San Francisco Goth parties & gay nightlife. Wicked Grounds, Cat Club.

wicked ground san francisco fetish cafe

Yikes, I’m extremely back-logged with blog posts… but they’ll come hot and heavy from now on, I promise.

Let’s go back in time, to our Wicked Grounds drag performance party. Then I’ll run through the best Gothic, alternative and LGBT nightlife in San Francisco. Sounds good? Strike a pose, vogue, and let’s go-go-GOTH.

giant cupcake cake

You’ll recall that some of my best friends and I gathered in San Francisco over Memorial Day Weekend (you can read all our SF adventures to date).

We learned a big travel lesson: it’s extremely stressful to travel during this American public holiday, since the rest of the country is doing the same. Hotels were booked solid, traffic was choked up… It took far too many hours to pick up this birthday cake with a boot on it (don’t ask why) and drive the short distance to the venue.

goth drag queen makeup

Still, Die Schwarze Frau managed to get dolled up, and vamped in the alleyway before her big American debut.

human sized cage

We got to Wicked Grounds, the San Francisco kink cafe, and immediately felt at home. The space is a gathering-place for the alt community, and has regular events such as themed munches. Plus, they serve yummy food and drinks.

girl whipping boy

We took full advantage of the human-sized cage, and tested out the selection of floggers

tiger girl drawing

Die Schwarze Frau’s performance was tiger-fierce. She whirled around, screamed at skulls, stripped, and did drops to the ground. I’ll show you more photos from her Tokyo performance soon, and perhaps a video!

body drawing, sketching

To open the show, Naomiyaki did spooky live drawings on bodies, such as an overturned bottle of poison. (She also took most of the photos in this post.)

live drawing on human back

Naomi asked the audience to participate and made body-art the spot, based on this girl’s personality. Thanks to everyone who came to our event, and to Wicked Grounds for hosting us: we loved meeting you, and hope to be back soon!

dark shadows goth party, cat club

After, the shenanigans continued at Dark Shadows, a much-loved San Francisco Gothic night at Cat Club. Such a pleasure to meet many readers and friends at this event.

san francisco goth clubs, nightlife

We’re quite the motley crew to party with. Can you spot in this photo: a bear, blood, Covenant, unicorns, Frankenstein?

goth girls san francisco

The DJ played some of our favorite synth-Goth tracks, like Mylène Farmer’s Désenchantée. On the right: “Despite all my rage, I’m still just a… bat in a cage.”

sf goth party, events

If you aren’t ready to commit to a permanent tattoo, Goth body-art lets you be expressive for a night.

san francisco gothic nightclubs

Things with Trevor got a bit blurry…

japanese hakama, samurai skirt 袴

I’m wearing a hakama, or traditional Japanese skirt as seen on samurai. It’s a modern interpretation by J-Goth brand Despair.

muni san francisco metro subway

The MUNI (San Fran subway system) was an easy way for us to club-hop. We weren’t in town for Death Guild at DNA Lounge (every Monday), but we managed to see Bianca Del Rio at Trannyshack. Remember this post about how we met the RuPaul’s Drag Race winner?

can can dancers, Konservatory SF

I adore retro culture — can can dancers, top hats, burlesque — so we stopped by an Absinthe Party to honor Autumn, the designer behind San Francisco’s Dark Garden Corsetry.

autumn, designer dark garden corsetry

She was traveling to Paris to further study the art of corset-making. (Soon, I’ll do a post about the shops we visited in San Francisco, including vintage and Jpop boutiques).

Dark Garden Absinthe Party

We raised a glass of the green fairy, and bid her bon voyage.

bondage a go go, cat club

On another night, we went to Bondage-a-Go-Go, held every Wednesday night at Cat Club. BaGG has been running for 21 years, and is a fixture in the “kinky, fetish-y, gothy, nerdy, punky, leather-y” San Fran scene.

san francisco bondage fetish party

Photos aren’t allowed unless you have special permission, so be assured this is a safe and private space for play. That night, we saw dungeon demos by people in masks, and Go-Go dancers in cages.

castro gay district

The only San Francisco nightlife that didn’t live up to our expectations… was the Castro gay district. Long lines, unfriendly bouncers, and a slightly dingy atmosphere. Stick to the Goth / alt scene, and the lively T-shack drag shows, and you’ll have a grand time in this city.

lgbt san francisco clubs

Have you experienced San Francisco’s clubs and bars? How do they compare to the scene in other cities?

If we missed out on anything in this round-up, let us know in the comments! Coming up: coverage from New York, Cape Town, Taipei, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul…


  1. Dan
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    These are freakin’ AWESOME, La.

  2. Jon
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    OMG!! amazing

  3. MelissaR
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    A truly amazing time and wonderful memories!!!

  4. Diamond
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    So much fun and loved seeing you in SF!

  5. Lyn Bilodeau
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    We loved having you at Wicked Grounds. Come back any time!

    • lacarmina
      Posted July 25, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      I’m recommending Wicked Grounds to everyone – keep up the fab work!

  6. Lucid
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Looks like you two had a great many adventures in SF. Thanks for posting about staying in the Buddhist center too. I didn’t know they rented rooms, it looks like a fun place to stay.

    • lacarmina
      Posted July 25, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      yes, it was a very meaningful experience! hope you and friends can try it out – it’s an inexpensive and cool way to stay in SF.

  7. Della
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    really cool stuff

  8. Electronica
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink


  9. Dolly
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Your the best!!

  10. Skinni
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Wicked ground was my home

  11. Alyx
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    That was the best time :) it was lovely meeting you :)

  12. netik
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Great having you in the city. Glad you could make Autumn’s party.

  13. Wicked Grounds
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Great times were had! Thanks so much, and come back any time!

  14. trashtastika
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    We went to the 80’s night on Thursday night at the Cat Club – dark alt music was on at the back, as well as Dark Shadows on the Friday night. Both really fun!!

    • lacarmina
      Posted July 25, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Ahh I miss it already!! Yeah the music was very fun, a great crowd…. and can’t go wrong with the name Cat Club!

  15. Lady Hyde
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    You should check out Dark Room! It’s the last Saturday of every month at the Stud. It’s a queer (straight friendly) goth night hosted by Lady Bear!

    • lacarmina
      Posted July 25, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Oooooh that sounds awesome! I hope to be back in SF soon to check it out :)

  16. Regan
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 6:47 pm | Permalink


  17. NN
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    beautiful xo

  18. Terra
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    am always excited for your travel diaries!!

  19. Jeremy
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    can’t wait for the rest of your SF trip.

  20. Torre
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    #love your piccys

  21. Laura
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Hello! Another Lovely post. Thanks for always sharing such fun adventures! May I ask where you got the mandarin collar dress you are wearing in a picture towards the end? LOVE.

  22. Kitty
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    It was nice saying hello again to you at Dark Shadows! You and your friend looked beautiful! I really hope the whole trip to SF was wonderful and that you visit again.

  23. Aelfsige
    Posted August 18, 2014 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this wonderful piece!
    I do not wish to spoil the party, but I must say something: We went to BaGG once, and we will not go back. We were dressed for the occasion, but we did not feel like going into the play area, and just stayed out on the main dance floor.
    We, mostly my friend, were harassed by two creepy guys. The somehow assumed my friend was fair game, or “for hire”.
    She engaged them in the most boring small-talk, on the assumption that if she shouted (or even hit the guys), that would have been precisely what the guys were after.
    I did not feel comfortable engaging them fully either, because I feared that would have started a bar-brawl.

    Yes, maybe we could have spoken to someone at the bar. Maybe we could have spoken to the people supervising the play area, or retreated there. We just left, because we felt unsafe.

    I do not want to blame the people running the BaGG, and I do not have a solution to the issue. But the idea that we could go somewhere, dressed up the way we like and have a good time did not work out at the BaGG.


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