History of Death Guild

…an ever expanding work in progress by David (Decay)

It was the summer of 1992 in the bay area, I had just arrived from New Jersey via the slow method of hitch-hiking. I met up with some friends from the other coast and we got a warehouse in Oakland together. I then embarked on two quests, one get a job and the other to meet new people. The job hunt sucked — McDonald’s was not even hiring. Although I met quite a few people who were very interesting. It was sometime in mid-August that I was hanging out with a bunch of squatter punks and some of my roommates at the Civic Center plaza when this guy came up and gave me a flyer for a club that was going on that night. I read it and stuck it in my pocket for later contemplation . A bunch of us wandered up to Haight Street A short while later. My roommates Aylin, Jim hill, Russ Lester, Cathy Callahan, a girl named Aerial that we had met earlier that day and decided to kidnap, and a few others wandered Haight and its surrounding streets drinking sangria and Jim Beam. After we had been doing this for a few hours we ended up on some stranger’s stoop discussing what we should do that night. I found the flyer in my pocket and we figured what the hell, and off we went.

I remember we skipped, in groups of two and three holding hands… we skipped all the way down from upper Haight to 9th and Howard to a place called “The Pit.” The club was called Krash Klub and played all the best gothic and industrial, and a little techno. At the door we ran into a small problem, there was a cover and we were poor. We pooled our resources, five ones, a handful of change, half a pack of cloves, three sticks of incense, and one very cyber-punk pair of custom sunglasses. We made our offering to the doorman for the nine of us, and he laughed, collected our offering and let us in. I danced all night in the brick-walled basement. As things were winding down at four something in the morning I went outside to cool down and thank the doorman. He told me his name was John Root and he ran Krash Klub. I told him that I thought it was a great club and offered to help him out if he needed any help. He looked at me up and down skeptically. Then he asked what I could do. I said since I lived in Oakland I could put up posters in Berkeley for him. A shrug and he handed me a small stack and said have at it.

The very next day I walked to Berkeley and put the posters up all over Telegraph. Then I spent the next six days figuring out how to eat and get two extra dollars to pay the next weeks cover. I managed and went the next week, got more flyers, put them up, scrounged up next weeks cover, and got more flyers. That went on for about six weeks before John got the idea that I was reliable and asked if my friend Alex and I wanted to make five dollars a piece. I said sure before I even knew what he wanted. I from that point on was in charge of taking down the lights at the end of the night. After a few weeks of this Alex got bored with it and it was all up to me, that also meant that I got the whole ten dollars myself. Mind you this seems like nothing but that was the only work that I had at the time. There is nothing like being that poor yet taking almost decadent pleasure in being able to buy a pack of cigarettes, a fresh apple fritter and a cup of coffee with your own hard earned cash.

After about a month of taking down the lights every Monday night I started showing up early and setting them up as well. This did nothing to change what I was being paid but I enjoyed it. In December John decided that I should do the id’s at the door and take the money as well as doing the lights before and after the night. I got a raise to twenty dollars at this point. By this time I had gotten a job at another club called Drug #6 it made me enough money to survive on.

The attendance started to wane at Krash Klub after the DJ got bitten by the techno bug. The more techno he played the fewer people who came. Jon had started another club night and really didn’t care about Krash Klub dying. He soon fell in love with a girl who was visiting from Amsterdam and was crushed when she left to go home. After a few weeks of moping and still failing business he decided to follow her back to her homeland. For the sum of forty dollars he sold me his partnership in Krash Klub and chased his heart over the sea.

The next Monday I tried to talk to my new partner, the DJ about the failing state of the club and what we could do since our attendance was down to about thirty or forty people a night. The DJ told me to fuck off and said techno was the way to go.

At this point I had a sit down with the management of The Pit. I told them that Krash Klub was dying and that I could save it but they would have to close it down and let me open a new night. They agreed and on the following Monday I told the DJ of Krash Klub that this was our last night the management was closing us down. He shrugged and said whatever and played nothing but techno all night.

The following week on the Ides of March I opened a brand new club on Mondays, one by the name of DEATH GUILD with a brand new DJ by the name of Vince, who also had a radio show on Berkeley’s KALX.

My roommate Russ took over the door duties for me and a guy named Woody, of Stiff Woody Productions, helped me with the promotion aspects of Death Guild. It was here with my friends that we started to build Death Guild to what it has become today.

The beginning months were really hard, more often than not we would not make any money instead we sank it all back into the night its self. As time went on so our crowd did grow. The basic concepts of the club were based around building a sanctuary for those of our ilk. It was home for the disposed, the oppressed, the truly absurd in mind and appearance, those who didn1t give a damn and just wanted to dance to gothic, industrial and alternative eighties all night. Or to those who wanted to drink all night to forget and even some who wanted to remember. We had everyone from the sub-cultures represented. It was a sanctuary to those who sought such.

Our logo, a hanged man blindfolded and swinging from the limb of an oak tree, is representative of many things. It is a rallying point for those escaping oppression for there choices of lifestyle. It is a depiction of the fate of an ignorant society. It is the darkness that so many fear as they are terrified of dying. It is a symbol of strength, the oak, a guardian of sanctuary. My roommate Cathy painted the original picture of an actual oak tree, its location is known only to her and myself.

After fifteen months the venue, the PIT lost its licenses suddenly and went out of business. After being closed for one week we moved to the DNA Lounge for one night. Then we found our next home and reopened Death Guild at the Trocadero Transfer the following week. At the same time as our move to a new location DJ Vince retired to pursue his studies as a veterinarian. So with our new location we started with a new DJ Lucretia. The Troc opened a new avenue for us, we for the first time were able to open our doors to the eighteen and up crowd.