What was once a carefree cookout turned dance party amongst a small group of friends one summer day in 2003 at Golden Gate Park has become a beloved annual tradition amongst Dirtybird Records’ own members and fans of the esteemed dance label.
The Dirtybird BBQ has grown into an event that has stops across the country, including New York and Denver, the fan-favorite event has its roots firmly in the Bay Area, with this year’s edition taking place this Saturday, May 4, at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, a new venue for the BBQ that promises tons of open fields perfect for grilling and dancing.
SF Weekly asked the artists playing this Saturday’s BBQ what their favorite memory from a past BBQ is — and all were glad to share hilarious and heartwarming experiences from the cherished cookout.
“One year, very early on — like 2006 — we had this idea to have Worthy put on the bird costume and just walk through the forest behind the party. He was never supposed to come into the event, so people would just see this giant blue bird way back in the forest almost like Bigfoot sightings. It created a lot of chatter. Ever since we did this, I have tried to keep this kind of weird, fun vibe going at all of our events.
One of my favorite Dirtybird BBQ memories will always be dancing in the rain in Golden Gate Park. We used to always check the weather for weeks before each BBQ, and when one year the forecast called for a 50 percent chance of rain we decided to just go for it and throw the party anyway.
About an hour into the event it started sprinkling, but with a meadow full of dedicated dancers we decided to push on and just cover the music equipment with garbage bags. By the time it was my turn to DJ it was pouring but everyone stayed and danced in the soaking rain regardless. It was beautiful!
What do I cherish most about the old school S.F. Dirtybird BBQs? Reminiscing about the rituals everyone took part in to make them great. Getting up early and sending someone to the meadow to warn off unsuspecting families.
Unloading the sound and firing up a freshly-gassed generator. Grillson (R.I.P.) would hit his secret Mission carniceria, picking up a 20-plus pounds of marinated carne asada and a cornucopia of fresh salsa ingredients, which my dad would chop up to start the day. And all of us grinning as we cued up the gnarliest tracks we could possibly find.
I will forever cherish the last Dirtybird BBQ at Golden Gate park. Scotty ran the sound with his Funktion 1 stacks and the DJ booth on ground level, just sitting in the grass. That was beautiful. So was the fact that it was free. It brought such joy to the city … and the city gave it back x100.
The sheer number of people was a sight I’d never imagined seeing, and every familiar face I had ever crossed paths with in the bay seemed to be there. The vibe was electric, bittersweet, and the purest feeling of happiness.
One of my favorite memories from the Dirtybird BBQ was from last years Austin BBQ. I think it was like 90 degrees that day and the BBQ was held near a racetrack. Some friends brought some super soakers and water pistols and obviously Justin got his hands on the super soaker while me and Worthy kept ourselves barricaded in this small room behind the stage.
It was honestly hilarious as me and Worthy tried to figure out how we can get out without Justin noticing us. In the end we stormed out and Justin emptied his super soaker on us but we ended up getting our own super soakers and ran after him. It was something out of a Benny Hill skit except J.Phlip was the one playing the music to our water fight. Great times!
One of my favorite Dirtybird BBQ memories was from way back in Golden Gate Park days. At one of our last parties there, we let the party go later into the night.
I was DJing, closing out the BBQ, when it started to get dark and as I was going to end my set, everyone rallied for me to keep going. It was so dark, I could barely see what record I was playing or CD I was pulling out. Everyone in the crowd started pulling out their cell phones to shed some light on the DJ booth allowing me to continue playing into the night. It was pretty sweet.
Dirtybird BBQ, Saturday, May 4, noon to 8 p.m., at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, 2100 Valley Ave., Gate 8, Pleasanton, $19.50-$55, info here.