Approaching the bar, TLC’s “Red Light Special” can be heard while standing in line waiting to enter. Upon walking in, the trio can be seen dancing ever so gracefully on the big screen while a fake wind blows their silk pajamas. A crowd of people is on the dance floor looking “phat” in their Doc Marten boots, denim overalls and backwards newsboy hats. Everybody continues the dance party as the DJ mixes TLC into Digable Planets and later into A Tribe Called Quest and Skee-Lo. Did this take place in 1994? Psych! This was a few weeks ago. San Francisco’s Madrone hosts a trip back to the age of grunge, Tamagotchis, Ross and Rachel, Discmans and everything else we know and love about the last decade of the 20th century during their “I Heart the 90’s” nights.
Madrone Art Bar, owned by Michael Krouse, hosts a variety of theme nights to satisfy every niche of partygoers looking to dance. If someone is looking to break out their silk purple shirt and black loafers, they will find good company at the five-hour non-stop pop music party “The Prince and Michael Experience.” No song is ever played twice, and covered material need not apply. All shall bow before The King of Pop and The Royal Badness while they are the only two musicians that will be heard for the evening.
Feeling nostalgic? Come up to “Boogie Funk” night to hear some dance/funk from the 1980’s. Feeling even more nostalgic? Practice your boogaloo moves as the five-piece band “STEPPIN” performs live on Madrones stage.
Other local bands such as electric/rock/funk group “The Neurovoltaic Orchestra” rock the stage, shake the walls and bounce off every nerve ending in the body with their original sound. One can’t help but feel like they are somewhere in the distant future, as they dance to the dirty space funk resonating from their instruments surrounded by the cosmic lights bouncing off the disco-bomb hanging from the ceiling.
Madrone introduces a new frontier in the world of theme parties while it simultaneously expands people’s minds in the world of art; the walls are covered with continuously changing artworks exhibited throughout the bar. Attendees are able to check out artists that are both new to the scene and who have been covering walls with their pieces for years. All forms of creativity have an equal opportunity as Madrone shares the work of sculptors, painters, photographers and anything else a person puts their mind to. This is beneficial for those who need to take a breather from dancing his/her ass off to Prince’s “Erotic City” as they are continually submersed in the bar’s atmosphere by admiring the work of Jerimiah Jenkins, Micah Rivera, or Dennis McNulty.
Most people have no trouble gilding the lily at a regular bar where “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Brown Eyed Girl” will undoubtedly play from the jukebox. A beer-stained pool table sits in the corner, a group of guys wearing the same colored button-up is staring at girls as they walk in, and people crowd the bar hoping to pay for the same alcohol that lines the door in their refrigerators.
Madrone is intended for those looking for a place to give them faith that business owners can, in fact, think outside of the box. Krouse provides an establishment that is not only a place to socialize, it is a place to have a mind-opening experience. After only a short amount of time spent on Madrone’s dance floor, all the senses become intertwined with the combination of the auditory stimulation of the music coming from the speakers, physical exuberance as the body dances with joy, visual enlightenment of the talented artists on the surrounding walls, and salivation from the house-made cucumber flavored vodka.
Dust off the LA Gears, pull the Body Glove shirt out of the closet and take a walk to the corner of Divisadero and Fell. The dance party begins there.
written by Zachary Ehren