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SF Salsa Club Suddenly Closes As Club Owner Faces Eviction

Salsa Dancers
Salsa Dancers (credit: AARON MAASHO/AFP/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - The closure of a popular salsa club in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood earlier this month has dancers concerned the club has seen the end of its days.

Club Cocomo, located at 650 Indiana Street, which has been a mainstay in the Bay Area salsa scene for more than a decade, closed down at the beginning of the month.

Salsa dancer Takeshi Young, who maintains a local salsa website "Salsa By The Bay," said he had been told by club workers that the space would be closed for a few weeks for repairs, but then he saw the eviction notice on Aug. 1.

The club's website has been posting a daily notice that states "Due to unavoidable circumstances, Cocomo will be closed for business today. We're sorry for any inconvenience caused."

Based on San Francisco Superior Court records, it appears the club owner, Daruka Wanigatunga, had not paid rent in at least a year. The case between Club Cocomo and the plaintiff Abitsch & Abitsch LLC, the property owner, has been ongoing since September 2011. A representative from the office of Mayo and Mayo, the law firm representing the owner, declined to discuss the case, saying, "we do not comment on pending litigation."

The club is represented by San Francisco-based lawyer Mark Seifert, who said today he also had no comment on the unlawful detainer case.
On July 17, the court ordered Wanigatunga to pay $104,531 in unpaid rent and other costs and vacate the property. The building was converted into a club in 1998 and has since played host to salsa nights several nights a week, including Taste Fridays in the past few months.

Taste Fridays, a weekly dance party with street food, live music and Latin Dance, has posted on its website, "due to a temporary club closure completely out of our control, Taste Fridays will be closed until further notice."

Young, 29, has been coming into the city and to Club Cocomo from San Jose many nights a week since he started dancing socially six years ago. Now he performs and competes with local dance teams. "San Francisco is really the heart of the salsa community," he said.

He lamented the closure of another city salsa club. The Grand, formerly known as Glas Kat, at 520 Fourth St., was a popular salsa spot that stopped its salsa events earlier this year but remains open as a nightclub. Young follows the salsa circuit closely for his website "Salsa By The Bay."

"It's addicting, it takes over your life," he said of dancing.

He noted that Rockit Room at 406 Clement St. and Impala Restaurant and Lounge on Broadway are picking up the slack since Cocomo's sudden closure. There is also salsa at El Valenciano, located at 1153 Valencia St., on Wednesdays.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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