40 Hours In San Francisco
If there's one thing the internet taught me it is the idea of social culture webs. Think about it - just about every kid is connected one way or another. Thanks to Instagram, the web has the ability to grow and expand while keeping everyone connected under the big umbrella. Right?
It was like four years ago and my friend Dave from New York had told me he met this girl Jackie in California. She's like two years younger than us so it was cool she was into this stuff so early and so far away from NYC yet felt so connected. He said she was into clothes and everything we were doing, so I remember me and all my friends being like oh word we'll follow her and bring her into the scene of things on our end.
Jackie and I kept in touch, I don't think we had ever hungout in real life, I just knew she was this cool girl from SF who traveled and liked clothes. To us, that's all anyone really needs to be our friend I guess. Jackie started a brand Iconic United a few months back and I saw her posting all the pieces she was working on I hit her up and told her to keep making stuff because eventually it all comes together.
We were sitting in New York one day and Serafina was like "oh yo Jackie wants to throw a party in San Fran with you"
Well, I had only been to San Francisco once when I was a senior in high school. My mother and I went because I wanted to see the University of San Francisco. The same kid Dave who told me about Jackie a few years back actually ended up moving to SF for school. He didn't love the school and by the time I got there to visit, he had plans to transfer. I had no intention of belonging there, wasn't for me. The whole time I was there all I wanted to do was see the Golden Gate Bridge but my mom has this fear of heights so she didn't want to go. I ended up taking this bus over the bridge by myself, but it got to the end and turned around. I only got to see it for a minute. I knew when i started doing stuff and traveling I had to go back there and formally experience the Golden Gate Bridge.
At first I was like uhhhhh how could we throw a party in SF, Jackie doesn't know how to do events and I've never really been there for that type of stuff, but a minute after I thought that I had Jackie on the phone.
"Let's throw this party. You and me. Together. A collaborative project, a we thing. OHKAY SF. "
And after that phone call, it was kind of just a set in stone plan.
Now, this whole "oh we travel everywhere and throw parties" thing certainly comes off as really cool and probably looks like it's a breeze to put together, but I really wish that was the case.
A lot goes into it. Which eventually I'll teach people how to do so you guys can do your own events and it'll run smoothly.
But between the time we decided to do it and the time I landed in SF, I think there were probably 100 phone calls made, 40 variations of the flyers created, a contract or two signed, and a bunch of money thrown around in different directions.
I really wanted Jackie to learn the business side to things, so she took care of finding the perfect venue and looking for performers.
Without a big cult following, no one really goes to events unless they have a reason to. It's our job to create a reason. We rent out a venue, throw a good party, have some cool kids perform, play the right music, and turn it into the best weekend night possible in a city.
We book DNA Lounge which seemed like a very good venue from online.
I made a flyer. Then made another. Then edited them. And edited them some more. This repeated a solid 30 times. We finally had a good flyer.
We paid for the venue. Booked local performers. Had the flyer finalized.
Jackie kept stressing that no one would come and I was like "well, I already have my flight so no matter what I'm gonna find a way to get people to come"
But it's not hard to do that. All we had done was post the flyer online a few times, she sent it out to all her friends, got kids from other schools to send it out, bla bla bla. We call that "Promoting". It's the cycle of internet life that gives kids plans on the weekends.
I wanted to do a collab piece like a hoodie for the two brands together. I sourced this photograph of a traffic-filled Golden Gate Bridge from 1968.
When I was designing the piece, I started to learn all about the Hippie-Culture that sprouted out of SF in the 60's and 70's. You know - the shit you hear about in a Beatles song and read about in a graphic design book. They called this one point in time the Summer Of Love.
It was like I was doing it for a class, but the class wasn't for school, it was our own collaborative class project.
I designed the hoodie and we sent it over to get printed, I had just hoped they'd be ready by the time I got there.
Jackie kept asking if I wanted to stay in a hotel. A lot of kids would have been like "omg yes fly me out get me this nice hotel ahhhh" no.... hotels are corny and lame.
There's nothing more fun than going somewhere for the first time and experiencing a glimpse of other variations of life. Like I don't live in San Francisco. But if I can stay in a cool house and eat home cooked meals and throw my clothes on a floor and drive around like every other teenager that lives there does - then I want to do exactly that.
I flew to LA then had a connecting flight to SF. Serafina was already in LA so she got the same connection as me and we flew there and met Jackie at the airport.
We drove around for a little while the first night and Jackie showed us all her favorite spots to go out and get food and hangout with her friends.
That's what traveling, to me, is all about. Going somewhere to stay with someone and just living their routine with them. You get to hear all their stories, all their memories, and all their disaster tales.
We cruised around in her white jeep, top off of course. It was warm. It felt like a night in summer. It was probably like what they did in that Summer Of Love. Just drove around and listened to music until the night began.
We spend the majority of our night in this gay bar called Beauty Bar.
If you're some random sheltered suburban high schooler reading this - yes, gay bars are cool. They're actually some of the most fun places you can go because you'll never get judged by anyone, all the girls there are cool and aren't worried about douchebags putting drugs in their drink, all the guys are having fun and aren't focused on telling you how much money they make, and everyone just wants to dance.
They had one of the best DJ's I ever heard. Imagine a club atmosphere, minus the tables, and in a bar on the corner of a street. Now imagine 300 people inside. Two fans on high blowing cold air which you appreciate much more when you're dripping sweat. Cheap beer. Crazy outfits. A disco ball to compliment the aesthetic. And a whole lot of fun.
I think Jackie and I danced on this raised pedestal block for about four hours. You kind of lose track of time when you go out like that. I didn't care - I was in San Francisco.
It felt like the 1970s. I can't really tell you why, mainly because I can't figure out myself why.
We walked around the streets drinking PBR while the sun began to come up. Cars full of kids drove by and people hung out the windows screaming rock songs. I felt like there were tech startups booming in every building I walked by. That probably wasn't the case, but it felt just like it.
At this point, sleep hadn't really been a priority of mine because I knew by the time Sunday came around I was getting back on a plane and heading to my next stop.
I woke up to the sun in my eyes and a dog barking from the other room.
There was a shower right down the hall in the part of the house that for some reason seemed to be all mine.
It was one of those shower heads that shoots the water out of the ceiling with glass walls and windows that overlooked California.
We cleaned up and ate breakfast then went to see SF in the day.
We had about 6 hours until we had to get ready for the party.
I kept telling Jackie "Tell everyone you know about the party tonight. Just tell everyone, they'll tell everyone"
That's how it works. If you give someone a reason to go to a party, they're going to invite all of their friends. Who will invite their friends. Then their friends' friends are going to show up. It's called circulation.
We shopped around a bit, met up with some kids from Instagram that I knew, took some photos, saw some landmarks, ate lunch outside, and just drove with the top off.
The middle of winter felt like the end of spring and the clock was ticking and my flight felt like it was hours away.
That's the weird thing about traveling like I do. I'm only in a city for such a short period of time, I'm pressuring everyone to just go-go-go so we can do as much as we possibly can in such a short amount of time. But all you really need in a city is 40 hours.
We were getting ready for the event at Jackie's house and I was like
"You said the kid who is DJing for the performers has a DJ board right" and she's like "yeah they said they're bringing everything"
So in my mind I'm just hosting the party, DJing for an hour or so, putting my laptop in my bag and having fun.
Just to make sure they had a board I gave them a call.
It turns out these kids had never performed before. Nor DJ'd. Nor did they have a DJ board.
So it's like an hour before we had to go set up and we had zero clue how we were going to do all of this.
Luckily, Jackie's dad had a full DJ board in one of the other rooms. Why? I don't quite know. But we brought it. And it was the easiest solution to one of what could have been the biggest problems.
We get there and I'm like "Jackie, I hope you invited people to this" and she was like "Trust me, everyone's coming".
I didn't know the power of "everyone's coming" until about 45 minutes later.
We had set everything up, turns out the venue had a board so I just hooked up to that. The other kids that were supposed to also DJ, they had no clue how to DJ. I just figured I'd do like 4 hours and test to see if I could DJ for 4 hours.
I went outside and the line went down the street, around the block, and wrapped the building.
The doors opened and people flooded in.
The kids who performed were so much fun. They were from another school nearby, and had never performed before. They brought an additional like 200 people.
I think at all points in the night there were 50 people on stage and 450 people in the crowd. It was like a ginormous rap concert except we played every song you'd ever want to jump around to.
I stayed by the DJ booth and played hit after hit. Jackie looked like a star. Summer All Year performed and somehow got the crowd to mosh pretty hard.
I stage dived.
I kicked a girl in the face.
I got thrown back on stage.
Played a few more songs.
Did it all over again.
It's some teenage rockstar shit. I didn't expect us to sell out a venue in a city I had never been to. We were out there taking photos with random kids like it was our world tour.
And to me, that's what it is.
The way I look at things.... anything you do in life that makes you happy in that exact moment is worth doing.
And yeah, I don't always love waking up early to get on a plane and sit there for a few hours to get to where I want to be. But that's part of the experience. Going somewhere new, meeting new people, hearing all the stories, offering an experience for people.
That's what it's all about! That's why we do this shit! At the end of the day I probably will never will have a weekend just like that one. So why not make sure the one I am having is the best one I could possibly imagine.
Like we go outside the venue to cool off and I be with all my new San Fran homies and random kids come up to us like "this is so crazy how in the world did you do this" or like "yo the stuff you do is so fire" and i always get mad awkward and all I can say is "thank u bro u can do this shit too" because like anyone can truly do what I do, or what me and whatever team I'm with can do, or whatever my own team can pull off.
It's just the fact that we do it. And we do it in full effect.
Like how Ian does Revenge Events, Bari does wack VLONE pop ups all over the place, and Virgil does DJ sets worldwide. This is part of the OHKAY brand experience. This expands beyonds hoodies and hats, tees and socks. This is what we want people to feel when they think of the brand. Anyone can make a clothing company. But not everyone can reinact Summer Of Love 1968 in San Francisco.
We played until 2am. I damn near ran out of music to play. I was teaching random kids how to DJ so I could just watch from the corner, consistently with a smile on my face.
The night ended and everyone sat outside talking about after parties.
I'm sure it would have been cool to go to an after party for our own party, but Jackie and I just wanted to go home and recooperate and figure everything out.
We ended up back at her house and we walked in the door to a really pretty pile of cash on the kitchen counter and a note from her parents that read "Money From The Venue. Great Job :)"
Her and I sat outside as the night turned to the morning.
I stood up and got on a chair looking over the hill that she lived on, facing over California. It had to have been like three in the morning at that point
"I told you!" I said as I hopped down, grabbing the pile of cash out of my bag and throwing it on the table.
"You really did, well, I mean..... we really did it!" she said as we both laughed.
"You're gonna be the coolest kid in San Fran when you walk into high school monday" I said to her as we both sat there, pretty much drenched in our own sweat.
"I think you might be too" she said back.
"Well, like I said on that first phone call back when I was in New York. It's a collaborative project, right"
At this point I was sitting with my feet on the table in my new margeila shoes that were now somewhat wrecked, just thinking about how much fun we had in 24 hours.
"Right" she said. "A collaborative project"
I stood back up and began to stretch. The sun was peeking out over the horizon and the little waterfall in the back of her yard was all we really heard over the sound of our voices.
"Like I said from day one"
I turned to see her standing too, using the rest of her energy to stretch too.
"It's a w---" I started my sentence and she butted right in.
"It's a we thing" she said.
"People told me it was the most fun party they had ever been to" she finished as she scrolled on her phone for a minute.
All I could remember was when I was in high school and all I wanted to do was have a party, but I never had a cool house for it. I always wanted to know what it'd be like for everyone to talk about your party the next day and the next week and the next year. I got to live through that here in SF. All as we counted up the ginormous stack of money on a marble table as the sun rose a few hours before my flight.
--- I slept pretty well, but woke up early. I knew I could sleep on the plane or when I got back to my place, but I couldn't just snap my fingers and be back in in 1968.
We drove around and got coffee. I think it was the most expensive $5.50 iced coffee I had ever had. But I felt like a super young Mark Zuckerberg, like out of the scene in the Social Experiment when they all move to SF and get the house with the pool in the back yard and work all night long every night.
All I wanted to do was drive over the Golden Gate Bridge listening to Vampire Weekend but Jackie kept saying we couldn't do it until last.
And to me, the time frame which represented "last" felt like a year from the time when I got there.
That 40 hours felt like three weeks. I could tell you everything about this girl Jackie. About her parents. About her dogs. Her Jeep. Her brand. Her friends. I had never known any of these people going into this, but now for life I'll know I always have a place in Oakland, California and a comfy bed with a cool shower down the hall.
We drove over the bridge and I stood out of the roof of the Jeep. Oceans surrounded us on both sides, and I felt just like I was in the scene from the photo we printed on the hoodies for the event.
We drove to the top of this mountain. We only had like 45 minutes before I had to get to the airport.
"Come on, run!" Jackie said as she parked the car at the top and got out in a hurry.
I didn't really ask questions, Vampire Weekend still played out of my phone since i had ripped the aux chord just about out of the car.
We ran up this hill as fast as we could. It felt like soccer try outs all over again.
"Where are we going" I yelled to her from like twenty feet lower.
"YOU'LL SEE, COME ON!!" she yelled back, not even turning for a second.
We got to the top of the mountain and we were standing above the Golden Gate Bridges, nearly in the elevation of the fog.
"See! I told you we'd save it for last!" she said as she threw her hands in the air and walked towards the end.
"Isn't it beautiful!" she yelled, twirling around a little bit as if she was showing me like Jay Gatsby's backyard or something.
I just kind of stood there for a little while, remembering how badly I wanted to see it with my mom when I went there for school. I mean --- it's a bridge. Right?
But to me, it was a bridge on the exact opposite side of the country from where I grew up. And it was a bridge that I grew up wanting to see. And it was the night after we had every kid in San Francisco jumping to the beat of what we played. And it was a big red bridge that I had finally seen with my own eyes.
"It's amazing!" I yelled back, nearly jumping around on the top of this cliff-like area.
"You know what they say, right?" Jackie yelled as she checked the time on her watch.
She didn't give me much time to answer, but she started with "You Save Th--"
I finished for her, like she had done the night before in the garden watching the sunrise.
"You Save The Best For Last!"
She smiled as she looked out, the wind blowing in both of our faces nearly knocking the hat off her head.
"We did it. All of SF in 40 hours" I said to her.
"We really did. I didn't do it that, you didn't do that, we together did it in 40 hours".
And that was that. We took the Jeep to the airport and I got on my plane. I counted up the bundle of cash that sat in my hoodie pocket a few times, smiling more and more each time. And the money means nothing to me. I know kids with all the money in the world that have never even left their home state. It just acts as a symbol to prove we did it. And it'll fund the next flight and the next party, wherever we decide to throw that.
That's about it. I got back to my place at like 2am and there were a bunch of people over. I threw my bag down and told a smaller variation of this story to the twenty people who were listening. I went to bed, got up, went to class, and resumed life as the opposite of my saturday night rockstar self. I don't get up until like 10am on weekdays because my classes are at 11, but I woke up to a bunch of screenshots from Jackie's friends texting her.
They were like
"Thanks for a crazy saturday night" .... and
"You guys need to do more!" .... and
"Is ohkaychris gonna write about this on his blog???"
hhaahahahaha ok I made the last one up. but you get the point.
We're going to put the hoodies and tees up for sale, and I guess this whole story gives a true meaning to what the logos on the front of the hoodie truly mean. Because a lot of people buy stuff because it looks cool. But it's a whole lot cooler to buy stuff because it tells a story.