Club Wet Closed Permanently

San Jose’s biggest nightclub, Wet, is officially washed up. Caught up in the city’s clampdown on clubs following several incidents, owner Mike Hamod handed over the keys to the former Studio Theater at 396 S. First St. on Saturday.

During its tumultuous two-year existence, the venue brought celebs and international DJs to town, among them Kim Kardashian, Carmen Electra, Ne-Yo, DJ AM, Sean Perry, Nelly, Nas, Damien Marley, Chris Brown and Jermaine Dupri.

The 16,000-square-foot water-themed club cleared city development hurdles and opened in the fall of 2008. It was immediately greeted by a closed street and videographers from SJPD, who kept a close watch on the club and waited for it to trip, eventually invoking the emergency ordinance that gives the police chief the power to close an unruly house.

Hamod sued and got the city to back off, but a New Year’s Eve incident—in which club security was accused of overlooking its duty to call emergency services after a female patron’s cheek was pierced by a stiletto heel in a restroom-line rumble—proved to be the last straw for city officials.

Hamod grew weary of fighting city hall and tossed the keys to his landlord this weekend. In its place will be a rock-climbing facility and gym owned by the Touchstone group, which had a smaller rock climbing facility on San Jose’s Paseo de San Antonio from 2003-2008. Touchstone presently operates fitness centers in Berkeley, Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland and Concord. The facilities have indoor pools, weight rooms, saunas, yoga classes and bouldering walls.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1. Good bye and good riddance to another problem downtown club

    Downtown will never be viable until it can attract couples and families on nights and weekends not the out of town and local losers, thugs, gangsters, drunks and troublemakers

    Wake up Downtown Association your Club and Free Downtown Events Business Plan is not working and has driven your potential customers to Santana Row, Campbell, Los Gatos and San Francisco while making downtown the place most people avoid

    • Give me a break.  Who is going to take there children to anything after 8 or 9 pm.  So downtown is supposed to be rolled up at 10pm each night.  NONE OF THE PLACES YOU MENTIONED ARE ROLLED UP AT 10PM.  Just downtown san jose.

      Maybe a different parking and police model would work.  Duh

      • Who is going to take there children to anything after 8 or 9 pm.
        Oh I dunno, how about…

        Christmas in the park?
        Fireworks (if the city would get off it’s ass and come through on it’s promise)
        Outdoor ice skating?

        The downtown club scene needs to be broken up.  Since wet closed, we’ve had a few former wetters stop by my club in Japantown. They pick fights, act stupid, and don’t spend squat on drinks.  I should also mention the amount of tagging has gone up too.

        Compare this with the bohemian skinny pants crowd that hangs out at Caravan or the old cactus club folks, not really a fighting scene, but in our infinite wisdom we cater to the sideways cap wearing, “GOTTA PROVE MY MANHOOD” scene.

        Wet let too much trash into their clubs.

        • Hey Bro Cortese,

          Banbo 7 is a disgrace.  You have been alowed to operate outside the law on many many occasions.  You don’t card customers; so you full of underage punks and idiots.

          Your clients constantly take drinks outside to smoke in the parking lot.

          Maybe your fights and issues are that underage Bellermine boys don’t get along with the downtown high school rabble you cater to.

          If you want wet treatment.  It doesn’t take much to call in problems!!!!

          So get a life.  Your aunts great deeds as a council woman wont get you much.

        • You’re way confused, never had a aunt in politics.  Ok I’ll bite. Trolls can be fun sometimes.

          I check ID’s.  The karaoke is automated now as a result of some software my friends and I developed over the last 6 years, I am outside CONSTANTLY at a little folding chair with a little folding chair checking. It’s a nice bit of extra money that I get paid on top of running the karaoke. 

          We’ve changed the entrances too.  Used to be you could walk through the front door, but as you said people *USED* to go out back with drinks to smoke. We tried locking the door, but it’s fire code to keep it locked.  We tried using NO EXIT signs, but that never worked either.

          We finally figured out one day that we had to use a Feng shui approach.  People want to use the back door, then that’s the new entrance.

          So we keep the front door locked from the outside, but push bar operable from the inside (In case of emergency).  It’s right in the bartenders line of sight in case any funny business happens.

          I sit right outside this doorway on the back door.  I was awesome enough to provide a picture for you.

          How many “DON’T TAKE YOUR DRINKS OUTSIDE” Signs are there?  4? 

          Notice the other conveniences we put there for them.  Oh a shelf! A shelf for drinks!  OMG!  GENIUS!!

          Once they step past that sign, my constant vigil eagle eye is watching, scanning the backdoor area for infractions.  I see one, I jump on it.  Most folks are amicable about it and put their drink on the shelf, some are jerks, but I always get the drink inside.  I’ll admit, some will slip past me, but not often.

          This is just a small bit of the overall picture.  We’ve worked with our neighbors to install a CCTV system (we actually solved a case of a chronic tagger with it)  I also yell at folks mid stream in a piss for fun when I catch them pissing on a wall outside.

          It’s like “GET OFF MY LAWN!”  I have fun with it.

          I’ll admit, Bamboo did have a sorted past, Here’s our ABC record.

          There’s a few blemishes, but since we’ve made these changes, we have none.  Between 92 and current 19 years, just 2, OK just 2..  Now let’s look at wet.

          Only had it for 3 years, and 4 blemishes?  Cmon!

          One thing you definitely don’t understand either is it’s not *just* me checking ID’s and making sure drinks stay inside.  We have an entire brigade of regular customers that will remind folks to stay in line too.  Our customers care enough about keeping this place open that there’s even a level of self policing.  We’re also a regular hangout for a ton of SJPD, Parole, FD, and many many city departments.

          I can tell, you’ve probably never set foot at bamboo, and you for sure don’t know who in my family was on the council.

          So yah, we’ve had 2 issues in 19 years, and wet has 4 pending from 3 years. 

          Club wet just was not run right.  Get over it.  If you see a club in trouble that could use some wisdom, I charge [email protected] for consultation.  I have a decade of experience.

    • Sorry to burst your bubble, but there are fights, gangsters, drunks and troublemakers in Santana Row, the Kitty City, SF and Campbell. The Bay area has Ghetto Issues and some might believe that is what gives it character. You might want to move back to the rural parts of the state if your looking for a utopian society.

      • Anyone who thinks gangsters, drunks, and troublemakers bring character to anything should try prison, it would be a paradise. It’s full of of that “character”. And in all those city’s if it wasn’t for local and state law enforcement that is exactly what places like Santana Row would become. I don’t know about everyone else but I think I would prefer college students, graduates, artistes, and blue and white collar patrons, out for a good and time; to relax, kick their feet up, and hang with friends, over looser that somebody’s skewed idea of “character”. Just my opinion.

  2. Besides the developers and SJ politicians possessing undersized gonads and low self-esteem, does anyone really care what comes or goes downtown? 

    City government ruined the area back in the 60’s and 70’s and now wants to restore some luster and vibrancy to that sterile graveyard. 

    But residents have long since moved on, finding their entertainment in other locales, e.g., Santana Row, Los Gatos, Mountain View, etc.

    • I’ve had conversations with former club and business owners downtown and they all say the same thing. DTSJ is not business friendly and never will be.

  3. Glad as well that we will have more in the way of physical activity to offer downtown residents during the obesity epidemic in the US.

    Xmas in the Park and ice skating are seasonal.  Both are fun and positive.  But, seasonal.

    Movies, if I lived in the burbs then I would go to the theater around the corner and not drive all the way into downtown and pay for parking.  Dinner maybe but children under the age of 10 should truly be in bed with lights out by 8-9 pm. Plus, most young children don’t care for fine dining cuisine or having to sit still and be quiet for 2-3 hours.  Their brains are still developing and they need 10 hours of sleep. Same for any young athlete such as a competitive figure skater who needs 10 hours of sleep rather than just 8 for full body recovery.

    Again, SJ has to bring in top chefs to pull people into downtown. The restaurants have to be better than what people in the burbs can easily get to.  There must be a DRAW other than just nourishment.  My father used to drive us to San Francisco to go for dinner all the way from Gilroy when we were home from college.

    Children’s Discovery Museum yes.  The library- yes.  The Tech- yes.  Rock climbing class- yes.  Ballet class at SJ Ballet- yes.  Most of those are not evening activities for children.

    Every city has it’s clubs that are not considered as safe as others.  Many even have a red light district.  Can’t be stopped but can and should be managed.  I do believe SF has Turk Street and a few other shady areas as well.  Look what the Mission has grown into and that is positive.

  4. Club Wet had all the mulligans a tolerant society could confer on an entity which attracted more violent disturbances than a reasonable person or even a reasonable city could bare.

    Their lawyers were respectfully treated, their management was accutely aware of the recurring problems and yet…the propblems persisted.

    Club Wet was warned repeated, cautioned just as repeatedly finaly…Club Wet, “pack your bags and get out of towwn. And everyone is supposed to break doen and cry. Boo hoo and good riddance.

    David S. Wall

  5. Judging from the Mayor and Council’s revenue generating priorities, the ideal 20-something’s night out would be to head down to the dispensary, get out the bong for a solid THC buzz, and head off to the nearest card club. Dope them up, get their disposable incomes. Its true perfection. Our calling card can go from “The Capitol of Silicon Valley”, to “The City of High Rollers”, in every sense of the word!

  6. As a downtown resident who lived in various cities in Europe without a car for 4 and 1/2 years and absolutely LOVED it, it must be realized that dance and night clubs are part of EVERY vibrant city throughout the world.  Including San Francisco.  Tour Paris, Berlin, Munich, London, Prague, Istanbul… and LA.  Are those cities dry and without night clubs?  Absolutely not. What is the draw at night? Dance clubs, great restaurants, the cultural arts (ballet, opera, theater…). How is it that Oakland is bringing in celebrity chefs and SJ is not?  I read that Oakland is filling up condos in part because of the celebrity chefs.  Without night life SJ will continue to be simply a small town with tall buildings and nothing else.  If you don’t want to live in a city please move to the suburbs so you don’t waste your energy complaining.  And, the only city where I have seen young children out at night is in Madrid- rollerskating at midnight since the city shuts down from the intense, heat for afternoon naps by citizens young and old.  Maybe the San Jose should consider banning air conditioning if we want children playing on the city sidewalks at midnight in the cool evening air.  Children in Madrid were certainly having fun!  SJ should conduct focus groups on why people drive to the City (SF) and other local areas. Then they might figure out exactly what to do to give those cities some friendly competition and make SJ “the” place to be south of the City. All in good time of course…

    • Yes, but I guess the same for Vodoo? Toons? Mission? The fact that it is impossible to open a club in the burbs (no new clubs their in 20 years) says all about the just say no policy of SJPD. Or a restaurant behind City Hall that wanted to serve wine and was told they would have to stop alcohol service at 8 pm! They use alcohol density maps as an excuse for the fact SJPD will only accept a Santana Row gated Disneyland version of San Francisco so they can sit in their cars and text their buddies all night.

      • Joe I’ve been following your comments today. 
        I like everything you have to say.

        You make a point about no new clubs in the burbs.  This is one of the reasons places like wet get into trouble.

        I hate to throw down a term like “Segregation” but in the case of nightclubs, it has to happen.  Santana Row is much too upscale and out of the price range for most lowlifes to go there. 

        I talked to David Cueva a while back about this, that we need to start moving these club scenes back out to the burbs.  He reminded me of “Club Mothers” in Almaden valley. 

        Residential, burb bars and clubs can work, but the owners need to be practised in diplomatically cutting the trash out of their club. 

        Quoting “Holiday in Cambodia” from the Dead Kennedys..

        Running a club like this is precisely how clubs get into trouble.  Fighters love fighting, fighting is bad for business, why hire a fighter to handle disputes in a club?

        East Foothills San Jose is probably the trickiest place to run a club.  I can’t remember the name of the club, but it was on the corner of White and Mckee road next to the 7-11 and coin op laundry.  That place had those “BAD ASS BOUNCERS”.  They closed down just like Wet did.

        Take this in contrast to a place right up the street like the Drying Shed.  I’ve heard they have a fairly thriving karaoke scene over there now, no fights, just chill adults having a good time.

        Overall Joe, I’m saying I agree with you, but there needs to be a rethink on entertainment licenses.  I think any potential club owner should have to go through a class to learn how not to bring scum to the club.

        • I think having a downtown scene is important, but it doesn’t need to artificial develop from RDA funds.

          Also, if we are to develop it, we should support public transportation to and from it (cut down on the DUI’s)  We need LRT trains leaving downtown at 2:30am.  We need it not just for the drunks, but the workers as well.

          My car is a 1999 Ford Windstar.  I have 2 kids I shuttle around all day.  Right now gas is a pain with the prices going up.  More than a day pass just to go from my house near Oakridge to Japantown.

          Right now, I would GLADLY ride a drunk train if it existed. (I don’t drink myself, but I would love the few extra bucks I save everyday) 

          I think I’m gonna email my rep right now (Ken Yeager) I love that guy, he’s always good and responsive, even if I’m just sending him something light hearted.

        • Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. I did not mention. Making downtown the only destination for suburban clubers also encourage drinkers, with no after hours dining possibilities downtown to dry out, to drive longer distances under the influence instead of shorter rides home. Yes, they should all have designated drivers, but that is not the reality of the way many get home after I night out.

        • Hello Robert,

          There is not one club or bar downtown that received RDA money or help.  The scene grew downtown with it own money and resource.  The city and Rda encouraged a lot of poeple to open entertainment in downtown.  But then came the condo towers; which caused the city to use police, code enforcement and just about any other method they could to push the clubs out.

          former club guy.

  7. So, Club Wet, which caused more trouble than it’s sales tax revenues were worth, is closed.  So what?  Good riddance. And can the city please keep that owner from opening anywhere else in SJ ever again?

    A failed climbing studio from Paseo de San Antonio will move in.  Good luck, guys.

    And the current owner of Emile’s, in litigation with Emile, is apparently closing up shop. 

    Ruffled Feathers closed abruptly today, just like the United Artists did almost a decade ago, just down the block. 

    Casa Castillo operated succesfully in that Ruffled Feathers location for a long time(there have been a couple of other failures at that site since the RDA bounced Casa Castillo out), including during the construction of Tom McE’s beloved light rail to nowhere @ 5mph.  But they kicked Marcellino Castillo out, gave him a few bucks, and now he’s languishing on the east side, instead of operating a successful place in DTSJ, which he had done for years.

    The successor to UA, Camera 12, which got subsidies to begin with, just got a free rent deal from the city until 2015(read, the taxpayers are footing/waiving the bill), since they apparently claim they can’t make a profit in DTSJ either.

    E & O is closing at the end of the month.

    Is anyone in city government getting the picture that most folks in Silicon Valley don’t give a hoot about DTSJ, and are staying away in droves?  Even the folks who work in or near DTSJ flee after their shift is over, never to return to spend $$ in DTSJ during the evening hours.

    YET, the city gives millions to Tom McEnery & friends, who are erecting a corrugated tin building at the corner of San Pedro & St. John that has no architectural relationship to anything, including/especially his beloved Fallon House, in the immediate vicinity.  Did the Planning Commission actually approve this ugly building’s facade and materials?

    Oh, maybe the complete disconnect to any other building in the vicinity will make it easier to find.  Someone comes into town and asks where SJ’s mini Pike Street Market is, and the response is—just look for the square quonset hut at San Pedro & St. John…you casn’t miss that ugly ass building.  It sticks out like a sore thumb compared to everything else around it.

    All these subsidies, and the mayor and council would rather cut cops and firefighters to balance the budget.


    • I can’t even get myself to eat in any of the places downtown. The area is so slimey with dirt, spit, thugs, crazy people and homeless that I feel like the food in the restaurants is nasty. I know it probably isn’t but I just can’t do it.