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Cocktail Talk with Supervisor Jane Kim

Media depictions of politicians as heavy drinking, fast living gallivanters who are as often found in backrooms of shady establishments as they are in their legislating chambers have always intrigued me (so romantic!), so you can imagine my disappointment as I began to get to know members of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and found out that they actually spent most of their time out in the sunlight working for their constituents -- yawn.

But they can’t fool me --I’ve already see many of Supervisors on the patio at El Rio for my monthly Hard French party so I’ve witnessed first hand that they can occasionally cut loose and get down. Politicians, they’re just like us, except they have better teeth! I wanted learn a little more about what they do in the rare spare moment when they run off to grab a drink so I asked for their thoughts on how nightlife and politics affect the economy of our city. You know, cocktail chatter.

Over the next couple weeks I’ll be releasing my interviews with our elected officials. Today let’s kick it off with District 6’s own Jane Kim. 

Supervisor Kim, elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2010 after serving as the President of the Board of Education, is a New York native and one of the city’s youngest Supervisors. Her district encompasses some of my favorite bars and clubs like the Stud, the Tempest and just about every dive in the TL so she seemed like a great place to start. Supervisor Kim gave us some particularly exciting insight into her nightlife past and present, including her love for single malt whiskey and her badass bass-playing days (Jane Kim = Kim Deal).

Jane Kim:

I represent a district (SoMa, Tenderloin and North Mission) with a thriving nightlife scene and much of San Francisco's cultural and performing arts community.  Before being elected to office, I co-founded an all-volunteer performance arts venue called Locus Arts dedicated to showcasing emerging API artists and building community and consciousness through the arts.  During the day, I was a Youth Community Organizer and at night I curated and organized events at Locus Arts.  As volunteers, we did everything-- promotion, event curation, bartending, set-up and clean-up, sound checks and emceeing! I loved helping emerging artists build an audience base and community by making the space a hub.

Tom T: What's are your favorite watering holes in your district?

JK: I love whiskey so I frequent Nihon Whiskey Lounge in the North Mission and Rye in the Tenderloin.  I also love wine so I go to Hotel Biron in Hayes Valley and Terroir Wine Bar (which serves only organic wine) in SoMa.  A few other favorites-- Bar Agricole in SOMA, SOM Bar in the Mission and Farmerbrown in the Tenderloin. [TT’s note, Farmerbrown’s Vanilla Mint Julep is pretty much the tastiest cocktail in town – get one]

111 Minna Gallery and Beatbox host a lot of community fundraisers which I really appreciate.  

TT: With your busy Supervisor schedule how often do you manage to make it out on a Friday night? 

JK: I typically have 2-3 events a night so I am pretty tired on Friday night!  But I try to make it out to visit our nightlife venues in the district by meeting my friends at these venues.  If I hear complaints from residents, I will go out to the location myself to assess and understand their concerns.  

Besides just attending and supporting different community events, it's important to see visually the consumers of nightlife, how it impacts our neighborhoods and the number of individuals employed in this industry.   

We have seen a genuine desire from our nightlife owners to get involved in the neighborhood and work with their neighbors on public safety amongst other issues, and it really makes a difference.  We have venues that donate space for community meetings and fundraisers, venues whose private security are involved and engaged in neighborhood safety beyond the doors of their club, and even owners who have partnered with the city on legislation to make our parking lots safer at night.  I think we can continue to expand ways the nightlife industry can benefit our communities and neighborhoods. 

Our office works closely with Entertainment Commissioners Glendon Anna Conda Hyde and Steven Lee, and I'm very appreciative of all the outreach and work they do to build relationships between venue owners and residents.  

TT: What do you see as some of the biggest nightlife issues affecting your district and the city at large?

JK: Balance. We have a diverse population in District 6 which includes youth, families and seniors.  We also have residents who moved to our district to live in vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods with nightlife.  We have to balance potential safety and noise issues with jobs, revenue, arts and fun for our city. We strive to maintain livable and safe neighborhoods with this desired economy and cultural/entertainment activity vital to any city-- it is definitely possible and I'm proud of the work our office is doing to make this happen.

TT: What's your drink of choice?  

JK: Lagavulin Single Malt-- whiskey!

TT: Do you have any sort of semi-secret nightlife past? DJ? Club kid? Bartender? Go Go Dancer?  

JK: I was a regular volunteer bartender at Locus Arts-- but that was primarily beer and wine.  I used to play bass guitar with a band called Strangely.  We played at community arts spaces such as Brainwash, Bindlestiff and SomARTS. I still have our band stickers! 

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