Two camera club members and three associates drove to San Francisco to attend the annual Halloween on the Castro celebration on Sunday, October 31.
The logistical team was faced with the problem of how to attend an event that drew about 350,000 people from all around the country. Street-level Muni services to the Castro were curtailed and BART connections were apparently altered to discourage the crowds. That left two or three ways to get to the Castro: The Muni K, L, or M lines of the underground rail system, taxicabs or your own two hooves.
Our strategy was to drive to the Union Square parking garage and ransom our vehicles for the privilege of being in proximity to the Powell Street BART/Muni station. We took the Muni K line four platforms up the line to the Church Street Station and emerged three or four blocks from the intersection of Castro and Market streets.
We arrived in The City just before dinnertime and dined near Union Square and then hit the Castro District just after dark. Our early arrival insured that we could ride loosely-packed on the trains and be able to go to the toilet at the Castro without hip-waders. It worked. We were able to negotiate the already-crowded streets of the Castro and get some nice mug shots of people with our flashguns blazing.
We took a couple of full turns on the promenade before heading back home. When we left, the streets were getting very crowded and the number of “questionable” attendees was on the increase. (In using the word “questionable,” I am referring to people who might attend the party in order to make trouble rather than enjoy the evening.) Most after-the-fact reports, however, indicate that the event was quite peaceful.
The 9 p.m. train ride back to Union Square was also peaceful and uneventful and the only crime committed, really, was the high ransom set for our automobiles—almost $30. For future reference you might choose to take a longer walk to the Muni station from the Chinatown Portsmouth Square parking garage on Washington and Kearney streets.
Aside from the transportation hassles our photographers got a triple-shot of the bizarre. There were more strange-people-picture opportunities than time or film/capacity would allow. I started getting more and more selective as the evening went on, opting only for the “ultra strange” subjects and leaving the “amusing” and “whoa!” shots for those who enjoy wasting image storage. Had we stayed longer into the night, perhaps we could have made some clinical photos of human mating aberrations, but a few hours shooting time sufficiently gelled our brains and we came to the consensus that it was time to go after just two laps around the “track.”
The only other major difficulties, aside from our transportation issues, were finding a place that sold batteries and being able to stay together as a group. We came unraveled several times, but managed to find each other again. I noticed that several of the costumed participants employed the assistance of dog leashes—perhaps if the members of our party were all properly tagged and leashed, we could have all stayed together as a unit.
To those who didn’t join us: We all missed your conventional company!
© 2004 S.R. Hinrichs