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Big Night Out: How It All Ends up at the End Up
Ted Gioia | Photo: Mark Todd | May 2, 2014
Playing guess-the-psycho at the notorious after-after-hours nightclub.
When: March 23, 2014, midnight Where: The EndUp, 401 6th St. (at Harrison St.)
Midnight Tonight happens to be ShangriLa, a trimonthly gaysian party where everything is neon and everyone is Asian. But it’s still the EndUp as usual: electric hula-hoops, glow-stick jewelry, and flashing light wands seemingly designed to induce epilepsy. In the sea of scantily clad twentysomethings on the dance floor, you see an older man wearing a white-collared shirt carefully tucked into crisp jeans, kind of like Mr. Rogers minus the cardigan. He dances by himself, repeatedly thrusting his elbows into the air.
1 A.M. There’s a grizzled man with gray hair is molded into a Mohawk over a pulsing green light. His name is Papa Sun, and, as it turns out, he’s one of the primary promoters behind ShangriLa. He stands with a cigarette in one hand and a cardboard cup of Coca-Cola in the other, his hair flashing electric lime. “I’m sober because someone has to be,” he says while a drunk man performs ill-advised acrobatic flips on the stone patio.
2 A.M. ShangriLa ends. Alcohol is unavailable. Disappointment is in the air. Only Mr. Rogers remains resilient, raising a single finger toward the roof in a move that you dub the Skyhook.
3 A.M. It’s the hour for a little chemical pick-me-up, and the bathroom line is a popular place of business. While waiting, a man asks if there are any—ahem—illegal substances for sale, frantically upping his offer: “Fifty. Sixty, then. Fine—eighty, eighty.”
4 A.M. The ladies of the night arrive: A territorial group of girls with oversize breasts and undersize skirts seizes the patio. “Hey daddy, got a smoke?” one of the heavy-lidded girls asks while her friend chatters with a balding, middle-aged man. When she’s declined, her companion snaps: “Bye. Byyeee. We don’t like you.” (Subtlety cannot survive in this climate.)
5 A.M. “Who’s most likely to be a serial killer?” is a fun question to ask yourself about now. There are many candidates: the wrinkled, elderly man wearing a dirty wife-beater who’s literally skipping around the patio in a sailor’s cap; the ancient Asian woman sitting in silence on the dance floor watching...waiting; the man in a perfectly pressed suit furiously playing a game of pool against himself, sharply switching sides between shots with psychopathic intensity. Could be any of them...or all of them.
6 A.M. Booze is back! A new shift of bartenders arrive—gruff unshaven men who wear T-shirts branded with the word “Crooks.” A heavyset man who introduces himself as George the Uber driver is convinced that you also drive for Uber. “No? Well, you look like you’re looking for something,” he says under his breath. “Fifty cents a piece? You know what I mean?” Nope, not a clue. Cue exit.
Originally published in the May issue of San Francisco Magazine.