San Francisco Disco Preservation Society Archives City's 1970s Scene

An archive of music and images pays tribute to San Francisco's vibrant disco scene in the 1970s.

The SF Disco Preservation Society started in 2013 when Jim Hopkins, a San Francisco-based sound engineer, producer, DJ and head of the veteran local record label Twitch Recordings, bought a reel-to-reel tape machine to offer conversion services to his clients.

Soon after, he answered a Craigslist ad from a woman looking to have some reels transferred to CD. In her possession were many hours of recordings of her late father, DJ Michael Lee, a popular Bay Area disco DJ in the late 1970s. Lee was also a Billboard chart reporter and his daughter gave Hopkins stacks of his old charts and disco magazines.

Hopkins quickly put the digitized sounds and images on a Facebook page to share with the world, including photo galleries containing pictures of the now defunct clubs where Lee played, including the I-Beam, Buzzby's, Dreamland, and Trocadero Transfer. He later acquired and digitized a collection of reel-to-reel, cassette and video tapes from disco event promoter Rod Roderick. The two collections, which reach into the early 1980s, form the backbone of the Society archive.

After two years of archiving music on his own site, Hopkins has set up a page for the Society on Hear This, which allows him to stream the longer length recordings he accumulated. He has been adding new offerings almost daily.

"Jim Hopkins is an excellent DJ with a unique perspective on music and club culture since its beginnings," noted Steve Fabus, who has been spinning disco in San Francisco since 1975. "Disco was the beginning of dance music and the art form of DJ mixing and the DJ taking dancers on a trip through the night."

Fabus loaned the Society many images and sounds from his personal collection and still sees threads of the energy that made the scene in the 1970s so special.

"There are similarities in clubs that perpetuate the collective experience of the energy interplay of the dancers with the DJ," he said.

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