Travel isn't just about taking in museums and historic sites, it's as much about mixing it up with the locals in their natural habitat. So what does that often entail? Nightlife. But it's hard to be thinking "green" when you're a few drinks in (which might explain the popularity of phrases like "trashed" or "wasted," no?). Thankfully, there is a nightclub that's already thought things through. Writer Matt Bloom reports from San Francisco that the new club Temple is working not only to sustain the party, but the planet:
A trip to San Francisco calls for two things: eating and drinking. Throw some hot sounds and a dance floor in the mix, and you've got the Zen Compound, where for the last two months, hungry ravers have been gathering for late-night eats and beats. It's a tough title to claim in a town that outlawed plastic bags, but the SoMa compound, comprised of Prana Restaurant and Temple nightclub, might be the most progressive testing ground for renewable energy in the city. For starters, the facility holds no-waste events: They don't use plastic (except water bottles), the cups are made of corn, every food scrap (and napkin) is composted, and every bottle is recycled. The Pan-Asian cuisine at Prana is almost exclusively local and organic. And the light displays, powered by energy-efficient LED and CFL bulbs, are projected to save the club thousands of dollars in resources each year.
And that's just the beginning. The Zen Compound has some grand ideas in store for next year, like urban windmills, solar panels, and rooftop gardens. "There's no question the solar panels will be up in '08," says Mike Zuckerman, Zen's director of sustainability. And if employing a sustainability guru at a nightclub seems in itself a bit odd, Zen Compound founder Paul Hemming said it's in keeping with his vision for the club. "I've felt the responsibility, with all the good fortune I've had in my life, to take care of the planet," says Hemming. "Mike's making my green vision a reality."
But perhaps the most ambitious of Zen's goals can be found on the dance floor. The compound's crack squad of green revolutionaries is developing a tiled floor to harness the energy of dancing feet—an idea that Hemming traces back to a eureka moment he recorded in a 2004 journal entry. With the help of the piezoelectric effect, an electrical charge produced when pressure is applied to certain crystals, the dance floor will channel Temple's verve, recycling your sweat to power the party. "To claim to be a temple, and ignore the environment," Zuckerman says, "would undermine everything we're trying to do."
And you thought of nightclubs as wastelands.
Photos: Crystal Shafer