Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Midnight at the Oasis


The newest club has opened up

D'Arcy Drollinger and Heklina inaugurate Oasis with a retro disco dance number. photo: Gareth Gooch
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With much deserved fanfare, Oasis, the newest south of Market nightclub, opened with a rousing and raunchy drag show on December 31, bringing in what will hopefully become a new era in nightlife fun.

It's hard to believe that only a few weeks before, my afternoon visit to the space revealed bare wood studs, crated furniture and barren walls. A crew of half a dozen men had been busy on multiple projects at the time as two of the four new owners, D'Arcy Drollinger and Geoff Benjamin, gave me a mini-tour. It seemed a monumental task to complete the renovations. Drollinger remarked that the last-minute décor and technical work had been a wild race even to opening night, and promised more improvements soon, like a sprung wood dance floor to cover the cement.

But despite the numerous license requirements and construction tasks, by opening night, Oasis was ready to open.

More than 20 people were lined up outside upon our arrival on New Year's Eve, standing under a multi-bulb-lit letter O. Eventually, it seemed everyone was allowed entry, all in accordance with the fire marshall's careful capacity specifics.

Entering through the front lounge, the decor reflects a cool combination of goth industrial chic, with burgundy banquettes. The roomy dance floor is bracketed by a cute and surprisingly spacious stage, with a lengthy second bar on the opposite side. Several mirrors lined one wall, giving the dance floor a more spacious look, and a traditional disco ball spun and glimmered throughout.

The venue, with interiors by DavidMarksDesign, is well-lit, yet appropriately dark in some areas. The floors and ramps are mostly ADA-compliant (except the night's makeshift coat check; we'll get to that later), and while there was the usual bathroom line, the newly installed fixtures are clean and ready for use.

Structurally, the club echoes a few of its previous incarnations; as Oasis in the 1980s and '90s, and as The Leatherneck in the '70s. The venue was even a sex club at one time, and had an indoor pool and retractable skylight. Plans are underway to eventually reopen the upstairs outdoor patio (but not the pool).

As we waited a few minutes for drinks (which were generously poured; cocktails were $10.), we enjoyed an array of TV screen retro clips from films like Can't Stop the Music, Tommy and the wonderfully awful classic, The Apple. The DJed music offered a classic disco theme.

U-Phoria leads a pack of gal pals onstage at the new Oasis. photo: Gareth Gooch

The crowd ranged from formally dressed male, female and straight couples, goateed younger guys, glittery genderfuck dragsters and performers, who hung out with guests, but soon disappeared into the new spacious private dressing rooms.

Just after 11p.m., masterminds Heklina and D'Arcy Drollinger opened with a space age-themed number set to Sarah Brightman's '70s disco classic "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper," signaling that the venue will reflect our groovy past while heading wig-first into the future.

"We just popped this stage's cherry," Heklina crowed before making introductory comments. Throughout the night, she and Drollinger thanked the many people who made their first night a success, including "my stage bears," she said, the crew of cute and familiar bearded men who swept the stage between numbers. The dynamic duo also thanked partners Geoff Benjamin and Jason Beebout for their months of dedication toward making the club happen.

Festive fans of the new Oasis nightclub. photo: Gareth Gooch

Then, several other drag acts took to the cute yet roomy stage. Errant smokers in the alley and those in the lounge crowded toward the stage. The space was blessed by a few Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, including Sister Roma.

Then the first show at this new nightclub continued. Our hosts introduced several drag acts, which ranged from lightly comic to downright crass, in true Trannyshack style.

Michael Phillis' dance crew Exhibit Q wore, then ripped off, T-shirts emblazoned with the logos of local revered (or despised) tech companies (Twitter, Google, Dropbox, etc.), offering a bite at the hand that some claim is leading to the demise of San Francisco's alternative culture.

After a short video where Roxy Cotton Candy lamented her bad tuck, a pair of evil medics operated on her, not before a puppet version of Roxy's testicles sang a lament before a fake-bloody castration.

Some of the friendly bar staff at Oasis. photo: Gareth Gooch

Queen brought more raunch with a wild duet, where she lubed up, then mimed inserting herself into the rear of a frightened young hunk in what could only be called a fisting pas de deux.

Stalwart trooper Ethel Merman sang a wacky live version of Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High."

Heklina didn't refrain from her usual catty humor after an extended group number led by U-Phoria, which excerpted the appropriate song, "."

"That last act was so long, I went home, shaved, and watched an episode of The Golden Girls," she joked.

Before the last few acts, at the stroke of midnight, the balloons dropped, complimentary champagne was served, and celebrants rung in the new year at the new nightclub.

The show continued with a retro-perfect trio of Cookie Dough, Bebe Sweetbriar and a Divine-esque WooWoo Monroe lip-synching to a medley of classic Donna Summer and Sylvester songs, even a chorus of five Village People hunks dancing to "Y.M.C.A."

Rahni NothingMore performs a twirling Indipop dance at Oasis. photo: Gareth Gooch

Rahni NothingMore performed a brilliant Indipop solo, twirling and gesturing with élan.

The closer began with Sue Casa being carried through the crowd to the stage, where she performed faux-rim jobs to yet another chorus of hunks who stripped down to jock straps before spewing popped champagne bottles over the crowd and each other.

"It isn't a good drag night without a little onstage rimming," joked Heklina before DJ MC2 continued the dance music with an array of pop songs.

The only snafu was the coat check. Set in a small balcony alcove above the front lounge and up a flight of metal stairs, the line to retrieve garments snailed down the stairs and around the lounge, leaving many patrons waiting for more than half an hour. My friend almost lost the glasses and case in his coat pockets, and my coat was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, it was a thrift store cheapie, and apparently someone else with a similar coat (and there were many black CPO-style overcoats) went home with mine.

In a call a few days later, co-owner Benjamin replied quickly, assuring me that the coat check situation will be improved, and not placed upstairs. Two more bathrooms will soon be completed in the upstairs area.

Upcoming shows include cabaret acts and dance nights. Talented performers this week include Our Lady J, and the hilarious Shit & Champagne continues its run through mid-February.

Future nights include actor-drag artiste Matthew Martin's solo show, Heklina's new weekly Mother drag night, and in February on first Fridays, Polyglamorous with BAAAHS DJs Mark O'Brien and Mo JoR. For most of the stage shows, cabaret tables and seating will be available.

As the New Year's Eve show reached its end, before shifting to dancing, Heklina joked from the stage, "I've changed my mind. I'm not gonna do this. I'm moving to Puerto Vallarta. You can have it all, D'Arcy."

But we know that's not going to happen, of course. "I was joking!" Heklina said. "We are so glad you chose to be with us on New Year's Eve. Thank you so much!"

So, let's welcome the newest queens on the block at Oasis.

Oasis, 298 11th Street at Folsom. 985-4442.

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