There are people who have shaped the music scene within our very own city into what it is today that walk the streets of San Francisco just like the rest of us. Iconic individuals that have existed in the club and music world for many years not only reside within our city borders, but also tell stories of the past unlike any other. Thanks to their passion, their ambition and their work, San Francisco has evolved into one of the most well-known destinations for the underground music scene. And lucky for us, we had an opportunity to chat with one of those icons: the founder of Base Italy Underground, Alessandro Iacobelli.
On a sunny afternoon in August, I was meeting with a fellow Audio colleague when we found ourselves running into Alessandro at a restaurant in North Beach. Falling into deep conversation about the current state of the underground nightlife in San Francisco, we were told stories of what the music scene used to be – and how it all started with Base.
Base Italy Underground started in 2005. Held on Thursday nights, it quickly became the go-to weekly house party in San Francisco. The parties came to fruition at a time where there were only a few major venues in San Francisco that hosted electronic music events – and it was a huge weeknight event that was regularly the talk of the town.
At this point in time, the electronic music scene was drastically different than what it is today. Clubgoers would venture out for days at a time – oftentimes Wednesday through Sunday – to spend their nights on the dance floor and never fail to enjoy themselves. Social media was not prominent yet, and promoters were the talk of the town – meaning they actually had to talk and be social with other individuals in-person. And at the end of the day, Base became a home away from home for clubgoers that were passionate about music. It was a weeknight destination that made you feel like you were in another world for the night. As Alessandro told us: “it felt like you were back home.”
The goal with Base, according to Alessandro, was to create a good energy-driven space that brought together a tight-knit community of people from all walks of life – a group of people that understood electronic music and what he was trying to build. And they succeeded.
Each Base event had its own distinct style, but all of the events had one thing in common: a willingness to vibe with those that surrounded them on the dancefloor. As Alessandro described it, it was “the kind of party where you’re not there to judge – you’re there for the good time. That’s it.”
“Nightlife is an experience”, he explained, “one entity. DJs are just one aspect of it.”
When asked to elaborate, he explained:
“In today’s club circuit, you don’t connect with people on the dance floor. Attendees want to stand there and stare at the DJ – but there is nothing interesting about watching a DJ stand behind the decks and press buttons. What was always interesting to me was the people. The beauty of clubbing is the crowd, with their diversity, their style, their energy released on the dance floor – that’s the experience. Of course, you have to have some of the best storytellers – the DJs – in the world to reach that pinnacle of excitement. And that was the point of our bookings.”
All in all: Base created something different. It was pure – and it was incredible.
Base was on the forefront of the house and techno music scene in San Francisco in that it brought some of the most sought-out DJs – names that are internationally known for their musical talent and prowess behind the decks – to the city for the first time.
To name a few, Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler, Loco Dice, Marco Carola and Guy Gerber played in San Francisco for their first time at Base. Other artists on the roster included Moby, Dubfire, Sasha, Nic Fanciulli, Art Department, Adam Beyer, Lee Foss, Roman Flugel, Hot Since 82, Pete Tong, Nicole Moudaber and many, many more. Chris Liebing, funnily enough, actually ripped the roof off during his set at Base.
The venue also hosted the first Funktion-One sound system in San Francisco, which created the ideal situation for any audiophile: an intimate venue with huge, high-quality sound. Nothing but the best.
This weekly party – on a Thursday night, nonetheless – was the entryway to the house and techno scene in our city. Base was the story of the scene.
When looking back at the ten years of Base parties and the mark it made on the electronic music club scene in San Francisco, one thing is clear – and put into the best words by Alessandro himself:
“What we did was something unique.”
“We were the first to offer house and techno on a Thursday. And with that kind of talent in a smaller venue, it was something that had never been done before. We created a close experience with the artist for the people who loved the music.”
Alessandro and his crew created an experience, and the people came. They flocked to a musical haven that was free from the outside world – a place built on the concept of community, passion and genuine human-to-human connection. To put it simply, Alessandro told us: “it was amazing and beautiful when we did what we did.”
Nightlife is always evolving, and we may not know where it will sit in the next ten years. But there is one thing that stands true as this evolution takes place: that nothing is gone, and everything returns with a new flavor.
You’ll just have to wait and see.