Every year, there are first-timers who might accidentally miss out by just showing up, without being on the right party lists, and not knowing where to go. So, I'm using this space to gather together everybody's suggestions and shared wisdom based on experience.
• Start by reading this article from Leatherati, posted in 2011. It contains a lot of great wisdom, particularly on the best way to find private parties.
• Check out the official list of upcoming events.
• If you're interested in a non-sexual kinky play-party like no other, I can certainly recommend the 15 Association's play-party at 8PM on Friday, September 21st at the SF Citadel Community Center (at its new location, 181 Eddy St, San Francisco, CA 94102). Be SURE to fill out the application beforehand, for an invitation to this event.
SITES TO VISIT
Take the time in the days before the Street Fair to really, thoroughly visit the local kinky tourist sites:
As soon as you pull into town and dump off your luggage, be sure to take the trolley to the Castro and have breakfast in a window-seat at The Cove on Castro at 434 Castro Street (across the street from the Castro Theater), particularly on Saturday before the Street Fair. The kinky tourists will be swarming past the place in full regalia, and it makes for a GREATLY entertaining meal.
I strongly recommend dropping in to Leather Etc. at 1201 Folsom Street. TRUST the family that runs it. They are good people, and they authentically care about making you look really good.
Mr. S Leather at 385 8th Street is a MADHOUSE in the days before the Street Fair, which makes it that much more enticing. Jammed with happy, kinky tourists from all over the planet, it's beyond entertaining, and the best shopping-opportunity you can find in one place. Beware of Squanderlust! It's hard to leave without bags of great gear.
I'm quite fond of Worn Out West at 2352 Market Street. It's GREAT for finding inexpensive, used gear… Chaps, harnesses, hoods, jackets and so forth.
Not far away, Stompers Boots at 323 10th Street is the ultimate place to shop for fetishwear boots in a storefront. Stop by before Sunday's Street Fair to try on some boots, but come back DURING the Street Fair to hang out on the back patio, jammed nut-to-butt with hot men in wildly diverse kinky gear from all over the planet.
If this imagery makes your heart pound, then the back-patio event at Stompers is the closest thing I've seen to this sort of intensity. Stompers will provide free snacks and drinks to enjoy - You won't get in without boots on, though!
I also recommend getting your legs and feet measured for free.
What other places/parties/events would you recommend?
If you have more tips that would help your brothers, please pass them along to me at papatony @mac.com - I will archive them over the years, and keep sending them out!