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This year I returned to Folsom!
But not Berlin, which is what most people in the UK think of when I mention Folsom. I returned to the original San Francisco Folsom Street Fair, my 4th visit to this iconic event. The worlds largest leather/kink event attracting around 250,000 visitors (for reference that is ten times larger then Folsom Europe).
I’ve never done Folsom East or Folsom Berlin so cannot compare the events, but I know a lot of my European friends have never done Folsom, so I will give you my guide on what to expect and what is there.
Folsom is very much a mixed event – different kinks, fetishes, fashions, gear, sexes, genders all on display! And that for me is what makes it so great – the huge spectrum of people who attend.
And with that many people attending it needs a lot of space – 13 city blocks near the centre of SF! People say it gets busy … really busy, but I think first-timers can often underestimate just how rammed it can be. By the time I left mid-afternoon the queues to get in were stretching over two blocks! Some of the popular areas of the fair were packed, if you don’t like crowds definitely get in early!
There is no ‘ticket fee’ for entering the fair, just a requested donation. If you donate and get a sticker to wear your drinks are $2 cheaper! The suggested donation on entry is $10 – $15, and to make life easier the volunteers accept cash or debit/credit card.
Folsom Street Fair Events (the organisation behind it all) in 2018 donated over $250,000 to its beneficiaries, has so far raised over $7 million since it started in 1984.
Throughout the event, there are places to get drinks at three types of bars – beer, cocktails or soft drinks. Whatever your beverage preference you can find something to enjoy, and by buying drinks you are also helping to raise further funds to support local organisations! Charitable organisations (referred to as a 501(c)3 organisation in USA) can apply to become a Beverage Partner for the event. If successful the organisation provides volunteers to staff and run a bar, and in return, their organisation receives financial support from Folsom. When you buy a pint you could be helping a local HIV charity or Rugby club for example.
In addition to the bars, there are 7 huge water towers around the site to fill up your own water bottle (free of charge), and there is also a Sunscreen Station to get and apply plenty of sunscreen – though I suspect an optional fee to have applied by a porn actor would have been another a good fundraiser.
Folsom is mostly a social event – show off your gear, get to see hot guys and girls in gear. To see some amazing demo’s – bondage, flogging etc all on display. There is more going on of course – companies selling awesome kit and gear, community organisations promoting their services. Companies you may have heard of, stands include Tykables, Grindr, Recon, Bad Dragon, Mr S Leather, Sheets of San Francisco, Boy Butter, KinkBnB, Nasty Kink Pigs and so many others!
There is a dance arena but that doesn’t interest me at all, so never ventured down into it, but it is there for those who want it. And then as modern events do now they have a ‘Main Stage’ area. It is mostly live bands, some sash queens on parade and hosts introducing everyone and keeping the crowds entertained.
I always advise people to arrive at 11 am, as I say it gets busy! And if you want to do any shopping on the stalls, play with the pups, meet some porn actors etc you need to do this before it gets crowded! This year the temperature was a little lower than previous years, I’d say around 20 – 25 oC. I was in full leathers – so very much a good thing for me! Previous years it has been mid/high 30’s! Which is really far too hot for fetish gear – but good for those who like to wear just jocks or get their cocks out (watch out for that sunburn!)
As any Leather event should have – the Bootblacks have a stand. There is a $10 fee (donation to a local charity) to book a slot and then recommended tips for the bootblacks. Because the service can take a while, and many don’t want to queue for an age they have a great ticket system. You pay your $10 donation and are given a numbered ticket, you can either wait to be called or go off around the fair and come back. Whenever a chair is free they call out for the lowest number, so if you go to the stand early in the day and head back a few hours later you are pretty much guaranteed to be sat next.
While my jeans need a decent deep clean and condition I opted to have my boots done, Unicorn boy (u.b.) did an awesome job – and good luck with the SF Bootblack 2020 contest!
There has been much made of recently about Pride events being “family-friendly” events, and even some trying to ban Fetish gear. Folsom is very much not a family event – and nor should it be! It is an event based around fetish and sex.
The nature of the event you are going to get a lot of non-kink people who want to go and see the perverts and players. It may not be quite as debauched as it used to be, but you could still piss on people in a paddling pool, see countless guys with dicks out jerking off, see guys drinking piss directly from the source or in one video going around twitter one guy over the shoulder of another getting fisted.
Any event like this you cannot go and be surprised if your photo ends up on the Internet somewhere. On the way in they have huge signs about consent which was good to see. And we saw some excellent examples of people both following and ignoring these. For example a well endowed young lad (about late 20’s) was asked if he could have his photo taken by someone, he agreed and posed. Photographer then decided that consent meant he could grab hold of the guy’s hard dick – he was very quickly and directly corrected on that! The lad handled the situation really well, and was great to see him have the confidence to do that. Whilst gear, nudity or attendance does not give consent it is a sad fact that you must also be prepared to deal with people who don’t understand that.
And this consent issue is why I haven’t been able to share many photos from the event – it would be so hypocritical of me to do so. Be like the photo of the old dear watching the Pope go past – don’t enjoy the whole event through a lens.
For a long time I’ve been looking for a kinky fetishy bdsmy club night of pervery that is local.
I will admit I’ve never been a big one for most clubs, the exception to the rule has always been Backstreet. Most gay fetish events don’t interest me because most just seem to be mostly a sex club with crap dress code. If that is your thing that’s fine, for me I want to socialise, be able to have a conversation without lip reading and just nodding and saying “yeah” because I have no idea what you said, and if the mood was to take me … some play! Also respect for basic protocols – collars actually have a lot of meaning!
Now that rant is over, lets get back to the subject. Summer last year I found Kinky Consent on Twitter and something about it appealed. Unfortunately, my diary and the monthly event never matched up and I missed quite a few events. And there have been some amazing sounding nights – the Sissy Pageant sounded a real highlight!
Last year I put the February’s event in my diary as the weekend to loose my KC virginity! I made a note to make sure that I didn’t miss it!!
The night is held at the Klub Kink in Dudley – so super local to me (just 20 mins away). And I must compliment the club for the extensive drinks collection, unfortunately I couldn’t partake in too much as I was driving (I definitely need a slave chauffer next time). The most surprising thing about the venue was the price of the drinks … very reasonable! A Williams Chase G&T was just £4.00! And the most popular thing at the bar seemed to be the Pork Scratchings! And damn tasty they were too.
I was stepping a little outside my comfort zones, going to an event for the first time alone – not knowing anyone who would be there. My social anxiety can go sky high so I find it quite difficult to engage in conversation with people.
In the week I sent Mistress L (one of the organisers) a message to say I’ll be coming along, and received the most enthusiastic welcome and introduction to others in attendance.
The night is usually help over two floors of the club – with a large roomy bar with plenty of seating, a dungeon with variety of kit in it, and upstairs a host of fun spaces! Glory holes, private rooms, orgy room to name a few. And there is also a dungeon area downstairs behind the bar.
The night was a quiet one for attendance, a few regulars and distinguished guests were ill or unable to attend for a variety of reasons. But that didn’t stop the fun! It was a friendly welcoming crowd, not to mention incredibly sexy.
The hosts will make sure you are made to feel welcome, the Mistresses, subs, boys, Masters and others who go provide a great mix of interests and people. If you listen to Secret 102 Radio you will be sure to bump into a host or one of the regular presenters.
KC events also come with some organised fun each month, and this month was the enticing sounding “Last Slave Standing”. Quite simple, a host of impact implements from soft and lovely to very spikey and fuck-me ouchy! The rules where simple … start off with two whacks / strokes with the implement chosen at random by means of a raffle ticket. Then each round it doubled until there was just one slave standing.
The resident Dommes took turns in giving the thrashings, and I was able to enjoy the show sat that the bar with a drink and packet of Pork Scratchings.
I was impressed with all of them!!! I’m sure they were equally proud of their rewards (ie bruises) in the days that followed.
I was also asked to draw the raffle ticket for the prize draw … and genuinely without any cheating or influence I picked my own bloody ticket!! And then because they are such lovely people they let me keep my price – an amazing Crotch Rocket strapon harness and dildo Locked In Lust! The harness and dildo are an amazing combination and have been well used with several slaves since! A full review and pictures will be coming very shortly.
Unfortunately, I have to miss a few more KC nights until I can go again … damn diary conflicts. But I will be back and have made a note in my diary for all the events until the rest of the year so that I can hopefully make this a more regular thing.
So if you are looking for a friendly sociable play night I strongly recommend you get yourself over to Dudley. The next event is April 13th – check out their website for details.
I can’t make April’s, but I’m doing my best to get to May’s 1st Birthday Extravaganza!
With January now firmly upon us, many start to think about what they want to do in the new year. So this year lets all try to do something new to expand our interests.
This year I plan on doing some new bars, clubs and events, how about you, why not try somewhere new. That could just be a visit to a new city, a new cafe or new bar or even try a very different event.
There is now only one leather bar left in the UK – Backstreet. If you haven’t been then I cant recommend you go enough, it is an amazing friendly sexy and sleazy space! And best of all – they ban phones! If your in a leather bar you should cruise, talk, touch, taste and enjoy as you wish! You should do it in real life not on apps!
For my taste too many clubs now are just fuck clubs with a dress code, and for many events not very well enforced. I want somewhere to play, somewhere that has the space and furniture to put on a show! And so this year I will be visiting Kinky Consent in Dudley. A mixed club night that sounds fantastic fun! Look out for the write up in a few months time …
When we start out on our leather journey of discovery we don’t really know too much. And after a few years we know a little more, maybe we have found a particular interest – rope bondage, single tail whips, humiliation, ass play, objectification or animal role play.
But how do we learn? Most people just make things up and see how it goes, which for a lot of play is fine but for others very dangerous. For example using the wrong type of candles for wax play can lead to very serious burns.
When you start out do you know the importance of aftercare, of the come down for both the Dom and sub? How about knowing how clean some boots properly, look after your leathers or make your rubber super shiney?
Fortunately we usually find others to help us, play partners, Sirs, boys, pups or just friends. And then there is of course a wealth of knowledge in books and other publications that you can refer to and learn from. There are also some online learning resources like FetLife or Kink Academy we can use.
But nothing beats hands on personal coaching, someone showing you how to do something and to help you get better.
So in 2019 why not find someone to help coach you in an aspect of your play you aren’t that confident with. It could be flogging, rope bondage, asserting your dominance or finding your inner pup.
I’m looking forward to booking some private coaching myself this year. What about you?
Mike McNamee, probably not a name you are familiar with. But one that the Leather community the world over will know the influence of. Mike was the founder and original owner of a store many have visited or certainly heard of – Stompers Boots in San Francisco.
I was saddened to read this morning of the death of Mike, someone I had the pleasure of meeting twice. And both times boots where of course involved! The first was a to the store back in around September 2011, when I ordered one pair of boots, and bought another. Both I still have with me and wear regularly … remember good boots are built to last.
This wasn’t my first visit to SF or indeed to Stompers, but it was to be the first two pairs of boots I bought! Only one of them was planned. I’d finally have an opportunity to order my first pair of Wesco boots – 11″ Harness boots.
When investing in custom fit gear you want to make sure you have your measurements correct. You can’t return them! So having someone experienced do the order is beneficial, and Stompers offered a discount by ordering through them.
Mike was of course excellent in taking the measurements, and making advice on the style, finish and fitting. Fitting and chatting done, time to pay … but then something caught my eye. Of course every wall of the store was covered boots, the store room floor to ceiling packed with boxes! But there was something I noticed, it was actually one of the most popular boots Mike sold I believe. They are Corcoran 985 10″ Black Leather Side Zip Boots.
I’ll admit it, I don’t go out too much to the kink / fetish scene in the UK. Sometimes if you spend too much time on Twitter and Instagram etc you can get the impression you are only a real kinkster if you go out on the scene loads. Nothing could be further from the truth! The gay fetish scene really doesn’t cater for all tastes, and unfortunately like most niche markets is very focused on London (particularly if you are the UK’s largest gay fetish site).
But there are pockets of kink and “man spaces” around the country. And one of those spaces is the long established Boltz Club in Birmingham – my local if you will. The Birmingham fetish scene consists of six main events / spaces:
For the UK’s second city (I can hear the screeches of dissent from Manchester already) this may not seem a lot, but what we have works well for us and satisfies many perverts needs!
Boltz has had a few name changes over the years, and has moved location before but it has been where it is now for a good few years now – just on the edge of Birmingham’s Gay village. The small doorway entrance leads to a dark world to explore!
There are several key areas to Boltz, the bar area, one large central bar with some stools and limited seating options and then all the other areas pretty much lead off from here. There is the outdoor smokers space, heaters, tables and seats there, the ‘educational’ cinema, the cruise maze, the cottages / toilets, sling room, glory holes and of course The Bullring. This is a different take on traditional cruise spaces, it seven different themed spaces / rooms: orgy, dungeon, slave, worship, bike, sling, web. I’ll let you discover for yourselves the different rooms – but if you have every wanted to be fucked on or over a motorbike with horny guys watching this is the place to go!
Boltz hold many events throughout the year, fetish nights, gear nights, sportswear etc all catered for. But one of their most popular is Dare2Bare on the first Sunday of the month (3pm – 8pm). There is a strict underwear / naked dress-code and the place gets full, hot, sweaty and can be a lot of fun!
Bolts isn’t just a fetish / fuck club. It’s just a great bar to hang out with your mates in. I’ve had some great afternoons, evenings there with mates passing the time buy enjoying the vibe, music and drinks on offer. And one of the best things are the great bar tenders they have! I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to the USA a lot and some of my favourite bars are there (the SF Eagle is one of them). And in most American bars you get great bar tenders, they are their to serve drinks, make amazing cocktails, host you and help ensure you have a great time. As one said recently in Key West “if you can’t trust your Bar Tender who can you trust?”
Boltz has been one of the few bars I have been in where the guys working the bar keep an eye out for who is waiting to order, and more impressively they remember what you drink! They notice you’ve finished drinking and ask if you want the same round again. Makes you feel appreciated and welcome!
So if you are in Birmingham and fancy exploring the darker side of its gay scene, Boltz is a great place to go! Or if you just fancy a pint and chat get along, the best thing about Boltz is that you can gear up if you want, you can fuck if you want, you can suck dick if you want, you can wank watching others do that, enjoy a cigar in the smoke area, or you can just sit and enjoy a drink. I will definitely be making more use of this place in the future.