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A Guide to Bay to Breakers Etiquette

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A couple naked dudes in front of a Gymboree.

Well, friends, it’s that time of year again. The magical weekend in May when the entire 18-35 population of the Bay Area casts off their inhibitions and most/all of their clothes to run through the city streets with a blatant disregard for open container laws as they make their way from the Bay to the Pacific Ocean. Of course 99% of these people won’t even make it to Stanyan Street and will probably end up asleep on my doorstep, but that won’t stop them from making the drive up from Santa Clara University to don a fake grass skirt and drunkenly try to hula the hill to Alamo Square.

While this may appear to be totally acceptable behavior under the mob mentality (and I’m not above passing out taking an afternoon nap in a sunny Golden Gate Park meadow either), there are some common sense Do’s and Don’ts that I think we can all agree on. Maybe if we talk them out before Sunday’s “Race” then things will go smoother for all of us and I won’t have to punch some frat dude dressed as 1/2 of the Ambiguously Gay Duo in the throat.

Do come prepared with plenty of booze.

The only thing worse than running out of booze, is being pretty drunk and trying to mooch some warm beers off of the kids dressed as Legends of the Hidden Temple –who are themselves a little low on supplies because their one friend just kind of showed up and has been handing out all their jello shots to her boyfriend that no one likes. The only time it’s acceptable to “borrow” a few drinks is when you’e offered them…which is pretty much most of the race.

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Don’t mess with the upstream Salmon.

In case you’ve been too drunk to notice, every year there’s a group in some pretty elaborate Salmon costumes who start at Ocean Beach and run upstream back to the Bay. Don’t try to get in their way or you’ll ruin their chances at spawning and you will upset the fishing industry (and me, because I really like fish tacos). Also, I heard if you just show up with a half-assed Salmon suit and try to run with them, they’ll beat the roe out of you.

Do be the clever group costume.

Ninja Turtles? Ok, that works I guess. The entire cast of Arrested Development? You’re getting a bit dated with that one, but I’ll allow it. Chasing your Latino friends down the street, dressed as Donald Trump? Now you’re getting timely with your references! +1.

Don’t be the creepy naked shrinkage guy with the cock ring and the ski mask and the wizard staff.

Yeah, I know that’s an incredibly specific Don’t, but seriously? This guy is like a much weirder, much more naked Frank Chu – you might as well face the fact that at some point on Sunday you’re going to turn around and catch an eyeful that you really didn’t need after a morning of drinking warm Bud Light. (Also, if you’re not someone who frequents Baker Beach, look out for the “yellow nudie balloons“)

Don’t forget how you’re going to get home.

Like I said, I’ve passed out in the Park on more than one failed attempt to make it all the way to Ocean beach, but I also lived by the panhandle and not Sunnyvale. So it’s not like I had to hop on CalTrain to get back to my apartment.

Do make a reasonable attempt to pee in a semi-private area.

I know the lines for the porta-potties can get lengthy despite the fact that they’ve been increasing in number every year, but if you’re gonna ditch the lines in favor a more open-air restroom solution (and we really suggest you use the porta-potties), at least find a tree or a bush or something. If for no other reason than your own dignity. You don’t want to end up on the “People Peeing at Bay to Breakers” flickr group. Which leads me to the next point…

Don’t pee on someone’s door.

Common sense, but how would you like it if some homeowner on Hayes walked in to your apartment building dressed as a Gladiator and lifted his man-skirt to soil your doormat?

Do have a grand ol’ time.

Seriously, what am I? Your dad or something? Just go out there and act like a reasonably drunk human being instead of an incredibly wasted garbage monster.

Oh and if you want a better sense of what you can or can’t do, check out this excellent What Can You Get Away With at Bay to Breakers? writeup on SFAppeal. And if you get hit by a water balloon as you walk down Divisadero, then it wasn’t me.

[Salmon photo via, Elvises via Jesse Keyes]

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Andrew Dalton - Aggressive Panhandler

Andrew Dalton - Aggressive Panhandler

Andrew is an East Coast transplant from Virginia hamming it up in San Francisco without any intention of leaving. Having worked every typical job from Bike Shop Employee to Bartender to Ad Agency Hotshot, to Dotcom Layoff he now busts his ass covering the "weird things to do" beat for gracious local audiences at and rallies the Western Addy/Lower Haight/Panhandle neighborhoods into action at His work was published in a real, paper magazine one time. One day he might even figure out how to make money from it.


  1. […] 5th Anniversary on Saturday! Written by Christy Jovanelly – Cheapskate Commentator May 14, 2010 A Guide to Bay to Breakers Etiquette Written by Andrew Dalton – Aggressive Panhandler Grease 2 Sing-a-long: Worth the Shame? Written […]

  2. Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap
    May 14, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Good shit Andrew! You out did yourself sir 🙂

    “Just go out there and act like a reasonably drunk human being instead of an incredibly wasted garbage monster” is brilliant!

  3. […] 5th Anniversary on Saturday! Written by Christy Jovanelly – Cheapskate Commentator A Guide to Bay to Breakers Etiquette Written by Andrew Dalton – Aggressive Panhandler Grease 2 Sing-a-long: Worth the Shame? Written […]

  4. […] from previous years B2B, heard fun stories from friends and co-workers, and caught up on some B2B etiquette (DON’T MESS WITH THE SALMON!!) Along with a group of other noobies, we armed ourselves with a […]

  5. May 18, 2010 at 3:24 am

    Wear a cape. It help considerably when trying to pee in public (at a bush or tree) and for groups of girls its especially helpful to have a few flankers with capes