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The End of Fag Fridays

By philip sherburne

On February 29, an appropriately odd day out, Fag Fridays, the longest running weekly house music event in San Francisco’s gay scene, a night that launched a thousand intimate encounters and kept the faith in the power of house music for twelve years, came to an end with a packed dancefloor of groovers from across the spectrum of sexuality, a set of soulful vocal house with a modern techy edge from resident David Harness, and a surprise visit from Frankie Knuckles.

Fag Fridays was the child of partners Jose Mineros and David Peterson, born out of a conversation on the beach one day in 1996.  David was general manager of The End Up, and had recently hired Jose as promotions manager. On that day they came up with the name, the concept of it as house music night, and a basic goal: as Jose put it to me once, if one couple came together on the dancefloor and formed a relationship as a result, all of their effort would be worth it.

Twelve years later Fag Fridays is not only responsible for bringing countless guys together over the years, it is also responsible for bringing some of the biggest names in house music to San Francisco, names like Frankie Knuckles, Tony Humphries, David Morales, Quentin Harris, Tedd Patterson, Honey Dijon, Jamie Lewis, and Angel Moraes, to name a small handful. It established David Harness as one of the masters of the San Francisco house sound, and helped cement his standing, as testified to by the recent Nitevibe Reader’s Poll, as one of San Francisco’s top DJs. For his final Fag Fridays set David reached across the spectrum of house, laying down crowd-pleasing soulful vocal tracks alongside harder-edged tech tracks that pricked up the ears of the heads on the dancefloor.

It could also be argued that Fag Fridays helped establish The End Up as the home of San Francisco house, but in September Fag Fridays left its home for a new run at Pink.  The reason: The End Up had changed hands from an individual owner to an LLC, and the new owners were raising the rental rates such that David and Jose were faced with increasing the cover to $20, a price point that they felt would significantly change the vibe of the night (Fag Fridays has since been replaced by another gay night at The End Up that is produced in-house, Ghettodisco, that focuses more on music associated with the circuit party scene and charges $20 before 2AM, and $30 after).

Pink, owned by another house afficiando, offered to pick up the night, but at the beginning of the year Jose told me that they took stock of what they wanted to do next and realized that they wanted to focus on developing their own venue, as well as their new record label, Thread Recordings (their first release, “The Rhythm” by David Harness, should be available on Beatport soon). So, this past Friday, Fag Fridays came to an end, not with “Auld Lang Syne,” but with a joyful bang.

In a scene where commerce often seems more important than vibe, and the focus is often more on appearance than music, David and Jose kept true to an idea and the music they loved for over a decade.  For that they deserve the gratitude of everyone, including myself, who have had a moment on the Fag Fridays dancefloor.