I don't like crowds. I don't like loud music. I don't like standing around in the heat.
So what did Patrick and I do yesterday? That's right, we went to the LovEvolution parade in downtown San Francisco. For the uninitiated, LovEvolution is an annual event patterned after Berlin's Love Parade, and if you don't know what that is then all I can say is that basically it's a celebration of trance music and rave culture and everyone being groovy. Or whatever the kids call it these days.
Anyway, as all good things do, it started with a parade. Twenty-five floats made their way down Market Street to Civic Center Plaza, each one featuring a different dj playing what (to me) sounded like the same song over and over while people on the float jumped up and down, people in the street jumped up and down, and people who had no idea what was going on stood and stared at the people jumping up and down. Jumping up and down seems to be an important part of rave culture, which if you ask me is perfectly charming.
Oh, and everyone wears costumes. Or nothing. Take the girls in the picture to the right. Patrick wanted to ask the one on the left if she knew her ass was eating her shorts. Poor thing. I'm sure she was chilly.
As I said, this is the kind of event you normally couldn't pay me to go to. But here's the thing--it was enormously fun. I was prepared to be annoyed, but I decided to just go with it and see what it was all about. Just going with it is my new thing. I'm trying not to be annoyed by the things that generally annoy me, which is to say everything other people do.
And really, I ought to have been annoyed. For one thing, everyone there was about 12. I'm serious. It was like some freaky middle school prom where everyone wore love beads and cat ears and tape over their nipples. More than once Patrick or I said, "Do you think her parents know she left the house looking like that?" When a girl who clearly wasn't old enough to have her learner's permit walked by wearing nothing but a shiny gold jockstrap and fairy wings, we almost threw a hoodie over her and gave her a good talking to. This is what happens when you have children of your own--you worry about other people's. But she seemed happy enough, so whatever.
Not that everything was perfect. Getting to the parade was a little slice of hell that threatened to derail my whole going with it approach. And there were a lot of people who clearly had had too much to drink and/or missed the message of Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign. Not that most of them were even born when Nancy Reagan was shaking her index finger at us and grimacing disapprovingly. Still, you'd think they'd know not to mix their happy pills.
Take a look at the photo to the left. Do you see the shirtless young man in red shorts sitting atop the speakers with his back to us? Yes? Well. When the float stopped in front of us, Patrick said, "That dude is so tweaked."
Seconds later the dude leaned out over the crowd, his hands raised. The people below him raised their hands and jumped up and down, expecting him to toss out glow-in-the-dark bracelets. Instead, he tossed his cookies. All over them. This photo shows him about twenty seconds later, when some of his floatmates were trying to get him to come down.
Don't judge, okay? When I was the age most of the parade participants were we thought it was cool to drive around playing KISS and Cheap Trick as loud as possible. We also drank copious amounts of wine coolers, many of which ended up coming back to haunt us. It's what you do when you're 15. Or 25. Or 35. Some of us outgrow it sooner than others.
Patrick and I did feel a little old, though. This is how we appeared to the revelers. I'm sure most of them were wondering what their grandfathers were doing at their parade. They probably thought we were old pervs hoping to get a glimpse of some young skin.
Neither Patrick nor I ever did the rave thing, or the circuit party thing, or really any thing. And just between us, I think grown men going to things like White Parties is really silly. But I get it. Jumping up and down to loud music while dressed like a bunny is pretty awesome. It's just not really us.
In the spirit of things I did attempt to get Patrick to do a modified version of the jumping thing that involved making our hands into claws and going Grr-Grr-Grr while bouncing up and down, but I don't think the Bear Rave will be catching on any time soon. For one thing, they'd have to reinforce the dance floor. For another, many of us have bad knees.
Speaking of old men, the guy on the left was completely beside himself, although I couldn't tell if it was with horror or arousal. He just walked along the sidewalk, his camera held high, snapping continuously. Those of us who live here are never surprised to see mostly-naked people skipping down Market Street in pink afro wigs, but to some visitors it's a novelty. We had the great fortune to be standing next to an Indian family in the city on vacation. They were absolutely fascinated by the parade, although I heard one of the older women remark to another that San Francisco had nothing on Bollywood.
Here's my other favorite guy. You can't see him terribly well, but you can see his sign. It says: "Fuck you! Give me a dollar!" We didn't.
All in all, we had a good time. Reading reports of the parade later I saw a lot of complaining about litter and spaced-out revelers and such, and I'm sure there were problems of one sort and another. But my overall impression was that this was mostly about having fun. And no matter how well-run an event like this is, someone is going to bitch about it. You could have the San Francisco Opera do a free performance of La Boheme in Golden Gate Park for tsunami victims and somebody would complain that the resulting traffic made it difficult for them to get to their yoga class.
My advice to them: Just go with it.