Dolores Park Etiquette – Part 3 – Gay Beach

Welcome to the third and final installment of our series on Dolores Park Etiquette.  The first one was General Guidelines, while the second was on Hipster Hill.  This time we’re focusing on Gay Beach.

Prairie P’s and Q’s

Ah, the verdant, pastoral southern slopes of Dolores, crested by sweet magnolias! Fairie Prairie. Gay Shelf. Gay Beach. Whatever your pet name be, nothing quite resembles a Roman holiday when the sun casts its glory across the sky and the lawn becomes a sea of bronzed flesh, peppered with libations of various form.

So, to further the enjoyment and convivial fun-in that which is the southwest corner, here are a few tips and suggestions to keep the party going.

Don’t Hate: No one loves a pill…well at least not the human kind.  If various states of undress, and some splendor in the grass with those of various genders/non-genders puts you ill at ease, shall we suggest you take your 40 elsewhere….like the Central Valley?  Although gay is the blanket term applied to this section, make no mistake that the entire polychromatic gente is here to bask in the sun, dress up like some absinthe-infused hallucination or just snog around.

This is what came up when I googled Gay Gold Lame. It might be the best picture in the world.

This is what came up when I googled "Gay Gold Lame". It might be the best picture in the world.

Love thy Neighbour: The above said, do keep in mind the proximity of your neighbours and their point of view, literally. I have no objection to your gold lame dental floss or your mind-bending yoga poses, just get your bearings before you shake your tail feather. If I want your ass in my face, you’ll know it.

All Creatures, Great and Small: San Franciscans love many a critter, but the sovereign of the kingdom would most definitely be the dog.  Dogs are many things to many people: from cuddly companion to callow fashion accessory. Whatever they are, remember that you should always keep an eye on where they decide to explore, whom they are hanging out with, or attacking for that matter.  Not everyone likes to swap spit with the canine set, so make sure they aren’t merrily helping themselves to someone’s lunch. Not to mention, you don’t want them wandering off with someone else, because that might make you very sad.  That isn’t to say that some comic relief can’t be had with man’s canine pals.

On one occasion a friend of mine’s dog had decided to lift its leg on a sunbathing gentleman nearby. The man jumped up and shrieked, to which his boyfriend responded, “Oh, calm down! It not like that’s the first time you’ve been pissed on.”

Speaking of Piss: So, public urination is a contentious topic in this town. What’s the difference between a wino pissing on your front door and you pissing above the J-Church tracks near the old trolley stop? I’d rather not get into this debate, but rather address the reality of the situation:

The public bathrooms provided in Dolores are quite possibly some of the worst and poorly equipped in the city, and if it’s a busy day, nothing quite broadcasts its siren song as sweetly as the shaded glen fronting Church Street.  Let’s just say this, if you can’t bear to hold it any longer, just be as respectful as you possibly can.  Be mindful of other people’s space and don’t leave bottles, cans, condoms and other crap all over the place.

Also,
-Do MUNI a favour and be careful crossing the tracks.
-Don’t dick around on the tracks.
-Don’t throw shit on the tracks.
-AND, please don’t use the right of way above Twentieth Street. Nothing’s gonna put a damper on your park day like an unexpected run-in with a streetcar.

-Remember, a long tradition exists near the tracks – its called cruising. Just bear in mind that if you decide to unzip your trousers, the ground squirrels may not be your only admirers. If that was your intention, just do the family set a favour and find a large bush or wait ‘til after sunset.

Good Humour: Try and buy a paleta from the paletero whenever you go. This guy’s job sucks. This applies to the rest of the purveyors and food carts that have descended upon the grassy knoll. Just watch out with those truffles.

mmmm...picnic baskets....

mmmm...picnic baskets....

My Picnic Basket is Your Picnic Basket: One of the many things that separates San Francisco from other cities is sharing. If someone offered you something at MacArthur Park in L.A., best case it’s an undercover cop, worst case you end up in County USC.  Here, though, people give out cake, sandwiches, bloody Marys and Lord knows what else. That isn’t to say one shouldn’t exercise some caution. Remember you have no idea where this treat came from or how long its been sitting in the sun.  If you decide that you’re feeling brave, though, remember to be gracious, don’t be a glutton and to pack some extra for someone else the next time.

Divide and Conquer: This is sort of in the same vein as minding other people’s boundaries.  If you rolled out of bed late and the park is already pretty packed, feel free to try and scrounge up your own little parcel, but don’t start tap dancing onto someone else’s checkered cloth when you start to feel buzzed and brazen.  There’s room enough for everyone kids. No one likes to try and have a conversation with their friend through the legs of some dizzy hipster and his twenty friends. Well, not unless that was the plan I guess.

Andy Capp: Everybodys favorite cartoon drunk...next to Barney from the Simpsons of course

Andy Capp: Everybody's favorite cartoon drunk...next to Barney from the Simpsons of course

Dad Go Home: Although, recent hubbub would suggest that the powers that be are trying to sanitize the city and its public spaces a la Times Square, for the most part the SFPD is pretty lenient when it comes to Dolores.  Don’t be an asshole and fuck it up. I’m not saying you can’t get all warm and fuzzy, just don’t turn into a belligerent, red-nosed bum and start hassling people, salivating over some poor object of your bleary eyed affection, or decide to pick a fight.  This isn’t Andy Capp. If you think you might need a nap, you’re probably right.

Don’t Fight: I’m saying it again, hothead. You want to cause a ruckus? Wait until the next demonstration or join a boxing club. No catfights either, there’s room for only one Joan Collins in this world.


Well, that’s my foray into the Judith Martin world. Thoughts, queries? I more than likely forgot a ton of crap so do let us know and I’ll see you on the hill. Abrazo

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About the author

Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder

Stephen's early years were spent in a boxcar overlooking downtown Los Angeles. From there he moved around the state with his family before settling under the warm blanket of smog that covers suburban Southern California. Moving around led to his inabilty to stay in one place for very long, but San Francisco has been reeling him back in with its siren song since 1999. By trade he pours booze, but likes to think he can write and does so occasionally for people like the SF Bay Guardian. He also likes to enoy time spent in old eateries, bars and businesses that, by most standards, would have been condemned a long time ago.

15 Comments

  1. Stefan says:

    When I saw you on Sunday I had just spent my birthday in Dolores park. My parents chose the location we were going to sit.. I knew we were in gay beach… they didn’t! Later that night they said to me “Dolores Park is very unusual! So San Francisco… It was like the whole park was wearing little speedo underwear!”

  2. This is, bar none, the most thorough and thoughtful guide to Dolores Park ever.

    Of course it came from y’all.

    Loves.

  3. Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder says:

    I love the luchadores one. I may have to use that for one of my ¡Chicharrones!

  4. sabina says:

    you forgot queens corner!

  5. hmm…I didn’t realize the there were subdivisions. Where is queens corner exactly?

  6. sabina says:

    oh gay beach/the shelf/faerie prairie/queens corner…it’s all the same

  7. Yeah, I couldn’t resist putting it up there.

  8. Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder says:

    Sorry Sabina! Forgot about that one!

  9. ryan says:

    You nailed it Stephen! I loved it!!! :)

  10. Robert says:

    Great piece and a great series. But I cringe at Stephen’s tip to pee behind a bush up by the Muni tracks. I know the boy’s room is a cluster fuck on a hot day, but please. we have got to find a better way. There was a guy getting a ticket a few weekends back, and I asked the cop what he had done. I mean all around there was public drinking and smoking. Public urination he said. He was also very, very drunk. We were just a little drunk.

  11. Robert-

    I Agree that peeing in the bushes is not optimal, but without any portapotties there’s not a lot of choice. It’s big time bummer :(

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