Friday, May 10, 1996

Getting Into Leather, Part 3

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #25, May 10, 1996)

Last issue I wrote about leather events as one way to meet leatherpeople. Continuing our discussion, here are some more.

Leather bars: Unlike most other major metro areas, we’ve only got one. All together now: “The Men’s Room Bar at the Gay 90’s!” (That was very good!) On Fridays and Saturdays it can be quite festive or quite claustrophobic, depending on how you look at it. (You may meet lots of people, but it won’t be very easy to carry on a conversation.) The rest of the week is more laid-back, especially Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday.

There are alternatives. Some people like Bondage A Go Go on Thursday nights at Ground Zero. You might also consider Town House Country in St. Paul—there’s quite a bit of overlap between the cowboy and leather communities.

Even though we have only one self-identified “leather bar” in town, it’s okay to wear leather to any of our local gay bars, and this brings up an important point: If you want to meet others who are into leather, wear yours. On any given night, you may be the only person at the Saloon or Rumours wearing leather. Then again, if you’re one of two people wearing leather that night, and the other person is someone you would like to meet, the fact that you’re the only two people in that establishment wearing leather gives you something with which to strike up a conversation.

Personal ads: You can place one or you can answer one. You’ll find leather-oriented ads from across the nation in magazines such as Drummer, Cuir, and The Leather Journal (to mention but a few). But, for some reason, out of all those ads you’ll only find one or two ads from Minnesota (and they’re often the same ad, month after month). The ads can make for titillating reading, however, and if you’re traveling they might be a way to hook up with someone in a destination city (but I’m not sure I’d recommend that for a leather beginner).

Closer to home, you’ll find non-leather personal ads seemingly everywhere (including Lavender Lifestyles, of course!) Now for the disclaimer: I have never placed an ad, and I’ve never answered one. (Yes, there are still a few things I haven’t done!) So about the only advice I can offer is this: Safe, Sane and Consensual applies just as much to personal ads as to anything else. Whether placing an ad or responding to one, use common sense when it comes to your personal safety. As Drummer Magazine states so succinctly: “If you respond to an ad and meet with the person who placed it, you do so at your own risk. Be aware that not everyone plays safe or respects your limits. EXERCISE ALL DUE CAUTION.”

Clubs: The Twin Cities is home to the Atons and Black Guard for men and the Knights of Leather and Minnesota Leather Den for women. Leather/SM clubs such as these started life as motorcycle clubs, but nowadays a motorcycle is not a membership requirement.

Joining a club has advantages for those newly into leather. When you join a club it can be like being adopted by a ready-made leather family. You won’t have to worry too much about meeting people—it will happen as part of the club meetings and activities. Be aware, however, that being a club member often entails certain financial and time commitments to the club and to the leather community at large.

My advice to leather newcomers who like the idea of joining a club: Take the time to check them out. Attend club events and meet some club members. Find out about membership requirements. If you express interest in a particular club you may be invited to attend a club meeting. All this will give you a better idea of which club (or clubs) to join.

Even if you’re not a club member, you can meet people at upcoming club events and runs such as the Knights of Leather Tournament (May 31-June 2; call or write to Knights of Leather, Minneapolis MN for more information) or the Atons Gopher XII, “Going Down on the Farm” (July 19-21; call or e-mail at ATONS@AOL.COM for more information). And you’ll also see a lot of leather being worn at the North Star Gay Rodeo (July 12-14; call for more information).

Attend any of these events and you’ll see an example of the wonderful things clubs give to the community; you’ll also see how much hard work (mixed with fun, we hope) is involved in putting on such an event.

Register now for Knights Tournament 8 to be held May 31-June 2. Featuring leather/SM workshops, demonstrations, fantasies, dungeon space, village square events and a medieval banquet in a wooded private camp. FFI: Knights of Leather, Minneapolis MN.

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