After nearly a million dollars in upgrades, San Francisco’s former National Guard Armory will launch as a full-time events space, The Armory, under the control of San Francisco nightlife luminary Audrey Joseph.
“There aren’t many spaces this large or beautiful left in San Francisco,” says Joseph, the former president of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission and the trailblazer behind such venues as Mezzanine and Club Townsend. “Bill Graham, the Masonic Auditorium, and now The Armory. From the moment I saw the old drill court, I knew that if properly done, The Armory could transform the cultural life of the city.”
An earlier incarnation of the venue, The Armory Community Center, opened in 2013 and hosted book fairs, theater events, and several Pride and New Year’s parties. But the 40,000 square foot space still needed work if it was going to compete with more established venues. When Joseph took the helm at the beginning in 2015, she immediately began capital improvements to make it a world-class venue that could attract major event promoters.
Now, alongside its signature 80-foot domed ceiling, The Armory boasts heavily soundproofed walls and windows, brand new bathrooms, a coat check and floating hardwood flooring. The Armory holds up to 4,000 people, making it one of the biggest venues in the city. Boasts Joseph: “It has the best dance floor in San Francisco.”
With the upgrades nearing completion, Audrey Joseph is turning her attention toward bookings. Last month, the Armory hosted HARD SF, a one-night musical festival headline by the Chemical Brothers, that pulled in thousands. She’s is now in talks with national producers LiveNation and Goldenvoice about a more aggressive schedule.
“The space is ripe to tickle the imagination of any creative event planner and promoter,” says Joseph. “And the building itself, this incredible castle, evokes an almost erotic curiosity. It’s a destination space right in the heart of the city.”
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