So you’ve been thinking about Folsom Street Fair but find the whole idea slightly… intimidating? Don’t worry, we go every year, so we’re here to give you a crash course on how to do Folsom.
1. Consent. The cardinal rule of Folsom Street Fair and BDSM in general. People might be letting their freak flags fly in public but that doesn’t mean you can walk up and grab those flags without permission.
Same thing goes for photographing those freak flags. Sure, Folsom is on a public street, but you’re feeding your photography kink just like those scantily clad attendees of Folsom are feeding an exhibitionist kink. Always ask and remember “no means no.” Who knows, if you’re polite and friendly about taking photos you might make a friend who’s eager to show off for your lens.
2. Get there early. Pro-tip, Folsom is easiest to navigate if you show up right at 11 a.m. Chances are you won’t need to wait in line to get in or for most of the activities. Plus, you’ll have easy access to all of the vendors. Folsom really starts hopping around 1 p.m. when tens of thousands of people start descending on the event.
3. Dress up. You don’t need to show up wearing the uniform of Folsom, a leather chest harness, but it doesn’t hurt to put a little bit of flair into your Folsom day outfit. Whatever you do don’t show up in only cargo shorts and a polo shirt. Dressing up for Folsom can be as complicated as going full pony or as simple as strapping on Halloween fairy wings. If you need help finding thematic outfits check out our list of recommended stores below.Photo by torbakhopper on Instagram
4. Shop. Don’t leave Folsom empty handed. There are many amazing vendors at the street fair hocking their wares. Most of the vendors you’ll find at Folsom are independent crafters hoping you’ll give their spanking paddles, floggers, and ball gags a good home. Who wouldn’t want to be hit with a soft bunny flogger?
5. Educate. In addition to the vendors, you’ll find a long list of organizations hoping you’ll step up to the booth and learn something. Don’t be shy. Use the opportunity to learn about the issues impacting the local LGBT community and find out how to live a healthier lifestyle.
6. Explore & Play. Shy? This is a rare opportunity to push your inhibitions aside in the middle of a San Francisco street where no one’s going to judge you. Meet people, take in the sites, maybe let yourself get a spanking, or go to an after-Folsom (or pre-Folsom) play/dance party (see our list below).
7. Catch Some Performances. Folsom isn’t all kink and shopping. The festival has had an increasingly cool music lineup. This year’s headliners are phenomenal including Austra, Little Boots, and Black Kids. Here’s the schedule:
8. Have fun. This is the second most important (the first is CONSENT) thing to keep in mind about Folsom. Keep in mind everyone who attends Folsom is there because they want to have a good time. Go in with an open mind and be a brave little toaster. Don’t be afraid to try something new. No one goes to Folsom to be judgmental and letting your freak flag fly is expected. Try something new. Who knows, you might learn something about yourself.
You decide you want to go to Folsom Street Festival and take our advice and dress up. Sweet! Here are some of the best shops for Folsom shopping.
385 8th Street
Mr. S is your one stop shop for everything you need for Folsom. Here’s where you’ll find all of the leather gear you can imagine. Puppy play? Check. Pony? Yep. Harnesses? Got it. Jock straps? A whole room. Dildos? Walls.
While Mr. S is for the hardcore kink enthusiasts, Leather, Etc. is a bit more accessible for the average leather wearing Joe or Jane. Here you can find everyday leather wear next door to colorful vinyl sexy nurse outfits.
735 Haight Street
Maybe you’re not really the leather type, no problem, San Francisco has you covered. Costumes on Haight has a wide selection of outfits that would be completely appropriate for Folsom Street Fair.
1551 Haight Street
Technically, Distraction is more Edwardian Ball or DNA’s Death Guild, but you’ll still find plenty of costume options Folsom.
1452 Haight Street
You’ll definitely stand out if you show up at Folsom with a glittery outfit from Piedmont Boutique. If you’ve ever found yourself desperate for a pair of gold lamé short-shorts this is the place.
510 Valencia Street
Five and Diamond probably doesn’t consider itself a costume shop, but the store does carry plenty of outfits that could be considered haute Folsom.
The party doesn’t start or end on Folsom Street. Here’s where to go if you want to pre-game or keep the party going once the event wraps up at 6 p.m.
One of the hottest and most accessible kink nights in San Francisco. As guests mingle and dance they’re surrounded on all sides by kinksters showing off their skills. Witness everything from floggings to shibari to kinky storytelling. Twisted Window encourages (consensual) interactivity.
San Francisco’s biggest Leathermen event moves to the Armory. Co-headlining the event are DJs Ralphi Rosario and Alex Acosta.
If you’re looking for a play party to help you get into the Folsom spirit then look no further than San Francisco’s only full-time public dungeon, the Citadel. This is the 10th year for the Citadel’s SEVEN HOUR LONG event.
The official closing party for Folsom Street takes place at Mezzanine. Known as San Francisco’s best “dance brothel” Deviants runs from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.