News Briefs: Groups launch downtown SF street parties

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday May 1, 2024
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San Francisco drag laureate D'Arcy Drollinger, shown here on the main stage at last year's San Francisco Pride celebration, is a partner for Downtown First Thursdays. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland
San Francisco drag laureate D'Arcy Drollinger, shown here on the main stage at last year's San Francisco Pride celebration, is a partner for Downtown First Thursdays. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

A coalition of organizations is launching Downtown First Thursdays, a free all-ages street party that will take place the first Thursdays of the month from 5 to 10 p.m. It starts May 2 and runs through April 2025, a news release stated.

San Francisco drag laureate and Oasis LGBTQ nightclub owner D'Arcy Drollinger is one of the organizers.

"Oasis is excited to be partnering with Downtown First Thursdays," Drollinger stated. "It is our continued goal to elevate and celebrate the art of drag. And what better way than bringing this fabulous art form out of the clubs and into the streets as part of this celebration that highlights the vibrant and inclusive spirit of our city?"

Downtown First Thursdays will take place in the street and neighboring businesses on Second Street, from Market to Folsom streets, and the alleys on Jessie, Minna, and Natoma streets, the release noted.

The creative undertaking will see hundreds of artists, musicians, performers, culture makers, and food and retail vendors on the streets with the goal of bringing thousands of people downtown every month, kicking off a new San Francisco tradition, and igniting a new era of civic pride downtown, the release stated.

Special guest Aluna will perform for opening night. Attendees will enjoy disco in the streets, DJs, live music, drag, martial arts, fashion, and street performances, according to the release.

Into the Streets, the partnership behind Downtown First Thursdays, includes the Civic Joy Fund, East Cut Community Benefit District, Yerba Buena Community Benefit District, Natoma Cabana, and 111 Minna Gallery. In addition to Oasis, creative partners include The Midway, Another Planet Entertainment, Noise Pop, KALW, Grace Towers, A Little x, and Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, the release stated.

Some of the events include an outdoor beer garden and programming by KALW at 111 Minna Gallery, located at 111 Minna Street. Natoma Cabana, at 90 Natoma Street, will hold an outdoor dance hall and an outdoor bar for those aged 21 and over.

Organizers noted the importance of efforts to revitalize downtown in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic.

"What I love most about this work and creating DFT is getting to see everyone — neighborhood groups, residents, creative partners, small businesses, major employers, city partners, electeds, and funders — answer the call to be their best selves and show up for each other and our city when we need each other the most," stated Katy Birnbaum, Into the Streets founder. "Rebuilding downtown and our economy is huge and can feel daunting, but everyone can be part of the solution with a first, simple step."

The event is funded by Bob and Randi Fisher and Levi Strauss & Co. via the Civic Joy Fund, the release noted.

Downtown First Thursdays is the latest in a surge of night markets and street activations across San Francisco. Gay District 4 Supervisor Joel Engardio launched a night market in the Sunset district last fall that proved popular with more expected later this year. Chinatown has a night market that takes place the second Friday of the month through November.

For more information on Downtown First Thursdays and a link to secure tickets, go to

Benefit for Oakland LGBTQ cultural district

The Lakeshore LGBTQ Cultural District in Oakland is holding a fundraiser, Drag Around the Rink, Wednesday, May 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Henry J. Kaiser Center for the Arts, 10 10th Street in downtown Oakland.

A news release stated that in addition to skating there will also be dancing. Bay Area DJ Christie James will host. James, who identifies as pansexual and bisexual, has been involved in Oakland Pride events in previous years and is a resident of the city, as the Bay Area Reporter noted in a 2022 profile.

Host emcee will be Yb Babie.

There will be a concession stand on hand where families can enjoy refreshments, the release stated.

Funds raised will go toward essential community projects, including the installation and maintenance of a rainbow crosswalk in the district, banners promoting the district, and ambassadors, the release stated.

As the B.A.R. previously reported, the Lakeshore LGBTQ Cultural District is anchored by the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center on Lakeshore Avenue, and encompasses parts of the Lakeshore and Grand neighborhoods. The City Council approved the district last fall.

Cultural district representatives were excited about the upcoming fundraiser.

"We are thrilled to invite the community to Drag Around the Rink," stated Jeff Myers, a co-founder of the community center and board president of the cultural district. "This event embodies the spirit of unity and support that defines our district, and we're excited to see everyone come together to celebrate and contribute to our shared goals."

In addition to the community center, event sponsors include the Oakland Roots Sports Club, Henry J. Kaiser Center for the Arts, Turn Out, Oakland Pride, and Children's Fairyland.

Tickets are $25 general admission; $20 for students and seniors; and $15 for kids 11 years of age and under. To purchase tickets, click here.

Holocaust remembrance at Pink Triangle Park

The Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association will hold a Holocaust memorial event at Pink Triangle Park Monday, May 7, at 6 p.m. This is the organization's third annual intersectional queer and Jewish memorial event to commemorate Yom Ha'Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). Clergy from Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, the predominantly LGBTQ synagogue near the Castro, will lead the outdoor service.

Pink Triangle Park is located at the intersection of 17th and Market streets.

Queer documentary projects receive grants

At least two documentary projects related to the LGBTQ community have received funding from California Humanities. The organization announced the recipients of the 2024 California Documentary Project April 29. A total of $400,000 will be distributed among 13 new film, audio, and interactive media productions in different categories that document the Golden State in all its complexity, according to a news release.

Kartemquin Educational Films' "Barbara Hammer Project" received a production grant of up to $50,000. The project director is Brydie O'Conner. The documentary portrait explores the films, archives, and ongoing cultural impact of filmmaker Hammer, and her career-long effort to create and record lesbian histories, according to the release.

FJC, a foundation of donor advised funds, received a research and development grant of up to $15,000 for its podcast project, "When We All Get to Heaven." This audio documentary uses archival recordings to tell the story of how a San Francisco church serving an LGBTQ+ congregation faced the spiritual, social, and political trials of the AIDS epidemic in the years before treatment, the release stated.

Other funded projects are about the culture and diversity of Siskiyou County in Northern California; a Fresno-based Harriet Tubman Civil War reenactor; and the aftermath and legacy of a 1989 school shooting on Stockton's Cambodian community.

For a full list of the grant recipients, click here.

BART recruiting for security advisory panel

The regional BART transportation agency is recruiting people for several open seats on its Transit Security Advisory Committee, or TSAC.

TSAC is the citizen and community oversight committee that works to ensure the implementation of Assembly Bill 716, which was authored in 2011 by then-Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) and signed by former governor Jerry Brown. The law allows BART police officers the authority to issue prohibition orders to offenders who are cited or arrested for certain offenses. The oversight group, comprised of at least five citizens, serves as a volunteer review body for the implementation of BART's prohibition policy, according to a news release.

BART board-appointed members of TSAC are professionals in the areas of mental health, homelessness, public safety, youth advocacy, and cultural awareness. The committee reports directly to the BART board of directors.

BART is currently looking for people to serve in the following open seats: two alternate committee members in the law enforcement, mental health, general public, or youth categories, but no more than one alternate per category; one law enforcement representative; and two public-at-large representatives.

The application deadline is Friday, May 10, at 5 p.m. Interested people can use DocuSign to complete the application.

There is also a link to the application in the news release

People can contact the BART secretary's office at (510) 464-6083 with any questions.

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