FREE party at the Bandshell in Golden Gate Park.

14 10 2009

I love Golden Gate Park.

Living in and surrounded by concrete & road rage, human beings need a place to balance that energy out. A place without cars and where there’s still some nature that we haven’t managed to destroy just yet. Everyone in San Francisco has access to this amazing multi-billion dollar backyard and I never have to worry about mowing the lawn. I don’t care if I sound like a crusty hippy, but Man. I love Golden Gate Park.

The Bandshell is a pretty interesting part of the park. You have The California Academy of Sciences to the south and you have De Young Museum & The Japanese Tea Gardens to the North. It’s very much a tourist magnet because of those structures but it’s kind of interesting to spend the day having a picnic at the Bandshell and overhearing conversations in several different languages. This place really is a magnet that attracts people from all over the world.

And it’s also where the local natives have had some amazing free park parties over the years. I think you could do an entire coffee table book on the free outdoor park party scene in the Bay Area. It’s a very unique and visually interesting not-so-secret club. I remember coming to my first party in the park when I moved here 14 years ago. I was living at the dorms at SF State and found myself surrounded by all these interesting, older, and experienced urban locals. I remember thinking to myself, “This is where I want to be.”

Parties like this used to happen all the time with nowhere near the level of online marketing machines that exists today. There were days that I would be riding my bike through the park and hear beats coming from the Bandshell and think “That sounds like House. Let me go investigate” And then I would spend the rest of the day dancing my ass off in the park. Here are just a few of the flyers that I saved over the years.



The Bandshell has beautiful architecture.

(The old) Funky Tekno Tribe used to dominate with their Organics in the Park.

I distinctly remember they had one to promote their upcoming Halloween Massive. It was Jeno and DJ Dan in the park and Dan spun this remixed version of Aretha Franklin’s Respect. And what’s amazing is that it was on the exact same day as Sunset’s last park party of the year at Berkley Marina. Not only did free park parties like this used to happen all the time, but sometimes you would even have different ones happening on the exact same day.


To my knowledge, this is the only time the 4 of these guys have gotten together to do a Wicked in the park.

That alone would make this party unique, but the day that it happened to fall on also cements it as a very unique gathering.

This was a really infamous party. The “special guest” was suppose to be Supastar DJ Keoki. Some big 1015 type of club had flown him out from New York and paid him suitcases full of cash to spin at their club, but when he got out here he was so annihilated on drugs he was unable to perform and unable to do the surprise park party the next day. Legend has it, someone was walking around selling a box of mixtapes at the park party (This is how old this story is, we were all listing to cassette tapes back then) when this spun-out kid rushed the mixtape seller and asked “Do you have any Keoki tapes?”

And the guy responded, “Keoki’s ego couldn’t fit into my cassette tape box.”

And then the kid looked depressed, stared at the ground, and was all “I’m Keoki”

Sunset has since taken on the tradition of parties in the bandshell. This is a really well put together video by Jayson Yagi I love how he captures the feeling of walking back from the bathrooms, through those midget trees, and into the party. You can see the cranes to the south that were building the California Academy of Sciences during this period. That was a glorious day in the park.

This day was a bit more overcast. But, hey. Welcome to San Francisco.

I love this video by Mr. Holehead because it does a great job of showing the constantly changing characters and energy right by the DJ booth that’s spinning New York Techno in Golden Gate Park.

The free parties at the Bandshell in Golden Gate Park used to happen all the time but lately they have become an endangered species. I find myself feeling very lucky to have been a part of that history and grateful that I live in a city where people will spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars to make free events like this happen.

Thank you, San Francisco.


8 minutes of video from DJ Apollo 2K of yesterdays Sunset party, the last Sunset park party of 2009, at the Bandshell in Golden Gate Park.



5 responses

16 10 2009

great post…really great post…sunsets are so unique and amazing. i love that the same folks have been going to pacific sound parties for over a decade…i love mashing out to a sunset party and seeing people who i first met as a 15 year old at point molate in 1996…don’t even know each other’s name per se but recognize each other’s faces…all these little raver kids grown up still enjoying the music and that Sunset vibe.

16 10 2009

oh yeah, plus, OWEN ART!!!

16 10 2009
Michael Bolger

Owen brought a Great Gatsby level of production values & commitment to his free parties. I remember stumbling across one of his Bandshell parties completely by accident and it turned out one of my favorite DJs, Mark E Quark was spinning. THEN Owen had a free underground later that night at a place on Minna. That’s commitment right there. That guy definitely left his mark on this city.

16 10 2009
john sakkis

acme warehouse on Minna?

16 10 2009
Michael Bolger

Not the Acme Warehouse, but some other place on Minna that I’ve never been to since.

That was the thing about his Out-of-Sight parties is that Owen took chances and would break new places in. The parties were pretty hit or miss with me, but they took me to some interesting places in the city that I’ve only ever been that one time and that was it.

Ah, adventures in the underground. Sometimes parties are just a great excuse to get out of the house and explore new places in your city / planet. Funny that I’ve been seeing the same faces in the park, at an underground, or in the Black Rock Dessert all these years. All these people that are on the same adventure into the underground.

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