The Bear Community Came Out In Full Force To Celebrate



The US Open. Fashion Week. The VMAs. The Met Gala. Urban Bear NYC. NEW YORK CITY IS BACK! (Some felt it never went anywhere!). This past weekend The Urban Bear held their 13th annual weekend-long event. The event has grown from a picnic of 12 people in Central Park to an internationally acclaimed event of thousands celebrating the LGBTQ+ Bear community and all who embrace diversity, acceptance, and body positivity.


The weekend kicked off with a beer and burger blast at NYC’s oldest gay bar Julius. The rest of the weekend included late-night parties at NYC’s official bear bar Rockbar and a popular Bears Ahoy boat cruise dance party around The Hudson. The event culminated with the annual Street Fair in the  Meatpacking District on Little West 12th Street. After the 2020 weekend was canceled due to Covid, event organizers were somewhat apprehensive about planning an event this year. They decided to move the weekend, usually held in May to September. In the past the weekend served as an unofficial start to the summer; this year it served as the unofficial start to the Fall! 


The Sunday Street Fair was attended by over 1,000 people {I was one of them!}, many smiling, laughing, dancing, drinking, and enjoying a beautiful sunny September afternoon. Chauncey Dandridge, 45, a DJ and event producer (DJ ChaunceyD), had been involved with the planning and marketing of  Urban Bear NYC. I had the pleasure of speaking with him in between his sets at the Street Fair, 

I really look forward to the Street Fair every year because I get to see so many people I love from the community, longtime friends and other beautiful people that I don’t get to see as often as I like. It’s an event that is purely about the celebration of bodies in all their shapes and sizes and really has an uplifting vibe that sticks with me for weeks afterwards.  I also look into the crowd and see a rainbow of people out there mingling and dancing and celebrating together and that makes me happy. 


The Urban Bear Weekend is one of the most diverse parties in the city, as almost 90% of the performers are POC. Aside from the various vendors and nonprofits, they showcase, this year, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.

DJ ChaunceyD and me!

Executive Producer of Urban Bear NYC Robert Valin, 57, also spoke with me about the weekend, 

This year’s Urban Bear NYC was a huge success! Over 1,000 people attended the Street Fair on a gorgeous late summer day. Hosted by Viva Vidalia with performances by Ari Kiki, Mama Mela, Adam B. Shapiro, Jae W.B., Temple Grande, and Adriana La Rue. 


DJ Chauncey D, had these final words to say about the event,

I was a little unsure of how well this year’s events would be attended because of the looming pandemic situation and the threat of variants, but there is always one point in the day when I look up and see how big the crowd has gotten and that makes me smile. It is truly one of my favorite days of the year and this year was no exception. Definitely looking forward to next year’s festivities which will hopefully be Covid free!

If you are interested in hosting an Urban Bear event in your city, email

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{*all the photos in this article were taken by the writer.}

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