Mabuhay Gardens:WTF

For those of you who don’t know about this odd little slice of SF history, Mabuhay Gardens was a Filipino nightclub in North Beach, not far from Manilatown/Chinatown, that ended up becoming a well-known punk venue, and even a stand-up comedy spot for a minute. I’ve had vague fantasies of curating a Mabuhay Gardens-themed show, somehow conflating the Filipino thing with the punk thing, but I’ve got enough Galleon Trade to contend with as it is.

Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed the odd chronology of this place. Imagine my surprise to see that the Berkeley Art Museum is mounting a show called Mabuhay Gardens, with photos by the legendarily weird Bruce Conner!
Bruce Conner: Roz Makes a Giant Step for Mankind: Negative Trend, January 23, 1978

I do love Bruce Conner, and I’m really interested in this history, so I’m sure I’ll have to go see this show at the Berkeley Art Museum. Still, I’m mildly irked by the dismissive “failing Filipino supper club” reference in the web press release. Not that this wasn’t necessarily true, of course, but the phrasing feels like yet another little moment of the Filipino experience existing only as a feeble backdrop for more interesting (ahem), white-oriented pop-cultural histories. I dunno. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive. Anyway, when I’m back in the US (and why the hell am I blogging about this from Denmark, anyway?), I’ll still go check it out, and make up my mind then. If you see the show first, lemme know what you think. I’m super-curious!

Bruce Conner: Mabuhay Gardens
June 4, 2008 – August 3, 2008
Berkeley Art Museum

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2 Responses to “Mabuhay Gardens:WTF”

  1. ricv64 Says:

    cause I was around then , it wasn’t failing but Ness Aquino sure did a lot of more business when it started showcasing the bands and he , along with Dirk Dirkson ,should be remembered as a KEY West Coast figure in the rock history

  2. admin Says:

    Thanks for the insight from a first-hand perspective! Very much appreciated.

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