Bearing It All
Come Veterans Day weekend, San Francisco will feel like it's become a whole lot smaller as Bear Pride 2013 takes over. It's Gay Pride but for the Bear community, which doesn't necessarily have to do with physique, but more often the common thread for bears is adorning facial hair.
This is not a community I'm directly a member of. I've only ever grown one hair on my chest, just south of my left nipple, and somehow it disappeared the day after I noticed it. It just wasn't meant to be.
Festival organizers have created this inaugural Bear Pride weekend full of events, shows and parties showcasing the diversity of bear culture and stars who are active in the bear community. Though, in my opinion, the real stars are probably the maids of the host hotels. All I'm saying is that these guys had hairs that wildly went astray after a romp in the sack and wound up lingering for months among my white sheets; it's like finding dry pine needles on your floor two months after you removed your old Christmas tree.
I asked Matt Mikesell, creator of SF Bear Pride and a 17-year San Francisco resident, about the difference between the bear community and the mainstream gay scene.
"Bears are individuals, they have their own tastes, social views, and so on," said Miskell. "Some see 'bear' as an identity and some see it as just a look. I think its a little bit of both."
The Bearracuda club promoter is launching Bear Pride out of necessity for this thriving community. "After International Bear Rendezvous ended in 2011, San Francisco was left without a proper bear weekend. We have a very large community in the Bay Area and Bear Pride was created to fill that void."
Mikesell says as the event progresses they hope to bring in events that will set them apart from other Bear events around the world. This year he is super excited for the Matt Alber and Peaches concerts.
I've combed through the list and put together a rundown of some of the hottest and hairiest Bear Pride happenings.
THURSDAY, NOV. 7
Nightlife At The Academy
Not every Pride-type event needs to revolve around booze and beer busts. Don't worry though, there will be plenty of that later. The California Academy of Sciences is offering a discounted rate to Bear Pride for their Nightlife at The Academy. DJ P. Play of Honey SoundSystem will be on hand to provide beats in between exploring the planetarium, aquarium and the four-story rainforest, and isn't the forest a bear's natural habitat? Or is it Guerneville? 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco. 6pm-10pm.
Welcome Party & Thursday Night Live
The Eagle is proudly flying again with live music every Thursday night and just down the road, The Lone Star Saloon will host the official Bear Pride weekend welcome party. Remember that evening of booze and beer we mentioned a few lines up? Well, here it is! The Eagle, 398 12th St. 9pm-2am. Lone Star Saloon, 1354 Harrison St. 9pm-2am.
FRIDAY, NOV. 8
Matt Alber, Nakia, Jeb Havens at The RickShaw Stop
Hopefully adorning the sexy beard in his promo photos, Matt Alber headlines this evening with his signature mix of guitar and piano stripped-down versions of his album originals. Though, he's also known to do unlikely Madonna and Whitney Houston covers that leave the audience in awe. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St. 8pm.
If you're not usually one for sweets, this is the type of cake for you. There's no cover as The Lone Star Saloon hosts this monthly party of sweet beats by DJs Spaz and Jimmy Swear. Lone Star, 1354 Harrison St. 9pm.
Bears Love Honey
San Francisco-based DJ Collective Honey Soundsystem welcomes Hugo Sanchez from Rome and Virginia from Berlin for an evening of hard partying and dancing that is sure to leave plenty of scuffmarks on the BeatBox dancefloor. Bear Pride tag-holders get in through a priority lane, which seems like a really cool version of FastTrak for bears. Beatbox, 314 11th St., 10pm - 4am.
SATURDAY, NOV. 9
Bearracuda Featuring Peaches
Dance the previous night's hangover away at PublicWorks or fuck the pain away later. However you do it, Bearracuda is the legendary bear party that started it all. On this night they will host a rotating group of DJs including San Francisco's own Stanley Frank, with a headline live music set by the one and only Peaches, who rocked the crowd at this year's Castro Street Fair. It's only $20 or free with tags. Public Works, 161 Erie St., 9pm-3am.
This is not a Sarah McLaughlin show by any means. Truck hosts relentless melodies, rhythms and danceable beats from performing groups Fartbarf, Munecas and Bad Cop, Bad Cop. Truck, 1900 Folsom St., 8pm-12am.
Strip down to your skivvies, longjohns or Underoos as DJs Shane Stiel and John LePage play groovy dance music at the night sponsored by Bear World Magazine. 9pm-3am. Beatbox, 314 11th St.
SUNDAY, NOV. 10
Beer Bust & SF Patio Party
The Eagle will be offering up its Sunday afternoon beer bust and The Lone Star Saloon will be hosting the Sunday afternoon Bear Pride patio party which also has VIP entry for tagholders.
Official Closing Party with DJ Big Dipper
BeatBox hosts the official closing party with an appearance by Big Dipper, a bear of a rapper out of Chicago. With a reputation as a sexual provocateur, the raunchy queer rapper makes everyone bounce and have a good time with his queer mentality, smart lyricism and humor. Beatbox, 314 11th St. 9pm - 3am.