Sigh. Like so much else these days, Amnesia is closing its doors soon. The club has issued a statement saying “Amnesia in its current incarnation is closing at the end of February.”
Update: Amnesia has confirmed its closure, effective February 29, 2020, in both Twitter and Facebook posts. “It’s time now to write the next chapter of 853 Valencia,” the bar says in a statement. “Our plan is to retain the entertainment license for the space while we work through where music fits into the new model. With full clarity we know we will not be able to maintain the same model that exists today. We’ve explored many options over the course of the past two years, but the hard truth is that this business is not fiscally sustainable."
The rumors are true, Amnesia in its current incarnation is closing at the end of February. Here's our official statement on why and what comes next. pic.twitter.com/4JrNcQQyFO— Amnesia (@AmnesiaBar) January 17, 2020
Original post: Valencia Street looks less and less like the Michelle Tea’s 2000 novel Valencia every day, and coincidentally, the year 2000 is also when the eclectic bar Amnesia opened on the same street. Amnesia also appears to be the latest victim of the corridor’s escalating fancification, as Mission Local broke the news Thursday that Amnesia will be closing, reportedly on March 1. The bar and live music venue was known for its anything-goes hodgepodge of Monday bluegrass jams, Lindy hop dance nights, jazz, live comedy, and a sidewalk smoking section that was as electric as the scene inside the venue.
The bar hasn’t said much, with current co-owner Craig Wathen refusing to confirm the claim, yet with Mission Local reporting he did “did not deny the March closure for an indefinite period of time or the notion music may not continue there.” But the social media posts tell a fuller story. The above post from a self-identified “Former Booking Manager at Amnesia” says the bar “will be closing its doors for good.” Bluegrass band Windy Hill says in their own post that this Monday, January 20, will be “our final regular third-Monday show at Amnesia.” Resident Tuesday night comedy group Troubled Comedy says in the post below that “As some of you might have heard, Amnesia is closing on March 1, 2020. The last Troubled Comedy at Amnesia show will be on February 25.”
Eater SF got further comment from an anonymous employee, who said, “yes, sad to say,” about the indefinite closure. But it’s possible the bar will continue operating as a bar under a different name or iteration (a la the Elbo Room/Valencia Room switcheroo), with Mission Local adding that the club “may not use the entertainment license in the future.”
Amnesia had some trouble renewing that entertainment license in 2017, but it was successfully renewed.
Broke-Ass Stuart opines on the closure, saying, “Amnesia was one of the very first bars I ever went to in San Francisco,” and “This was probably in 2001 or 2002 and The Mission was a very different place. People went out most nights of the week and more often than not, a bar closed because the owner was getting sober, not because the landlord was jacking up the rent.”
KQED notes in their elegy that Amnesia was among a dwindling number of independently booked music venues, a rare remaining outpost of venues not booked by corporate conglomerates like the surveillance-happy Live Nation or the Republican assholes behind Coachella’s Goldenvoice. Which begs the point of whether one of the best ways to fight the most troubling trajectories of contemporary dystopia is to just go watch more local live musicians.
Image: Elle N via Yelp