Normally on election night, bars in San Francisco’s Mission District would be full of thirsty Democrats and blaring TVs. This year, most were shuttered. But not Manny’s — a cafe bar with a social justice mission.
For the last two months, owner Manny Yekutiel has hosted an outdoor phone bank on his sidewalk at the corner of 16th and Valencia. And Tuesday, he and his crew carted in a jumbo-tron and took over much of the block for a socially distant election party.
The 100-plus guests began arriving at 5pm. Nervous, but hopeful. By 7 p.m., their hopes of a Biden landslide vanished. And the vibe began to shift — like air slowly being let out of a balloon.
"It’s a stressful evening. And it’s difficult to understand the results coming in," noted Josh Freund of Oakland. "And the energy here is a little tense."
Dance breaks and performances by drag queen Afrika America helped lighten the mood. But most remained focussed on CNN’s big board and the race to 270. That outcome would have to wait. At least for a day or two.
"I’m a little bit disheartened," said Hannah Statt of San Francisco. "We’ll see. But the sense of community is really helpful right now. I think I’d be a lot more anxious, just sitting at home. Alone."
At 10 p.m., partygoers dispersed to the incongruously upbeat sound of Kool and the Gang's "Celebration."