Sunday marked the first Up Your Alley fair day on Folsom Street since the pandemic that looked and felt just like the old days, rampant nudity and all.
The smaller, much gayer and more male precursor to Folsom Street Fair, referred to as Dore Alley but technically called Up Your Alley, has been happening every year since 1996, save for the 2020 cancellation. Still, Delta wave anxiety kept the fair pretty small in 2021, with plenty of face masks on. And a monkeypox outbreak last summer combined with less-than-great weather also meant that the fair just a shadow of its former self in 2022 as well.
Warm temps and bright sun all afternoon Sunday brought out a crowd estimated to be around 10,000 — comparable to 2019, as the Chronicle reports. And in a hangover from the last two years, festival organizers continued to encourage patronage of the local bars — like the Powerhouse, which sits in the center of the two-block fair grounds, and The Foundry — by not setting up their own beer concessions. The Foundry had a beer truck set up across the street, and Powerhouse had long lines all day for their indoor and outdoor bars — and still many fairgoers opted to go by canned tallboys at nearby corner stores rather than deal with the lines.
"I’ve heard many people say this is their first year back,” said Angel Adeyoha, executive director of Folsom Street Events (which produces this and the much larger Folsom Street Fair in September), speaking to the Chronicle. “People have been very desirous for outdoor large-scale events."
Up Your Alley, the kickoff event for the summer leather fair season, brought out the kink in the South of Market on a sunny Sunday afternoon. https://t.co/51t8VC7dKj— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) July 31, 2023
Vendor booths filled the alley named Dore, as well as the area between 9th and 11th streets, selling fetish items like painted wooden paddles, ball gags, and leather harnesses, as well as jewelry and other things. And traditions like the puppy play area — for human pups in pup masks — and the naked Twister game returned as well.
By evening, the party moved on to area bars like DNA Lounge, The Eagle, and Oasis, and the weather held out until about sundown.
Now, SoMa will have to gird its loins for a much bigger, probably pre-pandemic sized Folsom Street Fair with its more significant street closures in two months time.
Top image: Darwin Bell/Instagram