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Special F/X Night

[whitespace] F/X Club Reunion A Night to Remember: F/X event promotor Debbie Afraimi, Patrick Kelleher (center) and Fuel co-owner Chris Esparza reminisce about the good old days on South First Street.

Dane Andrews

SoFA club reunion was a Valentine's Day treat for downtowners with long memories

By Gavin O'Brien

WHEN FIL MARESCA and longtime cohort Jon Wolles began planning an anniversary for F/X The Club, one of Maresca's many fingerprints left on our beloved downtown entertainment district, I'll bet he had no idea of the number of variables that made this a night to remember. If you're new in town, here's the scoop: In 1990, F/X was the third club on South First Street to emerge, behind Marsugi's and the Cactus Club.

When F/X closed in 1995, a good number of the club's army re-enlisted at 400 South First St.'s new tenant, the Usual, which played host to F/X's one-night resurrection last Sunday. Recently, Maresca and Wolles kicked around the idea of waiting till the year 2000, which would have been F/X's 10th birthday; then one of the variables hit them upside the head like a 16-ton weight from an old Monty Python skit.

It was learned that ex-F/X employee/mover/shaker Mark John had been diagnosed with cancer and was in need of some serious financial support. By now you see where this story's headed, a planned party for a club that closed its doors three years ago, in the very building it used to call home, with all that nostalgic reminiscing taking a back seat to a truly worthy cause for one of South First's own.

"We sent out nearly 50 letters via email, and from that received over 300 replies," Maresca says about his efforts to put the event together. The F/X website was the cornerstone of the promotional barrage, and who among us would doubt that in Silicon Valley it would fail to get the job done?

Eight hundred people came and went throughout the evening. Not bad for a club that no longer exists but is evidently missed by many. The night of the party was definitely like "old" times. The line stretched down the block to First Street Billiards with old and current faces. A $10 donation at the door was all it took to contribute to the humanitarian cause, and the club was quickly filled to capacity.

Old friends reconnected, bartenders and cocktail waitresses made their month's rent in tips, clique rivals whispered infantile jabs at one another, newborn baby pictures were whipped out of purses and wallets, old-timers looking for the bathroom in the front bar were met by a beer freezer in its place--yet there were minimal complaints.

The predictable complaints--"It's all the same people" or "I don't know anyone here anymore"--that folks who've been away from the downtown circuit make when they pop their heads into their old haunts were not heard this night. Putting my finger on the reason for this has escaped me, but at least I can admit it. Give me that at the minimum.

Yes, there was definitely a good feeling in the air, made up in part by helping Mark John with his growing medical debt (the Usual donated 25 percent of the bar intake to the cause), Valentine's Day, alcohol, the old F/X DJs spinning the songs that made other people famous, and the fact that even though it was a Sunday night, most people had the next day off because of Presidents Day. The attendance and donation numbers will be posted on the F/X website very soon.

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From the February 18-24, 1999 issue of Metro.

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