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Mabuhay Gardens : San Francisco's World Famous Punk Rock Palace

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Mabuhay Gardens

(A.K.A.:Mabuhay,Mab,Fab Mab)

The Mabuhay Gardens was a Filippino night club located on Broadway at the end of the North Beach area in San Francisco , where lots of night clubs and topless bars were located . It was a failing night club owned by Ness Aquino . Sometime in 1976 . Ness was approached by Dirk Dirksen to promote punk rock shows at the Mabuhay . Ness agreed , and the rest is history , the PREMIER PUNK PALACE was born !

After the Sex Pistols played their now famous show in January 1978,( not only famous for breaking up in San Francisco after their tour, as the Beatles did some ten years earlier , but,because this was the first time that the youth of america really got a chance to experience a real punk rock show !) . Opening up for the Sex Pistols , were two of the first San Francisco punk bands , The Nuns and The Avengers . That one show , changed the way many new garage and punk bands would now look at music . They could do what they wanted and have fun doing it . Most couldn't even play their instruments yet , but so what!neither could the Sex Pistols , but they were doing it anyway !

Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys stated that seeing the Sex Pistols , Nuns , and Avengers at Winterland , changed his life . He knew that this was what he wanted to do , form his own punk band . He wasn't alone , also in the audience were the people who would later make up some of San Francisco's most notable Punk bands . The Nuns would become one of the first bands to play at the Mabuhay , The Mary Monday Group was the first band to play there,though, I cannot remember them, or, if they were actually a punk band. Now the stage was set , these punk bands needed a place to play and the Mabuhay was there .

Dirk Dirksen made the perfect emcee for the Mab.Coming from a background in television , and very much into experimental theatre and audience participation , this BIZARRE and unusual character turned a failing Filippino night club into a WORLD FAMOUS TOURIST ATTRACTION ! In fact, the Mab would soon become as famous as CBGB's was on the east coast .

The Mab was host to many famous bands of that era , including , The DAMNED , DEVO , IGGY POP , Neil Young , The RAMONES , The Nuns , CRIME , The Dead Kennedys , Husker Du , DOA , Pink Section, Rozz & Negative Trend , and many more .

By 1978 , the Mabuhay became to punk rock , what the Filmore West and Winterland were to commercial rock , and Dirksen became punk's answer to Bill Graham . By December of 1979 , I being a disc jockey and live recording engineer at U.C. Berkeley radio station , KALX , approached Dirk about recording the bands for live radio broadcasts to help give the bands exposure to an even larger audience . For most bands, this was the only way people would be aware of them, as most including the Dead Kennedys didn't even have a record available yet . So , it was agreed that Dirk would book the best bands available for the Friday and Saturday night shows, and I would record them and get the shows on KALX and other bay area radio stations .


The First Taping of what was then to be called"THE FAB MAB LIVE" , was the READYMADES on December 8 ,1979 . The Fab Mab Live broadcasts would go on until June of 1981 . Some of these performances were given to the Maximum Rock'N'Roll magazine run by Tim Yohannan , and were distributed to the PBS network for broadcast across the country on various PBS stations that carried the Maximum Rock'N'Roll radio program of interviews and some of my live songs of the artists being featured .

Dirk was one of the best promoters that I've had the pleasure to work with . He would come out on stage and coerce the audience into participation , by insulting them until they would react and start yelling obscenities back at him. They really got involved in his antics, and seemed to enjoy it as much as Dirk did . When he got them all stirred up, it was time to bring on the bands. This was the only club to my knowledge , in San Francisco , or anywhere else , that not only allowed the audience to participate , but provoked them into it . that's what made the Mab such a special place to play .

Besides my many other duties of managing a few local bands , the Saucers , they would later become the Allies , after Joey Michaels , Saucers founder left the band , and I produce a demo tape of "Disposed Dictator" and "Drone" , two popular songs written by Dave Valesquez , aka , " Dave Yippie" c0-founder of the Saucers, and front man for The Allies. I also mixed sound for Earl Zero , a Jamaican Reggae artist who had recently moved to Berkeley , as well as The Mutants and a few other local bands . I was also the House sound engineer at the Mab on Sunday & Monday nights , and at the On Broadway ( also run by Dirk ) , upstairs from the Mab on Friday & Saturday nights .

All of this stress took it's toll , and I soon stopped working at the clubs and concentrated more on management and live sound engineering . By the summer of 1982 , I became the manager , engineer / producer of a great punk band from Dayton,Ohio called TOXIC REASONS .


I never asked why , but sometime in 1982 or early '83 , Dirksen seemed to have enough . Punk was starting to fade somewhat,and many great bands were already disbanding . It wasn't long before he stopped promoting shows at the Mab and On Broadway . Ness Aquino , the Mab's owner tried to keep the shows going , but either he gave up , or the bands refused to play there without Dirk running the shows . Sometime in 1986 , the once World Famous MABUHAY GARDENS closed it's doors forever , and the world lost one of the greatest punk rock venues ever .

R.I.P. Mabuhay Gardens!

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