Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 50 / 14 December 2017
 

Dore Alley fair
producers pray for sun

NEWS


m.bajko@ebar.com

Attendees enjoy the sights at last year's Dore Alley Street Fair. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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San Francisco's notorious July fog bank rolled into town this week with a vengeance, blocking out the sun and plummeting temperatures into the low 50s. Weather forecasters are predicting much of the same for this weekend, and that has producers of the annual Up Your Alley street fair nervous.

Cold, foggy weather descended on the annual South of Market leather event last year, resulting in double digit declines in both donations from attendees and alcohol sales. Collections at the gates dropped to $44,000, a $7,000 decline from what had been donated in 2007.

Last year the weather was "horrible, horrible, horrible. It was freezing last year," recalled Demetri Moshoyannis, executive director of Folsom Street Events, the nonprofit group that produces the fetish event. "People showed up in sweaters, which is really inappropriate for Dore Alley. But what can you do?"

Moshoyannis and his board of directors are praying the sun will break through the clouds this Sunday, July 26 when they expect 12,000 people to participate in the fair along Dore Alley and Folsom Street. The forecast, so far, calls for it to be partly cloudy with patchy morning fog that day with a high of 59 along the coast.

"I track it, honestly, very informally. At the end of the day, I know it is one thing at our event I cannot control," Moshoyannis said about the weather.

Nonetheless, he said warm weather would help push up donations and beer sales and counteract a nearly 12 percent drop off in sponsorships this year.

"It is nothing so insurmountable that sunny weather can't make up for it," said Moshoyannis.

The event producers are also counting on a boost in attendance due to the economy, which has caused many people to vacation closer to home this summer. Advertising for Up Your Alley has focused primarily on California this year, instead of nationally or internationally as in years past.

One indication that strategy is paying off, ticket sales for the various dance parties associated with the fair are up 25 percent this year and no longer available online.

"I think more people are going to be excited about this particular party, which is good," said Moshoyannis.   

Donations at the gate will once again be $5, all of which is divided among 16 local LGBT, AIDS, and social service agencies. The street bash's beer booths are staffed by volunteers from various local groups, which share in a portion of the proceeds.

Adding to the pressure for a well-attended event this year is the fair will once again encompass a larger footprint, thus it costs more to produce. It was expanded last year in order to accommodate the growing crowds who flock to the smaller cousin to the city's Folsom Street Fair event held each year in September.

"Given the weather situation, we incur considerable extra costs with the police by doing an expansion like that. But the previous fair configuration was overly crowded and unsafe," said Moshoyannis. "We are trying it again and hoping for better weather."

New this year will be stricter enforcement of the fair's policies against lewd behavior and public sex, which are posted on the fair's Web site, and will be on police-approved signage at the entrance gates.

After last year's Dore Alley event, an anonymous person filed complaints against the police officers assigned to patrol the fair for not stopping people from having sex on the streets or being naked in apartment windows overlooking the fairgrounds.

Due to the charges, police department officials required the fair producers to step up their enforcement against such behavior this year in order to secure permission to close the streets. The nonprofit group has spent $1,000 for new vests for its volunteer safety monitors who have been trained on the new policies.

"I think it will be an issue for a very select few people," said Moshoyannis. "For those people who are breaking the rules, we will be handing out passes to Blow Buddies and possibly Steamworks and encouraging them to take it inside."

The policies have been informally enforced over the years, but this year, violators will be verbally warned to curtail their behavior. Anyone caught a second time violating the policies will be escorted out of the fairgrounds, while a third infraction will result in the person being turned over to police.

As for lewd behavior in second and third story windows overlooking the fairgrounds, it will be reported to police, who plan to be stationed at the fair's headquarters this year.

Despite the crackdown on public sex, fair producers doubt it will dampen the party atmosphere, as displays of BDSM, which stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, are the main draw for the majority of Dore Alley participants.

"We do hope to see lots of fun and frisky BDSM play at the fair, but we also hope that fairgoers respect our security volunteers, if they're not playing by the rules," stated Andy Copper, president of Folsom Street Events' board. He added that the fair "has implemented some new rules on lewd behavior, but we know it won't change the heart of this uniquely San Francisco event."

The fair takes place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 26. For a list of related parties and events, and where to buy tickets, visit http://folsomstreetfair.org/alley/.

 






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