When the boyfriend and I rolled out of bed on Sunday morning I honestly had no idea if we would make it to Folsom Street. After a day of extended disorienting activity at LoveFest on Saturday it was hard to muster the energy for another day of threading through crowds, walking and dancing for hours on asphalt and concrete, and then standing in interminable lines for drinks and the relief of subsequent bodily functions. As it turned out, however, this year’s Folsom Street Festival was easily the most pleasant and manageable I can remember.
The deciding factor was a phone call from our friend Matt, whom we had inadvertently ditched at LoveFest – the boyfriend said “Do you want to go to the fair,” and I said “I dunno, do you?,” an exchange that usually signals agreement between us, and then it was a matter of a rapid costume change and off we went.
It was around two when we arrived and I remarked almost immediately that it didn’t seem as crowded as in years past. We sent out texts to various parties and within twenty minutes had met up with everyone, a new record. We got beers after standing in line for only five minutes, and at one point the boyfriend was able to walk straight into a porta-pottie without waiting – my god, I thought, what’s happened?
We stayed until almost five o’clock and the crowd never seemed to get that packed in. We didn’t make it to the dance stage (I had a pretty good idea of what to expect already anyway), where it may have been more crowded, but as we walked around the fair from one end to the other we never had any real issues getting through. It was, by far, one of the most pleasant and congenial street fairs I’ve experienced. It did not seem particularly naughty to me – after years of San Francisco residency there’s little that does – and more of a costume and camera click-click affair. Had I known that it would be so easy to get around I would have put more effort into a real outfit – somehow the latex gear and leather dog mask just aren’t that much fun when you’re struggling to move a few feet forward – but at least I did have a black shirt and a Mohawk, which seems to have become the default hipster look.
As we left we caught a few songs from Imperial Teen, who were performing on the main stage (where our friend Chris was running the sound). We liked their light and bubbly guitar/synth pop sound, which put us pretty strongly in mind of the B-52s. On the way out we saw Ladytron sitting backstage, looking rather blasé before taking to the stage for their DJ set (how do four people DJ anyway?) At that point, though, it was starting to get windy and a bit chill, and we were somewhat more interested in the chance to pick up an Xbox 360 at Best Buy than spending much more energy in dancing in the streets.
In all, Folsom Street Fair was a pleasant afternoon of hanging out with friends. drinking beer, and having random social interactions, but I'm not sure what it would take for it to really thrill and arouse me the way it did the first time I attended in 1999. Maybe I've just become too jaded, or maybe Folsom Street Fair is really only for those who don't experience the general kinkiness that is San Francisco on a daily basis.