Oh nice, Obama won: What the celebration looked like at El Rio last night

“Some weird, Kool Aid-tasting shot. I don’t really know what it was, but it was something.” 

— was passed around at the League of Pissed-Off Voters‘ party at El Rio last night right after Obama’s acceptance speech. Generally speaking, this was not the bar to spend last night hashing out the district races and local ballot measures (though the back patio housed its fair share of politicos weary of the election trail.) This was where you went to celebrate, wholeheartedly, the next four years of President Barack “we actually like that his middle name is Hussein” Obama, and the trouncing of those who would seek political office by qualifying and diminishing the atrocity of rape. Seeeee ya Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.

This was not 2008, of course. Biking to the bar through the Mission at 9pm, there was nowhere near the number of rowdies that had flooded the blocks only recently for the Giants’ World Series win. Obama has split quite a bit of his political capital over the last four years, of course, invading people, imprisoning people, stealing our medical marijuana. 

“I can, like, jump in the air for you!” said a curly-haired cohort when I told her I was taking celebration shots for the Guardian. “I’d be happy to do that!” We never quite got around to the staged exuberance, but I dug her game enthusiasm.

For last night’s El Rio denizens — which included sex workers, legislative aides, community radio hosts, the League of Pissed Voters (who has hosted the election night party here for a few years running), and off-duty drag queens — it was either this halway-exciting victory or withering away under the social policies of a backwards Mormon who can’t stop talking about winter sports and would like to ignore the fact that half the people who were smashed into the Mission dive existed. A lot of these folks travel, so they were pleased that they could continue to leave the country with their head held high. They cooed in mock sympathy when Obama mentioned, kindly, the drive of his opponents.

“I can’t see much difference between this crowd and the Giants crowd,” said a woman on a stool next to me who must have been in her seventies. She had filtered in just before Obama’s acceptance speech with some supporters of unsuccessful D5 candidate John Rizzo.

I had to admit, as I watched the capacity-crowd punters inside the bar explode in cheers when that confetti windstorm engulfed the Obama and Biden families after Barack’s well-paced, perfectly acceptable acceptance speech — these were the same people I’d been celebrating Posey and Scutaro with the Sunday before last. There wasn’t a local returns-scanning political junkie in sight. Or at least one that didn’t drop their cellphone in the cheer that followed after El Rio owner Dawn Huston announcement of the free shots of mysterious sweetness.

But they were my neighbors. And you don’t always get free shots at El Rio.