How Weird Street Faire: Weirdi Gras

[Originally posted on BurnerPrep.com]

Imagine a few thousand people bustling through the heart of the South of Market (SoMa) district of San Francisco on a spring day when you can actually wear short sleeves. People dance between stages, blasting electronic music from 6 foot tall speakers set up in the middle of what would otherwise be intersections choked with midday car traffic. Some have taken advantage of the warm weather to dress scantily in elaborate and colorful costumes, and even those that are cold in the shade work up some serious body heat (and burn some serious calories) dancing the day away. Vendors brave the madness to sell everything from the most intricate hand made fashions to spinal alignments. Even the storefronts have opened their doors to this menagerie of all ages of partiers ushering in 2013’s festival season. If you’ve got a good mental image of all of that, then you’ve got a glimpse of San Francisco’s 14th annual How Weird Street Faire.

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With ten music stages from such veteran sound crews as Temple Nightclub – which had its doors open all day to offer drinks and a relaxing lounge for weary dancers- a tag team production from Opel and Opulent Temple with Urge Productions, Enchanted Forest, Pink Mammoth, Dirtybird, and Symbiosis, How Weird was home to some excellent music and dance from these party veterans. That aside, wandering parades of minstrels played serenades to party-goers that were relaxing and shopping between stages. In the art alley you could see a wonderful performance by the gypsy-esque band No Accordion (which was surprisingly heavy on the accordion played by Onah Indigo). With so many musical talents it would be a nearly impossible task to attempt seeing and dancing along with them all. The festival closed at the Strange Dayz stage, with a loving message at the end of Cosmic Selector’s set: “Together we are capable of anything, so long as we realize that we are all one! I love each and every one of you!”

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Taking a trip down a transformed Minna (an alley that runs between 2nd and New Montgomery streets) visitors would find themselves immersed in Art Alley. The art installations and painters around the festival, although fantastic, were daunted by the sea of paint in Art Alley. Everything from live street art with spray paint, to psychedelic monsters and character paintings, a gorgeous series of pinups, and murals all accented, as mentioned above by the lovely sounds of the gypsy band, No Accordion. ArtIsMobilUs, a mobile art bus that brings a mobile art gallery and space for collaboration and interactive projects, was present with an amazing geometric mural by D-Young-V, and 4 exhibits on board.

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As if all of the great music, unique vendors, and funky dance jams were not enough the people and setting are really what sets How Weird apart from other festivals. Fantastic costumes were inherent in the entertainment, but it’s not very often you see a woman with octopus tentacles protruding from her frock coat. The attendees are the sort of characters that come out of the woodwork with elaborate outfits just for the sake of sharing. The costumes are reminiscent of Burning Man, and not something one might usually see at other festivals, so it’s particularly bizarre and awesome to see in broad daylight on a city street. It takes a special kind of person to create an intricate costume simply for the enjoyment of others, and these costumed folk have a very certain effect on others. Maybe it’s the pure, unadulterated enthusiasm of these talented party-goers that brings the bored masses to their feet, and stirs their souls to dance, socialize and enjoy the arts.

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By and large How Weird was a very memorable and fun experience. Did I mention that How Weird is a festival anyone can attend? All ages are welcome, for free with a suggested donation of $10 a person to keep the festival going, and at that price you just can’t argue. If you haven’t been, I’d highly suggest it. As a place to kick of the festival season, prepare your wardrobe, check out some excellent art and get your boogie on, you can’t go wrong with How Weird.

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