Friday, October 25, 1996

Are Leather Dress Codes Discriminatory?

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #37, October 25, 1996)

Lavender recently received a letter that asked:

“When I go into the LeFemme Show Lounge, I don’t have to wear drag. When I go into the Triangle Corral, I don’t have to wear a cowboy hat. When I go into the Dance Annex, I don’t have to wear dancing shoes.

“Why is it that when I am invited to PAY for admission to the Men’s Room for a Leather Community event, I am told that a dress code will be enforced. Does this mean that the Leather Community is excluding other factions of the total Gay Community? I’m especially interested because several times you have given the advice that if a person thinks he may be interested in the Leather Community he should attend a couple of events. That means I have to buy the leather BEFORE I make my decision.”

Mention the words “leather dress code” and a heated discussion will probably ensue. Some people feel they’re discriminatory; others wonder why the Twin Cities doesn’t have a leather bar with a dress code enforced seven nights a week, not just on special occasions.

New York City is large enough to support a leather bar with a dress code that’s always enforced. It’s called LURE; the name is an acronym for “Leather, Uniform, Rubber, Etc.,” and that’s the dress code that is very concisely spelled out at the entrance. No tennis shoes, no polo shirts, no chinos, no cologne or aftershave.

This is not the Fashion Police at work. This is a business that is trying to please its customers; the dress code is there in response to, and with the support of, LURE’s primary clientele. This is no different than an upscale restaurant requesting that gentlemen wear neckties.

Leather events in the Twin Cities use the leather dress code for the same reason: to get more people to attend. The leather clubs and other organizers of these events don’t want to exclude those who may be curious about the community but haven’t yet acquired any leather; on the contrary, they want to encourage these people to investigate the scene. This is why the dress code at most events includes “Levi/Shirtless.” The combination of jeans and a bare chest is a masculine look appropriate to the event, and just about everyone already owns a pair of jeans.

A drag show is just that: a show. The performers are on stage to be slightly outrageous, to titillate and to entertain the public. (To paraphrase Liberace, they don’t dress that way to be ignored!) Leather dress codes do aim to exclude people who don’t understand or respect leather and its ethos — who think leather is just another form of drag show and who want to be scandalized by these “brutes who are fruits.” These “tourists” are pretty easy to spot in a leather bar, and they are not appreciated. The patrons at a leather bar are there to enjoy the atmosphere and each other’s company, not to be part of a floor show.

TCBA Party Simulcast on World Wide Web

The Twin Cities Bondage Association (TCBA) recently held its “Camera Night” play party and perhaps made history at the same time. As far as anyone has been able to determine, this marked the first time that images of a play party have been simulcast over the World Wide Web. (Earlier this year the International Mr. Leather contest in Chicago was the first leather contest to be simulcast in this fashion.)

The TCBA was formed to provide a safe place for bondage play, networking, and education. For further information, write to TCBA, St. Paul MN.

Upcoming Leather Events

Ms. Minnesota Leather Competition 1997

Friday, November 15, 9-11 pm, Club Metro Underground “Maximum X” Bar
In addition to the contest there will be entertainment (including the Rainbow Cloggers), vendors, a barber, and a “trashy pants” contest with a cash prize (now you know what to wear to the event). $5.00 at the door includes free beer, food, door prizes and free parking.

Women in and of leather are encouraged to compete. Contestant applications are available at Club Metro, or see Darlette Knox in the DJ booth at the Gay 90’s. Vendor space is still available for groups, clubs or businesses; for vendor forms, sponsor sheets, and further information contact Darlette.

No comments:

Post a Comment