Among San Francisco's first-and-only cultural events is choreographer Sean Dorsey's LGBT Fresh Meat Festival.
Now in its 12th year, the transgender and queer performance festival at Z Space showcases the people Dorsey calls "history makers and risk takers" in the LGBT arts community. Ten performances of dance, poetry, music and comedy come from a multicultural cross-section of artists with diverse talents, histories and sexual identities.
"These are performers with and without disabilities, they are LBGT and straight, which is an important part of the festival — everything, everyone," Dorsey says.
Choreographer Allan Frias, who appeared on "So You Think You Can Dance," is a case in point. Frias, who is openly gay and has a linebacker physique that puts him in a category beyond that of traditional dancers, is one of the West Coast's foremost hip-hop choreographers. His world premiere "Mind Over Matter" incorporates elements of hip-hop and voguing.
Dorsey premieres a section from his piece "The Missing Generation and The Source of Joy," which is based on oral histories of lovers, friends and activists at the beginning of the 1980s AIDS epidemic. His sculptural, elegant choreography tells their stories with humor and poignancy.
"These are not abstract works," he says. "I hope to create dances that are completely open and understandable, accessible and emotionally powerful."
Dorsey, who is transgender and gay, explains the personal impact of this piece.
"It's about those who held people through those early terrifying years with strength, tenderness and courage, and dynamic perseverance."
Ian Enriquez, who is of Scottish and Filipino descent, leads the Barbary Coast Cloggers, a troupe of gay and straight dancers, in a quintessentially American dance form born from African slave rhythms and British Isles dance that became the precursor of American tap dance.
"Clogging speaks to what is so much more the history of the country than just the Civil War and slavery," Enriquez says. "It's nice to be part of that living history."
For many people, the sheer joyfulness in his work re-defines the concept of men dancing.
"Men have turned away from dancing over the years, it being seen as feminine," Enriquez says. "When some contemporary companies want to show masculine dancing, it's all about anger and fighting. What we do is about male energy and motion. That makes it OK for men to see themselves dancing."
At each performance, a lobby post-show party includes dancing, a photo booth, drinks and go-go dancers, making for a truly gay — in all its meanings — event.
IF YOU GOFresh Meat Festival
Where: Z Space, 450 Florida St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Tickets: $15 to $25
• AXIS Dance Company
• Barbary Coast Cloggers
• Coyote Grace
• Sean Dorsey Dance
• Allan Frias, "Mind Over Matter"
• Las Bomberas de la Bahia
• Maikaze Daiko
• Dana Morrigan
• Amir Rabiyah
• Shawna Virago