Frequently Asked Questions
What are the dates for the fairs?
Up Your Alley is on Sunday, July 29th, 2018 and Folsom Street Fair is on Sunday, September 30th, 2018. Up Your Alley is always on the last Sunday in July, and, normally, Folsom Street Fair is on the last Sunday in September. However, from time to time, we have to move Folsom Street Fair up a week in order to avoid conflicts with massive conventions for Sales Force and Oracle. This year, Folsom Street Fair will be on its customary Sunday.
Will there be additional security at the fairs? I'm concerned about recent events.
The safety and security of our community is our highest priority, and Folsom Street Events is committed to ensuring that our events are safe for everyone who attends. We are proud of our proven history of uniting adult alternative lifestyle communities with safe venues for self-expression and exciting entertainment and plan to continue to do so.
As with all of our events, the following items are not permitted on the fairgrounds: weapons, knives, sharps, glass bottles, and cans.
We ask attendees to be considerate of the heightened sensitivity to safety concerns. As a community event, security is a community responsibility that is shared among fairgoers, vendors, law enforcement, and the Folsom Street Events Board of Directors, Staff, and Volunteers.
Attendees will notice an increased presence from our private security firm at this year’s events, which will include bag checks and pat-downs, as needed, for individuals wearing loose, oversized or bulky clothing. SFPD’s perimeter presence will remain the same as in prior years, and SFPD will lend support inside the event only as needed. We hope that by increasing private security while continuing the same law enforcement presence, attendees will feel free and secure to come together as a community and enjoy everything that our fairs have to offer.
Where are the fairs?
Both fairs take place in San Francisco’s South of Market district. Locals sometimes refer to this area as “SoMa”.
Up Your Alley takes place on Folsom Street between 9th Street and Juniper, on 10th Street between Howard and Sheridan, and on Dore Street between Howard and the dead end of Dore just passed Powerhouse.
Folsom Street Fair takes place on Folsom Street between 8th and 13th Streets.
How much does it cost to enter the fairs?
At both events, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and our gates volunteers will welcome you and ask you for a charitable donation. When you donate $10 or more, you will receive a fair sticker that will entitle you to $2 off of each drink you purchase from a Folsom Street Events (FSE) beverage booth. So, be generous – give ‘til it hurts, and please drink responsibly!
What are the main attractions at the fairs?
At Up Your Alley, over 10,000 leather and fetish enthusiasts gather for this annual celebration sometimes referred to as “Folsom’s dirty little brother.” This fair features over 50 exhibitor spaces – many with live demonstrations, hot food and cold drinks, and a dance area.
At Folsom Street Fair, nearly 400,000 members of the leather, fetish and BDSM communities gather for what can only be described as the penultimate “only in San Francisco” event. It’s huge, it’s wild, it’s crazy, it’s sexy, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Spread out over 13 city blocks, there is a massive Main Stage (on 10th Street between Howard and Folsom), featuring some of the best up-and-coming electronic and indie rock bands on the planet, as well as two huge dance areas – the Magnitude dance area (on 9th Street between Folsom and Harrison), and the DEVIANTS dance area (on Folsom Street at 13th). Each dance area features a different kind of electronic dance music – circuit in the Magnitude area and underground house in the DEVIANTS area. Over 200 exhibitor spaces sell some of the world’s best leather and fetish gear and attire as well as some amazing adult toys and equipment. We have three food courts, loads of beer and liquor stands, and more live demonstrations that you can imagine! Don’t miss The Playground (on 9th Street between Howard and Folsom), a space for women and genderqueer folks, the Erotic Artists’ Area (on 11th Street between Howard and Folsom), where we feature visual artists and a live performance arts stage, and much more.
Which is the best gate to enter?
At Up Your Alley, you can enter any of our five gates fairly easily. The easiest gate may be Howard at 10th because the street is so wide and we have it well staffed. Avoid the gate on Folsom at 9th Street if you can.
At Folsom Street Fair, try our Howard gates – Howard at 9th, at 10th, and 11thare all good options. Even more so, the gates on the Harrison Street side are our slowest gates, and you can just breeze right in on the south side of the FOLSOM fairgrounds.
Can I smoke at the fairs? It’s outside, right?
Per a new San Francisco city ordinance, all permitted outdoor events must be smoke-free! Please respect your neighbors, and don’t smoke. At the same time, we know that some of you need a cigarette fix or maybe you’re a cigar aficionado; so, you have two options: 1. Exit one of main gates and re-enter when you’re done; or, 2. Find a smoke-friendly business on the fairgrounds.
Can I bring my pet? Can I bring my child?
Please do not bring pets of any kind to our events. Both street fairs are very crowded and sometimes very hot; this is not an appropriate environment for an animal. A stiletto heel may pierce on your oh-so-cute pooch dressed in a leather harness, and you do NOT want that! Please do not bring children less than 18 years of age to our street fairs; the environment is very much for adults only. If you want to “expose” your child to alternative sexualities, there are other ways to do it – read a book, watch a movie, or attend a conference. Our gates and security volunteers will stop you, discourage you from entering and reinforce our policy directly with you (repeatedly). Find a babysitter; and, enjoy a day with your adult fetish friends.
How do I get to the Closing Party after Up Your Alley…after Folsom Street Fair?
This year, the closing parties for both Up Your Alley (ROUGH) and Folsom Street Fair (DEVIANTS) will be at the same location: Mezzanine. The venue is located at 444 Jessie Street; this is a short, 10-15 minute walk from the fairgrounds. Exit on the Howard side of either fair, make your way to Mission Street and head east toward downtown (i.e. the numbered streets should be going down). Turn north (or left) off of Mission between 5TH and 6TH Streets. You can find tickets HERE for ROUGH and HERE for DEVIANTS. Limited door tickets will be available.
Can I be nude at the fairs?
Yes, you may be naked at either or both fairs. Per a law banning nudity in San Francisco, permitted street fairs like ours are exempt. So, please, dress up to come on down, and then, strip down to whatever you like. We have one coat and clothes check area at Up Your Alley and two areas at Folsom Street Fair. Nude is not lewd at our events, so there’s no need to fret.
What is the policy on “lewd” behavior?
Folsom Street Events follows all local, State, and Federal laws to the best of our ability and intervenes in any discovered instances of lewd behavior. FSE maintains a strong relationship with SFPD, and, as such, we have implemented and continue to enforce a three strikes policy on lewd behavior, as follows: Step 1 – Verbal warning. Our Security team may stop you and ask that you take your given activity (e.g., masturbation, oral/anal/vaginal sex) indoors to an appropriate establishment like Blow Buddies; Step 2 – Ejection from the fair. Our Security team will escort you to the closest gate, requesting that you do not return. If needed, we will ask for SFPD assistance, and we will alert our gates personnel that you are not allowed to re-enter; and, Step 3 – Citation. If you are found back on the fairgrounds, we will turn the matter over to SFPD.
I’m 18, 19, or 20 years old. Can I come to the fairs?
Yes, please come to the fair. There is much to see and learn. And, hell, you’re an adult! Sure, you can’t drink; and, please, don’t even try to. All of our beverage volunteers are LEAD-trained by an ABC-certified trainer, and you will be carded upon any and every purchase of alcohol. That said, we do have lots of non-alcoholic options (e.g., water, juice), and you can enjoy all of the entertainment and educational opportunities that we have to share with you.
Can I ride my bike or motorcycle to the fairs?
Yes, we encourage you do bike, if you can. Motorcycle parking will be on 9th Street – enter on the Harrison Street side, please. San Francisco Dykes on Bikes Women’s Motorcycle Contingent hosts this service; there is a $5 fee to park your motorcycle. Please tip them liberally. Bicycle parking will be on 12th Street – again, please enter on the Harrison Street side. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition provides this free service; however, tips are gladly accepted and greatly appreciated! You may also check your coat, clothes or other belongings here for a small fee.
Why can't I buy a bottle of water at the fair?
Due to a new San Francisco ordinance No. 009-17 – Bottled Water and Package Free Ordinance, single-serve water bottles cannot be sold or provided on public property at a permitted event. This ordinance helps reduce waste and encourages the use of refilling stations. To make water available to fairgoers, FSE has located Water Towers throughout the fairground. Please consider purchasing a foldable Folsom bottle, reusing a juice bottle, or refilling your own canteen before relying on a cup. Even though the water cups are compostable, they still add to the amount of waste generated. Help us be greener than we already are!
Is accessible parking available?
If you are disabled and require accessible parking, it is available (i.e. “blue zones”) at both fairs. At Up Your Alley, the four spots are located on Howard at Dore. You will see a clearly posted sign that spans the duration of the fair. At Folsom Street Fair, there are fourteen spots in total – the same four spots from Up Your Alley (Howard at Dore), and then ten additional spots on Harrison – Harrison at 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. Please refer to our fair maps for the exact locations.
Where is "Lost and Found"? How is it managed?
The fairs’ headquarters (HQ) is located on Dore at Folsom. Our Security team is stationed here; and, if and when items are turned into us, they may be found at Security in HQ. If the fair is over (i.e., after 6:00 pm), you may have to wait until the Wednesday after the fair. Our Lost and Found makes its way onto our trucks and then makes its way back to our offices. You may leave a message at 415.552.3247 with a description of your item, and we will do our best to get it back to you. If you lose your wallet (even temporarily), we encourage you to cancel all of your debit and credit cards for the sake of added security and for the prevention of identity theft.
Where should I stay? Is/are there (a) host hotel(s)?
Check out our 2017 hotels HERE.
What’s the best way to get around the city?
If you’re traveling around the SF Bay Area (particularly from SFO or OAK), use Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). The system is fairly convenient and reliable as well. The average cost from the airport is between $7 and $10. Within the City, you can use Muni, our municipal transportation system of railway cars, buses, and trolleys. The system shuts down at night, so you may have to rely on alternative forms of transportation like cabs and/or ride services like Lyft, and Uber.
What kind of weather can I expect?
The infamous Mark Twain quote “I’ve never spent a winter colder than a summer in San Francisco” couldn’t ring truer! So, even though you may be tempted to pack shorts for Up Your Alley in July, we don’t advise it. Typically, San Francisco is cool in the traditional summer months (June – August); however, things heat up in September – both figuratively and literally. San Francisco often enjoys a late summer in the second half of the month. Regardless of when you visit, always layer your clothing; at a minimum, carry a light jacket to protect from the breeze. If you forget one, you can buy a new FOLSOM zip-up hoodie at our merchandise booth. Alternatively, if it’s hot and sunny, our First Aid booth (located on the north side of Folsom and Dore) has sunscreen. Always check Weather.com before you pack.
What is nightlife like in San Francisco? What is there to do?
South of Market: SoMa bars like Powerhouse, The Lone Star Saloon, Hole in the Wall, and The SF Eagle are infamous as part of the fabric of our leather scene. They each feature a particular slant on the community’s interests – Powerhouse is our traditional leather/Levi bar with lots of hosted club nights and great underground music, The Lone Star Saloon is the ultimate bear bar, Hole in the Wall is the seediest of dive bars, and The SF Eagle features stiff drinks, rock ‘n’ roll and a sprawling patio for hot summer nights. Looking for a fun drag show? Head to SF Oasis to see the best drag San Francisco has to offer. SoMa hosts some of the best sex clubs in the world, including Blow Buddies on Harrison near 4TH. Blow Buddies features theme nights of all varieties; click HERE for a complete schedule of events.
Castro: Bars like 440 Castro (formerly Daddy’s) and The Edge make up the heart of leather Castro. Fur fans will relish in Sunday Furry Sunday or any number of other parties at 440 Castro. It’s a great “go-to” bar where you’re guaranteed a fun time among throngs of hot men. For a bathhouse/sex club experience, check out Eros on Market Street (between Church and Dolores). And, yes, that was Eros that was featured in the HBO series “Looking” – just like Folsom Street Fair! If you’re in the Castro by day, get one of THE BEST cuts, trims or shaves you’ll get in your life at Daddy’s Barbershop. The staff is one of the most talented and hottest in town.
Berkeley: Don’t miss your chance to visit the legendary Steamworks location in the East Bay. Hop on BART and make your way to this notable bathhouse, featuring hot showers, steamy saunas, a full gym, and sex mazes. Click HERE for more information!
What should I see and do when I’m in San Francisco, other than the fairs?
As you head into the final weekend of SF Leather Week, shopping for gear and toys at Mr. S Leather is a ritual for leather folk from all over the world. This exciting shop will get your blood pumping and work you up for a taste of the good stuff! Then, head on down to grab a coffee and some cake at Wicked Grounds, one of the world’s only BDSM cafés. The café plays host to inspirational artwork and cultural events (e.g., music, poetry) around both fairs, so check out their website HERE.