Folsom Street Fair: Why I’m gutted not to be going
31 August 2018
By Team Recon member OhBilly
Article originally posted on Recon in September 2017
My first year working for Recon I was lucky enough to be one of the guys selected to go to San Francisco for Folsom Street Fair. I'd already been sent to some amazing places, but this was the trip I was most looking forward to. Folsom was a thing of legend, and I couldn't wait to experience it firsthand. As it turned out, I had every reason to be excited.
As soon as we landed in San Francisco we were buzzing around nonstop. We had a photo shoot across the city with two local leathermen, we visited The Armory (the incredible venue/fetish porn studio being used for this year's Magnitude) and we set up our party. It was tough work, but someone had to do it.
The big weekend itself kicked off with our Friday night Recon party. I was positioned on the door greeting guys as they arrived. I'm hardly what you'd consider a door hunk, but almost all the guys who attended were either super friendly or highly flirty, and this atmosphere carried through inside. The men in attendance were there for a good time, and that's exactly what they brought to the party. In every city we visit, the locals approach fetish in a different manner, and it seemed that in San Francisco guys were there to have a whole load of loud fun. As the night progressed, I could have gone in and explored the darkroom, but I kind of got a buzz from laughing and joking with the men who arrived, so I stayed where I was on the door. It was my first experience of US fetish in the flesh, and though it was very different to how it's done in northern Europe, there was a playfulness that put a grin on my face that lasted through till 7am bedtime.
The Saturday brought Magnitude, which was an epic gear party. Amazing music, kink performances, and a sea of hot men dancing and hooking up. We were somewhat broken from the night before, but the small taste we got of the night was sweaty and delicious.
It was a good job we called it quits quite early, though, as Folsom Street Fair is a long day. A long day, but an incredible one. We set up our booth and waited for the fun to begin. It didn't take long. Guys (and gals) from around the US and the world popped by to see us to chat about their fetish, to ask about Recon, or just to get a free t-shirt. That year we were also giving away Recon jocks, but guys had to work for those. A jock swap was established, and if you wanted a jock, you had to hand over the one you were wearing (I think I still have a few of these at home). It was a competition amongst the team to see who could claim to most pairs, and the other two went home with armfuls of sweaty undergarments.
As the day progressed we were allowed to drink and explore the fair. The warm September sun and the booze combined to create a proper festival atmosphere, as I browsed gear stalls and dildo stands, watched naked Twister on stage and flogging demonstrations in the street.
Back at the booth we were visited by scores of geared up guys, and we all enjoyed flirting outrageously and kissing a fair few of them. I hit it off with a fuzzy promo guy from a rival app, and we arranged to meet up after the fair. We also befriended a large group of hilarious, middle-aged lesbians, who brought us booze supplies and kept us tanked up.
As the evening drew in and it was time to pack up I was filled with a strong feeling of contentment (and it wasn't just due to the booze). It had been such a great day, and it wasn't over yet. I headed back to the hotel and grabbed a swim before the promo guy arrived. There was a group of about eight beary guys daisy chaining in the pool. I got in and joked around with them and chatted while they had their fun. The whole encounter felt like a perfect representation of my weekend as a whole – horny with healthy doses of daftness and humour.
For me, Folsom seemed to tap into some of the same free and easy San Francisco magic that Armistead Maupin serialized in the 70s/80s/90s with his Tales of the City books (that had meant so much to me as a 14-year-old gay boy in Blackpool). I'm by no means an expert on the city, and my view could well be clouded by sentiment, but that weekend back in 2015 was truly joyous and I'll remember it always.
So yeah, all of the above is why I'm gutted not to be attending Folsom this year. If you're attending, have an amazing time, and if you're considering going you definitely should. Go for all of us that can't make it this year, but you are living in hope for next.
UPDATE: That was last year, this year I'm going! See you there, men!