Halcyon SF: Bringing The White Isle to the City by The Bay
Halcyon (adj.) – denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful
Recalling the Greek goddess of the same name, Halcyon is a fitting title for San Francisco’s freshest entry into its burgeoning house and techno clubbing scene.
Located next to fellow house haunt Audio SF—and around the corner from the city’s iconic Eagle club—Halcyon exists as a portal that transports revelers right to the revered black boxes that Ibiza used to be known for, with a laser-tight focus on delivering top-notch musical offerings and even greater vibes to its patrons. For many, the club provides the sort of clubbing experience that has yet to be offered in the Golden City, which historically has offered more low-key, intimate vibes than the show-stopping ones being served up in the new SOMA hotspot.
Thankfully, while Halcyon emulates the spirit of Ibiza megaclubs of yore, it does so without being addled with the uptight attitude and bottle-dominated economy that have plagued so many new clubs before it. Put simply: it delivers what made you fall in love with dance music the first time you heard it.
Upon arriving, guests are sure to be struck by the club’s easy-to-understand layout consisting of a single room, rather than the multi-environment labyrinths that had become the seeming standard in past years. The end result of this design choice? A uniform musical experience for all patrons, who don’t have to worry about how to find the bathrooms, who is playing in another room, or where their friends may be making out. At its end, clubbing is about making shared memories, and Halcyon is designed from the ground up in order to do so.
Halcyon is the creation of Gina Milano: a seasoned San Francisco nightlife impresario who’s had her hands in spots like Le Club and Bambuddha Lounge. While still listening to alternative electro acts like Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden, Milano was introduced to the underground rave scene via a fellow bartender. A stint working Saturday nights at 1015 Folsom led to the burgeoning nightlife upstart meeting DJ legends like Danny Tenaglia, Steve Lawler, and Erick Morillo, essentially knocking the dominos over which saw Milano opening her own bar and later nightclubs.
“I took off for a bit and was traveling around,” Milano recalls when discussing what led to the formulation of Halcyon. “I went to Europe a bunch of times—I was in Ibiza for quite some time.” After hitting a few of the newer festivals—including Iceland’s Secret Solstice and Saint Martin’s SXM Festival—and traveling around, Milano reconnected with her dance industry contacts and revitalized her creative energy.
Upon returning from Winter Music Conference last year, Milano was contacted by the owners of Beatbox—the gay club occupying the venue that is now the home of Halcyon—who told her they had received an offer for the place. “We’ve always told you we want you to buy it,” Milano recounts. “At that moment, everything had coalesced in my brain, and I said yes!”
To help achieve her vision, Milano culled years of nightlife experience and professional friendships to build a tight-knit team. “I like people who share my energy and my enthusiasm.” The final team includes Talent Buyer JoJo Walker, Marketing Director Melisa Galvan, and General Manager Rhia Shumway: an apt fit for a club that’s equipped with a pink neon sign that exclaims GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS. Again, taking the name of the Greek goddess feels poetically fitting, almost as if the crew stands as warriors in defiant opposition of the stifling boys club that the clubbing profession can feel like.
When it came to selecting the sound system, Milano wanted to do something different. In the end, Milano team chose a Pioneer Pro Audio system—a relative newcomer to the big leagues of club installations in the US—over established players like Funktion One and Void. “I wanted to do something different,” Milano explains. “I knew Pioneer [Pro Audio] was looking for a flagship venue in San Francisco after they had put their system in Fabric [in London].” Impressed by the company’s offerings and nearby location in Los Angeles—and a little bit by the gold grills that adorn the subs that now sit at the back of the club—Milano decided to go with them, with Andy Kayll (of DC10 Ibiza fame) and Rich Walsh serving as sound engineers for the space.
Cut to November 2016, where the club’s grand opening month featured global heavyweights like Dubfire, Joseph Capriati, and DJ Sneak, setting the tone for the top tier bookings Halcyon would come to be known for in the time since. Since then, legendary jocks like Josh Wink and Kevin Saunderson have graced the decks, as have cutting-edge underground talent like Dirtybird’s Will Clarke and Heist’s Detroit Swindle. This spring and summer already have some big names in the cards, including MK, Adam Beyer, and Nicole Moudaber already confirmed.
Gearing up for a trip out to the club? Expect colorful, yet clear sound that ramps up in volume as it approaches peak-hour. Additionally, dress for the long haul, as Halcyon is one the only clubs in the area to sport a cabaret license, meaning the party can run for 24 hours (although alcohol can’t be served from 2 AM until 6 AM). We weren’t kidding when we said the spirit of the White Isle was alive in San Francisco.
Looking forward, revelers can expect even more diverse bookings than simple techno nights. The club has already booked burlesque shows for some midweek debauchery, and there’s a weekly Resonate – Sound Heals¬ series running through May that brings in a roster of Sound Healing experts for one-hour sessions.
The Halcyon days have only just begun, it seems.
For more information on Halcyon San Francisco, head to Halcyon-SF.com.