Head up to the alley Sunday
by Katie Dettman
If people can't wait any longer for the 25th annual Folsom Street Fair in late September, they're in luck. This weekend Folsom Street Events, producers of the fall leather extravaganza, host two summertime events. While not as large, they nonetheless will set the stage and whet the appetite.
This Saturday night is the Bay of Pigs dance party, followed by the Up Your Alley street fair on Sunday, July 27.
Up Your Alley expands this year, and will take place on Folsom Street between 9th Street and Juniper Street; Dore Alley from Howard Street to Sheridan; and 10th Street from Howard to Harrison. That means an expansion of an entire block, giving attendees three blocks of space rather than two, which they've had for the last decade. With the new space, FSE will add additional vendors and will move the food court and the dance area.
"We were finding that Up Your Alley was becoming a little too crowded for people when confined to those two blocks, so we felt it was important this year to expand," said Demetri Moshoyannis, executive director of FSE. "It's something that we've wanted to do for years, so we finally made it happen."
"We like to think of Up Your Alley as a more intimate production of the Folsom Street Fair," said Moshoyannis. "It's more locally driven and much more focused on gay men. It's less pansexual than Folsom Street Fair, but it's certainly a great precursor. This year marks the 25th Folsom Street Fair and so we're really hoping that Up Your Alley will really give people a taste of Folsom."
Up Your Alley attracts about 12,000 people each year, whereas Folsom Street Fair typically brings more than 400,000 people to South of Market.
While there is no set admission price, FSE encourages attendees to donate $5 at the gate. As with previous years, 100 percent of gate donations and net sales from beverage vendors will benefit a number of nonprofit organizations. With the gate donation, attendees will receive $1 off beverages during the fair.
Sixteen nonprofit organizations will benefit from the donations this year, including AIDS Emergency Fund, API Wellness Center, Pets Are Wonderful Support, Project Open Hand, the Transgender Law Center, and many more. FSE holds a competitive process every year during which community nonprofits can apply for grants from the money raised at Bay of Pigs, Up Your Alley, Magnitude (the dance party preceding the Folsom Street Fair) and Folsom Street Fair. FSE awards the grants to nonprofits that address the community's needs in the areas of public health, human services, and the arts. In 2007, FSE raised over $350,000 for beneficiaries.
Moshoyannis sees Up Your Alley and Folsom Street Fair as part of the revitalization of the South of Market neighborhood. "I think people will see that the neighborhood is changing in part because of who we are as a community and our presence is still definitely felt, encouraged, and supported," he said.
"For local fetish enthusiasts, Up Your Alley is really the event of the year," Moshoyannis added. "It's really an opportunity for us to come together as a community and learn from one another, engage one another, and just have a sexy time out on the streets of San Francisco. I think that that positive energy is starting to attract people from other cities across the world, so it's exciting to see the event expand this year."
When asked about the most exciting part of Up Your Alley, Moshoyannis said, "you have to see it to believe it. I like to think of Up Your Alley as a continuation of the 1967 Summer of Love and the hippie movement here in San Francisco, part of that free love movement that we can all still hopefully celebrate."
The Bay of Pigs dance party starts at 10 p.m. at New York Studio, 535 York Street. Tickets are $30 in advance or $45 at the door. For more information, including where to purchase Bay of Pigs tickets, visit http://www.folsomstreetfair.org. Enthusiasts are strongly encouraged not to bring pets or children to Up Your Alley.