The best kinds of clubs are owned by the sort people who care about the things that make a club good: the décor, the drinks, the staff and most importantly, the music. Monarch in San Francisco manages to get high marks on all three. The 300-person capacity spot is split into an upstairs bar and lounge area, with a downstairs dance floor with its own bar. Monarch’s design will catch your eyes – an intriguing mix of steampunk (tuba/chandelier? Check), modernism, dark wood, industrial accents, and almost burlesque flourishes. The main floor is split by a wall containing an acrobat’s perch, complete with swing and visible on either side. Plenty of cushy seating, and a free photo booth add to the appeal. The basement dance floor area is its own little world. Voted Best Sound System by SF Weekly, Monarch’s Void Acoustics rig – one of a very small handful in the U.S. – is a marvel of clarity and bass, anchored by their unique-looking horn speakers. The lighting tends to be minimal, really letting the sound stand out. With its poured concrete bar and DJ table, high ceilings (for a basement) and a couple of bottle service alcoves, the downstairs has played host to some amazing talent, from Miguel Migs, Julius Papp, SF icon David Harness, Marques Wyatt, the Fort Knox Five, and Martin Buttrich. The music trends mostly towards house and its sub-genres, but you’ll find a sprinkling of others, and the occasional live band. Despite its lofty name, the Monarch sits in San Francisco’s relatively um, shall we call it…sketchy? Mission neighborhood. Don’t let this stop you. The Monarch is a gem of little spot, and so long as you stay aware, you’ll be fine.