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Buzzby's

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LOCATION

1436 Polk Street, San Francisco, California 94109

CLUB DETAILS

Buzzby's was actually the very first gay club I had ever entered in San Francisco back in 1976. It was the kind of club that opened early in the afternoon, and stayed fairly busy until main party time closing at 2:00AM.

I still liked the club design being able to listen to alluring dance music from outside sidewalk, where the one door was usually propped open. Once you walked in, the big bar was located on the immediate right hand side, and several dark platforms were across from it so people could sit. Further down was a semi-glass barrier with bar stools along the side, and beyond the glass, was the chrome steel dance floor, usually covered randomly by sawdust to make dancing slick. The DJ booth was braced at the top corner overlooking the dance floor, and had many neon strips around the booth that went to the sound of the music.

I would go here in the early afternoon (around 3 0' Clock), and listen to the pre-recorded disco jams. They usually played the mainstream latest hits, and it's where I first heard T-Connections "Do What You Wanna Do", and also Shalimar's "Uptown Festival." Other hits they played were: "Which Way Is Up", "Victim", "Work That Body", and "I Love America." The glitter ball in the center of the smallish club threw a dazzling light show around the club, and a very exotic dark complected drag queen was the main cocktail waitress. The very first song I heard upon entering this club was Ramsey Lewis's "Sun Goddess!"

Photos below of Buzzby's Bar, Staff... In Touch Magazine February/March 1975 along with others from 1974 submitted by Jauers
Buzzby's

Buzzby's






Photo of Buzzby flyer submitted by Kenny Newnum
Description: Somebody selling old flyers from 1970s and 1980s San Francisco on ebay had this. Thought you guys might think it's cool. Wish I would have been around then. I bet it was awesome!
Buzzbys flyer



Photo below submitted by Gio Vitacolonna
Description: The float for Gay Pride 1975 built by Buzzby employees: Les, Ronny, Ed Mendez, Larry Francis, Billy Fogelman, Chuck Enfinger, Hlega and Daisy. Don Barry was our boss.
Buzzby float



Photo below from Jauers.
Description: 1975 Data Boy ad for Buzzby's.
1975 Data Boy ad for Buzzby's


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 dancer56


 

Your Comments

Dancer56 |

Been some time since I posted here. I am moderating DISCO VINYL RECORDS on FB. For some reason I'm thinking of that cigarette machine that use to be by the window with all the periodicals on it. I would look through those things to find out what was happening. Visit on my webpage. Thanks, hope everyone's cool.

Robert F. |

Oh my gosh just reading all these comments brought my memories to life. I arrived in 1979 to San Francisco at the persuasion of my father, best thing I ever did was taking his advice (He thought I would have a better life there). I stayed with a gentlemen who advertised in the advocate, he was a lawyer who Lived on California St. From there I easily found Polk Street and all the wonderful gay mecca bars that have been mentioned by others. In particular I met most of my newly found friends at the time at the N Touch, I wish I could remember all there names, Tony Tom, Buddy Guriac, and there was a Bartender there, he had a twin, was from St Thomas I think, who lifved on Octavia St. His best freind was a little spanish guy who lived in the same building. But you could find all of us on any given night of the weekend dancing our asses off. I later met Dennis Childers a bartender at Buzzbys, Les, Don, and I forget the DJ's name, we would have so much fun there.
I miss the ole days, the people, and the life that allowed us to be uninhibited with being GAy. That metal dance floor should go down in history as one of the best.

Red Headed Female Dancer |

Anyone remember the read headed female dancer, who seemed to do nothing but dance lol? If perchance you do, please give me a ring, if you would like to chat and make everything old, new again lol. I eventually tired of the "starving artist" sacrifice and moved on.

What a warm ingratiating place Polk St and Buzzby's were. People were real. People who cared......People who cared about you. A community, to be proud of and proud to be a part of. A community of friendship and safety.

I flew some friends out from my home in Virginia, on my way back from Korea, in the late nineties and it was like I had walked into the morgue lol. Polk St and Buzzby's was a once a lifetime experience. I have traveled all over the world and have not once seen anything that even approached it.
If your memory needs a jog, I was the one who had an enormous crush on Chris, the bartender. A crush from which, I have not recovered to this day.
Tel: 1-866-855-4931
E-mail: book@ramsteinbandb.com

Jean-Luc DOSSMANN |

After The Cabaret on Montgomery, which I discovered in December 1974, Buzzby's was the second disco I ever went to. I was only 20 back then, but I had a fake ID. The birthdate on my French student card was so perfectly forged that despite my very boyish looks I never had any trouble getting in... Now I could just CRY remembering the great times I had in that place, as in others on Polk or later in the Castro. Buzzby's was deliciously sleazy, not enough to scare off a young inexperienced provincial French boy. I remember the sloping steel dance floor (I realised it was actually the same slope as the sidewalk outside), the sawdust scattered all over to ease out the savant moves of the dancers, the tweeters dangling from the ceiling right above our heads, the woofers stuck under the rows of stadium benches, the tall transvestite waitress, the DJ booth hanging over the floor in the right corner, with mirrors on its ceiling so you could occasionally tell the record company by the color of the record label. It often bugged me I could not read the name of the song or the artist's name, so I would ask for it so I could run to Gramophone Records the next day and buy it... Today my private collection of disco hits counts about 7.000 tracks. As for the encounters I made at Buzzby's, many of these men are now gone but if any of you guys remembers a tall skinny French boy back then (74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79...), feel free to add your comment! And I am also looking for pictures of the place.

Ralph |

Hi Ravi,

N Touch is at 1548 Polk St. (Polkstrasse) at Sacramento St. It is still in business and is a gay Asian dance club. So many bars/clubs have long gone.

Ravi |

Hi Phillip. I am trying to remember because I am sure I have a Phillip somewhere in my mind. The name is familiar. I used to hang out with a girl named Paris. The there was Crystal from Sacramento and Jimmy the biker. It's amazing how it all comes back. I knew a Tony and a Gary, they were both dancers at the bar. They used to come to my apartment often.

phillip |

Ravi, that should be in touch. I also from 85-88. Don't think I knew you, bit may have known same people, John, tony, tracy, and many of the 'ladies'

Ravi |

And I also remember my first crush in San Francisco at that same corner bar. A guy named Scott who was a model of some sort. He lived right next to that bar on the second floor. The there was Tracy....one of the Balloon Girls. And Buffy! It's all coming back to me now.

Ravi |

I lived on 1750 Sacramento street between Polk and Van-ness from 1983 to 1987. I was a student at USF. How I loved Buzzby's. There was a bar on the corner of Polk and Sacramento street I just can't remember the name. I recall one of the bartenders by the name of Arlie. What was the name of that bar again! Anyone?

Jo |

Kathleen, thanks for the shout-out for The Palms Cafe on Polk, my early '80s hang--yes I remember the deadly Blue Moons very well, courtesy of bartenders Roger and Geri. What was cool about Polk Street in those days is that it was a harmonious mix of gay and straight, rockers, punk, blues, new wave, cabaret, whatev...everyone welcome, no attitude. After hours we'd go to The Grub Steak on Pine for some late-night eats. Good times.

John |

I remember Buzzby's went a couple of times,mostly to The End Up and The Cabaret After dark. All great dance clubs ,Some of best times of my life. Met Louise at the Cabaret, very pretty, wonder what ever happen to her.

Bruce |

How about the Giraffe, and the bartender David. Does anybody know what happened to it, and if David is still around?

steven richmond |

Buzzby's was the first gay bar I went to in SF in 1975. I was terrified, having just gotten out of the Navy and being from a small town in Ohio. Just driving into The City was one of the most exciting things ever. Once i found Buzzby's, I would continue to go there for a few months. The Castro was exploding with gay life and the energy moved that direction. What an amazing era. I still live in San Francisco and though it's changed dramatically from those days, I still love it.

Alfred Zitro |

Fantastica barra disctoteca donde baile muchas veces. Es muy agradeble ver esta pagina sobre el ''Buzzby's''. Hace mucho tiempo de esto, para los finales de los 70. En estos dias me dare el gusto de pasar por la ''Polk Street'' y ver el lugar donde estaba este lugar.

Ciao |

Buzzby's took up much of my life from 1975-1976. I remember you, Christine, I have a picture of you and Les and Ronny Hoyt.

|

hung out 1984-1988 on Polk underage and Intouch, Polk Gulch, Buzzby's was still around but really it was always empty in 1985 except for the bar tender...these were the worst and best of times and often think of the various characters which were what i thought my friends at the time....remember John, Tracy, Tony, still know Brett and keep in touch and also Amanda from Intouch....always wonder what happened to everyone

dave |

Ok...so does anybody remember the "Poppers Man" in the mid 1970's? He used ride a bicycle between bars selling poppers. I know he did Polk St. and the End-up. It was very cool, we'd buy poppers and keep dancing all nite long.

Dave Marez (Los Angeles, CA) |

Oh great memories. I too went to Buzzbys and remember the sawdust on the ground. I remember that other bar that was around the corner from it with 2 geese as the bars emblem ... was it called the Wild Goose or something like that? I remember seeing Sylvester at the End Up and The Trocadero, Dreamland dance bars. I remember when I first moved to SF in 1982 that Mexicans and Samoans weren't all the welcomed in the Castro, only in the Polk Area did you see lots of ppl of color. Take care.

Peaches |

I remember seeing the black transvestite hostess on Otis Street collecting foodstamps, welfare ? while I would assume she was working under the table there. Others had to work like a dog for their LaCoste tees. Me, I was the doorperson at The STud for a while. I never had to resort to such petty means. I always did well providing drugs. Futhermore, that meretricious, common drag queen Peaches Christ stole my name. She isn't even funny.

Rick Newman |

Just found this site searching for info for my upcoming Disco Halloween Party. I love the Disco Club History, My lover in the early 80's used to travel all over the country going to clubs. In the late 80's we seperated, but are best friends to this day. When I was packing up to move out of our home, I came across his collection of matchbooks he had collected along his travels....Looking at he clubs I remembered I had saved them all these years. There is one from BUZZBY'S, TWIN PEAKS TAVERN, on Castro, and ON THE O.J. on Polk....I can't wait to call him and tell him about this site. I would like to keep the matchbooks until my Halloween Party this fall of 2010, but I would love to pass them on to someone who has greater memories.

dancer56 |

Thanks for uploading those incredible photos to my thread, simply awesome. Please, if anyone has anymore, feel free to add, but these photo pics are historic. God I wish I had a time machine.

dancer56 |

God, I never went to any food shops except pizza joints and that one famous cafe for breakfast. Totally forgot the name of that cafe, but it had jukebox, tables, booths, and counter. There was also another hole in the wall gay drinking bar down the road on the same side of Buzzby's closer to Market, that was around the area of that murel of whales.

marie clark |

hey everyone, i was on polk st. in 1978 until 1981 i was only 13 years old then, i loved to dance and would watch everyone go in the clubs back then i recall hanging outside in front of busbys , i was too young too get in , i always wanted to go in there until a group of friends put on all this make-up and got into oil can harrys on larkin, they were not checking I.D"S there and the door men liked us, my girlfriend had a tatoo, so they thought we were old enough, wild disco nites those were, exept i had this drunk and high friend who was spinning me around the dance floor and he slammed my leg into a huge speaker that was there on the side , i had to go to the hostpital that night, my gay guy friend took me, not my dance partner, but i had to get stitches on my lower leg and still have the scar from it, i have a permenant reminder of that club and those days, it s my tatoo. sort of, but i miss those days and all the people, that made it fun. i always wanted to write a book on polk st, back then and all the characters on that street.i met my first boyfriend out there. does anyone remember the food shops Papa joes? or soup de'jour or bagels? we would go there after club hopping.

dancer56 |

Well I originally held this idea for Fresno, Ca. for several reasons. 1.) A bullit train is currently planned to run through the growing town as a central California station. 2.) Fresno has not many competitors in the gay club market, there are currently three gay bars, none spectacular. 3.) Not many people I know that live here recall Buzzby's in SF.
I would change the name to something like Iron Zebra with a real sculpture of a spiral iron zebra behind the bar. The bar itself would not be a duplicate of Buzzby's in material, it would be more wooden in the dance floor, and the bar area would be more art deco. The DJ booth would not be like the old Buzzby's at all. Instead, it would be a room in the wall next to the dance floor with a red tainted window to view out. Multi video monitors would be installed in the opposite wall from the DJ booth. If anyone remembered Buzzby's as well as I do, they would immediately feel a sense of Deja Vu.
And yes, the bathrooms would be thru the dance floor on the far side. There would be that Buzzby's divider between dance floor and bar area, and the sitting area, like Buzzby's would be built the way it had originally been built like stadium seating with a few platforms. I would put round tables between the platform sitting area and the bar though, which Buzzby's didnt have. I would also put the cigerette machine by the door entrance just like Buzzby's with magazines on top. I told you people I remembered quite well. My first drink at Buzzby's was a screwdriver since I was too nervous to think of a beer. I was that young at the time, and actually underage.
Yes, I would call it THE IRON ZEBRA, because Im a Fresno Zoo member. I would incorporate a needed disco night. Oil Can Harry's in Studio City LA is doing this on regular Saturday nights, but I would also encourage Trance, Electronica, Hip-Hop. I dont see how it could possibly fail, but Im an artist with vision and not an investor, and quite frankly, dont have experiance other that being a DJ with some of my local bars. By the way, I have several clubs in mind besides this one, some original and not based on previous clubs.

Rusty Nails |

Well I helped open Buzzby,s What a great time that was. I can not see why opening one just like it could not be a complete succes. It really would be cool to program the old playlist and hip hop some of the old hits to todays style. It might even be fantastic as a much larger club. Not a bad idea! I know how to do this. I was one of the first DJs at Buzzbys and also opened Uncle Sams, Oil Can Harrys The City The Park Exchange and worked at the End UP for four years. If your from San Francisco you most likely have run into me somewere.
Rusty Nails

dancer56 |

Billboard magazine & Data Boy were two of my disco charts must haves. I went to the library, checked out the current Billboard, went to disco charts and photocopied the entire article page, lots and lots of times back then. It still gives me chills to think of Grace Jones That's The Trouble/ Sorry in the top ten, and I always glanced at the bottom of the list for the climbing hits. T-Connection's Do What You Wanna Do didnt take long to become top of the list. Donna Summer was always on top for a long period of time. When I was doing this, that Billboard list always gave me the chills. I was as excited as having sex, really. I havent read Billboard mag in ages if it still exits. I wish I kept those photocopies, but the recent post from Jim Hopkins has some interesting dated lists from the DJ. When I went to the clubs, I basically knew them because I read all about em, even if I havent heard them before.
Then one time, I passed a SF music shop back in late 70s, off of Market, and heard a great song. Went in to ask attendant, and they showed me the album cover. I already had the album at home and didnt recognize it. It was the middle of Get On The Funk Train. That was really funny. OMGD, I already have that!

Christine Matuchek |

Memory is not all that dim...sure do! What have you been doing for the past 30 years or so? cm

Rusty Nails |

Hi Christine,
Do you remember Rusty Nails?

Christine Matuchek |

Had just arrived in SF from NY and by chance spoke to Don Berry who liked my phone voice - and when I told him I was student and needed a p/t job he had me meet him at Buzzbys! I went from the coatroom - to day bartender - to suddenly (baptism by fire)Friday night. From there, my good friend Edd Mendez taught me to spin records which I did for several years before being asked to do the disco chart at Billboard Magazine. Buzzbys was full of wonderful people many who have past but are not forgotten. It was a wonderful opportunity for me and I am forever thankful. cm

TOM BOYES |

iN THE 60S i WORKED AT THE 4STAR AND AT THE FACTORY,BEFORE IT BECAME STUDIO ONE. THEY WERE BOTH IN WEST HOLLYWOOD. IVE BEEN BACK SEVERAL TIMES. EVEN IN THE YEAR 2009,IT MAY NOT BE CALLED A DISCO....BUT THE BEAT GOES ON..A DISCO IS A DISCO IS A DISCO...NOW MATTER WHAT THEY CHANGE THE NAME TO..

TOM BOYES AKRON OHIO

dancer56 |

True, I just visited West Hollywood for halloween week, and I love club beats. Some bars, even in my hometown have those modern jukeboxes with keyboard in the system selection, AWESOME!
Just tell the cordial bartender to turn off the house music and become your own disco DJ right there and then.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu_0AmZyeT0

"I havent stopped dancin, YET!!!!"

TOM BOYES |

Disco is not dead and never will be. Im 60 yrs old. I worked many gay clubs. We started the disco era. It has been here since its start, just under new names. They are called Clubs, Dance Clubs, Raves, Venues. Doesnt matter how you change the name.....Its still a DISCO. The Gays and Blacks Started the era. The straights Called it something else. But we made it FABULOUSSSSSSSSSSS. Others just ruined a good idea. Wasnt it Grand? Yes it was.KEPP ON DANCIN.

dancer56 |

Thank you so much for that incredible ounce of disco history. I loved the disco era, its a vast shame the way the gay party found its way to close, but the bouncing memories are still worthwhile for those who lived it.

Jim Hopkins |

For those who are interested. I just acquired a huge collection of reel-to-reel audio tapes recorded live at Buzzby's and Bones, by DJ MICHAEL LEE, in San Francisco, 1976-1979! I have been archiving the tapes to digital and have set up a page to hear them. Check it out! Some great DJ history here!

http://twitchrecordings.com/page23/page23.html

Rusty Nails |

Buzzbys,
The Hottest San Francisco Disco in its time. Everyone came to see the new thing in town The Disco. The Club concept was created By a cool guy Named Barry my boss. Barry was a skater and a very good person.
He gave me a seconded chance at becoming the DJ at Buzzbys when it first opened. I will always remember the wonderful experience of being apart of the Disco scene as the DJ at Buzzbys, Uncle Sams, Oil Can Harry's, The City, The End Up,
Park Exchange,Rathskeller and many many more.
Bay Area Disco DJ Rusty Nails still rocks on.
I sure do miss all the other guys like Peter Struve, John Hedges, Mike Web, Steve Newman,John Randazo to name a few.

Tomboyes |

I loved Buzzbys. I worked at the stallion on Polk and liked to go to Buzzbys to dance. and hang out in the afternoon. Polk St.was a lotta fun. I was in SF from 84 till 92. Then my partner and I went back in November 4 of 08, to be married.

RC |

The White Swallow, Polk Gulch Saloon, Giraffe, Kemo's, Buzzby's, The New Bell Saloon. Great places and great times. Polkstrasse was such a nice place to be.

Every Sunday for 10 years, we all went to the New Bell Saloon to listen to Pure Trash play until it finally closed in the 1980s. There was a great, talented drag queen who played organ and piano with Pure Trash and later played at a hotel on Van Ness. Supper was at The P.S.

The Castro had Toad Hall (later The Phoenix), The Badlands, The Midnight Sun (18th. St. and then Castro St.), Castro Station, The Pendulum, The Elephant Walk, Twin Peaks and Moby d***. Bob Sanders played piano at The Galleon.

SOMA had The Oasis, Febe's, The End Up, Trocadero Transfer.

lindadrasheff |

Hey Kathleen........I was having a nostalgic moment of my san francisco past and to end up at this site and read your posting..I mean I knew it was you.....and it was so exciting to see your post was so current.....our fabulous buzzby days,dancing to mighty real and victim........and that is just the least of it(the stud, oil can harry's, white swallow and whatever was on polk street back in those days)........damn, I can't remember the name of that cabaret right across from cala foods...........
What great/crazy memories we have.............I love you and miss you..........

linda

Kathleen |

I spent many nights at Buzzby's; I lived and worked in the neighborhood and I was quite a party girl. I went with my gay male friends, my girlfriends and a drag queen or two. We would drink, take quaaludes and snort amyl nitrate. What a rush! And dance ALL night. I knew everyone in there. Ginger was the beautiful black tall transgendered woman who was the mistress of ceremonies. (I think this is who dancer 56 is referring to.) I also had a friend, Spider, who would shake his tamborine. Ginger would get out her cymbals. You really knew the night was in full swing when that happenned. It's been said that the Tubes wrote "White Punks on Dope" about the scene on Polk St. at that time.

I began going there in 74' and pretty much stopped by '79. In the mid-70's Polk street was much more happenning than the Castro initially. The Gay Day Parade used to go down Polk St. I would always see Sylvester at the N'touch.

The great thing about Buzzby's was that women were very welcome- gay, trangendered or straight. N'touch was much more exclusively male. One guy even spit in my face there........

There was a bar/restaurant on the corner of Polk and Clay that had a wonderful brunch on Sundays with cabaret-style entertainment. Does anyone remember the name?

I also spent a lot of time at the Palms. Remember the Blue Moons? I'd start there during the day and work myself up to an evening at Buzzby's with something to eat beforehand at the Raven (Haven?) or afterward at the Grubstake.

That lifestyle almost killed me and I had to give it up but was it fun!

sylvan |

I worked a couple of blocks from Buzzby's and a group of us would sometimes go down and dance after work. At that time there was as much gay activity on Polk street as there was in The Castro and South of Market. For a while I lived on Larkin and also on Bush street which were both in the neighborhood. After dancing late into the night, you could get the best burgers at The Grubsteak.

zulu warrior disco monkey dancer |

dude, your site misled me to think you were promoting an actual, now-a-days disco musik club. bah. no one disco bootie shakes it likes to move it move it nowadays? off of your computers and into the disotheques!

dancer56 |

The only reason I made this post concerning my favorite "coming "out" Buzzby's was because I could not find a trace myself. Fortunitely, I am a sketch artist, and can pretty much draw what I experianced-but that's as far as the visuals end up (End Up?) on hard copy. My memory, however, beams (I-Beam?) like it happened last month. Extremely vivid. . .thank God. (Thank God It's Friday??)

Rusty |

Yes those were the days. Buzzby's was the second gay bar I went to. After reading the previous comments it brings back great memories. Does anyone know if there are photos of Buzzby's around? I have been looking all over the net.

dancer56 |

That's why I used Buzzby's as my regular starting point before venturing out in other area. I never made it to Oil Can Harry's, although I had heard about it. So, it seemed my gay bar travels began at Polk St., then to Castro (after 5), and then to Folsom or the End Up (after 9). The End Up was great also for early morning weekends, to be sure! I also liked the Polk Gulch Saloon that was the open corner bar, and the N'Touch (wasn't that the place with Saturday Night Fever dance floor?), and shopped for disco records at Gramaphone. -Those were the days!!

Snips |

sure was fun, but the dance floor used to fill up fast. We used to stop at the Giraffe first to get a buzz on. Once Buzzby's was too crowded, we'd walk up to 'NTouch, but it was frequently just as crowded. As a last resort, when the crowds at both places were a bit too much, Oil Can Harry's always had more space. Horrible parking in the area, especially on weekends. And if you just wanted to socialize, you could be entertained sitting in one of the area's cocktail lounges (like Kimos) and watch the male prostitutes, drug dealers and homeless people on the street.

 

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