Friday, April 20, 2007

Halloween Out of the Castro?

According to an article in today's San Francisco Chronicle supervisor Bevan Dufty (whose District 8 includes the Castro), the Mayor, and officials at the Port of San Francisco are discussing plans on moving the big Halloween hoo-ha from the Castro to a couple piers down on the waterfront.

As someone who lives on the edge of the Castro, I must admit that Halloween has become a bit of a nuisance. Last year I was at a friend's party in Oakland, and when I came back that night around 10 and wanted to drop off my carshare car, it was an absolute nightmare. The boyfriend and I also encountered many packs of what I can only describe as young thugs, and it was minutes after we made it to my apartment that the shooting took place about three blocks away.

I first went to Halloween in the Castro in 1999 and it was a lot of fun; I have always said that street fairs are one of the great things about this city, because they introduce a truly egalitarian environment for the city's citizens to mingle. Over the years what was an informal event, with guerrilla sound systems, has become increasingly bureacratized, now featuring actual stages. All of this grew out of a tradition that Cliff's Hardware on Castro began in the 1950s, when neighborhood kids would show up for a costume parade and contest. During the first wave of gay liberation in the 1970s and early 80s Halloween in the Castro became a symbol and expression of gay liberation, but now I think it's lost that impulse. Over Easter at Cafe Flore I heard people remark that Easter, with the Sisters in Dolores Park, the people walking around wearing bunny costumes and crazy bonnets, and the air of gay bonhomie, has become what Halloween used to be like. Like all things, Halloween has evolved, and I don't think that Halloween in the Castro reflects the spirit that originally inspired it. So, let it be moved, and let's evolve a new gay tradition in Easter.

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