On Saturday Oct. 3, hundreds of USF students took to the streets in route to the sixth annual San Francisco love festival, this year entitled “LoveEvolution.” The festival has developed quite the reputation during its tenure in the city, and this year didn’t disappoint. However, some aspects of the festival, specifically changes from last year, have caused controversy among the USF student body.
LovEvolution is essentially a citywide rave, featuring techno and electronica music and is, allegedly, a celebration of love, peace, and human unity. The festival begins as a parade up Market Street and ends in the Civic Center Plaza, with the party starting in front of City Hall. In the past, it was always called “San Francisco Love Fest,” and was inspired by a love festival in Berlin. This year the name was changed to LovEvolution due to conflicts with an event in Los Angeles called “The Love Festival.”
The name change didn’t hurt USF student interest; however, the change in admission cost did. Previously, the festival was always free, with a suggested donation, but its continued growth resulted in the implementation of a ten-dollar entrance fee. This fee was meant to aid in security costs, but some USF students are skeptical. Freshmen Maria Palma wasn’t happy about the fee; “I don’t think that the ten-dollar fee was worth it for LovEvolution. It felt more like the ten dollars they were asking for was just a cop out to get extra money.” Other students, like Sophomore Cayden Berkmoyer, thought the chance to dance all day and enjoy the festival’s energy was entirely worth the sacrificial ten bucks.
Berkmoyer describes LovEvolution as a, “quintessentially San Francisco event, harkening back to the days of peace, love, drugs, and rock-n-roll.” He pauses, though, to re-iterate, “I suppose the rock-n-roll is now electronica.” In walking around the festival, a few things become increasingly evident. The first is the level of intoxication of the people in the crowd. By mid-afternoon plenty of hard partiers are out cold, passed out facedown on the pavement, or in the first aid tent. Security guards circle around the various parade floats and dance floors, coming to the rescue of those who have had a little (or a lot) too much to drink. This is not to say that LovEvolution is an unsafe event, though. Alcohol policies are strictly enforced within the walls of the festival, and no one can purchase drinks without an ID verifying their legality. Bags, however, are not thoroughly searched, so some minors do manage to sneak illegal substances in. Freshman Alison Janigian is critical of the festival, claiming that it is simply an excuse for underage girls to, “dress slutty and drink their troubles away.”
Another aspect of the festival unique to LovEvolution is the level of nudity amongst the crowd. People of all ages let their inhibitions go… as well as their clothing. Freshman Ashby Conwell, found the lack of clothing liberating, “There was a lot of nudity but it didn’t feel sexual, it just felt free.” Many other USF students agreed with Conwell, agreeing that LovEvolution is more about a celebration of the human body, rather than degradation.
Every year many USF students put together extravagant costumes for the festival, and this year brought costume making to a brand new level. With the tight economy, many students didn’t have the funds to buy their outfits and stuck to good old fashion arts and crafts. Conwell and her friends wore pre-owned brightly colored clothing and completed their costumes with body paint. Berkmoyer said he wore, “A baby blue long sleeve shirt, multi-colored 80’s shorts, matching sunglasses and glitter. Lot’s of glitter.” Though he thought his outfit was outrageous, it was nothing compared to some of the others, he said. There were people wearing thongs made of feathers, others dressed in full fairy garb, and still others in leather chaps and go-go boots. After a few hours, the dance floor consisted primarily of body paint and sweat.
For some, LovEvolution was a huge success. Freshman Ryan Laursen said the event gave him “really good vibes” and he plans to attend next year. While Palma and Janigian both found the festival to be too focused on drugs, and less about love. At the end of the day, swarms of USF students fought for a space on packed muni buses or braved the wind and cold as they walked back to campus. Some attended after parties, others immediately went to bed, and almost everyone had some sort of crazy story to tell about LovEvolution 2009.