If you were in a band in 1975 or 1976, you had to be in what the ‘local scene’ was at that time or there was nowhere to play. That’s why we started the Mabuhay. There was nowhere for anybody to go. We had to create our own place to hang out, so that’s what we did. Before Mabuhay I never hung out in clubs because there wasn’t a club scene. With the Mabuhay, you just went there. You didn’t care who was playing because you went to hang out.
—Jeff Rafael, Nuns
There was no music scene going on in San Francisco when me and my friend, Steve, moved out here from St. Louis. We moved into this little apartment by Cala Foods on Hyde Street. We couldn’t play in the apartment because of complaints, so we would go down to Polk St. and play for tips. That’s where I met Kowalsky and one of the guys from Crime, and other people who later became part of the Mabuhay scene.
—Jimmy Wilsey, Avengers
In the late Seventies before Punk, it was easier for record companies to put out Donna Summer-type canned music, disco, “Love to Love You Baby” kind of stuff. Club owners felt that as long as they could get people to pay a door charge to dance, then why should they have to deal with the expense of presenting live entertainment?
The places that had live bands were booking hippie bands, more or less. When the Mabuhay opened its doors to people like the Ramones, Dammed, Blondie and Wayne County, people who started out in New York, it was exciting for everybody. There had to be more than just a handful of people who didn’t want to go to discos. They had no other place to go, so this was an opportunity. It helped prove to the city that not everything had to be canned music. Bands like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols came through with a kind of rebellious sound. It was something new. It wasn’t the same old Savoy Brown, Sixties kind of bar band. It was a relief not having to hear, ‘Love to Love You Baby’.