Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Dancing at the Armory


Singer Betty Who to perform in a 'Jungle' setting

Betty Who will headline the June 24 Pride dance at The Armory.
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Party promoter Audrey Joseph promises a big celebratory event when Pride at the Armory commences at the San Francisco Armory on June 24 at 9pm. Singer Betty Who will perform in a jungle-themed setting, which will include the participation of top DJs from around the world. Australia's Paul Goodyear and the UK's Wayne G, along with Pagano, Danny Verde and Seth Breezy, are among those who will be spinning dance tunes.

"Pride has a significance for me each year," Joseph said. "It's a celebration of our fight for equality, liberty and justice. We can never forget where we came from and what we accomplished."

Joseph added that Pride at the Armory was, in her view, a celebration of the community. "The DJs and gogo boys are all from our community," she said. "My crowd is special to me, so it's not just singing and dancing. It's an immersive experience."

Joseph said that she was very excited to have booked Australian native Betty Who to perform for Pride.

"Betty is a great advocate for our community," Joseph said, noting the singer's history of performing at Pride festivals around the country. "Betty's music is heartfelt with a great uptempo beat. She's very uplifting. There's something about her that's very positive."

Betty Who's numerous YouTube videos reveal a pop diva with a soaring voice. Who has so far released two albums: Take Me When You Go (2014) and The Valley (2017).

After opening for Katy Perry in 2014 and Kylie Minogue in 2015, Who is currently headlining Party in the Valley, her own tour. She's already enjoyed having three number one songs on the U.S. dance charts.

Asked if she was concerned that some community members might be offended by the Pride party's jungle theme, Joseph said, "I did Prisoner of Love a few years ago. They said I was glorifying the prisons which were imprisoning trans people. I said: 'How did you get that?'"

At that 2014 event at The Armory, several dozen Gay Shame protestors projected images and picketed the 14th Street entrance to the sold out event, and a few attempted to shove themselves inside the venue, but were stopped by security staff.

Mike Stabile, who manages the Armory, also addressed the past controversies regarding the Prisoner of Love party.

"It was inspired by the Elvis Presley movie Jailhouse Rock," he said. "The prison industrial complex is no laughing matter. It all got conflated."

Stabile also spoke about the future of the Armory. Many had wondered what would become of the building since porn studio ceased producing content at the Armory earlier this year.

"We own the building," Stabile said. "Over the past couple of years we've been renting it out as an event space. We started booking concerts and it became difficult to manage with Kink using half the space."

Stabile noted that many years ago The Armory was the "Madison Square Garden of the West".

First built in 1914, the Armory served as a sports venues from the 1920s into the 1940s. Now registered as a Class 2 historical landmark with the National Register of Historic Places, the Armory was used for spaceship interiors for the Star Wars movie The Empire Strikes Back. operated out of the Armory for ten years beginning in 2007.

With Pride at the Armory, Stabile hopes to bring back the glory days of the Armory.

"San Francisco Pride is an international destination," he said. "It brings people from every state and around the world."

Stabile also noted that the Armory space was being used by independent filmmakers in addition to booking parties. Stabile hopes to book bigger and bigger names to perform at the Armory, which both he and Joseph promise is now a bigger and better venue than ever before.

"I want to give people a chance to see all my upgrades," Joseph said. "We have one of the most coveted sound systems in the world, new bathrooms and a floating dance floor. We're going to present an amazing light show."

Joseph promises that Pride at the Armory will have revelers seeing the Armory in a whole new light. "We celebrate the community by giving more bang for your buck," she said. "Come party with me. You'll feel like you're being taken care of."


Jungle: Pride at the Armory, Saturday, June 24, 9pm-4am. $50-$150 (VIP tickets include access to the Upper Room, exclusive bars, gogo shows and more). 333 14th Street at Mission.

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