A DJ Saved My Life

  • by Ray Aguilera
  • Tuesday September 2, 2014
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Sergio Fedasz and Steve Fabus of Go Bang!
Sergio Fedasz and Steve Fabus of Go Bang!

Before you're even in the door, you can tell that Go Bang! is different. People spilling out onto the sidewalk are happy, chatty...and sweaty! The doorman greets you warmly, and you enter into a swirl of lights and sound. It's not the synthetic lockstep oontz-oontz-oontz of EDM, but rather the warm, pulsating beat of disco that draws you to the dance floor. You'll find the space absolutely packed with a cross-section of San Francisco clubland spanning several decades. Guys who probably still have their Trocadero membership cards in their back pockets turn it next to cute baby dykes, flaggers, twenty-something gay boys, bear cubs, a drag queen or three...and yes, straight people.

They've all come for for Go Bang!'s signature blend of disco jams from resident DJs Sergio Fedasz and Steve Fabus, who is a veteran of SF's disco scene since the 1970s. Go Bang! has a strong "friends and family" vibe, evidenced by all the blissful smiles, Go Bang! t-shirts, and above all, the hard dance floor action. People come to Go Bang! to work it out, and it shows. In fact, Go Bang!'s flyers advise you to "dress to sweat," and the cell phone-free dance floor policy encourages focusing on the groove, rather than the screen of your tiny robot overlord.

Meanwhile, Bus Station John serves up classic dance tracks at two monthly parties, the long-running weekly The Tubesteak Connection, and now monthly at Disco Daddy. BSJ describes Tubesteak Connection as a laboratory where he experiments with all sorts of dance music from the 1970s and '80s including Italo-disco, funk, and electro. Now in its eleventh year, Tubesteak still brings the faithful out to celebrate classic sounds every Thursday.

Disco Daddy, Bus Station John's latest creation is a celebration of‚Ä"well, the disco daddies who turn up at The Eagle for classic disco hits from back in the day. Bus Station John says his intent with Disco Daddy is to entertain the generation who heard these songs the first time around, "But the kids are welcome too!" he quickly adds.

"There's zero attitude," Bus Station John says, "It's hard to be an ice queen when Chaka Khan's on the sound system!"

After spending several nights sweating it out to the classics, I couldn't resist sitting down with Sergio Fedasz and Steve Fabus of Go Bang! and Bus Station John of Tubesteak Connection and Disco Daddy to talk about the resurgence of classic dance music in San Francisco, and what it is that makes their parties work so damn well.

 

Go Bang! fans on the dance floor at The Stud. photo: Eye C

Ray Aguilera: Tell me a little bit about where your parties come from.

Sergio Fedasz: As a straight boy who always felt weird and different, targeted and laughed at, this music and the stories of the lives it touched spoke to me. Disco songs are a unique and beautiful combination of love and pain and passion and sex all combined.

Bus Station John: I began The Tubesteak Connection in 2004 at Aunt Charlie's Lounge, one of San Francisco's last remaining gay dives. The dot-commoner invasion was seriously threatening to bland-out San Francisco, not unlike what we're suffering from today. I saw a major void as far as there being no queer corners for the homosexual who had no interest in assimilation. I filled it with The Tubesteak Connection.

 

DJ Bus Station John.

photo: Georg Lester

What's the atmosphere you're trying to create when you're mixing these tunes?

Sergio Fedasz: We want to make the party feel like the ideal of the original discotheques. There will always be carefully- and thoughtfully-selected guest DJs who curate and present the disco music in a passionate, heartfelt, and professional manner. Friendly, light-hearted, and inclusive‚Ä"no pretension or airs. No matter who you are, how old you are, what gender you are, if you are a shy dancer or flashy dancer, it's where you can be happy and carefree and dance freely.

 

Steve Fabus: It wouldn't be the same if Sergio and I weren't doing it together and it wouldn't exist at all without our dancers. It's a relationship of trust and an interchange of energy. We've had the time to build Go Bang! with their support and love and it means everything to us.

 

Bus Station John: I dig deep, and have a devoted following of music heads and open-minded dancers who are wiling to go wherever I take them. I love watching people really get off on music they've never heard before. It's testament to the quality of the songs. While it may seem trivial on the surface, the fact is the best dance music simultaneously moves your body and feeds your soul.

 

Affection on the dance floor at Go Bang!

photo: Uel Reteria

Your parties prominently encourage people to get off of their phones and into the music. Why is that?

Sergio Fedasz: Go Bang! celebrates disco, the spirit of San Francisco, and the art and culture of the DJ. It is very important to us that everyone be present. The energy exchange from the dancer to dancer, dancer to DJ, is a factor which slowly got lost in time, as technology has made us less in the moment. We want people to get lost, taken away, in that special trance you get in when you find the sweet spot.

 

Bus Station John: Our "No Cell" policy keeps the tech-addicted clueless at bay, liberating the crowd to enjoy the music and each other.

 

There's a bit of a disco revival happening around town. Why is this music coming back right now?

Steve Fabus: People are connecting and reconnecting, because the music moves them in a special way. Most disco has great production values and is multi-textured with an array of feelings: emotional, spiritual, romantic and sexual. The lyrics are important and tell a story. Melodies are rich. And disco can be intense, serious and dramatic as well. When people hear this music presented well, they surrender themselves to it.

 

Glamour at Go Bang!

photo: Uel Reteria

Bus Station John: People are starved for something substantial rather than disposable. I pity the child‚Ä"if there are any‚Ä"who'll be nostalgic for "product" like Ke$ha in thirty years. My generation continues to derive joy from people with actual talent, from Ashford & Simpson and Loleatta Holloway to Eartha Kitt and Sylvester‚Ä"and countless other artists who could sing and/or play instruments.

The good news is that hundreds of younger people who've come to my clubs over the years have responded just as enthusiastically to the music as their elders, and together we have a beautiful, diverse, inter-generational vibe‚Ä"not terribly common in the nightclubbing world, and a dynamic I'm very proud to have created.

 

Speaking of Sylvester, the next Go Bang! is a tribute to him. What is it about his music that inspires you?

Sergio Fedasz: Not only does Sylvester's musical journey mirror the musical evolution of San Francisco, but his free expression, self-definition, and being himself at a time when it was harder to do so is an inspiration. I didn't really fall in love with the songs at first, it sat on my shelf for a few years. I don't think I was ready yet, my palate wasn't refined. One day I popped this into my CD player. And I played it over and over‚Ä"that's how I fell in love with Sylvester. That is when the disco I played began to be me speaking from the heart. That's when the seeds of what would become Go Bang! were planted. I am lucky we can thank him for what he has done for us all. I love Sylvester.

The Tubesteak Connection Thursday, Sept. 4 (and every Thursday). Aunt Charlie's Lounge, 133 Turk (aka Vicki Mar Lane) near Taylor St. 10P-2A. $5. Go Bang! Saturday, Sept. 6 (and every first Saturday). The Stud, 399 9th St. at Harrison St. 9P-3A. $7, Free/optional Admission Before 10. Disco Daddy Folsom Week Kickoff Party Sunday Sept. 14th (Usually 3rd and 5th Sundays). The SF Eagle, 398 12th at Harrison St. 7P-12A. $5. (Note: Date change to second Sunday this month only)

Sergio Fedasz' Soundcloud

Steve Fabus' Soundcloud