The festival season begins with the 16th annual How Weird Street Faire on Sunday April 26, 2015. For one day only, in the emerging heart of downtown San Francisco, there will be a sensational spectacle of art, music, and creativity. Join thousands of people in colorful costumes from around the world, who have come together to celebrate peace and have fun.
How Weird is a music festival featuring 10 stages of different styles, an art festival filling an expanded Art Alley, a unique market of interesting vendors and delicious food, and a platform for performers of every type. The faire is from Noon to 8pm. Get there early to enjoy all of the fun.
How Weird is centered at Howard and 2nd Streets, or 37°47’12.4″ N, 122°23’53.7″ W. The faire is located in the SoMa district, what has become the center of the technology industry for the city, and perhaps the world. How Weird attracts many of the area’s innovative and creative technology people, who are making a profound effect on the world with their digital tools. The area is also home to a large concentration of art galleries and museums. How Weird attracts many types of artists and lovers of art. The faire, the area, and the participants represent the convergence of art and technology, the fusion of creativity and possibilities. The How Weird Street Faire is a place where evolutionary ideas can form, a portal of discovery and melting pot of experimentation, leading to fresh perspectives and new ways of viewing the world.
This year, the two main entrances to the faire are at Howard and 1st Streets, and at Mission and 2nd Streets. There is also a separate entrance for those who get a pre-sale Magic Sticker at Howard and New Montgomery Streets. There will be free bike parking at New Montgomery and Natoma Streets. We recommend taking public transportation to the faire. The How Weird Street Faire is located a short walk from Market Street and the Montgomery BART station, as well as Caltrains Station, Transbay Terminal, and many MUNI lines.
The theme for How Weird 2015 celebrates the transformation that happens when you embrace new realities, and enter a funhouse of awe. How Weird 2015 will be a spectacle of sensory delights and a colorful carnival of activities, recalling memories of Playland at the Beach in San Francisco, and the circus gatherings of old… complete with an impressive collection of beautiful freaks on display, unusual food to eat, and exotic performers to entertain and amaze you. It will be the Weirdest Show on Earth.
The How Weird Street Faire is filled with thousands of people in colorful costumes. We ask that everyone come in costume to the faire. Come as the you you’ve always wanted to be. Be something colorful and inspiring and weird. Weird is always in style. The Magic Sticker is the perfect compliment to every costume.
Art Alley will showcase the visual arts, with live and exhibited artwork, interactive pieces, and local craft vendors. See the extreme creativity that San Francisco is famous for, and participate in the creation of exquisite art. Art Alley will expand again this year, filling both sides of Tehama Street off of 2nd Street. Stroll the legendary open air gallery, and be inspired. Art Alley features fantastic visionary artists from around the Bay Area. You won’t believe your eyes. And for your viewing soundtrack, there will be ambient and downtempo music by SomaFM, and a dub music stage at the end of the alley by Mountain Lion Hi-Fi.
How Weird features some of the best electronic music played on some of the world’s most advanced sound technology. Cutting-edge artists from across the Bay Area will provide an ideal soundtrack for your dancing pleasure. This year, there will be 10 stages of electronic dance music, along with world beat and dub. Each stage represents different styles and communities. Together they form one of the most diverse and talented music festivals in the world.
The 2015 music stages will be produced by Symbiosis, Enchanted Forest, Muti Music, Northern Nights, Pulse SF, Party Babas, Red Marines, Temple Nightclub, SomaFM, Underground Nomads, Hookahdome, Think You Can DJ Game Show, Mountain Lion Hi-Fi, and Come-Unity and friends. These amazing groups have been brought together to produce a memorable experience, in harmony with one another.
The faire is filled with vendors from around the world selling unique and designer goods. From clothing to art to jewelry and accessories, you can find interesting things and new styles for the beginning of the 2015 festival season. How Weird features an unusually diverse shopping experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Check the How Weird website to see who will be there, and what specials they will be offering.
$20 is the cost of the Magic Sticker this year, which comes with even more magic. You can enjoy lots of discounts and fun specials and many free things, at all of the faire vendors and bars. Plus you can show off your support for the faire. The Magic Sticker is your ticket to a world of fun and adventure, and it makes you look great. You can get the Magic Sticker at the faire main entrances, or you can get them online before the faire. The pre-sale Magic Stickers start at $11.11, and then go up to $15. We recommend getting the new pre-sale Magic Stickers, so you can save money, save time when you arrive at the separate pre-sales entrance, and show your early support for the faire. It has become very expensive to produce the faire in the middle of San Francisco. Your contributions keep the faire going.
The How Weird Street Faire will participate in National Dance Week again, for the third year. Join with people from across the country in a special dance for 2015, and watch dance performers of many different styles on the Dance Stage next to the center intersection. Celebrate the wonders of dancing, and all the many forms dance takes.
What is How Weird?
The How Weird Street Faire is a project of the educational non-profit World Peace Through Technology Organization. The faire, like the non-profit, aims to inspire peace through music, art, ideas, raising consciousness, and the benevolent uses of technology. The faire is a musical and visual sensorium, a term used by Chet Helms to describe the Family Dog venue located in the former dance club of Playland at the Beach. The faire is also a paxorium, or place of peace, filled with thousands of people accepting and appreciating each other, connecting with each other, and forming one glorious community.
The faire and non-profit grew out of a community of artists called the Consortium of Collective Consciousness or CCC, which was formed 20 years ago. They were part of a larger movement that had spread around the planet. This new type of music and culture was made available by the use of extremely powerful new tools, especially the computer and internet. Suddenly, a whole unexplored world of possiblities opened up, limited only by the one’s imagination. This new culture blossomed in India and then settled in San Francisco, where it merged with the area’s legendary alternative cultures, and created some truly amazing experiences. Throughout the years, and many changes, the How Weird Street Faire has maintained this cultural spark, focused on bringing people to a greater level of understanding and connection, and ultimately peace.
The Consortium of Collective Consciousness used advanced sound and light technology, inspired music and art, and active dancing to facilitate transcendent experiences which deeply affected the participants, and brought a greater awareness of themselves and the universe. In addition to the profound individual effects, the synchronized dancing brought the entire group to an even more elevated state of consciousness. This is similar to the experience had by people in cultures around the world for thousands of years. Only now, it was made far more potent through the available tools and global scale of the new culture.
Inspired by what was happening, and seeing it’s potential to bring peace to the world, a non-profit was created called “World Peace Through Technology” to explore the potential for connections and understanding through music and art, and find ways to inspire and create peace using technological tools and cultural gatherings. The CCC events had become too crowded, forcing the participants to be more and more limited. The new non-profit decided to create an event in the middle of the street in order to bring the transformative experiences out to public, and invite everyone to participate. A street faire was born on Howard Street, in the block outside of the CCC warehouse and World Peace Through Technology non-profit office. The same energy and experience that had been taking place indoors for five years had spilled out into the streets, without losing it’s intensity, and the rest is history.
For the first two years, the faire was a direct extension of the CCC community. This enabled the faire to grow, and attracted a wide variety of interesting people from all over the world. In 2001, the space that housed the CCC community was lost due to rising costs. The community became decentralized, and soon the events stopped. But the faire kept going, serving as a reunion of the CCC, and a gathering of more and more communities. As the faire expanded in size, both in attendance and physical space, more sound stages were added to the two original stages that were produced by the CCC. How Weird welcomed other dance music communities to join the celebration of peace, seeking to bring all the different tribes of dance music together and form one interconnected community. We wanted to give people a chance to learn about what the diverse cultural groups are doing, and get a taste of some of the world’s most vibrant culture and expression. Over the years, How Weird evolved into a world-class music festival featuring the full range of electronic music genres.
The How Weird Street Faire has been an experiment on how to create a peace event, one that allows “opposing” sides to find common ground and similarities, and to share in experiences that can lead to bonding and mutual understanding. We identified the essential elements of the Consortium of Collective Consciousness experience, including cutting-edge electronic music, synchronized group dance, inspiring visionary art, a collective expansion of consciousness, a very diverse group of people, an open mind, and a lot of fun. Then we applied them on a large scale in a public venue with amazing results. We found that those elements are the ideal ingredients to a peace event.
The need for creating peace has only grown in the years since we started the faire. We want to share what we have learned, and open source the elements of a peace event, in the hope that more of these events can help bring peace to the world. We encourage all people to make their own peace events, gatherings which bring different people together, and to let us know what you learn and what elements you find to be useful for bridging divides and connecting people. As the Dalai Lama explained, one of the best things that people can do to bring peace is to hold festivals with music and art that bring people together.
THE COMPONENTS OF A PEACE EVENT
Music is a bridge, connecting everyone. Music is the ideal medium for crossing barriers, and uniting diverse people. Music knows no boundaries. More than any other form of communication, music is able to transcend differences between people. Music has the power to change us physically, directly affecting the emotions, and the chemical balance of the body. Music inspires us and takes us to other places. Music can lift our spirits and increase our creativity. Music can heal people. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said recently, “There are no languages required in the musical world. In this era of instability and intolerance we need to promote better understanding through the power of music.”
Electronic music plays a key role in the How Weird Street Faire, and one of the reasons why the faire attracts people from all over the world. Electronic music is the most diverse and globally listened to music in human history. Every culture and every country has DJs playing and creating music, and communities forming wherever people dance together. In some places it is the mainstream culture, in others it is alternative or underground, but electronic music is present everywhere on the planet. And perhaps other planets as well. Electronic music culture is represented by the phrase “peace, love, unity, and respect”, and is a good choice of music for helping to create peace.
How Weird features the full spectrum of electronic music styles, bringing different communities together to connect them to each other and encourage cooperation and mutual appreciation. This gathering of the tribes at How Weird creates a unique music festival that is always full of surprises. Faire participants are encouraged to see and experience all the different music stages, and try something new. Great care has been taken by each stage to create a high quality environment to enjoy the music and dancing, and have a maximum amount of fun.
Dance is a fun activity that everyone can participate in, and find common ground and similar interest with anyone else. It is a very effective way of connecting with others. Dance and music are a powerful way to reach a deep meditative state, used for thousands of years with much success. A meditative state is helpful for bringing inner peace, and building the foundations for lasting peace with others. Dancing in a group also synchronizes the individuals on a collective level, enabling deeper understanding and acceptance of others, and forming coherence among the group. In spite of our differences, when we dance to the same beat, we become one.
A Cambridge University study published in the Psychology of Music journal in 2012 found that “interacting with others through music makes us more emotionally attuned to other people,” resulting in an increase of empathy and understanding of others. Another article in the American Psychological Association journal Emotion in 2011, called “Synchrony and the Social Tuning of Compassion” described how “synchronized movement evokes compassion” in groups of people. Science is noticing the same things that we did… that dancing together creates very deep connections, and increases compassion and empathy, which leads to peace. As Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychopathology at Cambridge University, explained, “Any problem immersed in empathy becomes soluble.” As Nelson Mandela once said, “It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world.”
For the third year, the How Weird Street Faire will participate in National Dance Week, a massive celebration of all forms of dance. At the center intersection on Howard Street will be a special dance stage featuring diverse styles of dance, and world beat music. Cultures all over the planet have enjoyed dance since before the written word, it is a universal expression of life.
Visual art, like music and dance, is a form of communication that bridges separation, and speaks directly to the heart and soul. Art can lead to greater understanding and appreciation of others. How Weird showcases many kinds of expression, including extremely creative, inspired, visionary art. We found that being surrounded by visionary art helps to recreate those states of awareness, and lay the foundation for deeper connections and understanding to take place. Music, dance, and art have always been recognized as having powerful effects on human consciousness, and being a fundamental part of our existence.
BECOMING MORE AWARE
The intention behind How Weird is to inspire peace, and to raise people’s consciousness through music, art, dancing, and ideas. By viewing the world from a wider perspective, the connections between us become more apparent, as well as our common interests. By raising our level of awareness and understanding, we make it easier to live in peace, to develop connections between people, and to find solutions to the many problems facing humanity at this time. As Albert Einstein explained, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
The How Weird Street Faire celebrates extreme diversity and individual expression. People come to the faire from all over the planet, and perhaps some other ones. The faire attracts people from across San Francisco and the Bay Area, the entire state of California, most of the United States, as well as Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. The faire has become a favorite with long-time locals and visiting tourists. How Weird was cited in 2012 by Fodors as one of the 5 best events in one of the 5 best cities in the world, and is a featured attraction to the area. The faire is open to people of all ages, all backgrounds, and all points of view. How Weird gathers an extreme range of people, far beyond a typical event, and encourages them to be accepting of others, and to appreciate the differences. One faire participant explained why he liked the faire, “Instead of trying to bring us all into one line we all get to enjoy what makes us different.” A visitor from the United Kingdom last year exclaimed, “I loved how expressive and accepting everyone was.” Strategic Retreat blog wrote, “Weird it was. The weirdness was only outshone by how inclusive and fun it was.” Another faire participant summed up his thoughts on How Weird by saying, “This is why I love San Francisco. A street fair that celebrates freedom of expression, diversity, inclusiveness, and just having a good time.”
In the people attending and participating in the faire, a vast multitude of all types of people from all over the planet represent a very unique and interesting mix of people, all potentially finding common ground with unusual people and connecting with new communities. Every continent on Earth, with the exception of Antarctica, is represented at the faire. There are babies and small children, to young adults, to elderly and all in between. There are very wealthy attendants and struggling students and artists. There are people of different politics and religions and perspectives, that have chosen to attend the same faire and enjoy the same activities. The extreme diversity of people at How Weird is testament to the universal appeal of inspiring art and music, and the desire of all people to celebrate peace. That deep connections are made, and a collective cohesion is formed, is proof that these elements can unite even the most extreme differences.
AN OPEN MIND (or as we say “being weird”)
We chose the name “How Weird” as a play on Howard Street, the street where the faire took place. At first, we thought everyone would see the play on words, and didn’t really appreciate our own weirdness. Over the years, we grew to embrace being weird. We found that celebrating weirdness encouraged people to freely express themselves, and readily accept others. If everyone is weird, all viewpoints are equally valid, and everyone has an opportunity to be appreciated. Suddenly, the person who was an outside is now a valuable part of the community. Differences between people become so great, that they become something interesting and amusing rather than dividing. Similarities that would usually remain elusive are brought out, enabling connections where none could be imagined before. Being weird means doing things differently, and seeing the world in a unique way. Being weird enables us to step outside of preconceived notions and stereotypes, and think things we normally wouldn’t think. Having a festival of weirdness is an excellent way to open people’s minds, and prepare them to accept others no matter how different.
We weren’t the only ones who noticed these traits of weirdness. Being weird used to evoke emotions of fear and intolerance. In our modern world of rapid changes and extreme complexity, weird has become a desirable attribute, especially in the technology industry which continues to play a major role in How Weird’s regional environment and immediate neighborhood. Weird has become associated with being creative and innovative. Thinking in a weird way has become the popular key to stepping outside of the box, as we try to solve the planet’s problems as well as our own. Being weird somehow plays a part in creating an effective peace event. Perhaps, like clowns and jesters, being weird gives people permission to tear down preconceptions and remove all the rules, placing them in a position to find new ways of living and interacting with others. Being weird encourages people to open their mind and accept new perspectives. Being weird allows people the opportunity to step outside of their usual way of doing things, and seeing things, and try a fresh approach. Plus being weird is fun.
Having people arrive in strange and colorful costumes reinforces the element of weirdness and unexpectedness, that anything is possible. At first, we just liked wearing costumes. But soon we noticed that it is an excellent way to encourage individual expression and acceptance of others. Having people in individual costumes breaks down the association with groups or ideologies, and allows people to appreciate others based solely on their creativity and similar interests.
How Weird inspires peace by bringing people together and allowing them to experience a place where everyone is accepted no matter what their background is. At How Weird, everyone is appreciated for having a unique perspective that is valuable to the whole. We encourage having an open mind by embracing the weirdness within us all, the things we do differently, the things that make us “us”. What political or religious affiliation someone has makes little difference when they are in an outrageous costume, dancing in the middle of the street. How Weird provides a place where people can be understood by their creativity, where similar interests can be discovered and connections made where none existed before. At How Weird, people are surrounded by unexpected opportunities to connect with others and find common ground. Despite the extreme diversity at the faire, by virtue of them being there they are all a member of the same community.
The extreme participation of the faire goers, especially the costumes and dancing, encourages a level of acceptance and appreciation rarely seen at a public event. It is an environment that fully embraces inclusion and appreciation. By accepting and appreciating others’ perspectives, we increase our capacity for empathy and understanding. Allowing yourself and others to be weird is an important lesson in peace. In a place where everyone is weird, then every way of seeing things becomes valid, diversity and differences are more appreciated, and collective empathy is formed. How Weird celebrates creativity and uniqueness, allowing each person to be themselves. Being weird encourages people to have an open mind and embrace new things. If this level of respect for each other was the standard way of dealing with each other, there would be no more wars.
The faire is a lot of fun. Peace is fun. Fun makes everything better. Having a positive attitude helps to connect with others and appreciate them. Plus it’s hard to fight when you’re having fun. Fun often results in smiles, which are very contagious. Smiles help to make people happy, even at a distance. And happy people are at peace.
Buckminister Fuller noticed that to create change, you need to built something new that makes the old way obsolete. We feel that in order to create a new world that is sustainable and at peace, we need to build a new world that is better and more fun. Peace is badly needed now, so that we may thrive on this planet and coexist with each other. It is through music, art, and the imagination that peace is always possible.
The 16th annual How Weird Street Faire
“The Weirdest Show on Earth”
Sunday April 26, 2015 from Noon to 8pm
Centered at Howard and 2nd Streets, San Francisco, Earth
$20 for a Magic Sticker
Use the hashtag #hwsf to talk about the How Weird Street Faire.
More info at HowWeird.org