Saturday, October 4, 2008

LoveFest / Loveparade

Just to prove how out of touch I am.

Leaving the gym at about 11:30 this morning, I noticed a young man in a bright yellow sports coat (no shirt, just an unbuttoned sports coat) and a green top hat trying to hail a cab. It seemed a little unusual, but not terribly noteworthy. It should have been an omen...

Then I was trying to go to work at about 12:30. I had to wait at Castro and Market for an F-Market streetcar. There was an F there w
hen I arrived, but the driver had left his streetcar to chat with the driver of the streetcar parked behind his. This went on for long enough that the other people at the stop started making snippy remarks about the laziness of MUNI drivers in general.

Finally, after nearly twenty minutes of chatting, the driver got back in, took his seat, opened the doors and said, "I'm only going to Van Ness because of the parade."
Parade? Not that I've heard of. So I resigned myself to taking the underground and making the twenty-minute walk from Embacardero Station to my office.

When I got on an inbound train, the somewhat crowded car included a cluster of about eight young women dressed in tutus and fairy wings, with alarmingly large false eyelashes and jewels pasted to their faces.

Speaking of "pasted," they seemed pretty stoned as well.

A young man got onto the car in an outfit loosely based on Superman's, except that his was yellow with a blue cape and had a "C" instead of an "S." And the cape had condoms pinned to it.

I asked the man across from me if he knew what was up. He had no idea, but seemed (like most people on the train) slightly amused by the spectacle. So, out of curiosity, I followed the crowd out at Powell Street.

There were crowds of people in the street, many of them dressed similarly to the people I'd seen on MUNI. There were some garments in brighter neon colors than I've ever seen in my life. Of course, this being San Francisco, there were a handful of nude people as well (and, of course, most of them were people you don't particularly want to see naked).

The people in the crowd all seemed to be following some floats down the middle of Market Street. Every parade entry was blasting dance music from some type of sound system, and people were dancing on the floats and in the streets around the floats. For some reason, the floats mostly seemed to be built to be viewed from the north side of the street -- the dancers mostly faced that direction, any signs on the floats pointed in that direction, and standing on the south side of Market Street mainly gave one a view of two-by-four skeletons of the backdrops.

Finally, after all the floats has passed by and the parade ended (I pretty much only caught the tail end of it), I asked a young man wearing a purple and white fur hat what the parade was for. He seemed slightly irritated that I didn't know, but also seemed pleased with the opportunity to explain that this was the Loveparade, and that it had started in Berlin with sound systems on trucks parading through the streets so people could dance, and that the crowds had exceeded a million people, and that this had made the organizers stop holding it in Berlin, and that the event had moved to other cities including San Francisco, and that this was the fifth year for the LoveFest in San Francisco.

Here's a quote from the organizers (found on their website):

"...a free parade that celebrates music, love, diversity, tolerance, dance, and community is something we believe in strongly, and believe America needs now more than ever. Dance music has always had a special ability to bring people together in the shared beauty of a universal vibe. Our community by and large remains 'underground' in U.S. pop culture due to very little support from radio and MTV, etc. We know that in a culture awash in conflict, materialism, superficial concerns, and greed, an event of this kind can lift the spirits and the hopes of those who to surrender to it's power. The power of dance. The power of music. The power of community. We're taking it to the streets letting the vibe and the cooperation and respect of the people taking part in it be a message of hope in dark times. We intend to make the event a platform for dance music to reach more ears in America and beyond, to carry a message of love and hope, to be a vehicle for helping organizations doing good in the world, and for dancing our asses off surrounded by friendly freaks.

So you learn something new every day.

Even though I left for work at around 12:30, I didn't arrive at work until between 2:00 and 2:30. In ordinary circumstances, I would be muttering curses under my breath. Especially because I went to work today specifically because I knew that commuting will be hellish tomorrow (due to the Castro Street Fair). But, frankly, this event is good-natured enough that it's hard to be pissed off about the twenty-minute wait for the MUNI driver, about the interrupted F-Market service, about the crowding in the underground, or about the twenty-minute hike from Market to my office (on top of the hour and a half I spent at the gym this morning). I just don't have it in me to kvetch today. So maybe they've achieved something, even if they don't know it.

And, again, I'm glad that I started carrying a camera with me. It stops me from ever having to say, "Man, if I only had a camera with me...." All these photos plus a few more can be seen on my Facebook page.

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