Welcome to Curbed's ongoing series titled Hidden Histories, where Curbed highlights a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it's no longer there, maybe it's been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history - even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The
Old produce warehouse was underground club known as The Party Pad [Photo: Found SF]
Hidden below a crusty warehouse in the city's old produce district, the Party Pad was a beatnik hangout run by Eric "Big Daddy" Nord. Subject of then-mayor George Christopher's crack down on North Beach, it was raided in June 1958.
The Party Pad, 1958 [Photo: Found SF]
Eric "Big Daddy" Nord was referred to as the "King of the Beat Generation," and the 6'7" man ran a lively scene in the 1950s. He started the original hungry i nightclub back in 1950, and later opened his Party Pad club. Located in an old produce warehouse, the Party Pad operated as a continuous "bring your own bottle party," asking for donations ($1 for men, 50 cents for women)> instead of a charge. It was described by a newspaper at the time
Eric "Big Daddy" Nord, 1968 [Photo: Moe's Books]
Nord kept a policeman on duty at the parties to help keep order, but on June 21, 1958 it was raided on orders from Mayor Christopher and Nord was arrested for operating a public dance hall without a license. Earlier that month a man had died after falling off the roof during one of the parties. Later that summer, Nord was charged with helping two teenage girls run away from their homes. The highly-publicized trial was technically for "contributing to the delinquency of minors." He and another man were accused of taking two 16 and 17 year old runaway girls "on a Beat Generation weekend" including trips to Mill Valley and Big Sur. In the end, he was fined $300 and given three years' probation.
The Party Pad was ordered to close in August 1958, and Nord relocated to Venice, California to operate the legendary Gas House.
· DEATH AT BEATNIK "PARTY PAD", SF [Eureka Humbolt Standard]
· beatnik! [Tom Christopher]
· Head Beatnik Held for Aid To Runaways [San Mateo Times]