SoMa club’s the New Kid on the Block
by T. Scott King
As the door closes behind you, the sights, the sounds, and yes, even the smells of 11th and Folsom streets disappear. After passing through a long, dimly lit hall, you make your way toward the door at the end. Your eyes adjust to the light, you feel it first in your chest – the bass and drums coming from the other side of that door. As you get close, the music gets clearer, the door opens and you enter. The music, the lights and the atmosphere wash over you, transporting you. This is BeatBox.
A new club at 314 11th Street, BeatBox is the vision of owner Andy Zivic, who wanted to create a club-space that could host dance parties, live music, art installations, exhibits and shows. “I always wanted to do lighting and production,” said Zivic, “I really wanted a playground.” To that end, he created BeatBox: a place where local DJs, musicians, artists, and all manner of creative people can come out to play.
“The idea was to build a space that could be a little bit different each time you walked in the door; similar to the way Club Townsend was with Universe and Pleasuredome. But,” Zivic continues, “we didn’t want to bring the spirit of Townsend back, but rather bring it forward, in the spirit of art.”
To accomplish all of this, the space –a run-down warehouse– was completely renovated. Andy and The BeatBox crew (including co-owners Paul Saccone and Tchukon Shanks, General Manager Mr. Kevin Craft, Production Chief Mikey Payton, and accountant Wanda Blake) have spent the last year creating a beautiful, industrial-style facility replete with exposed brick and steel, polished concrete, hardwood, an oversized bar (seriously, you need a beer to get from one end to the other), a private mezzanine, a 25-foot ceiling, modular stage and state-of-the-art sound and lighting: A space full of new energy and life.
“We wanted the space to be raw but not dirty; clean, but not polished,” said Zivic. With a capacity of around 300, BeatBox is larger than the neighborhood bar, but smaller and more intimate than most nightclubs: It’s harder to lose someone, but easier to find them.
Andy and the crew did much of the renovation work themselves, but everything was done by the book. “If a permit needed to be pulled; it was. If an electrician was needed, we got an electrician. No corners were cut.” Zivic said. “We soundproofed the ceiling and the wall behind the stage as well.” All the effort seems to have already helped BeatBox with community relations. In a city where neighbor noise complaints are the norm, Andy checks in regularly with BeatBox’s neighbors to make sure the sound level is acceptable. Instead of complaints he receives compliments. And, it’s not just the neighbors who are happy with BeatBox.
J. J. Beck, co-owner of the Lone Star Saloon, around the corner from BeatBox, said “I think it’s great to have another club in the neighborhood doing gay events. Nightlife is what the South of Market is all about. It’s gonna be a great Dore and Folsom with a new venue in the area.”
“Any new bar coming into the area means more people coming to the area, and all the bars benefit.” Says Rick Cooper, longtime bartender at the nearby Powerhouse Bar.
BeatBox has already hosted some successful events featuring local DJs, and has begun its own Sunday Beer Bust – during which, one of the massive garage doors at the front of the building, as well as the skylights, are opened, allowing sun and air (or wind and rain…it is summer in San Francisco) to flow freely through the space. At $10 for “bottomless bottles of beer looking for tops” every Sunday this summer from 3pm to 7pm, you really can’t go wrong.
BeatBox has an Entertainment License (which makes the live music and dancing legal) as well as an unrestricted after-hours permit. Since their calendar is already filling up with live music, straight/mixed events, gay dance events, gay midday beer busts, and mixed live/dj/chill events, it looks like BeatBox may help breathe new life into the South of Market Area, as well as the local artists community. And perhaps help the community heal quicker from the abrupt closing of The SF Eagle.
For more info on BeatBox’s upcoming events, or to schedule an event, check out their website at www.beatboxsf.com.