Memories of Jelly’s…What A Scene!

Posted on Jun 3, 2013

I was one of the resident dj’s that help carry the throne at the late San Francisco club Jelly’s from 1998 to 2010.  There were many memorable evenings that I experienced from behind the dj booth.  The bands and the dj were always pushing each other to take the music higher in those days.  There was a tremendous communication between the band, dj, dancer, party goer, a regular and an aficionado.  But the real connection was the music.  The music soared on most Sunday evenings where the band and the dj was jamming, the dancers packed the wooden floor and outside concrete patio.  I wasn’t there when it started when Linda Wosskow (who now runs the Seahorse) and KPOO DJ Chata Gutierrez started the Sundays in the mid 90’s.  I was asked to do a late Sunday night following a typical Sunday tardeada at Jelly’s around 1998.  It was a short run disaster but I did get hired by Jelly’s owner Clarice Lacau to rotate Sundays with PR salsa maniac DJ Ivette “La Coqui” Fuentes.  It was a great period of time for me personally in terms of dj’ing my particular mix of new and classic salsa brava, timba, cha cha, merengue y mas to a mixed, packed and enthusiastic crowd.  The crowd didn’t care about taking proper dance lessons or having bottle service at their table, they were there to dance and listen.  Those were good times.  I always looked forward to eating “el maestro” Jesus’s cooking!  I was addicted to my combination of ribs and pollo…rico!!!  Ivette was later replaced with rotating DJ’s Walt Digz and DJ Antonio who were first known primarily as Timba DJ’s.  During the last 10 months of the club’s existence, I was reduced to a monthly residency as a cost cutting measure at the club…lo bonito y lo feo.   Jelly’s finally went kaput in October 2010 after a fatal shooting incident during an off night hip hop event which eventually sunk the club.  They were forced to close by the Port Commission and the club closed.  We closed the club in typical Jelly’s fashion with Julio Bravo and Salsabor, DJ Walt Digz and myself doing the spinning honors that evening.  It was a packed crowd from start to finish.  Ever since the club closed, promoters have been trying to capture the Jelly’s magic but they haven’t been able to do it.  However, they have developed their own distinctive scenes such as the Seahorse in Sausalito and Cana.  I have been hearing about new clubs opening up on Sunday.  The advance hype is that they are “the new Jelly’s” hoping to appeal to sentimental ex-patrons who perhaps are frustrated with the current Sunday salsa scenes.  Those folks who have this notion have completely missed the point of what was happening at Jelly’s during those days…it was a special time and place.  There was an unpretentious vibe.  It didn’t matter if the place was a dump, it was your Sunday meeting place where you could hear and dance to great music.  It was the real thing not hype.  R.I.P. Jelly’s con amor!