Posted by: facetothewind | June 23, 2012

San Francisco’s Return to Avant-Garde

San Francisco long ago lost its edge for being, well, “edgy.” The dot-com revolution waltzed in and stepped all over the artists, dancers and weirdos running them out of town and rendering their homes and studios into office space and luxury condos. The creative and wacky spirit of the foggy city seemed irretrievably broken.

But leave it to the Radical Faeries to change it up. This week is Gay Pride week in San Francisco and the Faeries took over the retail space once occupied by Tower Records in the Castro, waved their collective magic wands over it and huzzah…turned it into an urban Faerie sanctuary called Faetopia!

Faetopia may be a flash in the pan for San Francisco but for one week it gave me hope that there is still some pulse left in the San Francisco I used to love before everything became so expensive and corporatized. The cabaret shows were wacky, colorful, wild, chaotic, sometimes annoying.

The closing night festivities included fire dancing on the roof.

The place had some really good art, some really bad art, lots of day-glo sets. But it was art in the truest sense. It smelled like patchouli, marijuana smoke and un-deodorized men. Somehow I found this all wonderfully refreshing. In a city that has become far too gentrified, corporate, and regulated to be any fun, Faetopia became for a short time, a safe haven to be yourself and let your hair down. A place where I didn’t have to be ashamed to be of modest means with a middle aged non gym-toned body. I could lie down on a mattress and take a nap in the middle of the floor, pull out my broken flip phone with pride and be as goofy as I want. I even did a couple free workshops during the day. They had everything from cock origami to support circles for sex workers, tantra workshops to multi-generational heart circles. Someone even brought his goat and took her on a walk through the Castro. Everyone was welcome, no one turned away for lack of funds.

It felt like the clocks had been turned back 40 years to a city I’ve really only seen in documentaries — a city with a sense of play, imagination and freedom. Personally I had a great time there this last week. Outside the Castro was boiling over as Gay Pride was in full swing. My friend and I left one night and walked past a bar with lines of people waiting to get into bars and scores of others stumbling around the streets drunk as skunks, wandering out into traffic on Market Street. An exclusive event was going on at the cafe next door with a very high entrance fee and a clipboard of names. Women and invited guests only. That’s the San Francisco I’ve come to expect.

Here’s the video compilation…

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