Producers sit behind a desk as they monitor the show for online viewers. Oasis produced a telethon on Saturday March 6, 2021 from 12PM –12AM to help the club from closing down. (Emily Curiel / Golden Gate Xpress) (Emily Curiel)
Producers sit behind a desk as they monitor the show for online viewers. Oasis produced a telethon on Saturday March 6, 2021 from 12PM –12AM to help the club from closing down. (Emily Curiel / Golden Gate Xpress)

Emily Curiel

San Francisco nightclub Oasis holds telethon fundraiser to prevent closure

After a year of pandemic fueled shutdowns, queer nightlife struggles to stay afloat

March 8, 2021

San Francisco nightlife hotspot, Oasis, hosted a 12-hour live online event on Saturday in an attempt at raising money to avoid permanently closing its doors.

The “Save The Oasis” telethon, broadcasted on its streaming service Oasis TV, consisted of live and pre-recorded performances; an auction of art, wigs and dresses; and a phone bank of drag queens taking calls from donors. 

On Givebutter, the site used by Oasis to raise money, over $250,000 has already been donated, with five days remaining. The original goal of the fundraiser was $100,000.

A $100 anonymous donor commented on the website, “The Oasis has been the artistic home for so many and we would be a poorer community without this venue.”

Oasis has tried many ways to stay active and remain financially stable by creating a food and show delivery service, Meals on Heels, and a weekly streaming service for live drag shows: Oasis TV. 

SisterRoma, one of the co-hosts for the event, which took place March 6, understands the impacts of the pandemic on drag performances.  

“Everything closed down in mid-March and by April 1st every drag queen in San Francisco had a webcam and a green screen,” she wrote in an email to Xpress.  “It’s been a challenge to host and perform virtually, but you can’t keep us down!”

Seriously, Oasis has been the spot for live shows, dance parties, viewing parties, rallies, fundraisers, you name it, it happens at Oasis and everyone is welcome.”

— SisterRoma

Oasis has been a home for many in the queer community since it first opened its door six years ago, according to the Givebutter page.  

When asked about what sets Oasis apart from other clubs in the city, Sister Roma replied, “The dressing room! It’s almost as big as the main dance floor and lined with brightly lit mirrors. You can tell it’s owned by drag queens.” 

When Heklina and D’Arcy Drollinger first opened the club, a lot of thought went into making the space as accessible and spacious as possible. 

“I always found the stages to be kind of lackluster in some venues, either too small or too far away from the dressing rooms,” co-founder and performer Heklina said.  

According to Heklina, Oasis is a club built for the performers, which is what makes it such a hit with the audiences. 

“Seriously, Oasis has been the spot for live shows, dance parties, viewing parties, rallies, fundraisers, you name it, it happens at Oasis and everyone is welcome,” Roma said.  

Heklina said that Oasis is important for cities like San Francisco that are slowly becoming more homogeneous and losing their unique spirit; A spirit which is what drew so many people, like Heklina, to live here in the first place. 

“Oasis is one of the last bastions of that San Francisco feel,” Heklina said.

Sister Roma pointed out the necessity to keep queer community spaces open. “LGBTQ-owned and operated businesses were struggling before the pandemic. We really can’t afford to lose Oasis,” Roma said.

Studies show gay bar listings declined 18.6 % from 2012 to 2017. Now, the coronavirus pandemic is contributing to this problem. 

It’s imperative to give back to the queer institutions that make this city one worth living in. Bars and nightclubs have always been the meeting place for our community.”

— Juanita More

San Francisco’s oldest LGBT club, The Stud, closed its door in May 2020, due to a lack of revenue caused by the pandemic shutdowns. 

Juanita More, a drag queen, philanthropist and activist in the city, wrote in an email to Xpress, “It’s imperative to give back to the queer institutions that make this city one worth living in. Bars and nightclubs have always been the meeting place for our community.”

Though the pandemic has been a bleak time for many in the drag world, there still remains a firm sense of optimism for the future of queer nightlife in San Francisco. 

If we can all just hold on, get vaccinated, and put this pandemic behind us I am 1000% confident that Oasis and other venues like it will not only survive, they will THRIVE,” Roma said. “We are all in desperate need for a carefree night out at the club!”

About the Contributors
Photo of Elizabeth Freeman
Elizabeth Freeman, Staff Reporter

I'm Elizabeth, I'm a third-year Print and Online Journalism major with a minor in English Lit. I'm currently in Sacramento and my hobbies include buying...

Photo of Emily Curiel
Emily Curiel, Photographer

Emily lives life through a viewfinder. She has a hummingbird superstition and spends most of her down time playing the mobile app game called Two Dots,...

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