Folsom Street Fair, a "sexy S&M street-bacchanal"
A map of the fair's stomping grounds.
PDF layout of the streets and booths.
I had thought that I would show up to the fair early, so as to arrive before the bulk of the crowds and to be sure of showing up at the designated meeting spot on time. Oh, ha ha.
I was still feeling shaky and unwell by my projected departure time, and dithered about making it at all. However, that was the departure time for early. I continued preparing and was almost ready to go by departure time for on time, and sailed out the door a little late, optimistically wearing sweatpants (instead of the usual shorts) under my skirt because of the cold Pacifica morning, without sunblock, but with plenty of water, my camera, and my phone (but without my prepaid BART ticket). I had managed to find my imp of Whip, though. :D Mmmleatherandroses. I'd also pulled my star, which often enough rides on its cord low enough to catch in my cleavage, up short to choker-length, symbolic to me if no-one else.
My usual park-at-Daly-City-BART-and-ride-in plan went smoothly; I departed at Civic Center, a bit unnerved by the daytime weekend smash of riders, but happily diverted by the lovely young woman in short-shorts (vinyl) and corset (black lace overlaid on a black background fabric) who was standing right at eye-level. I did not have to waste brainpower guessing where she was headed.
Once in the general area, I called JD to alert him to my progress. He mentioned that no-one else had appeared yet, and they were still at the planned meetup point of Folsom and 9th. There I headed. The foot traffic grew more and more fantastic the closer I got, including at least one person in a bathrobe. Interesting.
I arrived at the gates. A sign sternly warned me that the fair operated on a three-strikes rule regarding "lewd actions" in the fair itself, and three offenses would see me booted and in the loving hands of SFPD. (Offenses from upper stories of buildings would be turned directly over to SFPD.) The collection at the gates of the fair proved to me that I was very conservatively dressed indeed, given that the skin I was showing was neck, face, and hands. As I wandered down mostly-empty 8th Street toward the fair proper, I noticed that clothing seemed to be more and more ... optional. Lewd actions indeed; seemed that the street had become a nude beach for the duration. I was conscious of the hot hot sweatpants, and began to regret them.
Smoke from the many things being barbecued, grilled, fried, and otherwise tastily cooked stung my eyes as I walked towards JD and Ryan's marked place in the crowd. The indicated intersection was huge on foot, with booths and other items blocking clear view, not to mention the hundreds of people. I stood still and looked around, and eventually JD located me.
I took the opportunity to strip off my shirt, transferring the sticker from it to an area of bare chest. I kept the sweatpants on, preferring heat to probable chafing, leaving me standing in open light sweater, sports bra, long skirt, and incongruously magenta sweatpants peeking out from the bottom. I felt less overdressed after that, and blessedly cooler.
The guys putting on sunscreen at the medical tent appeared to be a false hope; it looked as if it had been someone's private stash and not a courtesy to idiot fair attendees who'd forgotten theirs. I decided that I could handle a little sun; I'd just keep to the shade whenever possible.
We meandered down the fair, pausing here and there to look at things and people. There was an intriguing booth with things to hit with, and tie with. There was a porn studio's booth, with many titles and a huge picture of one of their stars (wearing more than some of the fair's attendees were). I didn't investigate the Good Vibrations booth.
We reached the 11th Street end of things, where there were more booths with food, and much more smoke. I eyed the margaritas and margarita slushies with general longing (hot!!) but decided that really, it would not be such a great idea to be drinking so soon after having felt woogity, and in any case, I wanted cold and wet, not alcohol. Hooray for my water bottle.
At the far end of the fair area, in the part of Folsom between 11th and 12th, there was a stage with noise coming off it. We didn't see the need to go nearer. We began to work our way back up Folsom, to get clear of the noise and the smoke.
There was more of a crowd, and I am still amazed that I did not utterly wig out when being packed in a crowd with little leeway to move. The cane helped, I think, and the presence of other people with me, and possibly the air of cheerful debauchery and not-entirely-typical headspace surrounding it all. I found myself half-consciously switching into a headspace that could go with the flow instead of having to be in precise control of it all. That helped.
There was one gnarly intersection where people checking out the porn studio's offerings collided with people attempting to go into a bar. We paused upstream of that, near Dore Street, to get in contact with people. I pinged Tupshin via text. Stacey showed up, then Janine, and certain now much-more-expected portions of the Internet, and Tiferet. The Expected Portions of the Internet mentioned that Tupshin had been hunting wabbits, or activities to that effect, and might still be engaged in that worthwhile pursuit. Tif pointed out that walking and sitting are both OK activities for arthritis, but standing, not so much so. So we determined that we would find a place to alight.
We took refuge in a little place on Folsom and 9th (beware evil Flash website) (on Yelp), where Tiferet recognized some associates/friends from conventions and the internet and such. Cheerful introductions all around (and went in one of my ears and out the other, particularly because of the music of ear-splitting volume), and we sat down to rest our feet and chatter and cool off a bit. The Lady had a fan and the group had a spray-bottle of water. These were shared around with much good cheer. Hooray!
Ryan's back had been hurting more and more, and he presently departed for home.
One of the associates was wearing an O'Really LART Pocket Reference shirt. I was charmed.
There was a be-corseted, be-fishnetted, be-ruffled woman expertly serving margaritas the fun way: first, you licked the salt from her hand, then you held your head back as she poured margarita mix and tequila in your mouth. Then they were "mixed" by the simple expedient of placing your head upon her ample and barely covered (fishnet, pirate pasties) bosom, with vigorous shaking. Then she took a slice of lime in her mouth by the peel, and transferred it to yours, with a certain amount of grace and artistry. JD considered this, but had to weigh the possibility that he might come in contact with bosom. In the end he did not opt for this beverage.
I texted Tupshin to let him know where we had wound up. At Stacey's recommendation, I added a second, clarifying, note: we were not just at a bar, we were inside it, and it was a real bar not one of the tents with the booze out there. Soon enough later, there was a Tupshin on the sidewalk, and shortly thereafter inside greeting people with great enthusiasm.
It appears that Certain Parts of the Internet and I may need supervision, lest scary scary things come of it. There was giggling, and bad, bad, bad puns.
A certain amount of texting ensued; evidently Abe had passed right by us without dropping in. A certain amount of texting later, Abe himself appeared within the confines of the bar! It had been quite some time indeed.
Now, it is at this juncture that I must acquaint the reader with a sad truth, if the reader had not previously known: upon meeting in the comments of official/technical LJ arenas for the first time, Tif and Abe had fallen instantly and madly in hate. This is not a particularly comfortable position for any parties sharing them in common as friends or congenial associates, and it had been uncomfortably shadowing my plots for SF-local LJ-type gatherings: from a young age, I had learned firsthand the not-necessarily-transitive nature of friendship and (after the disastrous birthday party of 1987) weighed the possible and probable social interactions between any given group most carefully indeed. Despite assurances of adulthood on the one hand and a habit of not being able to attend on the other, the prospect of this duo meeting was not an idea I relished, given that at its best it was likely to become awkward, and the potential for worst did not bear contemplating.
Abe arrived just as Tif disappeared from sight in the line for the ladies'. Someone advised him of the oil-and-water situation. I sent a quick text in Tif's direction.
Crisis did not occur. There was mutual introduction, and conversation, even cordial and hilarious conversation. We emerged from the bar, so many ducklings in the powerful wake of Tupshin, and made our way down the ever more crowded (but slightly cooler than high noon) street.
Some unspecified length of time later, we pulled to on 8th and Folsom, outside a leather shop. A number of the ladies disappeared inside. Tupshin and JD made their way through the crowds, and returned in short order with drinks.
Tupshin + alcohol = hyper!Tupshin. This is a fascinating process to watch.
It transpires that Abe and I have a similar tolerance for alcohol: to wit, nearly none. Stacey shared in the bounty of his margarita. My margarita was not shared (well, except for part of it down my cleavage, but not much), and I quickly became quite, quite giddy indeed.
By this time, Tupshin had increased his arsenal to include a whippy little riding crop. He whacked JD's bottom with it, to much hilarity. Few of us were safe. (Okay, perhaps it was not strictly necessary for me and others to bend over in such a fashion. Heh. Heh.) There were certain shenanigans involving the cropping of Abe, and Abe's dance to avoid this, occurred.
More drinks commenced after the first round was through (though I did not partake); Tupshin shamelessly took advantage of my sticker for the discounted drinks. :D There followed some wandering around looking for people amongst the meat on sticks, and discussion of meat on sticks, including the sorts of hilarity that occur when clothing is indeed very very optional.
It was decreed that dinner must be procured, though the fair was probably not the best place. One locale satisfactory to all was the mall food court. Certain Portions of the Internet also had to get to a certain shop before it closed, and other parties wanted a LUSH trip. This being settled upon, we set out.
There was a certain amount of screaming from upper floors of a building, and beads being thrown. "SHOW US YER TITS!" was the rallying call. Obligingly, I did just that, and soon claimed a string of green beads for my very own. (Tupshin, upon seeing these, waxed grumpy: he had not received beads, although he had not shown his tits.)
The band at the 7th Street stage was mashing up things, to great amusement: the Andy Griffith theme with Beyonce's "Single Ladies" (and Tupshin dancing to this), and portions of Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" with Ace of Base (I believe "The Sign".)
Before we left Folsom country proper, I paused to swap out my sweater for my shirt. I was hot, sticky, tired, sore, smelled all over of smoke of all sorts, and aware that I was leaving a magical land where the usual rules did not apply. The cloth was cool and light over my heated cleavage, but I still did not feel quite part of the regular world.
Discussion ensued about our destinations; Tif and I were not for any hills. The party divided, with Janine and Stacey and the Expected Parts of the Internet heading for Pursuits Girly, and Tupshin, Abe, JD, Tif, and me headed for the mall food court via Old Navy. This also turned out to be via a bus stop where we stopped for a leg-resting moment, where I showed off my stitches from the knife fight I lost with YouTube, and via a doughnut shop. Shoptalk and gossip of course ensued.
Old Navy is Old Navy, and has bathrooms. When I emerged, Abe's style was being overhauled, but we then headed directly for the food courts. More hilarity ensued, and we met up with the rest of the party. Food occurred. Beatings with the riding crop ensued as we went our separate ways.
Life is good.
Some of the less-classifiable moments included:
at least one "OH SHIT THE INTERNET IS HERE" reaction upon seeing a V for Vendetta mask (there were at least two people wandering around in them)
Too many items first seen on Amusing Underwear Theatre IRC to actually count.
All sorts of shapes and sizes of naked or mostly-naked people.
A guy stopping to talk about a blatant troll booth, and then the crowd around the blatant troll booth itself.
Tupshin does not smile.
Too many photographs of me to tally up after the fact, though I imagine if I had started counting I would have been able to count them. With a bra and jacket, I was suddenly not a Tourist, but part of the show.
Tupshin does not laugh.
A pervasive, very green odor, growing periodically stronger according to the ebb and flow of 215 patients (or presumed same) surrounded the event.
Tupshin does not dance.
The crowds, the crowds, the everlasting crowds, with the half-naked or fully naked men with their tans and oiled skin and leather and hats and sunglasses and beards and the grey that's starting to sprout in their beards, and the piercings, and the half-scared tourists not quite sure what they've signed themselves up for.
The buffer space between the fair and the rest of the city proper, for comfort and safety -- though whose from whom, I perhaps could not say.
A certain amount of glee.
A tall and gorgeous transgendered woman clad in only boots, her collar and leash, and intricate rope bondage, being marched proudly past us.
A golden-tan oiled twink, perfectly naked. View fore and aft both very nice
ZOMG THE CORSETRY. <3 <3 <3
Grizzled bears holding hands all the hell over. <3 <3 <3
Spell-check thinks 'Tupshin' = 'thrashing'.
I got few to no pictures, as I was too busy having fun.