New Years Eve Guide
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All the Devil’s Parties

Oldies Night at the Knockout

It was getting late. I already missed my yoga class and I was getting a lot done on my sewing machine. But I really needed a drink. My flatmate came home and we decided to check out Oldies Night at the Knockout.

I’d never been to the Knockout before, but various people have told me it’s too hipster for them. I don’t even know what hipster means here in San Francisco, as it is one hundred percent different from all my experiences with the word in Los Angeles, New York, and abroad, so I thought I would see for myself.

I changed out of my pajamas and threw on my favorite knit dress that I got at a flea market in Bilbao. I put on some ruined tights and my pink cowboys boots. I packed my super-cute vintage purse that I just got from Bianca Starr, put on some mascara, and skipped the jewelry. My hair was wild. In total, my look was sufficiently “hipster” while still being completely me and perfectly comfortable.

We walked. It’s not that far from our place, but far enough to make us really happy when we arrive. The Mission on a Friday night is what makes people want to move to the Mission, despite the catcalls and sketchy, dark corners.

We walked past Medjool, Foreign Cinema, a couple Taquerías, Popeyes, the Mission Cultural Center, and Roccapulco, and I thought about how so many different people, cultures, styles, and languages couldn’t be more varied. This is why this part of the San Francisco is so fantastic.

We paid a couple of bucks to enter the bar. There wasn’t any music playing at first, but then it came loud and soulful, like oldies should be. They had no PBR, so we got our usual beers on tap instead. No hard liquor tonight; I wasn’t planning on getting drunk. I didn’t think there were many hipsters, but what do I know?

I saw a friend at the bar and we went to join him. He just released a record and the DJ was going to play it. I realized how amazing it is to have pressed vinyl in your hands — there’s still hope for independent musicians.

Primo finally got on the deck and I danced like my grandma probably danced when she was my age. It was fun, and crowded, and getting really hot. The place filled up and all I could see were flailing arms and jiving feet.

There was only one women’s restroom, which meant for a mean line. The bartender asked me if I liked vodka. I said yes, even though I’m a gin girl, and broke the rule for the night — no hard liquor — as I took the vodka tonic in line and had a sip.

We went back through the crowd and tried to find some free hooks for our purses and coats. Empty tall boys littered the ledge and reflected back into the room full of slightly drunk young adults. Everyone was into it.

My friend whispered ,“This is my favorite dirty song,” as we danced to: “Turn your lights down low / Open up the backdoor.” I had to agree.

Maybe dancing to dirty oldies, dressed in our own styles, with our glasses and our boots and our bags; our-low income jobs and our lack of health insurance; our cigarettes and our Tecates; our global culture and our undeniably bird’s eye view of the world — maybe all of that, in the Mission at a dive bar on a Friday night is hipster.

Or maybe it’s just the juxtaposition of having so many different types of people from all over the world in this particular place dancing to music that has kind of been forgotten. Or maybe being young and having fun in whatever way you choose, is just, well, hip. You be the judge.