Friday, July 7: Jessica 6, DNA Lounge
Giber said I was going to really like Jessica 6. A few weeks ago, on my birthday, he’d played it for me in the car while we were on our way to another show. He said a ticket to the show could be my birthday present.
And so on Friday I find myself driving to the DNA Lounge with Giber and Angel. It feels weird to take the car to go from my house to SoMa, since I’m only a few walkable blocks away. Ángel says we shouldn’t walk because he’s already tipsy and doesn’t want to sweat out his makeup. Ángel is into both technology and MAC makeup. He gets the last for free because that’s who he works for, as a makeup artist, in Salinas.
I agree that this is a very logical reason not to walk. And then we both burst out laughing. His friend, Giber, asks me where do I really get my makeup from. I would have wanted to please him by just saying MAC, but the truth is I get mascara from the dollar store on Mission Street all the time.
As we round the corner near the club, Giber rushes toward a tall, skinny woman with red lipstick and long, straight black hair. She is wearing very high heels and a very short dress. She is smoking a cigarette inches away from where the guards are telling everyone that they cannot be smoking.
She is very clearly the lead singer of Jessica 6, Nomi Ruiz. With the bodyguards yelling in the background, she stands there very straight, blowing smoke from her cigarette and looking attractive. She very politely takes pictures with Giber as Ángel and I stand a few inches away, looking on in amazement. As soon as the pictures are finished, she puts out her smoke and goes inside.
The DNA is as crowded as it gets. You can’t stand in one place without getting pushed by people walking, dancing, jumping and making out in every direction you look. We decide to go back outside. Ángel tells me we just need to tune them out.
Back inside, we make it to the very front of the stage. We start to plot out how to stand our ground and tune out anyone who isn’t there for the show. It takes Ruiz, the singer, a bit of time to warm up, because the audience is yelling “DJ! DJ!” at her.
I am obsessed with Jessica 6’s music right now. In an interview, Ruiz once said that the music she plays reflects her attitude of “getting lost in indulgence, partying, falling in love, lusting, being sleazy and depressed, that whole kind of cycle.” The crowd at the DNA seems very much engaged in that same cycle. But they also want for her to get off the stage so that they can have the DJ back.
As the audience yells “DJ! DJ!,” my friends and I yell back “Nomi! Nomi!” From then on, she performs amazingly.
Saturday July 9: “¡Que Viva la Mujer!” SUB-Mission Art Space
I spend Saturday thinking about the crowd that will show up at SUB-Mission Art Space now that word is out that Ceci Bastida is going to be playing there at 9:30 p.m. I grew up listening to Tijuana NO, the band she is most known for, and Julieta Venegas, a Mexican singer she backed up. But now it’s all about Ceci Bastida.
I thought I would walk, but once again someone has a car — in this case, my housemate. She is heading over to her girlfriend’s house, and on the way she tells me a very eloquent story about how she once she got arrested for kicking someone with Dr. Martens boots. She also gives me a lesson on the appropriate socks to wear with such boots.
As we drive on Mission Street, a Muni bus cuts right in front of us and my housemate becomes irate. When we reach SUB-Mission, she stops at the bus stop and waits for me to get out. She looks into her rearview mirror, squints and complains that the bus is coming. I get out as fast as I can, but I see her hesitate for a moment before she leaves, just to piss off the bus driver a bit.
My feet feel heavy from the boots and they hurt because (I now realize) I’m wearing the wrong socks. No matter; I walk in, have my I.D. checked, and pay the $13 bucks. Part of the proceeds from the show will go to San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR), the person at the entrance tells me as she stamps my right hand.
I walk in and stop. This is not the crowd I expect. The Latino ska punks are nowhere to be found. Perhaps it’s the cover charge. Perhaps it’s that the concert wasn’t advertised like a typical Bastida concert.
Tonight is, if the name of the show didn’t make it clear, a celebration of women. Laboratorio DF, a business that makes an effort to support and recognize artists, is hosting the event, and selling arts and crafts in the back. Most of the people here seem to have come out to support their friends. The energy is much more mellow and upbeat than the concerts Bastida typically plays. For example: There’s going to be a fashion show.
And so I find myself a bit more relaxed and greeting familiar faces. Claudia Escobar, or Chipi-Chipi, is there showcasing her work: a series of photographs and a phone booth with a blinking light and green vintage telephone. She is taking pictures of the audience in front of backdrops made of some of her photographs and handing them the Polaroid prints.
The backdrops are all pictures of the beach, and provide a very relaxed, pleasant feeling. It’s like taking a picture as a reminder to go dream about a vacation. And because I take the Polaroid home with me, it’s also like I have already taken the vacation, only at SUB-Mission.
I make my way to the back and see they are selling Bastida’s new album, “Veo la Marea.” Right next to the table is a tall Latino guy wearing a hat and cool glasses, explaining to a white American girl who Ceci Bastida is.
I stand next to them, judging the description he’s giving of one of my favorite singers. I look up at him. He’s giving all the right info, and I keep thinking maybe I know him from somewhere.
As I stand there looking at the stage, I see a big sticker on the drum set that says “La Plebe Por Vida.” And then I think, of course! It’s Lupe! I had recently become a fan of La Plebe after finally having seen them at Bottom of the Hill with Sekta Core!, the renowned ska-punk band from Mexico City.
I decide to introduce myself. It turns out that Lupe and Ana Frías put together the event at SUB-Mission and have brought both local Bay Area singer Diana Gameros and Bastida, who currently lives in Los Angeles. Suddenly, Laboratorio DF seems like an interesting experiment that I am glad to have found.
I walk back home. Walking down Shotwell, a van begins to follow me. It slows down, the passenger window rolls down. I can see the man inside, watching me.
“What do you want?” I ask, scared. It is 1 a.m.
“To say hi,” he says. I give him the finger.
“C’mon,” he says.
“I am going to write down your plate number,” I say.
He swears and drives off. I am suddenly very glad that my money is going to SFWAR. I keep walking, past the prostitute in the very tight dress on the corner. She kindly says good evening to me.
I think about my housemate’s story — how she’d gotten arrested for kicking a guy with the same boots I was wearing because he had harassed her.
I think, if I had to, I would totally get arrested the same way.