Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 29 / 21 July 2016
 
Loading...

Holding our Ground

Leather


Men gather during a cigar party at the San Francisco Eagle, one of the bars that's been incredibly welcoming of leather and kink folks.
Print this Page
Send to a Friend
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on MySpace!
ADVERTISMENT

It's not a secret that the Bay Area, San Francisco in particular, has been losing spaces in which us kinky folks gather. Bars. Play spaces. Meeting and class locations. Conference and contest venues. Kinky retailers. All have experienced challenges in recent years due to the economic realities of a growing city amid the rapid urbanization of America.

Recently, Beatbox, a beloved dance club that often hosted events for the kink community, closed its doors. And Alchemy, one of the few dungeon play spaces available to local organizations and play party promoters, also announced that it was shuttering. We've been down this road before and it's a bumpy one. The Bay Area is not alone. Other cities are experiencing similar problems.

Gay bars and clubs continue to have difficulty remaining profitable, including those that cater to the leather and kink crowd. Dance club spaces are feeling the pinch of rising rents and development as those places become prime real estate acquisition targets. Leather and fetish organizations are having difficulty finding suitable, affordable spaces in which to meet. Leather conference organizers tell me local hotel conference space has risen in price considerably, if they will accept our kind at all. Dungeon and play space options are shrinking.

Taken together, the situation looks bleak. If we want to maintain a functional kink community that has enough opportunities to meet face to face, we need to consider ways to mitigate the declining situation.

Hookup apps and sites are great, but do we really want an entirely virtual scene? Imagine a world where there are no physical gathering places where we can meet, learn, play, organize and discuss. That's not an appealing scenario. I think it's incumbent upon all of us to do what we can to ensure that such a reality does not happen.

Now, I'm a realist. I'm aware that increased LGBT acceptance, the compartmentalizing of our scene into more granular networks, virtual cruising and communications, and the rising expense of real estate are all likely to continue to exert their pressures. That's just the way it is. I get that.

At the same time, the optimist in me wants to believe that we can keep at least a reasonable number of such places operational.

I've been a kinkster long enough to have developed a strong network of like-minded friends and connections, but what about the newcomers? Yes, they can certainly meet online and that's without a doubt the new connection paradigm. However, there is value in fostering in person meetings and interactions. Anyone who knows me knows that I have embraced the online, app and social media world fully. Even so, I realize there is no viable replacement for staring another person directly in the eyes and connecting on that visceral level.

So, how might we all contribute toward improving the situation?

Leather notables gather at last year s BLUF Dinner at Dom Ramon s Mexican Restaurant, one of the dining venues that's historically been quite open to hosting leather events. photo: Rich Stadtmiller

One obvious solution is to give our business to those places that do currently welcome us with open arms. And by this I mean they overtly reach out to our kind, not just tolerate us. I've often heard lip service given to supporting businesses and venues that welcome us, along with tirades about the dire situation of losing them and how we must not let that happen. Then, many of those same people rarely frequent the same places they were so desperate to keep around.

I recall one online conversation in which a self-identified leatherman took offense that a local bar, known for being a regular leather and kink hot spot, charged him a door cover charge even though he was wearing full leather.

Really? Have we come to that? Are we going to get bent out of shape because a bar adds a cover charge? Do we feel that somehow our leather fetish absolves us from contributing to the survival of that business? With attitudes like that, our bar scene will indeed be doomed.

Luckily, I don't think most people think that way. I think most realize that in order for these places to keep their doors open, we're going to have to contribute to their coffers. It's Business 101. Rising costs of doing business mean rising costs for the customer. That's just how it is.

Let's support our businesses and venues.

Of course, one of the more common complaints is that we can't afford to pay more. I'm sure for some that's true, but should not those of us who can afford to pay more do so in order to keep spaces open for not only our benefit but for others who might not be as financially solvent?

A friend of mine once offered this reality check when someone said there wasn't enough money to support a certain kind of local kink venue. He offered as but one counter that an estimated 400-500 guys from San Francisco go to International Mr. Leather weekend in Chicago every year. With hotel, travel, registration, meals, parties and incidentals, it's probably a $2500 tab. 400 times $2500 is $1 million, which he suggested was more than a decent down payment on a new kink community building which was being floated as an idea at the time.

The now-closed Beatbox hosted the 2014 Tenacious: Rubber on the Runway event in February 2014. photo: Rich Stadtmiller

Even if the IML cost estimate is a bit high, that's still a lot of money spent every year for a few days of out of town entertainment. Could we not funnel at least some of that cash toward our local businesses, events and venues? I think we could, if we had the will and dedication to do so.

The bottom line is that it's up to all of us to support our communal spaces. If we don't, the leather and kink scene in our area and elsewhere will become but a shadow of its former self. I don't think we want to see that happen.

 

Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist. You can reach him through his website, www.bannon.com.

Leather Events, July 21 – August 7, 2016

There's always a lot going on in the San Francisco Bay Area for leather and other kinksters.

Thu 21 Night Scenes @ Mr. S Leather Single tails and whips with Danny Nguyen. Night Scenes is an in-store event to give customers the opportunity to see our gear in use in a live 'scene' by experienced players. 385 8th St., 6-8pm. www.mr-s-leather.com

Kink 101 @ Wicked Grounds

Join us for this quick orientation to the local kink scene San Francisco's own kinky street fairs. This session is perfect for folks who are making their first brave steps into the San Francisco kink scene or are visiting for Up Your Alley. 289 8th St., 7-9pm. www.wickedgrounds.com

Fri 22

SOAR with Ms. SF Leather @ Alchemy

SOAR and Ms. SF Leather host this benefit for Ms. SF Leather that includes a silent auction. For everyone who self identifies as queer - gay, lesbian, trans, genderqueer, asexual, bisexual, all the things - regardless of gender, and will focus on celebrating queer diversity. 1060 Folsom St., 8pm-1am.pm. www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2579750

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountryclub.org

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com

Sat 23

Unleashed @ World Famous Turf Club

Come out and get animalistic with Alameda County Leather Corps at their puppy/animal play themed fundraiser. 22519 Main St., Hayward, 3-7pm. www.aclcweb.org

Code Konduct @ SF Eagle

A Hanky themed night with hosts Cody and Harry and also the monthly BLUF Invasion. Free all night in leather/gear, $5 civilian rate. 398 12th St., 9pm-2am. www.sf-eagle.com

Sun 24

FTM Much @ Wicked Grounds

Are you kinky (or interested), FAAB (female assigned at birth) and identify as a trans guy, FTM, trans boy/boi, and/or similar? Join this monthly munch, every fourth Sunday of the month. 289 8th St., 1-3pm. www.wickedgrounds.com

Leathermen's Discussion Group Beer Bust @ SF Eagle

Hosted by Mr. SF Eagle Harrison Kong. Come socialize and enjoy the outdoor patio while helping to fund the San Francisco Leathermen's Discussion Group. 398 12th St., 3-6pm. www.sf-eagle.com

Mon 25

Ride Mondays @ Eros

A motorcycle rider and leathermen night at Eros, bring your helmet, AMA card, MC club card or club colors and get $3 off entry or massage. 2051 Market St. www.erossf.com

MagneKink @ Strut

Attracting queer kinky men to Strut. Race Bannon, Jared Hemming and Strut welcome you to this casual social event for San Francisco's kinky queer men. 470 Castro St., 7-9pm. www.strutsf.org

Tue 26

Safeword @ The Citadel

An inclusive, kink-oriented 12-step support group/meeting held every Tuesday. 181 Eddy St., 6pm. www.sfcitadel.org

GameGear @ Wicked Grounds

Game night hosted by Rubber Men of San Francisco. 289 8th St., 7:30pm. www.rmsf.org

Wed 27

Leathermen's Discussion Group @ Mr. S Leather Studio

Fireplay with Daddy John. 385A 8th St., 7:30pm. www.sfldg.org

Leather/Gear Buddies @ Blow Buddies

Erotic fun for leather and gear guys, $15, 933 Harrison St., 8pm. www.blowbuddies.com

Thu 28

In Gear BLUFsf Dinner @ Don Ramon's Mexican Restaurant

Annual leather/gear/uniform dinner to usher in Up Your Alley weekend. 225 11th St., 6-10pm. www.blufsf.eventbrite.com

Hog Wild - The Official Opening Party of Up Your Alley @ SF Eagle

For folks of a certain mindset, we're throwing an old school kind of leather party. 398 12th St., 9pm-2am. www.sf-eagle.com

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountryclub.org

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com

Sat 30

The Dore Party @ Mr. S Leather

Join hundreds of the sexiest men in the world. Come find the gear that's going to get you laid. And who knows, you might just meet the guy you'll be spending the rest of the weekend with. 385 8th St., 11am-8pm. www.mr-s-leather.com

The 15 Association Men's Play Party @ Alchemy

A men's BDSM play party. 1060 Folsom St., 6pm-12am. www.the15sf.org

CODE (Up Your Alley Edition) @ The Edge

It's Up Your Alley Fair season and only one bar in the Castro has a monthly leather/gear night. Bringing leather back to the Castro. 4149 18th St., 9pm-2am. www.edgesf.com

Sneaks @ Club Six

Dore Alley weekend, the boys from Polyglamorous bring you a Berlin-style sneaker and sports fetish dance & play party. Guys, gear and hot times. 60 6th St., 9:30pm. www.eventbrite.com

Bay of Pigs @ 525 Harrison

Folsom Street Events celebrates the 10th anniversary of this over-the-top leather event. 525 Harrison St., 10pm-4am. www.folsomstreetevents.org/bayofpigs

Sun 31

Up Your Alley @ Folsom Street between 9th and Juniper

Up Your Alley is only for real players - and not for the faint of heart - where leather daddies rule the streets of San Francisco's South of Market district. 11am-6:30pm. www.folsomstreetevents.org/upyouralley

Rough @ Mezzanine

Official closing party of Up Your Alley weekend. 444 Jessie St., 6pm-2am. www.eventbrite.com/e/rough-tickets-22750630749

Mon 1

Ride Mondays @ Eros

A motorcycle rider and leathermen night at Eros, bring your helmet, AMA card, MC club card or club colors and get $3 off entry or massage. 2051 Market St. www.erossf.com

Tue 2

Safeword @ The Citadel

An inclusive, kink-oriented 12-step support group/meeting held every Tuesday. 181 Eddy St., 6pm. www.sfcitadel.org

Wed 3

Exiles Monthly Munch @ Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe

Whether you're an Exiles member or not, we welcome you to come hang out with us and enjoy the company of like-minded kinky women (along with those self-identifying as other than male) who are 18 and over. 1805 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 6:30-9:30pm. www.theexiles.org

Fri 5

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountryclub.org

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com

Sun 7

Exiles Orientation: BDSM 101 @ Oakstop

All those wishing to join The Exiles must attend an orientation so we can ensure that all of our members are introduced to basic BDSM safety and concepts. This is a fun, interactive class presented in skit format. $10 for nonmembers, free for members. Open to all women (and those who identify as "other than male") who are 18 and over. 1721 Broadway, Oakland, 1-4pm. www.sf-eagle.com






Follow The Bay Area Reporter
facebook logo
facebook logo
Newsletter logo
Newsletter logo
ISSUU logo