Can't Buy Me Love 

It's time for the third annual San Francisco LoveFest

It's homecoming week for Bay Area electronic DJs, and San Francisco production companies such as Spundae and Xessential are pooling resources to make twenty-three dizzying floats. Each has its own theme: Xessential's "Mile High" vehicle will feature a jet cockpit as a DJ booth, and dress music producers as pilots and flight attendants. Sound of Mind's "Sex and Robots" float will include a bevy of Zivita "Sweethearts" — Playboy Bunny—style models with an indie-chick look, dancing against a black and fuschia backdrop. These pieces will glide from Second and Market streets to Civic Center Plaza Saturday at noon. They'll enclose the City Hall Rotunda, creating an insular dance space with a beer garden in the center, and music from more than a hundred DJs.

Welcome to San Francisco LoveFest, which, according to local DJ Syd Gris, who serves on the event's board of directors, "exists to be a free parade and festival using the vehicle of dance music to spread a message of peace, tolerance, diversity, cooperation, and love."

Free being the operative term.

Spawned by the Berlin Love Parade that began in 1989, LoveFest, now in its third year, features some of the nation's top DJ talent. The Chemical Brothers will be there, as will Zulu Nation founder Afrika Bambaata, "mushroom jazz" innovator Mark Farina, and Salted Records founder Miguel Miggs. Farina, who came up in the Chicago house scene during the '80s, when DJs were still known to play for eight to ten hours at a time, characterizes it as a chance to bring house music to the uninitiated.

Gris concurs. "It's all-ages, it's free, it's a very welcoming and open-arms situation." The DJ also views the event as a chance to rescue house music from the blandishments of those who don't understand its mind-boggling nomenclature or seemingly paint-by-numbers formula of putting two records on a turntable and jostling the BPMs until they blend. "A lot of people don't understand what's going on up there when a DJ is DJ-ing," Gris says. "It's more technical and difficult than people think. It's evolved so much from what people associate with a high school dance or a commercial club."

Evolved, perhaps, but the beats still speaks to the masses.


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