The Club Replacing Slim's is Named YOLO and Won't Have Live Music—Only DJs

Slim's, the long-running nightclub on 11th Street in San Francisco, closed in March 2020. Owner Boz Scaggs said that the closure was planned before the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Slim's/Facebook)

Slim's, the San Francisco nightclub that presented an eclectic array of live rock, blues, jazz, folk, R&B and rap artists for over 30 years, has been sold to new owners promising to book "mostly EDM, Top 40 DJs" and "no live band[s] like what Slim's had."

The new club in the former Slim's location at 333 11th Street will be called YOLO, according to a permit application to the City of San Francisco. The application also promises a dress code, ropes or barricades for lines at the front entrance, and security staff in suits and ties. The new owners, Michael Hu and Peter Lin, have been co-owners for the past eight years of Pure Nightclub in downtown Sunnyvale, a lounge concept club with VIP sections and bottle service. It looks like this.

In other words, it's not at all like Slim's, whose closure in March marked the beginning of the pandemic and the end of a Bay Area institution. In its three-decade run, Slim's hosted a constant stream of live bands, including intimate shows by Radiohead, Prince, Coldplay, Bruno Mars and thousands of others inside its brick walls.

That type of booking, which cemented Slim's as an "iconic space, and historic space," as entertainment commissioner Steven Lee put it in an Aug. 4 permit approval meeting, does not extend to the club's new format. YOLO's booking will tag-team with Pure Nightclub, Wu announced in the permit meeting, with the same DJs playing alternating weekend nights at both clubs.

While Top 40 and EDM DJs are a staple at Pure, the club has also held afterparties "hosted" by well-known rappers and R&B stars (past afterparties have included DaBaby, YG, Blueface and Nipsey Hussle)—not so much a full concert but an appearance, during which a small handful of songs might be performed.

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Central to YOLO's permit application is the questionable assertion that "the music output from a DJ performance will be much less than a live band," presumably referring to the greater control a club has over the volume of a DJ, versus a band's amplifiers and drums.

However, as commissioner Laura Thomas pointed out in the meeting, the commission has for years received no sound complaints about Slim's due to the installation of extensive soundproofing in the building, which YOLO aims to keep in place. The primary issue causing "a long series of complaints," which other commissioners echoed, has been people congregating around and leaving the street's clubs and bars loudly at late hours.

Wu said he had not yet spoken with any residential neighbors, and was strongly advised by the commission to do so. (Wu also added that, due to the pandemic, “I don’t see us opening anytime soon.") YOLO is asking to retain the Extended Hours Premises permit granted to Slim's, which would allow the club to stay open until 4am—an option the owners say they'd like to have, but would not exercise often, claiming that most events would end by 2am.

Not discussed during the meeting was the section in the permit application about YOLO's dress code, which openly states that "our dress code is merely a tool to use to deny unwanted guests," and bans sports apparel and baggy or oversized clothes. The application also provides that YOLO's dress code could change based on "the type of events we'll have."

Just before Wu and Lin received conditional approval for their permits, a lone comment from the public was read: “Would you still have live music like Slim’s did? There aren't enough rock venues in the city.”

The question went unanswered, and the meeting moved to the next item on the agenda.