Mission on Mission Headline Animator

Friday, April 3, 2009

Shine - 1337 Mission Street

After 9 months of Mission Street bar exploration I turned a corner - 13th Street to be exact – which took me out of the Mission into SOMA… unfamiliar territory. I seldom travel to this part of the city, so in an effort to figure out where I would end up later that evening, I drove down Mission Street on my way home from work on the prowl for the next bar’s façade while trying not to rear-end the car in front of me. I soon glanced upon Le Duplex’s sign at 1525 Mission Street. With its CD encrusted doorway, its curbside appeal was promising with the exception of its windows which were covered with broad gray brush strokes. Still, it was a start, as I headed home I Yelped “Le Duplex” discovering that the last review was from June 2008—I would have to wait until later that evening to see if Le Duplex was open for business or yet another victim of the economic downturn.

Le Duplex or no Le Duplex, it was becoming pretty clear that the bars in SOMA would be more “dancey” than “divey”. After a challenging week, I was in desperate need of a good old fashioned dive bar to blow off some steam before departing for my dance club expedition. To buy some time and some space, I ventured to Glen Park Station, a great little bar in the Glen Park neighborhood. With a Big Daddy IPAs in hand, I enjoyed some NCAA Sweet 16 basketball games along with the bar’s festive Friday afternoon audience.

Upon serving up my second beer, the bartender asked me: “Are you slumming it tonight?” The question caught me completely off guard—was he talking to me? As a professional dive bar enthusiast my first inclination was to take offense but after taking a quick glance around this deceptively large bar I realized I was probably the only guy at the bar who didn’t know his name. Not only that, I was wearing a relatively nice sweater, clean jeans and had gel in my hair, which stood out among the overweight, weathered regulars sipping whiskies and Bud Lights, and the occasional white wine. It was clear that his question wasn’t intended to be a “you-don’t-belong-here-insult”; but rather, a hospitable greeting to a world weary, new patron—proof to me once again that I am an explorer in my own city.

Glen Park Station isn’t on Mission Street but is still worth noting as one of the great friendly dive bars in the city. Conveniently located next to La Corneta (a Mexican restaurant that quickly produced the burrito I would later eat) and Gialina, an excellent pizza place (I highly recommend getting the fried egg on top, it is utterly delicious!), Glen Park Station is well positioned for some post happy hour grub. If you play darts or want to learn, then Glen Park Station is also one of the few “true” dart bars in the Bay Area, according to Wolf – yes, that’s the name he gave me – who I’ve played a couple rounds of around the world with.

After my warm up in Glen Park, I headed back to Le Duplex. After inspecting the chalkboard (picture to the right) and looking at the flyers on the window, I mistook the glass door entrance to Mama Calizo's Voice Factory to be the entrance for Le Duplex and preceded to erroneously text that Le Duplex had now turned into “a weird sex show place” (you can follow me on Twitter @missionprowler). With its mission statement “to nurture the development of Queer Performers, Educators and Activists by providing them with Artist in Residence Programs and Arts programming,” it looks like I got it wrong about Mama Calizo's Voice Factory too—either way, an interesting destination, but not one that qualified for MoM.

I pushed on to find the 3rd beer of the evening Thankfully, I didn’t have to travel far. Perched over the sidewalk, a bored and lonesome bouncer settled into his stool for the night waiting for a line to form. If it weren’t for the bouncer, I would have easily missed Shine’s nondescript entrance. With a black door and a black façade, the dark building was anonymous except for its bright orange moniker which was pasted in a window above the door. With the evening still young, I was able to enter the desolate dance club free of a cover charge and with nothing more than a quick once-over.

Shine opens at 5pm on Fridays for Wii Happy Hour (5pm to 9pm) where you can play the basic games or bring your own – Heinekens are $2/bottle and Platino Margaritas are 2 for 1. Thanks to some novice attempts at Wii tennis, boxing and Guitar Hero, I know that my Wii playing is worse than my dancing—so, I wasn’t too upset about missing the happy hour, though the margaritas would have been a nice Friday night treat. Judging from the bar’s emptiness, there was little evidence that the Wii happy hour was much of a neighborhood hit. The only suggestion that it even occurred was a complaint by one of the bartenders about his sore shoulder - no doubt the result of some vigorous volleying in Wii tennis. Nonetheless, the Wii happy hour is a great concept and one that I’m sure many a Wii player will take advantage of as they seek bigger a better ways to couple cheap booze and large-screen play.

Inside a barren dance floor was surrounded by comfortable looking leather couches drenched in low, reddish lighting. Being one of only a couple patrons in the bar I was happy to encounter a classic John Cusack movie “Better Off Dead” which was showing on a large TV over the bar and was also being projected on the dance floor’s back wall. Showcasing high school awkwardness; the desperation to “fit in”; and the struggle to create an identity in an uncertain world, “Better Off Dead” is the perfect metaphor for Mission on Mission. With every bar I enter I am the new kid in school—and with every dance club I enter I am the new kid in school making his debut at the homecoming dance. Recognizing that I fully suck at dancing, and therefore clubbing, I embraced my night’s destiny knowing that I soon be forced to convulse to the beat. I take dancing to a whole new level.

About half way through my first beer a gaggle of women came strolling in. Obviously on a girl’s night out, these ladies were “mature” but ready to dance. Reluctant to be the first dance crew on the floor, the women stood in place bopping their generous hips side-to-side before making their way to the photo booth at the rear of the bar. While this may sound like a cool little feature, let me warn all of you extroverted, drunken clubbers—the pictures taken in the booth are uploaded to Shine’s Flickr site for the world to see. So, if you don’t want your wasted, red-faced and watery-eyed mug showing up on the internet, take your photos early in the evening.

For the first time ever on Mission on Mission, I was joined by a buddy, Alex, who strolled in at 10pm ready to get his first sample of the magic that is Mission on Mission and to kick the night into overdrive. After catching up over a few beers we noticed that the place had filled with a diverse cast of offbeat characters. Among them a 6’4” long haired, nerdish looking guy; a tank top wearing tattooed chick; and the rave girl complete with lip ring and a white fedora. Then, of course there was Alex and me, the seemingly gay couple, at the end of the bar chatting like a couple of girls as we watched the flood of gyrating bodies on the dance floor.

Most people were dancing solo, so we decided—in full comfort of our heterosexuality—to hit the dance floor. Navigated our way through the dance floor, we carved out a space in the sea (more, like pond) of sweaty, swaying bodies. Completely without any hint of rhythm, we spastically shook our hips while attempting to steer clear of the smallish girl in tall boots and a short skirt, who was dancing in a cardio-kickboxing kind of style—punching at a nonexistent attacker and then forcefully thrashing her head to and fro. The tiniest misstep could have landed either of us into her firing range, where she could have easily have taken one of us out with a head butt or a swift punch to the melon. The strange but friendly crowd was rounded out by a 50ish man in a black tank top who had eyes for Alex and who slowly but surely danced his way into Alex’s personal space.

As the night wore on, the crowd grew younger and then, at around 1:15am it started to thin out. After swigging the dregs of our brews, Alex and I decided to call it a night. Sweaty and tired, we stumbled onto the street looking for a ride home. Lucky for us, we found a limo in search of his last fare before calling it a night—the perfect cap to our “romantic” evening.

1 comment:

Cafe Racer said...

Nice blog .. I threw a birthday party at shine a while back that was pretty good.
but yeah shine is in strange location.,, here is a fun fact. Shine is across the street from an ex-brothel. Cindy Sheehan used the brothel space for one of her campaign offices hehehehe it gives me a chuckle everytime I drive by.