The Legendary Jelly’s Dance Cafe – RIP

Posted on Oct 10, 2010

A San Francisco salsa lover’s institution, Jelly’s Dance Cafe at Pier 50 closed its doors last week but not without a final party blowout which featured Julio Bravo Y Salsabor, DJ Walt Digz and myself on the wheels of steel. It was beyond packed both inside and outside…I estimated that more than 600 people must have gone in and out of the venue during the evening. Since I have been a resident DJ on Club Havana Sundays for more than a decade, I recall some of the great musicians who sat in with bands at the club: Herman Olivera, Omar Sosa, Giovanni Hidalgo, Modesto Cepeda, Johnny Polanco, Pepito Gomez, Danny Lozada and La Palabra among others. In the early days, it was Louie Romero’s Mazacote and Anthony Blea’s Charanson who were the house bands. I rotated with Ivette “La Coqui” Fuentes as the house dj’s for years mixing it up with salsa dura y clasica, timba, mambo and more. Ivette left a few years ago and DJ’s Walt Digz and Antonio were added to the rotation. It was a delight to DJ at Jelly’s because we always tried to match or surpass the energy of the band and vice versa so the level of music created at the club was always top notch. The special communication between the band, djs, dancers and audience was unique among salsa clubs in the area and it didn’t matter that Jelly’s wasn’t a luxurious club or offered dance lessons (it never did!). What mattered to the dancers, faithful patrons, visitors, musicians and dj’s at Jelly’s was only the music! Even though new Sunday venues are popping up to fill the void, Jelly’s unique vibe will be sorely missed!