Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Glam Grooves


Polyglamorous' fun & sexy start

Polyglamorous patrons on the dance floor at Oasis. photo: Gareth Gooch
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Given the nightlife talent responsible for Polyglamorous, the new first-Fridays dance night at Oasis, it should be no surprise that it was a hit. Promoter-DJs Mark O'Brien and John Major have their own following, creating events in clubs and a few unusual locales, from the Twin Peaks to the Burning Man playa. Spinning together for the last two years, you may know them from recent events with BAAAHS (Big-Ass Amazingly Awesome Homosexual Sheep).

Along with Benjamin Bellayuto, who created the look of the new monthly event –with a sexy trio in pale-lit romantic images and in a short trailer– the Poly guys don't want to limit the definition of what kind of event they create. Of their BAAAHS connection, Major said it started with art cars at Burning Man.

"We saw a sort of lack of participation in art cars that was accessible and fun and not exclusive," he said. "There were no large-scale art cars that were queer. We wanted something new."

"But also integrated in the gayborhood," added O'Brien. "It's very easy to get lost in that area. Having a mobile disco allowed us to get out of that world and all over."

Major (aka M*J*R) discussed the popularity of what years back was a smaller queer cluster of camps.

"It's gotten so centralized and vibrant that people often go to Burning Man and don't even leave that district," said Major. "But we're mobile, so we can drag people out to the playa, out of the gayborhood, and create a sort of new home base for people to pop out and carouse."

Brooklyn-born Major's DJ experience started in Boston in 2002 after co-founding the still-extant Redtail Collective and Firefly Collectives. After moving to San Francisco in 2008, he fell in love with what he called "the vibrant underground culture thriving in the city," is a core contributor to BAAAHS and Comfort & Joy, and has played at other events.

O'Brien was quick to point out that they're only part of a larger group of creative folks, including Christian Williams, Joey Matiz, Aaron Wessels, and Jerrod Littlejohn. "There's a long list of people who were involved in BAAAHS."

Mark O 'Brien, Benjamin Bellayuto and John Major, the Polyglamorous team. photo: Cabure Bonugli/Shot in the City

Fans of O'Brien's DJ skills go back almost a decade, when he produced his first San Francisco event, Marga's Mixer, with Marga Gomez in 2006. O'Brien's spun at Mezzanine, Temple Bar, and Sound Factory. He's been a core contributor to BAAAHS, including the collective's impressive art car, which premiered at Burning Man 2014.

So, with their version of fun, how did they manage to bring that groovy playa cool indoors? O'Brien compared it to his participation as a DJ at the Pop Up Gay Bar event that took place on an amazingly warm autumn night up on Twin Peaks (See "Road Show," B.A.R. Oct. 23, 2014).

"That was an amazing confluence of events and weather," said O'Brien. "It gave us a chance to recreate the spontaneity and anarchy from the playa. With Poylyglamorous, we're trying to capture the spirit of the playa in a more traditional venue. The fact that Oasis is co-owned by drag queens has a component to it; we like to play off that, and we're grateful to Heklina, D'Arcy Drollinger and their crew for letting us host our event there."

Guests in the front lounge at Polyglamorous. photo: Gareth Gooch

Designer Bellayuto saw a good turnout at the first Polyglamorous, aided by his sleek campaign. An art director in advertising and design, Bellayuto has lived in many cities; the six-year Burning Man veteran brings his love of rave culture to the campaign he created.

"We were really trying to pull off the name and visualization, including a young drag queen, to give the promise of polyamory," said Bellayuto.

And while the crowd may have been more cubs and otters than fairies and queens, there was a diverse array of patrons, who either schmoozed in the front room or got down to the inspiring beats on the dance floor.

"I think since it's the beginning, there may a bit more of an eclectic crowd later, with an infusion of glamour," added Bellayuto.

That infusion included simple Mylar strips among the décor, pop-up performances by Amanduh Love, Intenchanel, and Ultra, and more than a few guys making out while dancing.

Glam and guy hunks at Polyglamorous. photo: Gareth Gooch

And, there was even a marriage proposal, when Two Dudes in Love's Mat Dos Santos presented his partner David Sylvester with an engagement ring on the dance floor!

The popularity of Oasis, and their own fans, added to what's clearly an appreciation for new and different nightlife events.

"I think the general bent and vibe of the party seemed to be a little more upbeat than some parties going on, and that's a piece of the playa were trying to bring with us," said Bellayuto. "Positivity and energy."

Of course anything goes with nightlife garb, but most of the fashion statements were with facial hair.

"Although we come from a Burning Man background, some people conjure a certain image they may not vibe with," said O'Brien. "People who aren't familiar with that should feel comfortable."

Gogo hunkitude at Polyglamorous. photo: Gareth Gooch

In other words, you don't need dusty goggles or steampunk playa gear, but creativity is admired, as are affectionate shirtless dancing men; that and more made up the first night's crowd.

The music selection, upbeat house music, added to what Bellayuto called "a bit of playfulness; the vibe was tangible at the party."

O'Brien said that new local DJs and live acts will be showcased as well, but first the creators want to get their night into its own groove. The connection to the playa will include fundraisers for BAAAHS and their camps. "We'll have some sheep-related things," O'Brien added.

Such attractions will add to what Bellayuto called "the air of whimsy and playfulness. As we evolve, the first couple of parties are trying to solidify where we're going, now that people's interest is piqued; we have a good little base started. We'll continue on this path."

Mat Dos Santos presents his partner David Sylvester with an engagement ring at Polyglamorous. photo: Cabure Bonugli/Shot in the City

On the first night of Polyglamorous, and again when we talked later, O'Brein said he was pleased with the turnout. "We definitely had people from Burning Man groups like Comfort and Joy, but about half were new people."

Bellayuto agreed. "There was definitely a reach beyond those who know us or from BAAAHS. There were fresh faces, guys I've seen out, but I felt like it was a little more than we had expected. It's in part due to the new space, and people are curious; the marketing was speaking to a broad eclectic group of people. Hopefully we can continue to draw that same crowd."

Polyglamorous returns March 6 at Oasis, with guest DJ Mark Louque. $7. 9pm-2am. 298 11th St. at Folsom.


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