The San Francisco Mixtape Society hosts mix exchanges at the Make Out Room in the Mission District. Music lovers meet, mingle and exchange mixes they made based on a particular theme.
I dropped in on one of them with an actual cassette tape in my hand. I had to borrow my friend's stereo with a tape deck to make it. San Francisco Mixtape Society co-founder Annie Lin says my old-school medium isn't all that rare.
“It’s actually surprisingly common for us to get actual mixtapes because if you bring a mix tape you will get a free beer,” Lin says.
Good to know. The theme of today’s event is “guilty pleasures,” which explains my track listing: a little Janet Jackson; a little Boyz II Men; and some Dolly Parton.
The bar is filling up and people are showing off their track lists.
“So mine is basically all the music that I listened to before I knew what music was,” explains Jeremy Pollack. “Before I knew what made good music good or bad music bad.” His tracks include DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince and L’Trimm.
Pollack’s friend Paige filled her mix with artists from the 80s and 90s like the B52s and Everclear.
“These are some of my favorite songs and that’s so embarrassing and I don’t care,” she admits.
It’s easy to laugh at some of these mixes now, but they really were how we expressed ourselves back in the day. Especially when it came to secret crushes.
“There was usually a girl involved and you wanted to impress her,” explains Tim Favorite.
Same goes for Jeremy Pollack. “It was usually someone you were in love with and there was usually a reason for it, and tapes were kind of a pain. It’s so easy now... kids have it so easy now.”
Amy Zimmerman says the effort it took to make a mixtape was part of the message. “Getting a mix these days means a lot less now, knowing that they might not have taken as much time to make it,” she says.
But the people here clearly put a lot of effort into their mixes.
When it’s time for the big swap, the mix exchange works like a raffle. As numbers get called, people go up and claim theirs. Some even chat a little bit with the person who made it. That’s just what Mixtape Society co-founder, Annie Lin, wants to see.
“We wanted a place for people who love music to be able to talk about music and get to know each other,” Lin says. “There are friend groups that have come out of the mixtape society. There are people who have gone on to date each other – or, at the very least, hook up as a result of the event.”
I wonder what was on that mixtape.
The San Francisco Mixtape Society is holding it’s next mixtape party at the Make Out Room on Sunday July 27th. Find more information at their website.