The art and music scene of San Francisco is part of the cultural landscape, when one visits the city, the sights and sounds of new and exciting displays and performances abound. A visitor could hardly go a few blocks without seeing some mural, band or performance. Many trips though have been cut short around the Mission district, Castro, Dogpatch and Fisherman’s Wharf. What of the other areas in this vast mecca of the arts.
Bayview SPARC was one of the greatest secrets of the city I could have stumbled upon, a block party of epic proportions put on by the profound potentates of partying, the burners. This wonder was organized by Imprint City, a nonprofit group helping to show off talent and artistic spaces off the beaten path, such as the industrialized areas of Bayview. While there was only a single street of space, my Fitbit recorded miles put upon my feet as I travelled back and forth from one activity to the next and back again.
Even whilst walking up to the block, you could make it out two, towering, toroid bearing, twenty-foot-tall, turrets of tesla. Each slightly swaying in the wind with coils and cables of copper, these were brought out by Torrey ‘Sarge’ Smith’s brilliant team of engineers and visionaries, Sextant. The team is a group that firmly believes in the sexiness of hard science and hard engineering.
“We are an ephemeral body of superlatives,” So said Sarge as he explained in expansive detail, the inner workings of their vast devices. How they were engineered in such a manner to accelerate and excite crowds and current alike, turning a standard 250V generator into a mammoth, multi-million volt musical machine. Arcing 18 feet across open air, each utterance of Thor’s own gift played out notes of crowd favorites, such as Derezzed from the Tron soundtrack.
The point of convergence in the streets was the metal masterpiece, Merope II. This portable star, borne of carefully crafted metals and plasma welds, gulped gases to produce glowing gouts. It is a tribute to the Pleiades system and the stories that it inspires. A jagged, but refined testament to human observation, ingenuity and artistry.
Merope II was not the only presentation put out by the centerstage artists, the Flaming Lotus girls as this party was one that was birthed by their efforts to present a family friendly face to the Burning Man scene which has oft been misrepresented as a more adult setting. They brought face painters, shirt makers, even a ballerina dancing with a hoop of fire for all to fawn over. Banded with artistic teams such as ArtIsMobilUs, and Sextant’s superb physics show, there was fun for San Franciscan families, burners or not.
Finally, the night fell and music presented by the Janky Barge kicked into high gear, as people brought their best outfits out and showed off the power of invention and dance. Some showing pure LED artistry, others new and exciting clothing and outfits, there was even a dinosaur riding an electric panda that patrolled through the crowds. Fuelled by local brews supplied by both the Laughing Monk and Seven Stills breweries, dancers, propelled by sea breeze and tunes alike enjoyed the light show as we left the event. Driving off, we still heard the beat of the speakers, like the heart of a great EDM beast reminding us with its perfectly mixed howls that an unforgettable night was gifted to us.