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City, The

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North Beach of San Francisco, California


The City:

Started off as the Cabaret, a gay club. Huge 2 story club just off touristy North Beach. Not best area for a gay club. DJ booth was a 12 foot jukebox player. Custom lighting systems, one of the first to use infinity mirrors.

As The City it started catering to a mostly straight crowd, but it was gay owned and managed, and since this was the time of Saturday Night Fever, it was packed with mostly straight locals but during its heyday it was a destination club for bus loads of Midwesterners checking out the disco scene.

Cabaret on first floor had name acts including Pointer Sisters. Many Casablanca artists appeared here and it hosted many record industry private parties.

Photo below submitted by Jim Hopkins
Description: "The City" disco in San Francisco. Picture taken in the early 1980s (not sure of exact year but probably between 1981-1983 judging by Sylvester and Loverde performing on the marquee).
The City discotheque

Photos below of various City ads in 1976 and 1977 issues of Mandate submitted by Jauers:
The City

The City

Photo below sent in by Jauers.
Description: Ad for Grace Jones at The City from San Francisco Life 1977.
The City

Please note that in the interest of fairness, the names of DJs and staff are listed in alphabetical order.

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Added by samsj


Your Comments

claude franklin |

in 1981 i was at a Dead kennedy's gig in this place, cool

Peter Padilla |

I met my partner at The Windjammer Saloon on Gary Street in 1975, but every now and then we would go to The City for the dancing, The End Up, etc. My partner and I are still together and will be celebrating our 39th year together in September. Always had a nice time in the dancing bars in the 70's

David M |

THE CITY and the CABARET downstairs have a special meaning to me in my life. It was the very first gay disco I went to in my life in 1976. I wasn't yet 21 and had my brother's ID - he was 3 years older than I was. I went with my best friend from college and when I walked in - the music, the lights, the big jukebox, the hot bartenders with their photos on the wall as you walked up the stairs with their levi's unbuttoned to tease. I thought I had died and was in disco heaven. That night forever changed my life. That sound system and dancing our asses off that night was the best. I remember the DJ playing YOUNG HEARTS RUN FREE; YOU + ME = LOVE; DON'T LEAVE ME THIS WAY (both THELMA and HAROLD MELVIN versions mixed together; and the EMOTIONS - I DON'T WANNA LOSE YOUR LOVE. OH lord! I still remember that night. But when he played LOVE HANGOVER - the floor couldn't get enough. A year later in 1977, I finally came out and THE CITY was little more straight then - but we would always go to see SYLVESTER at the Cabaret downstairs and had the best time. What a great club in the middle of the topless area just south of Broadway Street and Finnochios. Wow... memories. Does anyone remember who the djs were? There were great. Thanks for the memories and it's great to read everyone else's memories too.

John |

Adrian,good luck with your journey, haven't a clue as to the character you are curious about...

Adrian Revell |

Hey John, I was wondering if any of you guys knew Rand, who had a jewellery stand at the City in 75/76 when I visited as a 21 yo. I was keen to send him a message if he is still around. I still have a packet of matches from the club, and really, my experience there was so memorable and exciting, especially with the lighting and dance floor. The 70's were just the best years to be out and about. These days things are a bit more sedate and I do my socialising through Sydney Frontrunners, a club I'm still fortunate enough to be able to be member of, which is another great American invention!!

John |

A great time there working with Peter the head bar tender downstairs in the cabaret...
Yes,Sylvester was doing his Billie Holiday stuff for all of us...
He had a thing for redheads so we became instant buds...
The music was amazing along with the men on the dance floor...
On my off nights I would head out to the Lion , which was another great hangout in the 70's...

Luis Boki |

The Cabaret was a "rites of passage" venue for me in the early 70s. It was before the time of 12inch dance mixes so songs would be played straight from the album. A classic album that has yet to make it to CD or as a download, Love Unlimited's "Under the Influence of Love". "Love's Theme" was played every night and it became a smash at the gay underground clubs before it was a mainstream radio hit. I was still in my late teens so they would let the underage guys in through the back door because club raids were still a factor. On the first level was an actual cabaret where you could see the late Sylvester for free as you had Sunday brunch. It was an era of pure innocence and excitement. We loved to go dancing at least they supported the young gays coming out! Philadelphia Int'l Records made great music for the clubs, along with the classic Motown material. It really wasn't a place to pick up guys as it was a great place for friends to go dancing all night.......which we did at least once a week. There were women welcomed as well as open minded straight guys. This was 1972-74. I kinda feel like I peaked during those years because by 1975-76, I was finishing college and looking to start working. My first gig was as a Sales Coordinator for a major book publisher at the time. Once I began focusing on my career, I no longer cared much to go out to big dance clubs. Besides clubs were changing and places like The Trocadero brought in the era of the "velvet rope" a la Studio 54, and people were often discriminated because you didn't fit a certain look. I miss the ole Cabaret, which was not named after the movie, by the way. The movie would come a year or two later. It was my "coming out" place where I would go with my same best friend of 40 years...and thankfully, we're both still here though other friends and lovers have transitioned onward.

John |

Don't remember the jewelry stand , remember the mirror ball,we all got there about 10 stayed till it closed, wish I could turn the clock back. It was the best time of my life.

Adrian |

Hey there, I was in the USA in 1975/76 and visited the City Night Club in January 1976, I met a fellow there who had a jewellery stand in the club, his name was Ran'd Carver, is he still around? I recall what a fabulous nightclub it was with the wonderful Motown music of the era, lightening bolts across the ceiling and a huge mirror ball. Such fond memories of San Francisco. Adrian, Sydney.

John |

Hey Alan ,I used to to the City in the 70's before that it was called the Cabaret after Dark,
Great dance club. had friends I use to meet there (Barbers) Mark,and Jeff ,

allen preston |

I was a bartender and co/manager of the City. It was a great! Good mix of gay and straight, a good time for all anytime of the week. would love to connect with some of the staff, clients. The 70's..... the best time of my life!

joebear |

We were in high school and always climbed in thru the bathroom and we had a blast dancing to Gloria Gaymors, Never can say goodbye... also I remember our Football Captain with his curly dirty blond hair dancing away to the beat. OH YEAH. Good times we had..

John |

I remember the Cabaret in the late 70's what a great dance club .last song played before it closed for the night was Donner Summer's Last Dance.
Met Louise there ,wonder what ever happen to her ?

ramona scott |

I remember the City Disco very well and all my friends there, especially Jake the maitre'd. I was wondering if we could have a reunion of all of us that are still around that worked there, danced there, loved there and just had a frickin great time. Are there any of us left to toast to those no longer with us? Tom where are you? Kitty? Allan? Jake?

Steve Malone |

I saw Wayland Flowers at the City. I also met Sylvester there. I danced for her at the Gay Pride event at the Galleria. There was a very large photo of me dancing in a pair of levi cutoffs in the stairwell as you exited the City. I wish I could find that photo.

Alexandra |

"The city" was my first experience of a gay dance club. I went there on my first date with a guy I really liked back in 76'. I remember seeing a show in their showroom and then heading to the disco upstairs. It was amazing,the music was blasting,the d.j. Was spinning the best sound of the disco era in the 12ft. Jukebox,the mirrored disco ball was spinning catching the reflection of the different colored strobe lights. I especially remember all the good-looking gay bartenders wearing their black body hugging tank tops showing off their well sculptured arms and abs. That was the best time of my life. The city is gone, but it will always live in my heart.

deborah A. Denehy |

Does anyone know the exact address for the Cabaret/the City? Do you know what's become of the space?

Mona |

Am I glad I lived in SF in the 70`s. The City was the best place in the world - me and my Swedish friends danced to the best music ever!!! Thanks all wonderful people!!!

dave |

The Cabaret was one of the first gay discos I went to. I was still in college. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen, having come from the midwest. And, yes, girls were always asked for multiple ID's at the door. I recall that on my second visit I fled when the ladies in front of me were denied admission because of too few ID's (I thought something must be wrong with me if I don't have two pic id's). I called the management the next day to see what could be done and was given a card granting me lifetime access to the Cab...way cool back then!

sylvan |

I remember going to The City when it was THE place to go in San Francisco. Sylvester had returned from Europe and was playing in the Cabaret downstairs. I think he had the piano player from the Cockettes playing piano for him. He was mainly doing torch songs during that period. If my memory serves me correctly, the club was controversial for asking women for THREE pieces of i.d. which was seen as discriminatory toward women. Cabaret was downstairs and you walked through it, which had it's own bar, tables and stage, to get to the staircase toward the back of this room which led to the large dance floor upstairs.

kevin pierce |

I remember going here in 1976 and 1977 and dancing non stop until closing. It was a mixed crowd of gay and straight. I remember the huge jukebox dj booth and the lighting above the dance floor with red and yellow lights going in every direction and four huge mirror balls spinning below it. I would drive from santa rosa just to dance there. I remember it had a huge wooden dance floor and elevated seating next to it. There was also a jewelry store and restaurant I believe...those were the days!!


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