all photos by Gooch
If you haven’t heard of Up Your Alley, the naughtiest event of the year in San Francisco, you might not want to keep reading this. Or is your interest piqued?
Up Your Alley, or sometimes simply referred to as Dore Alley in reference to its location, is a leather and fetish event held on the last Sunday of July every year. The concept seems to be the same as any street festival: streets are lined with vendor booths, performers do their thing on the main stage, DJs play really good music, and people dance and wander about while partaking in the festive atmosphere.
But those vendor booths sell kink paraphernalia—from your basic whips and cuffs, to slings and harnesses, and items that we couldn’t understand how to use without Googling step-by-step instructions. They encourage demonstrations, right there in front of whoever would like to watch, and there are usually plenty of people who are happy to volunteer. Floggings? Yes. People tied up with ropes? Yes. Grown men wearing puppy masks, following their masters on leashes? There will be many. And of course expect lots of clandestine shenanigans within the crowd, with sneaky rubs and grabs and perhaps a tweak and a twist if the right body parts are exposed. In this crowd, they usually are.
But there is more to the crowd at Up Your Alley than just the rough play stuff. The kink and fetish community who gathers here is just that: it’s a community, where like-minded gentlemen enjoy being together, where they can drop their guard (and perhaps their pants) among friends. The guys at Up Your Alley greet each other with smiles and hugs, as friends do on the street, even if they are wearing leather jockstraps and nipple clamps. Because this is what happens sometimes on the streets of San Francisco.
Keep in mind, San Francisco summers are chilly, and that leather jockstrap does not provide much insulation. But with the scent of leather conditioner and mansweat wafting through the air, everyone’s blood should be pumping enough to keep warm. And we mention the weather because if you’ve read this far, you’re thinking about what you would wear if you were there, aren’t you?
Up Your Alley is Sunday, July 28, 2019 from 11:00am to 6:00pm, on Folsom Street between 9th and 10th Streets and on Dore Street from Howard Street. A donation of $10 is suggested at the entrance.