The U.S. Bank Building never looked so good. A red carpet spilled out onto Mission Street and the view from the third-floor Wix offices made me think that if this were a public bar, the crowds would certainly eclipse those at Zeitgeist.
“Heaven in a Wild Place,” the invite promised. Well, heaven must have beer, too, but probably a few more souls as well.
Not that the party was empty by any means, but for such a beautiful event space featuring an art opening, makeshift flea market, live music and free booze, more Missionites — techie or not — should have been all over it.
Wix is a tech company that helps people build websites without having to do any programming. Its office space is dominated by an outdoor deck the size of a basketball court and high enough to look out over most of the city. The decoration at Thursday night’s event — tiki torches, propane-fueled heat lamps and hardwood picnic tables stained with a dark, expensive-looking finish — made it feel like you were in Palo Alto, not overlooking the Mission Meat Market on the street below.
Near the patio’s entrance, DJ BAD DJ blasted sets that muted conversation within 12 feet of any speaker. No one seemed to mind. Normal conversations became 12-inch shouts as guests clustered in pockets around the office, puffed cigarettes along the patio and, of course, lined up at the bar.
But the night had a purpose other than booze.
“Let’s give back to the community and inspire others,” said Meredith Nevard above the din of a funk set. Nevard, an artist and Wix employee, was exhibiting her photography from a recent trip to Honduras, where she is helping to grow and raise funds for a fledgling bilingual school in the city of El Progreso.
Nevard said the show is a sort of precursor to the Wix Local launch party, which will take place at the office on Saturday, Oct. 8, to promote Wix Local’s goal of using the company’s resources to improve local education through technology. Wix has already partnered with organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, Larkin Street Youth and LeapArts.
Through the early portion of the evening, patrons circled the office analyzing the photos and paintings hung in the gallery. But as night grew deeper, people increasingly gravitated toward the patio and, yes, the bar.
“I came here to get wasted,” said Everett Simoneaux, clutching a beer. “And I’m here now.”
The booze was beer unless you befriended Wix employees, who kept private stashes of whiskey and other hard beverages in the desk drawers. As for the beer, it flowed from a keg on tap behind the Wix lounge bar. A bartender said it was Rolling Rock, and the first keg certainly tasted like it. The second, however, was more like an 80/20 Bud Light-to-water solution. But by that time it didn’t matter. When the kegs were tapped, the bartenders turned to pouring tallboys of Bud Light.
Inside, near the entrance to the office, a table and booth were set up for vendors selling handmade jewelry and wooden (but wearable) men’s ties. Anne Marie, who works in customer service at Wix, said that since they were already hosting an art opening, why not bring in other types of artists as well? “We like to bring in small artists to help them gain more exposure in the community,” she said.
At around 9 p.m., Rec League hit the stage and the crowd of 100 or so thronged the northeast side of the deck to dance and bob their heads a bit more in tune with the music than one would expect from a tech party.
Or maybe they weren’t techies. Oscar Caicedo, a team leader at Wix, said that in general the percentage of employees to guests at these parties is very low.
Michelle Linane, who is not an employee of Wix, said she came out after receiving an invitation from a friend. She said she was having a great time, and was extremely surprised at the lack of pretentiousness, given the setup.
Around 10:30 p.m., the drink tickets had run out and the beer had stopped flowing. Josh Ballesteros, another non-employee friend-of-a-friend, said he wasn’t worried.
“We had some beers before, so we’ll be fine.”