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

Oasis Sweeps Besties


D'Arcy Drollinger, Matthew Martin and Nancy French in Shit & Champagne at Oasis. photo: Gareth Gooch
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Despite the loss of a few bars in recent years, more people are going out, and looking for a good time. Several (thankfully) long-running bars won Besties, and one nightclub in particular, not surprisingly, won eight awards (see "Bestie Bars & Clubs").

Since its New Year's eve opening rang in 2015 with a splash, Oasis has led the pack in popularity, innovation and convenience. Located in the heart of South of Market's most populous nightclub strip on 11th Street, the renovated former club that was also popular in various incarnations in past decades has seen a renaissance of live, lip-synched and DJed dance events.

Oasis co-owner Heklina, who also MCs the weekly post-Trannyshack show Mother, said, "For once, I can't think of anything flippant or humorous to say. I'm just really blown away by all for the support San Francisco has shown for Oasis. It was an out-of-the-box hit, and wherever I go, people stop and thank me for being a part of opening Oasis. I didn't realize quite how much it was needed in today's San Francisco until we opened it. Now it seems like an indispensable part of SF nightlife. Thank you, everyone!"

Co-owner D'Arcy Drollinger, whose original-scripted plays like Shit & Champagne and its sequel are among the club's longest-running shows, said, "It's been a ton of work, but so worth it. We did know that this type of venue was needed in the city, but it wasn't until we opened that we realized how much."

Asked how to balance accolades and pressure to add new entertainment, Drollinger said, "It's a great feeling. The response has been overwhelming. And yes, the pressure is on. Can we sustain our audiences when we are so brand new and shiny? And there is also the pressure of curating consistently good acts, while straddling the fine line of booking the guaranteed draws, as well as exposing people to less well-known performers."

Asked what the team learned in their first year, Drollinger, said, "Everything is more expensive than I thought. Ha!"

The first year offered a few surprises as well.

"Certain shows became overnight successes," said Drollinger. "Star Trek Live, for example, just exploded and was much more successful than I could have hoped. It also brought a very different demographic to the club. And Mark O'Brien's Polyglamorous was a big hit right out of the gates, which was a very happy surprise."

Asked about any change the team has made to the venue or scheduling, Drollinger said, "We finally got air into the building. The first few months were way too hot! Aside from that, we've been making small changes and additions as we go. There are always new and different things about the space if you look for them. I kind of feel like it's going to continue to be the case; a constant work in progress, but in a good way – our very own Winchester Mystery House. In terms of scheduling, it took a little while, but I do feel like we've almost mastered going from a cabaret to a dance party in record time."

Up next at Oasis: Above and Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Showgirls

Upcoming events include the club's first live rock musical, Above and Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Showgirls, "with most of the original band, who were also the musicians from Enrique, in which I was one of the singers back in the late '80s and early '90s," said Drollinger, who joked, "I guess I just dated myself. Yes I was in an '80s band! And the show is about and '80s girl rock band. The cast is amazing and these kids sing!"

Fans can also look forward to the third edition of Drollinger's ultra-camp Champagne White series. "Spoiler alert, Champagne goes to Vegas!"

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