2009 San Francisco LovEvolution: A Clusterf*ck

Written by William Chadwick. Posted in Arts/Entertainment, Culture, Opinion

Published on October 08, 2009 with 5 Comments

The 2009 love festival, renamed LovEvolution, attracted too many
people resulting in a less than enjoyable experience than in previous years.
Photos by Luke Thomas

By William Chadwick

October 8, 2009

First of all, I want to thank all of the people involved in organizing the fantastic Love Parade and LovEvolution. I had a great time at the parade and I was fortunate enough to be helping out Josh Smith, one of the organizers.

But it all went a bit wrong when I arrived at Civic Center. There was simply too many people, and trying to police and contain the whole event was simply unmanageable. There was a woeful shortage of toilets and the queues were very long indeed.

Once on the plaza, the growing numbers of people meant that moving around became more and more difficult, until I eventually just gave up and went and sat down on patch of grass in the middle of the plaza, farthest from any of the floats. In the end, I hardly danced for more than ten minutes because there was absolutely no room among the throng and press of people packed liked sardines close to each of the DJ floats. If you tried to dance further away from a particular float, you had to listen to more than one kind of music at once. And then you got mowed down by all the drunk people, pushing and shoving their way around the square.

On top of this, the vast numbers of people trying to meet up with their friends had no luck at all, as phones had jammed the network, and text messages arrived up to three hours after they had been sent. Trying to stay with a group of more than two people was next to impossible.

Ironically, for a Love festival, I saw quite a few angry people, and had to sidestep what looked like at least one very heated argument. What’s more, there were some frankly sordid things going on in the crowd that didn’t just involve drugs and body parts, but video cameras too.

I am told that previous love festivals allowed for much more room between the floats, and greater freedom of movement, and I would urge the organizers to consider more separation between the floats. As this festival draws larger and larger crowds from out of state and outside the country, next year’s effort can only be expected to get uglier and more out of control than this year if the current format remains the same.

Though the event did have a distinctly Burning Man flavor to it, it was a far cry from the Black Rock City love-in. In attempting to squeeze a little bit of Burning Man, with its colourful costumes and hippies galore, into Civic Center and then adding a lot of other non-Burners, LovEvolution was trying to do too much.

It is a shame, but in its present incarnation the love festival was really rather short on love. There was a palpable air of menace hanging over the crowd, which I feared would rear its ugly head once the sun went down. I didn’t bother staying to find out: I had to go to the toilet anyway.

William Chadwick

William Chadwick is a young English writer who has recently moved to San Francisco from London. He has worked on-and-off in journalism for almost ten years. He is passionate about the theater, and has directed and written several plays. He is currently trying his hand at teaching English.

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Comments for 2009 San Francisco LovEvolution: A Clusterf*ck are now closed.

  1. In a post above, Greg says:

    “If you’re, say, a conservative teetotaler who’s afraid of so much as hearing a swear word, you probably shouldn’t go to these things.”

    I love watching defamatory stereotyping at play in politics.

    And especially by those who claim to be defending a festival devoted to Love!

  2. The way I interpret that quote is that if it was JUST drugs and body parts, it wouldn’t be so bad, but the video cameras made it somehow more sordid. Anyway, everyone has their own level of tolerance for things they see. If you’re, say, a conservative teetotaler who’s afraid of so much as hearing a swear word, you probably shouldn’t go to these things. The gist of the article, however, was that there were simply too many people in too small a space to make it much fun. I think the “sordid” things with the video cameras were a very minor distraction compared to the main problem.

  3. There appears to be a contradiction between two comments made above –

    One the one hand, says Greg:

    “Drugs and alcohol had nothing to do with it.”

    On the other hand, says William:

    “there were some frankly sordid things going on in the crowd that didn’t just involve drugs and body parts, but video cameras too.”

  4. When I saw this story had one comment, I knew it would be you, and I knew exactly what you’d say.

    And as usual, you’re talking about something you have no understanding about. Alcohol, and to a lesser extent drugs, were always part of the picture, and I would argue that it enhances the experience for many.

    I didn’t go -really wanted to, really needed my techno fix after the amazing experience of Burning Man -but just couldn’t make it to LoveEvolution. But friends of mine who did go, echoed exactly what this article said. It took two hours to go two blocks, you couldn’t even dance much -there were just too many people crammed into too small a space. Drugs and alcohol had nothing to do with it.

    I’m glad that it’s getting so popular. I hope they do a better job of organizing it next year, and I hope it won’t become another casualty of the anti-fun NIMBYs.

  5. Events in SF have a way of starting out wonderful but ending up woeful. The turning point usually comes when drugs and alcohol enter the picture.

    You find the same thing with political movements here, too.