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How The Gay Street Fair Known As Dore Alley Became The Warm-Up For Folsom

On Sunday, LGBT folk — though primarily gay men in the leather community — will take over the two blocks of Folsom Street on either side of Dore Street, as well as the alley itself, for an afternoon of drinking, dancing, and open-air sexual deviance. Folsom Street Events bills the fair as “Folsom Street Fair’s dirty little brother,” and indeed in recent years it has tended to be a bit more sexually explicit and less tourist-friendly than the much larger Folsom Street Fair in September. “Up Your Alley® is only for real players – and not for the faint of heart – where leather daddies rule the streets of San Francisco’s South of Market district,” the website reads.

Drawing about 15,000 people — compared to the 250,000 or more who attend Folsom — Dore Alley tends to feel like more of a community affair, and a (mostly) gay-male block party for both fetishists and local gawkers alike.

But the two fairs that occur eight weeks apart used to be two unaffiliated events, though Up Your Alley has always been the smaller and arguably dirtier of the two.

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And let’s be honest, that’s pretty darn gay.