Join an Ensemble

Join any one of our performing groups, or join them all!

Why Join the Band?

The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band is the first openly-gay musical organization in the world, inspiring the formation of LGBTQ+ bands, choruses and performing groups around the globe. We are the ‘Official Band of the City and County of San Francisco’ and have a 40-plus year history as a performing musical group in the Bay Area.

While our mission includes promoting LGBTQ+ visibility, our members come from every walk of life, all sexual orientations and gender identities. We are proud of our diversity and we love our allies!

If you’re new in town or just looking to expand your circle, the band is also a perfect place to make new friends. Beyond performing and rehearsing together, we enjoy having social events like bonfires on the beach or eating out at restaurants after a gig.

Dust Off Your Instrument and Join Us →

The concert band is a 75-person symphonic community band and performs five concert each year, typically:

  • Winter Community Concert
  • Spring Spotlight on Broadway Sing-Along Concert
  • Summer Outdoor Community Concert
  • Fall Community Concert
  • Holiday Dance-Along Nutcracker® (up to four shows in one weekend)

Each concert includes 5 to 9 rehearsals and a culminating performance or performances. Our concert band is open to people of diverse musical ability, sexual orientation, or gender identity with no audition required. The music we play is an expansive mixture of classic symphonic band literature, modern compositions, orchestral transcriptions, pop tunes, and more. Music difficulty ranges from comfortable to challenging to provide a satisfying experience for a musician of any level.

The band plays a joint concert with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus to celebrate their 40th anniversary
Pete Nowlen conducts the concert band during a performance
Child guest conductor at the Dance-Along Nutcracker

Rehearsals

The concert band rehearses weekly on Tuesdays from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm. For our current rehearsal location, please contact us. Learn more in New Member FAQ.

Members of the Marching & Pep Bands perform two types of gigs: (1) marching in parades and (2) standing (non-moving) indoor or outdoor events. Music is usually interchangeable between the groups. Most players also perform in the Concert Band in addition to both marching and pep gigs, but anyone is welcome to participate in one, two, or all three ensembles.

Our marching and pep program is non-audition and especially friendly to people who haven’t picked up their instrument in a while or are switching to something more “marching-esque”. The music we play is a good mixture of some easier pieces and some more challenging, so there is something for everyone at every level.

Similarly, our parade marching style is low impact and easy to pick up. We use a core-style roll step and low mark time with an easy to follow 8 steps to 5 yards stride. We also have some pieces with moving choreography! Whether you’ve been involved with Drum Corps International (DCI) or have never marched before in your life, it is easy to integrate yourself into our band. For pep band gigs, we typically stand or sit and play (no marching).

Rehearsals

Contact us for marching and pep band rehearsal locations, times, and other details. If you need an instrument, we can help you find one to borrow, rent, or purchase. Learn more in New Member FAQ.

Marching Band

Before a parade or season, our Marching Band typically rehearses outdoors on two or three Sundays. Indoor sit-down music rehearsals happen in conjunction with the Pep Band.

Pep Band

Sit-down Pep Band rehearsals (same as music rehearsals for Marching Band) occur on the third Thursday from February through October, with some additional occasional Tuesday evenings (once per quarter).

Performances: Be a Part of Social Change

Through our music, our band is dedicated to forwarding the cause of Gender and Sexual Diversity in all aspects of society. We regularly perform both in San Francisco and across the greater Bay Area, bringing visibility to a broad range of communities. Performance audiences vary from a few dozen to millions at a time, depending on the event.

Regionally, some of our regular events include the Hayward Gay Prom, the Fourth of July Parade in Larkspur/Corte Madera, and at least one of the Pride Parades in Oakland, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Sacramento, or Guerneville.

The pep band performs atop Twin Peaks for the Annual Pink Triangle Commemoration Ceremony
Marching band poses for a group picture in front of the Paramount Theatre in Oakland
The pep band entertains the enthusiastic crowd at the Women's March in Oakland

In San Francisco we perform in the Chinese New Year Parade, the Veteran’s Day Parade, LGBT Night with the SF Giants at Oracle Park, Rainbow Day at L.R. Flynn Elementary, and the Annual Pilgrimage to Colma, which honors Jose Sarria a.k.a. The Widow Norton of the Imperial Court. We have a strong showing during Pride month where we support the Trans March and the Dyke March, help dedicate the Pink Triangle, and wind our way through Castro Street on Pink Saturday in addition to marching the Pride Parade.

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Marching band members cheer after a successful performance
Mike Wong leads students in a cheer at Park Day School while the pep band performs

We also try to plan pep gigs at places like the Castro Street Fair, Berkeley Senior LGBT Center, the New Year’s Senior Luncheon in the Tenderloin, the AIDS Walk, and Walk for the Cure in Golden Gate Park.

The Twirling & Flag Corps generally perform about a half-dozen performances per year in parades: Chinese New Year, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and various pride parades around the Bay Area, including Oakland Pride and San Francisco Pride parades. There are a few rehearsal sessions leading up to these performances.

Contact us for more information on how to get on board!

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Twirlers

Twirlers do not have a set routine, typically free-styling down the parade route, although they do usually join in for any group dance or marching elements that the band does.

Flag Corps

No flag experience is necessary to join the flag corps. There is a set routine for the parade songs but an effort is made to keep it simple and fun. Due to our membership being very spread out over the Bay Area, there is a flag training video available below:

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