If you've been to a club anytime recently there's a good chance Richie Panic was there either in the DJ booth himself or supporting fellow musicians and friends. He's a man about town and has been a major staple in the San Francisco nightlife scene for over a decade. Now perhaps best known as a co-founder and resident DJ of Lights Down Low, he's built an unforgettable party that sells out 1000+ clubs in both San Francisco and L.A and keeps you dancing until the wee hours of the morning. This should come as no surprise though, considering he was also the man behind legendary SF parties like Frisco Disco and Blow Up. Richie Panic is the kind of guy who cares a lot about our city. He's passionate about bringing people together and keeping the S.F. music scene vibrant.
Brett Mendenhall: Describe your relationship with San Francisco. When did you first meet? What have been your challenges? What do you look forward to?
Richie Panic: I moved to the West Coast (aka the Best Coast) as soon as I graduated High School and began making regular treks from Sonoma State University to SF all the time and once my 2 year program was finished decided to follow a group of night life friends into the vibrant and wild scene that was SF at that time. San Francisco is not as brutal as some other cities but it does take a certain dedication and passion to want to make things work here. To hustle, to survive. It's a beautiful and eclectic place (for the most part) but is not for the feint of heart. I have been here long enough to earn a place in the community and I am still working on behalf of that and this city.
BM: You live a bit of a dual life, throwing parties in both SF and LA. What keeps you here and not LA?
RP: I love LA and I love throwing events down there but I am very happy in my Mission home with my little cat and consider myself very lucky to be able to live where I do with cool people. As long as we remain and cling to our rent-controlled slice of turf, I'll remain here. Plus I don't mind the commute.
BM: You are a local to the 20th Street corridor. What have you enjoyed about this neighborhood? What are your favorite places to eat, to drink, to cause trouble? What has changed over the years around here?
RP: I enjoy the fact that there are many great spots to dine and drink and it would appear that most of the neighborhood is still intact when I walk or ride my bike around. Unlike Valencia etc it seems that there can be new and exceptional spots and you can still find families playing in the streets and still eat and drink in cool little older places as well. It sets an example for how more of SF should be. Sight Glass and Salumeria are great for meetings and snacks. I also volunteer with cats at the SPCA and I have been meaning to check out the LSD Museum for quite some time.
BM: Social media tells us you are a food lover. What do you enjoy cooking? Where do you find local ingredients?
RP: I am a fan of what I call The Big Salad, finding what's fresh at the market and using some leftovers etc to create a massive salad. This way I can gorge myself and not feel too badly about it. Gus's Market has been welcome addition to the neighborhood. I like to mix and match between all my local grocery stores.
BM: What are you looking forward to at this year's 20th Street Block Party?
RP: Everyone knows that Noise Pop and it's affiliates puts on some of the best events in the Bay Area and this one is no different. So much great music, food, and fun things. Plus I can crawl home, take a nap, feed my cat, and keep partying!
Intro by Lauryn McCarthy
Interview by Brett Mendenhall