A Quick History Of Folsom Street Fair – From Sailors to Sadomasochist

 

For one day a year, 13 blocks of San Fransisco explodes with leather and all things kinky.

It’s a summer celebration of BDSM, leather culture, and sexuality that’s been going for over 30 years. Not only does it bring over 400,000 people (making it the 3rd largest street event in California), but it raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities around health, health education, and art. It’s earned great respect and trust from city officials.

But what did this massive celebration start as?

The birth, you could say, started with a club aimed for gay navy men looking for some action – appropriately called The Sailor Boy. Other clubs and bathhouses slowly and carefully sprung up.

In 1961 the first leather bar that opened in SoMa was The Toolbox. It might have ended up like any other club if it wasn’t for Life magazine doing an article called "Homosexuality In America.” It was a first for any major publication to openly penetrate the topic.

Needless to say, leather men from around the country flocked to move there and find their community.

By the 1970’s many bars and bathhouses had opened on Folsom street’s “Miracle Mile”

Running in tandem with the discos and drink holes, the CMC Carnival (California Motorcycle Club Carnival). This was a BDSM dance and fair, complete with vendors and a back room for sex. Things seemed to be going great, with over 4,000 attendees annually.

But then the AIDS epidemic hit in the 80’s.

The community started to lose its standing and many of the establishments folded up and moved away. The people that stayed decided to act.

In 1985, they wanted to start a new fair, something that would bring more visibility to the community. They wanted to raise money for funding for safer sex education as well as creating other oppertunies for people to connect and share information.

It wouldn't take on the Folsom name yet – rather, “Up Your Alley”. In 1987, they would move to the location everyone now knows and loves.

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Every been to the fair? Share your experiences in the comments!

Have a great day,

Robyn

 

EtiquetasHistory Of Folsom Street Fair

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