Thursday, November 1, 2007

Event Review: Halloween in the Castro, Much Ado About Nothing

By now you've probably read the Chronicle article about Halloween in the Castro, and what a lame fizzle it turned out to be. After dinner, around 8, the boyfriend and I got into some appropriate duds - he in a fox suit, me in an East German border guard Lieutenant's uniform (yes, the real thing). I was hoping for a chance to riff off the police state-like aspect of the Castro by asking people for their papers, but since the vast majority of people in the Castro were already dressed like cops, there wasn't much point.

We walked from our place on Diamond Street down to the Castro, up Castro to Noe, and then back down the other side of Castro. Boring, boring, boring. There were some people in costume, and a few moments of camera flash-flash, but nothing at all like in years past. At Market and Castro there was a someone dressed as a nun with a megaphone intoning "Don't vote for Gavin Newsom," but it was more evocative of a brain-dead megaphone than any real act of provocation.

We saw two bars open - Badlands, which was charging a $3 cover, and the Bar, which was dead empty - and probably would have stopped in for a drink if I hadn't been such a lame-ass and forgotten my wallet. But overall, there were far too many other things going on in the city and I think everyone just decided, meh, why deal with it when there are other things to do and places to go?

So, this turned out to be the Halloween that wasn't. On the one hand, I was thrilled to not have to deal with the goons and yabbos who regularly show up and make Halloween in the Castro a less-than-pleasant experience. On the other, I wanted my goddamn neighborhood back. I wanted to be able to get dressed up and walk around to the bars and see people I knew and enjoy the holidy, rather than feeling like I was under quarantine. The boyfriend and I had planned to go over to Oakland for a party, but when we realized that we couldn't take any public transportation back, and I was unsure about having to deal with the whole parking thing, we decided to stay in the City. If we had wanted to really go out, we would have had to have headed off to some other neighborhood, and honestly, nobody we knew seemed that enthusiastic about going out.

I really resent the way that, because some assholes are unable to figure out how to comport themselves in public situations, the rest of us have to lose out on fun. I also am very tired of the way in which the whole "controversy" around Halloween has had less to do with addressing those issues, and more to do with the political ambitions of those making the controversy. Does Alix Rosenthal really want to make Halloween in the Castro fun for those who live there, or does she just want to use it as a wedge against Beven Dufty? I didn't see much from the Citizens from Halloween that would lead me to believe that they had any better ideas about how to manage this event than the city (well, aside from portalets, portalets, portalets); rather, it seemed to me that it was more of a collection of anti-Newsom forces than people with real ideas about how to deal with a crowd as large as a third of the entire city of San Francisco in a space of about twelve square blocks. What is the city supposed to do about managing an event like that? Yes, we can handle Pink Saturday, and we can handle Folsom Street Fair, but we have to realize that those events are actually dispersed over wide areas and they attract very specific crowds who are into the event. Halloween, on the other hand, attracts a much more diverse crowd, including a lot of people who are very uncomfortable with being around gays and lesbians. And, of course, a fair number of just drunken assholes who, once they put on costume, lose many of their inhibitions around good conduct. I don't particularly like Gavin Newsom as a Mayor, but I also don't know what he and the city can do about making people not behave like assholes if that's what they want to do.

Next year Halloween falls on a Friday, and I imagine that, with the typical run of Friday night events, there will be plenty to distract people from showing up in the Castro. I hope that's the case, and, after two years of "nothing special" in the Castro, it might return to being more of a neighborhood party. And by that time, I also hope that we will have people ready to address the issues around the event in a constructive manner, rather than making it another example of the poison politics that dominates our city's cultural landscape.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Bevan Dufty has said that there will be an organized Halloween of some sort in the Castro next year. He said that since it will be on a Friday night, there is no way he would expect merchants to shut down like this year.