San Francisco is a libertine city.
When we first moved here in 2008, we went to the Up Your Alley street fair (the whole weekend is usually called “Dore Alley” weekend or just “Dore”). The street fair is a smaller, more local version of the notorious Folsom Street Fair. Several thousand of the city’s kinksters and curious come out to celebrate, see and be seen, ad do whatever they want, with whomever they want, as much as they want. If something turns you on, you’ll find others ready and waiting to assist.
So that first year, Ron and I mostly just huddled together in the chilly wind in our hoodies, people watching. Some photographer took our photo and we’d later realize it was because we were literally right under the street sign that is the intersection of Dore and Folsom, and the center of the fair. Gradually we got less intimidated by the leather men since we realized that they’re mostly just good time gals. And let’s be honest, the bears and the leather guys at the bars and events always have the most fun. Fetish people are always polite to a fault and very welcoming!
And so this year we plunged into the weekend with maximum vivacity.
Bay of Pigs at The Factory, produced by Folsom Street Events, with DJs Phil Grasso and Wayne G
Saturday night we went to the most cleverly (and tastelessly) named dance event — Bay of Pigs — celebrating it’s tenth anniversary. Several thousand sweaty virile men packed into The Factory space at 525 Harrison. We keep hearing the venue is going to be torn down for condos, but once again, here we are. Overseeing the production was producer Jenn Stokes with Andrew Caldwell.
In the DJ booth for the night were Phil Grasso and Wayne G. Phil had spun last year’s Bay of Pigs and Wayne G is always wonderful every time we hear him. They started the evening deep and dark, and the music became even more carnal as the night continued. The beats were dense and heavy, vocals were distorted and dragged down a few octaves. The whole place was undulating as the crowd started rutting. The testosterone hung in the air so thick you could cut it with a knife.
In charge of the visuals for the evening, it was great to see the familiar face of William Ducati Brown. He kept us plied with a custom-designed kaleidoscope of saturated colors that kept the space elastic and ever-shifting. Video projections from Visuals by 3 ranged from the playful to the obscene. Especially entrancing was a blue laser shooting from the side of the main dance floor that was like looking into a portal from Poltergeist. Ron was transfixed.
The assembled attendees were decked out in what I like to call fuckbot couture. (Un)dressed to the nines and stepping out in slutty style (I usually describe these events as a gay leather prom). Influences from all the major schools of fetish were active: BDSM, pup play, leather, rubber, genderplay, collared boys, sports/jock gear, and all the rest. A platoon of gogo boys — courtesy of Elements Eclipse — bounced on platforms, the stage, and balcony throughout the night with someone for everyone to objectify. And of course for the ultra-lusty, the demo and playspace was fully outfitted and populated for the evening with a line going down the hallway. These girls just wanna have fun.
We stayed until close at 4am and the coat check line, though long, moved at a fast clip. We came home and crashed. Got up and went to the fair for a bit.
Up Your Alley Street Fair produced by Folsom Street Events
The highlight of the fair was a submissive with a Donald Trump mask, a tutu, and a ball-gag being beaten and flogged by his master.
Who after the DNC last week, probably should have been wearing a Hillary mask. There was also a public shaming a la Game of Thrones with a ringing bell and the crowd chanting “SHAME!” as the ostracized walked the path.
We’ve been to the fair several times so we usually breeze through, make a cameo appearance, say hello, eat chicken on a stick, and go on our Mary way.
We then slept a bit more and then suited up for another night on the town.
Rough at Mezzanine, produced by Folsom Street Events, with DJs Paul Goodyear and Russ Rich
With PLAY T-Dance not happening this year, another event stepped into the closing party slot with the premier of the Rough party. We weren’t sure what to expect with this debut event but we knew with local veteran producer Brian Kent at the helm, it would be yet another dazzling night.
Rough took over the Mezzanine venue and by the time we got there around 8:30, the place was already packed.
DJ Paul Goodyear was keeping the crowd bouncing with a brighter, more vocal, tea dance vibe. His set list reached back across the disco era to today’s hitlist with a warm optimistic sound that welcomed the crowd coming from the street fair.
Robert Sanders and RAGErLAZER were serving their usual retina-blasting array of lights and lasers while Visuals by 3 kept a constant palette of surreal videos playing on the walls.
Julian Marshburn coordinated the talent with clever vignettes throughout the evening: A naughty schoolboy at his desk. A daddy and his leashed boys with animal skull codpieces. A pup and his master playing catch.
And the gogos taking time out to pose and crack open a book.
And Russ Rich. OMG RUSS
Russ Rich is a fucking master. No matter the venue, no matter the size of the crowd, he is always fantastic. My favorite moment was when he deployed DJ Aron’s mix of the Naughty Boy/Beyoncé duet “Runnin’ (Lose It All)” — currently one of Ron’s favorite songs:
We’ve been overplaying Aron’s mix for the last several weeks, so we have the whole track memorized. Russ added a few measures before the big release in the song and it make it even more fantastic. Then as the song played out, a few extra repeats of the Where else can I go? refrain. It’s little adjustments like that, that elevate a DJ’s set. By the end of the night we were dancing down front in front of the DJ booth clapping and cheering with each new song he rolled out. Ron found a fan somewhere on the floor and went berserk.
We stayed until close, got our coats, binged at late night diner Orphan Andy’s and fell into bed.
Both events had the warm, gregarious San Francisco spirit on display. You didn’t have some of the usual bitchy queen attitude and antics that get tiring and annoying and can drag down an evening. You could go anywhere in the crowd and introduce yourself to those around you, get a hot guy to dance with you, chat up a visiting stranger, or talk to someone you’ve always seen around town. The crowd was more ‘adult’ but everyone was still in a playful mood for the weekend.
Logistics at both events were tight. Entry into the venues was fast, even with additional security measures and frisking in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Coat check at both events resulted in a long line — but moved fast. I’m easily enraged by shitty coat check after the consistently terrible coat check staff at a venue I will not name. Ron and I have both been involved in event and theatrical productions and know how easy it is skip over the details that can make or break an evening — especially what happens off the dance floor. Both events had production teams devoted to every minute of each evening and that attention does not go unnoticed.
And of course if I’m forgetting to credit or call-out someone on the production teams certainly let me know!
Ron: “It should say by Andy Wibbels as reviewed by Ron Zamora”
Andy: “Okay honey.”