Three weeks ago I boarded a plane to San Francisco for Trancefamily San Francisco’s 7th-anniversary celebration. I purchased my ticket months before and was only reminded when a post from the Trancefamily SF Facebook account popped into my feed just weeks before the event. I scrambled to find inexpensive flights and an Airbnb that was near the airport. When I did a search for entire home, I didn’t find much that suited my fancy. Upon searching for private rooms I came upon a listing that advertised a two bedroom guest apartment. Perfect, I thought, and anxiously contacted my mother to see if the kids could be watched that weekend. I expected her to say no, but when she said they could stay with her, I raced to wrap up the rest of my travel plans. The flight to San Francisco was pretty uneventful. On the way there, I landed in Las Vegas and gazed with amusement at the slot machines placed squarely in the waiting area. From there I boarded a plane to San Francisco. Stepping off the plane was like being baptized because my body rejoiced at the drastic dip in humidity and heat.
My Airbnb was located in South San Francisco near the airport. It ended up being a great place to be situated, as I had a wonderful view of the mountains and was within walking distance to a variety of shops. I chose a restaurant in South San Francisco to dine on pupusas before heading back to my Airbnb to get ready for the long night ahead.
The 7th Anniversary Trance Extravaganza took place at 1015 Folsom, a 20,000 square foot nightclub in San Francisco that has been open since 1986. This sheltered Texan’s eyes widened and my mouth dropped agape when I walked nervously into the front room where the area legends were playing that night. My friend and I didn’t want to arrive too late to the venue so we got there before 10:00 pm and found the front room packed with people. None of the other four rooms were open yet so the front room was where everyone was congregating. There was standing room and some open seats that hugged the side of the wall. In less than an hour, the exact opposite would be the case. The DJ that was on when we entered the place mixed a set that provided a nice warm up to what would end up being a crazy, fun night. I took the liberty to wander downstairs to the basement where the psytrance would be shortly after my arrival. No one was playing as of yet, but I got a preview of what the night would entail. The ceiling was dark as was the room, but in the dim light I could make out large, white tarp hung up everywhere. It made me feel like I was in the midst of an Ozora festival art installation. This decor, I learned, was provided by LunoSol Productions so kudos to LunoSol for transforming the basement. Later on the in the night, the ceiling would come to life and my eyes danced as I tried to follow the streams of colored light flowing over the ceiling.
A little after 10:00 pm I headed back upstairs and into the Main Room where Sunny Lax had begun to play because I felt that if I didn’t leave right then, I’d be stuck for the rest of the night. Before I had my first daughter, I was told that it was good to have a birth plan in mind but to not expect things to go according to plan. The same can be said for attending any large event with multiple areas and a long list of talent. My intent was to check out the people in the main room, but I ended up exploring the other areas of 1015 Folsom. I heard a number of classics dropped in the front room with the legends and there was some interesting stuff going on upstairs, but it was the psytrance basement that would kidnap my attention for the rest of the night. It ended up being the best decision I had made up to that point because I was introduced to Doctor Spook.
Doctor Spook played two sets, kicking off the night at 10:15 pm and playing till about 11:00 pm, and again from 2:00 am to 3:00 am. In my mind, he was one of the unsung headliners. The room felt like it was pulsating every time he stepped up to the play. His sets were two of the crazier mental rides I was taken on, as the music dipped and weaved through some thrilling channels. You can check out these two sets below, which were pieced together and uploaded to Soundcloud. Just don’t hold me responsible if you have a hard time bringing your mind back down to earth.
Leiel was another DJ that played in the psytrance basement that kept me glued to the floor. The first time I heard Leiel was in a recording from his performance at the Sequence Stage at Dreamstate Socal in 2016. This night was the first time I would see him in the flesh and I was extremely pleased.
After Leil, I caught Khromata, a name I was unfamiliar with beyond seeing it on the Dreamstate Socal lineup for this year’s Trancegiving. I’ve seen women command the decks before, but it’s rare to see a whole crowd under the total, unwavering spell of a DJ.
I could have spent the entire night down in the psytrance basement but I didn’t fly hundreds of miles to be in one room. I climbed the stairs a few times to check out the top floor, which was a lounge all its own. There was some seating behind the dj, in the middle of the dancefloor, and off to the side. I made sure to be up there in time to catch Niko Zografos, the special surprise guest for the Phoria Dark room that was announced a day before the event. It was promised that from 1:00 am to 2:00 am he would bring the darker and techier side of trance. This promise was definitely kept, with Niko driving the crowd into a frenzy at the peak of his set. It was hot, it was cramped, but I didn’t care. I missed out on seeing Niko at Dreamstate last year and I wasn’t about to skip his set for anything or anyone.
I was barely in the main room, in part to the immense difficulty of doing anything but standing still due to the sheer number of people. I was able to get a good view of M.I.K.E. Push and others when I just went upstairs and hung out above the DJ. It offered me a great view of the crowd, a crowd I was all too reluctant to get in the middle of until the very last headliner of the night, Magnus. Just when I thought my legs would give out, I experienced a second, then a third wind. I stayed until the very last night and when it was time to leave, I had the sudden urge to stow away because I knew I wouldn’t have another night like this for a long time.
Many I talked to were shocked I had flown from Texas to attend an event in California, but if they knew of the state of trance in Texas, perhaps they would not have been so perplexed. They were happy to have me though. As warm as the people were, I felt as if I stuck out and was a bit anxious. My chance meeting with a woman in the bathroom that admired my black panther Iheartraves faux fur hood turned my night around completely. We were waiting in line in what would end up being one of the cleaner bathrooms by the end of the night, according to my friend who faced the horrors of an upstairs bathroom that in her experience became progressively worse throughout the night. I only really knew one person that I had actually spoken with face to face, who was also from Texas. I ended up meeting a Facebook friend and his lovely girlfriend, but they would soon part ways. This woman in the bathroom wanted to know my name, where I was from, and how I was doing. She showed me photos of the collector’s Spirit hood she had and we bonded over our choice of head wear. By the time it was my turn to enter a stall, I almost forgot about using the bathroom. The women waiting behind me had to draw our attention to the empty stalls. The crowd was more colorful than the ones back home, but perhaps that was due to the open, accepting atmosphere. Some wore the shirts from their favorite labels like VII. Others wore Dreamstate shirts. There were people in collared, button up shirts, tank tops, shirts, button up shirts, tank tops, plain black Ts, and hoodies. Shorts, jeans, dresses. Tennis shoes and heels. All were on display. Kandi, LED glasses, and light up wear could be seen throughout the venue. The clothing choices of the audience were not the most notable thing about the crowd. The infectious, positive energy was.
Everyone was there to dance under the same strobes, colored lights, and lasers. Big hugs and excited screams were the order of the evening. Towards the end of the night, I was offered a wristband that read TFS7 – Back To The Roots. I have not taken it off since I left California. As I sat in my Lyft on the way back to the Airbnb, I wondered when would be the next time I could soak up the sunlight after several hours of nonstop trance. If I was by myself, I would have shed tears. I had only heard stories of how awesome the trancefamily in San Francisco was and now I had my own story to tell. San Francisco is beautiful and weird at the same time. One can only hope it never changes.
:::CHECK OUT THE AFTER MOVIE FROM MARK SANDSTORM PHOTOGRAPHY:::
To see more photos of my trip, visit my Flickr account at http://bit.ly/2uoG8dc.