I had a great response to last year’s guide for Dore and Folsom, so figured what the hell let’s make this a thing. (Last year I billed it as a “modest Midwesterner’s guide” since I always joke that SF has eroded my Midwest modesty, but not my Hooiser humility.)
Up Your Alley? Dore? Dore Alley?
Yes, the actual weekend is called Up Your Alley fair weekend. Most people just call it “Dore” for the street intersection it’s oriented around, Dore and Folsom.
- “Are you and the pups coming for Dore?”
- “Which parties are you and your Sir going to for Dore?”
- “Will you and your husband be playing separate for Up Your Alley weekend?”
- “Are you ready to hoe it up for Up Your Allley?”
The weekend of events is centered around the Up Your Alley street fair produced by Folsom Street Events which is a street fair that celebrates gay kink and leather culture. The fair is similar to the Folsom Street Fair in September (and produced by the same organization), but is usually described as a bit kinkier/nastier and with more locals (and fewer tourists who are more into gawking/guffawing and not participating). But there’s a lot more there there than just the fair .
First: Know Your History
From Dore Alley Street Fair, a history lesson: “The Up Your Alley Fair, wasn’t originally on Dore Alley, and it wasn’t originally ‘Folsom Street Fair’s dirty little brother’. In fact, the two fairs were originally completely unrelated to one another. The first Folsom Street Fairs were celebrations of SoMa’s neighborhood diversity whereas Up Your Alley was a celebration specifically of the gay leather community.” Read the full article…
Here’s a list of many of the events of the weekend. Keep in mind this is just one guy’s opinion on what to do and where to go. I’m not a big kinkster. I don’t think. But like we know people that are for-real into this stuff much more intensely and I’m like, “Yeah I’m more like a Brooke and Megan of BDSM.” Be sure to ask other friends and acquaintances for their must-do events if this is your first Dore weekend.
I’ve included links to photo galleries for most of the events so you can get a sense for what the crowd will be like and what to wear.
Thursday, July 26th
Ambush at Underground SF, presented by Mister Drummer 1973 with DJs Mozghan and Matthew Paul
Let’s turn back the clock on Dore Thursday as Mister Drummer 1973 recreates one of the cities most famous watering holes. The Ambush, an SF gay bar open from 1973 to 1986 was a favorite hangout for many SF leathermen and bikers. The bar’s patrons were known for a relaxed and rugged style that included flannel shirts and Levi’s which would become part of bear identity and culture. For a time, the bar even marketed their own brand of poppers that was described as smelling “like a strange mixture of battery acid and vegetable shortening.” The building housed a marijuana smoke-filled bar on the first floor and a cafe and shop on the upper floors. Over the years, the Ambush became known for its kinky art shows, state-of-the-art soundsystem, sex in the bathroom, and LSD. All of this was writ-large by the artistry of Chuck Arnett, whose heavy logo and artwork for the Ambush underscored the legend of this long-lost queer space. The Ambush party promises to return to that ambience of yore.
Friday, July 27th
Did you go to work? I’ll probably go to work on Friday. Maybe Monday off? My old boss always knew when I switched to protein shakes for the week that I’ll probably need Monday off.
Beta at Club Six, presented by Fog City Pack with DJs Clark Price, Charley Ten, Michael Romano, Brian Rojas, Astro, and Fawks
The pups from the Fog City Pack are bringing the Empire Strikes Back/The Two Towers of their annual three-party trilogy that starts with the Alpha party and ends with Omega and in the middle – for Dore – the notorious Beta party Club Six. They’ve commandeered both the ground floor and the seedy basement for your evening’s adventures. Music is kinda steady deep house with a delightfully sordid and sleazy vibe. Make it hoe, but fashion, but probably more hoe.
Prime Daddy Alley at The Great Northern, presented by TrophyDad with DJ Neon
Meanwhile at The Great Northern (the art deco remodel of the old Mighty space with a crystal clear sound system and exposed brick loveliness) TrophyDad‘s Prime party will be hosting a gaggle of gogos over 50 with a party dedicated to “men in their prime and their admirers.” If you’re feeling the need to work out some daddy issues (or work over some boys), this will be the place to be. The crowd includes lots of guys you usually don’t see out and about and the music will be prime time circuit with celebratory vocals and lots of classics with a modern remix with resident DJ Neon the Glowgobear. And he mixes in the older classics for geriatrics like us.
Full details on the Facebook event page and here’s a photo gallery of last year’s Dore Prime event and you can see more galleries on the TrophyDad Facebook page.
Hogwild at Oasis, presented by Folsom Street Events and Recon with DJ Mark O’Brien
An official Up Your Alley event and the weekend kickoff, Hogwild promise an old school kind of leather party and bringing back the heyday of leather, so wear your uniforms and old school gear and as they says, “Get in gear and get off your phone, or stay home.” Local favorite DJ Mark O’Brien will spin sleazy beats and sweaty horny gogos will work everyone into a frenzy. If the line is like anything it was for opening party of Folsom, go early.
Bearracuda Dirty Dore at Folsom Foundry, presented by Bearracuda and Brian Kent Productions with DJs Kam Shafaati and Paul Goodyear
And if you’re into the big boys and/or a big boy yourself, the Bearracuda crew is back with their Dirty Dore underwear party at warehouse space Folsom Foundry. Our local BFF Brian Kent and producer Matt Bearracuda are back with Bearracuda’s trademark winning formula of thick boys and deep bass, provided by DJs Kam Shafaati and Paul Goodyear.
Saturday, July 28th
Put on some eye cream and a ballcap to hide the crow’s feet. Maybe pancakes? I don’t know. Sam’s Diner has tater tots. I might have to have bacon, eggs, and tater tots.
The Dore Party at Mr. S Leather
Less of a party-party than everyone’s shopping at Mr. S Leather anyway so let’s have drinks and gogos and everyone cruises each other while they try on new gear to wear while they paint the town. I think this is the party where I had a panic attack trying on a metal cockring since the dressing rooms were all taken and I’m trying to shove my boys into the ring while a gathering crowd starts to watch, eventually muttering “Goddammit, we’ll just buy it!” and went to the cash register. Anyway, fun times, hot guys, booze, drinks, gogos, pounding bass, dirty movies playing on the in-store displays. Note: If you are getting the SF early in the week, you might go to Mr S sooner than later. They can usually do alterations in-store, while you wait if it isn’t too busy or you can come back an hour later. Once the weekend is in full swing, it might be a longer wait and they might run out of what you’re looking for.
If you’re coming from out of town, you can shop online on the website to get a sense for what you might like to try on once you’re onsite. You might even see some familiar faces modeling some of the harnesses.
Full details on the Facebook page for the event.
Flagging in the Park at the National AIDS Memorial Grove, produced by Xavier Caylor with DJ Randy Bettis
There’s not much more San-Francisco-y things to do in San Francisco than Flagging in the Park, a monthly event that comes to us during the spring and summer months. It’s one of those things that once you know about it, you’ll wish you’d known about it sooner. Featuring a sunny pleasant afternoon of some of city’s top DJs spinning bright happy vocals while dozens of people engage in flagging, poi spinning, and other visually enchanting “flow arts.” Bring a blanket, sunscreen, some snacks, and a couple bottles of champagne (or other transformative substance) and enjoy the music and the colors – and even take a try at flagging yourself with helpful folks on hand to show you how. DJ Randy Bettis is spinning the July event and there’ll be a few shundred people out the National AIDS Memorial Grove, a lush verdant meadow in Golden Gate Park. This is a free event but donations are encouraged to help with the upkeep and maintenance of the Grove, ” a dedicated space in the national landscape where millions of Americans touched directly or indirectly by AIDS can gather to heal, hope, and remember.”
Big Muscle Party at DNA Lounge, hosted by Bare Chest Calendar with DJs Paul Goodyear and Steve Fabus
Do people still go on the BigMuscle site itself? That all seems retro from the Gay.com/RealJock and Yahoo! Personals era. Everyone still calls this and the Folsom iteration a “meet and greet.” It isn’t gregarious massive men sharing cocktails and chit-chatting and shaking hands. It’s a club packed full with some of the hottest guys you’ve ever seen in your life ready for dancing and flirting and yes I suppose some conversation. Local charity Bare Chest Calendar is hosting and you’ll get to meet this years dirty dozen of hot men featured in their annual calendar benefitting PRC, a Bay Area orgnanization that for decades has been helping those affected by HIV/AIDS, substance use, or mental health issues. Music is tea dance-y. It’ll be bright outside and dark as night indoors so it’ll take you a bit to see once you’re in the club. Usually the hottest crowd of Dore or Folsom weekend. And some of the guys are yooooge! Like water buffalo galloping across the dance floor. Usually $15-$20 donation at the door but advance tickets available on the DNA lounge site.
Brut at The Great Northern, produced by Brut Party and Brian Kent with resident DJs Dan Darlington and DJ Peter Napoli
We always have a fantastic/notorious time at Brut parties and it attracts a deliriously sexy crowd of horned up men clad in their best gear, ready for a night of dancing and carousing. Resident DJs Dan Darlington and Peter Napoli spin Brut’s restless, aggressive, writhing mix of music, muscle, and leather. The party will be at The Great Northern with the high ceilings and and guaranteed low inhibitions.
Bay of Pigs at Public Works, presented by Folsom Street Events with DJs Jack Chang, Brian Novy, and Jordee
The big official party of the weekend is the most cleverly and tastelessly named circuit party ever: Bay of Pigs. Slight scandal last year when it was announced the event would not have the usual fully outfitted dungeon/play area (bigger SF venues aren’t willing to risk their liquor license blah blah techies ruin everything blah blah). 1,000 fit muscle pigs, hot daddies, and hairy bears dance to our favorite-est DJ ever-ever the infamous DJ Jack Chang with DJ Brian Novy starting off the night and in the Loft space on the second floor, music by DJ Jordee.
Friendly Fire at Danzhaus, produced by Gage Lennox with DJs Marek and Salazar
And then there’s Friendly Fire, an event pitched to your favorite handyman, celebrating their one-year anniversary. This event takes place at a dance studio re-tooled to be a dance floor and back lounge on the main floor and then up a set of stairs, an activity room. If this is your kinda thing, add Gage as a friend and then join their private Facebook group.
Full details on the Facebook event page for Friendly Fire Dore.
Onyx’s Dore Alley Invasion Weekend at Powerhouse, presented by Onyx Northwest
Onyx Northwest invades Dore Alley and our favorite dive-bar Powerhouse with their Invasion event featuring sexy kinksters and leathermen of color with geared up gogos, fetish demos and more – all for charity.
Onyx NW has a whole set of events for men of color and their admirers throughout the weekend, so be sure to read the full event description on the Facebook page for the event.
Sneaks at Club Six, produced by Polyglamorous with DJs Keenan Orr, StrikeStone, and Chuck Gunn
Polyglamorous’ notorious sneaker fetish party returns for their Dore edition. Dress code is enforced so you must wear sneakers (no jeans, no slacks) and sports attire is encouraged (jockstraps, singlets, gym shorts, etc.).
Details on the Facebook page for the event and I’m not easily finding any photo galleries from past Sneaks events.
Ritual After Hours at 1015 Folsom, produced by Real Bad with DJ Juanma Escdudero
This is the first year for this event but it’s produced by the Real Bad organization that will celebrate 30 years of “activism with a beat” this September with their Folsom closing party. Ritual will be in one of the city’s top dance temples, 1015 Folsom, with last year’s Real Bad DJ Juanma Escudero coming back to spin the complete event that lasts well into the morning. This party starts at 3:30am Saturday night/Sunday morning (before the fair) and goes well past sunrise. Proceeds to benefit the Grass Roots Gay Rights Foundation.
Real Bad events always have the friendliest, warmest crowd.
Sunday, July 29th
Shower off the shame, skanks. We’re not done. No seriously. Stank ain’t musk, ladies. Some of you fuckers need to rinse off.
Up Your Alley Street Fair, produced by Folsom Street Events
There’s the fair obviously. We’ll probably go for a bit. It’s funny how it seems kinda normalized anymore for us to go to a street fair and see a guy chained to a telephone pole being whipped or a domme in a carriage being pulled by a quarter of human ponies or shirtless women being flogged to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Like Folsom, the fair encapsulates the crazy kinky libertine spirit of San Francisco – and with Up Your Alley it’s much grittier and more queer/gay than Folsom Street Fair. You will see people dressed in their favorite fetish attire. Some of these kinksters wait all year for events like this so strut their stuff and fly their freak flag. If you don’t like it or roll your eyes at people or can’t delight in seeing perverts celebrate their perversions, don’t be a twat about it. Get the fuck out of there and go to Woodfield Mall. Not everything is for everybody.
White people/Wypipo: BRING SUNBLOCK. Or there’s usually super hot sexy tattooed EMTs with sunblock at the first aid tents. [fans self]
Rough at Mezzanine, produced by Folsom Street Events with DJs Russ Rich and Casey Alva
In it’s third year, Rough is the weekend’s official closing party and is back at the Mezzanine space (just a few blocks from the fair, you won’t even need to put on pants). It’s starts at 6pm for those that work on Monday (but goes until 2am for those that don’t). Mix will have more vocals and feel more relaxed and not be too dark or gritty as 1,000 sweaty men (and a few women) dance the evening away. LA’s DJ Casey Alva opens and local favorite DJ Russ Rich continues the evening. We always enjoy Russ and usually Ron and I end up down front in front of him dancing and laughing at each new song he drops.
Berlin produced by Rude Circuit with DJs GSP and Mohammad
The folks at Rude Circuit are launching their first party with Berlin, a closing party for the weekend at Halcyon (the former Beatbox space, with a fantastic interior upgrade and great sound system). This event benefits the Queens of Castro, a 501(c)(3) organization serving LGBT high school youth in San Francisco. Our bestie, local sexy/cute-pie DJ Mohammad opens the night with his signature hard, pounding sound and then DJ GSP (London/Greece) continues the night with even deeper beats to keep you going. Billed as “a space to let our inhibitions die and turn it all night” and inspired by “the sweaty, piss filled pigs who bear no shame in expressing their queerness.”
That’s About All of It I Think
For our straight friends and women: I’d probably recommend the fair of course, Rough or Prime since the mix will be lighter but driving. Big Muscle feels more relaxed but is almost entirely men. Those events are not as overly overt. There’s a few die-hard straight women and some of our sapphic sistren that always come out to enjoy all the festivities.
Clothes check is a bitch and will piss you off: Given the minimal attire of patrons to most of these events, coat/clothes check will probably be a complete bitch anywhere you go. We usually bring one of our gym bags and put everything in there (and put phones and wallets in obvious pockets so we can find them quickly as we’re leaving instead of panicking and bickering at each other in public). So if it gets misplaced or mis-tagged we can say, “Look for the bright red Timbuktu bag.” Which also means:
Lines to get in to venues can be long: So if you’re going to get elevated or enhanced you might wait until you’re inside the venue so you aren’t fucked up standing in line hoping people aren’t staring at you because you saw the face of God in a fire hydrant.
Don’t mix G and alcohol, you stupid fuck: Don’t mix depressants and definitely do not mix alcohol with GHB or it’s pre-cursors GBL and BDO. If you mix alcohol and G, you’re basically telling your friends you’re a selfish piece of shit and you think it’s cute that others have to take care of you. So definitely:
Always thank the EMTs when you see them: They are there to make sure everyone has a great time and stays in the guard rails. I usually say, “Thanks for dealing with our bullshit.” If you see someone getting stumbly, ask if they’re okay. If you know any of the producers or staff of these parties you know the venues (mostly owned by straight businesses) can be very harsh when our community is a hot fucking mess. Have a great time. Take care of yourself. Take care of others.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten some events: No slight to producers or DJs if I’ve missed one (and I didn’t even do shoutouts to lighting, video, laser, and environment designers).
See You on the Dance Floor, Gentlemen
And ladies, and everyone else in and around. If you see us on the dance floor say hello. Look for the complimentary polynesian sleeve tattoos on the sexy Filipino muscle daddy with the huge smile dancing with abandon (Ron) and the semi-serious inked bearded white muscle daddy wolf trying to keep up with him (me).
Thanks for reading – please share!
Andy with editing/etc. from Ron
You can follow my writing on Facebook, Twitter, and enjoy our chronic shirtlessness and fear of aging on my Instagram (andymaticgram), but actually Ron posts better photos and gets all my likes (ronamatic). And if you’re a really retro there’s the old fashioned RSS feed . If you want even more reading in this vein, you can read my recaps of Dore 2016 and Folsom 2014.