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It's The Black Helicopters Bitches

Monday, October 8, 2007

30th Anniversary party for the Trocadaro Transfer.

The year was 1977 and being gay at that time was just not that cool and I was not even out of the closet yet. But things were changing fast and San Francisco had their first openly gay supervisor. It was also the year that Dan White shot and killed the Mayor, George Moscone and the first gay supervisor, Harvey Milk.

So picture this a scared 18 year-old young man goes to a gay dance club for the first time with 4 of his straight friends. We had just watched "Saturday Night Fever" and disco was the big thing. We heard about this club from a friend from High school. He said it was really fun and the crowd there was outrageous. It was a new club and it was so exclusive you had to be a member or you had to know someone to get in. Our friend told us all about it and said he could get us in if we wanted to go. So we decided to go. This club was in the South of Market area of San Francisco in the warehouse district and there was not much near it but a bunch of Leather bars. The thought of them scared me at the time they are not my thing but I ain’t scured of them anymore.

The club was painted all black and the windows were blacked out it had a black awning in front of it and a line down the block. We were scared to go in but we were also scared that they would not let us in as well. The doorman would look you up and down and he would determine if you were worthy and could get in or not. We watched several people get turned away before we finally got to the door. The doorman, His name was Les, asked for my membership card and I told him I was a guest of a member and he said the member had to be there with us so we could get in. We had been in line for over a hour and we it was getting cold and we were totally freaked out about the whole situation and we were about to turn and bolt from the scene when my friend came out to look for us.

When we finally got in I was amazed the club was huge. There were men in all states of dress and undress woman dancing topless, people in formal attire, fan dancers, Leather Daddies and anything else that you could imagine. The light show was out of this world and in the center of the room was a cluster of mirror balls unlike anything I had ever seen before. The music was loud but not to loud and the sound was clear as a bell. It was just amazing. It was like stepping through a portal and being jettisoned to another planet where you could be who and whatever you wanted to be. We were still scared shitless and my friends I and hung together for dear life. Now what was funny was that all of my friends and I were on the swim team in high school and you might have guessed it, they were all blondes and me being a tall black guy, we garnered a lot of attention that evening. I guess we were all considered twinks at the time but we did not even know what that was at the time. We all got allot of men who wanted to dance with us but we were to scared so we danced with each other. After a few drags from a joint that my friend offered us we chilled out and began to really have fun. We danced all night long and we did not get home until 5am the next morning. Little did we know that we had just gone to the premiere West Cost dance club at the time.

The Trocadaro Transfer was San Francisco’s version of Studio 54. It was a place to dance to the best music of the time with the best dancers on the West Coast. This club was huge, on an average night there would be thousands of dancers there and it would go all night long. Sometimes it would not close until noon on Sunday and when it did we would all run over to the Endup for Sunday church. The Trocadaro Transfer or The Troc as those who were regulars called it was a real fun club to go to if you loved to dance and I loved to dance. So as you may have guessed I became a regular there. I was there from the early days and I was there on the night they closed their doors for the last time 12 years later. Funny thing is the Troc would not die it was the club that other clubs would strive to be like but never quite achieved. It was a place where you could see and meet the latest musical acts performing their latest chart topping hits and dance with the rich and famous. It was a place where it did not matter if you were rich or poor as long as you had fun. In a word the club was magic.

During my tenure there I meet and became great friends with quite a few people and we are still in touch to this day. Some did not make it through the aids crisis but amazingly allot of us did. I guess twirling to the "thumpa thumpa" kept us out of allot of trouble. Well about 5 years ago they decided to have a reunion party for the "Trocodetts", that’s what we were called. And I got an email out of the blue about the upcoming party. I made a few calls to see if it was legit and low and behold it was. So I emailed a friend about it and we decided to go and then we emailed a few others. But what was really amazing is that it started a ground swell of interest and the emails were flying. Soon a friend informed me that they were expecting over a thousand former "Trocodetts" to be at the party

So on the day of the party as we are all arriving at the club it was just a huge hugfest. Oh and yes the party was held in the original building and it was just unreal. It was like a high school reunion but it was fun. I saw people who I had not seen in 10 to 15 years and we all just hugged and laughed about how much fun we had and cried about who was missing. Well that first reunion party was the first of many more and this past Sunday was the latest one. It was the 30th anniversary party of the opening day of The Trocadaro Transfer. What was amazing is that the place was packed and there were a lot of younger gay men there as well as the old stalwarts. The music was classic disco and allot of the songs were re-mixed and refreshed and I as usual was on the dance floor most of the night.

The lights were hot the music was hot and the men were hot. The cute thing was that most everyone was wearing Pearls, the symbol of 30 years. It is really hard to convey what it was like to go to the Troc. The closest thing that I have seen to explain what it was like was the club "Babylon" on Queer as Folk. I must say that I will definitely be at the next party too. I had so much fun at our little alley picnic after the club closed it was hilarious. The best thing is we can all still party all night just like we did 20 years ago. Watching my friends dance to the music and seeing the joy on their faces made me feel so happy I could not even begin to express it to you. To all of the "Trocetts" out there I love you all and you made my night a blast. I will be looking for you at the next party. Happy 30th to all my peeps.

This is Elmysterio and I’m out.


  1. That sounds like a very special night and a lot of fun.
    Thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. Your welcome VJ.It was a special night.

  3. I notice over at DeW's site San Diego is having a big festive party weekend coming up, Crucible it is called...where both Brent Everett and Brent Corrigan are performing.

    My sources there tell me Brent Everett's boyfriend is actually one of the promoters!

    Anyhow, it will be interesting to hear how this Crucible aka Brentfest (Brentstock? Brentapalooza?) weekend goes. Gazing at the flyer at DeW's, it looks like it'll be lotsa fun. I'm sure DeW will give us all a full report! :-)

  4. Elm this was a great post!
    Sometimes we need to step back and use our Blogs to reflect what we are doing in our real life.

    Damn I am so envious of you Disco came of age when I was 15 to 18. I remember turning 18 and everyone declared "Disco is Dead"

    In San Diego it was the mid to late 80's before the Dance clubs really re established themselves in San Diego. We were always at a disadvantage because the Discos of TJ always beckoned with the 18 yo (or below) drinking age.

    Jim yes I will have a Brent Everett post up by Thursday/Friday with another plug for Military Madness. I will be filling everyone in on the 3 day event.

    Hint if Steve Pena and Grant Roy want to raise some serious Cash how about having those 2 on Stage at the Same Venue!

  5. "Hint if Steve Pena and Grant Roy want to raise some serious Cash how about having those 2 on Stage at the Same Venue!"

    Doing what on stage, exactly? :-)