded onto the club's floor. Fire dancers followed, using their flames to light torches held by the girls in cages. After a brief performance, they ushered us into the DNA's back room, where they twirled, writhed and rolled with jerky grace and fragmented fluidity.

They climbed the rafters, did flips off the walls and kissed each other. Fire dancers are nearly as common in San Francisco as liberal-arts graduates and aging hippies, but few can sustain excitement once the flames go out.

The back room of the DNA lounge is very small, and its ceilings are covered with a drapey fabric. With the sweaty crowd packed in, the threat that the whole place would go up in flames added a hint of danger, a feeling that would intensify much later in the night when Crash Worship finally appeared around 1:30am.

An hour after the opening act--the annoyingly loud angry testosterone-rock band Jaded Rain--Crash Worship started its procession through the audience with a long line of drummers and a trumpet player who sounded like a musician at a New Orleans funeral. At one point, they lit raging fires on the floor of the club that quickly extinguished themselves.

The band took the stage in an epilepsy-inducing barrage of strobes. Miss Mad Max had her top off in seconds and was tossed atop the roiling crowd.

The singer had several of those supermarket wine balls, and he sprayed red wine on the crowd, who opened their mouths and squeezed their eyes shut in frenzied rapture--although Ernest and Julio Gallo seemed an inappropriate accompaniment to a Dionysian orgy. It's hard to imagine the people watching the event on their PCs really getting into the nihilistic revelry of the whole thing, but at least they were spared worries about fire safety and cut-rate merlot.

For information about the next Satur9 event, go to www.satur9.com or call 1rstbyte at 415/621-GEEK.

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From the October 19-November 1, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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