Friday, September 08, 2006

My first leather run

It was five years ago this weekend that I went on my first leather run, which was the Second Annual NJ Leather Pride Weekend. It was held on the weekend of September 7-9 2001. In case you are not familiar with leather runs, they are a big part of gay leather culture. They are get-togethers usually held on a weekend at a hotel or campground where a bunch of socials or parties are planned for lots of leathermen (and women) to attend and have fun. The Second Annual NJ Leather Pride Weekend was hosted by the New Jersey leather fraternity (also known as motorcycle clubs in gay circles, but you don't need to ride a cycle to join one) the Promethean Guard.

The motel we stayed in at was the Crystal Inn in Neptune NJ, which from the looks of it was formerly a Howard Johnson's. We registered for the run when we checked in the motel Friday evening. There would be late night social at the motel on late Friday and Saturday nights (there was evening one motel room was state aside for a play party), and there would an "eye opener" social on both following mornings, which is like a conteniatal breakfast with a little booze thrown in.

A majority of that weekend's events were held at Paradise in nearby Asbury Park, New Jersey. You could just go directly from the Asbury Circle, where the motel is located, onto State Route 16 and you'll arrive right in front of the club in about 10 minutes. Paradise is a gay club that's owned by Shep Pettibone, who was a big dance music remixer and producer in the eighties. (He's best known for his work for Madonna such as "Vogue" and the Erotica album.) The place was originally part a 50's seaside motel, so the club was huge--a dancefloor, a swimming pool, a couple of pool tables in the back, and a few bars throughout. The unused portion of the original motel would end up being renovated and re-opened a couple of years later as the Empress Hotel; back in 2001 there was some red tape holding those reconstruction plans up.

The first event at Paradise was the NJ Leather Weekend "Meat & Greet" Friday night. There would be a Leather Market featuring several leather and bear vendors that night as well as the following afternoon. Saturday would be jammed-packed, with a pool party at Paradise that afternoon (with the weather being perfect such as that), as well as some leather demostrations such as one on mummification. Then it was off for a quick change at the motel before a buffet dinner back at Paradise. Then at 6:30pm it was time for the Mr. New Jersey Leather 2002 Contest, which was held on the main floor of the club. There were four guys competing for the title. The audience would be impressed with the guy who wound up winning the title. There was a dance following the contest called FireStorm 2 but I was getting kind of tired so I passed on that so I could get back to the motel and get a some rest. I did wake up a couple of hours later and took part of the partying that wound up back at the motel. Sunday wrapped up the odds and ends with the morning social before people would leave. I meet a lot of different people from the leather communties of Philly, Jersey, and New York City. It made me glad to take part of such an event.

Since then the Promethean Guard have been holding their annual seaside runs the weekend after Labor Day, but decided to let someone else take care of the Mr. New Jersey Leather contest, which is now held in October. (Since then they've also added a Ms. New Jersey Leather title as well.)

On the drives between the motel and the club I would listen to New York's dance station KTU on the car radio. They were foisting the then-new Michael Jackson single "You Rock My World" with brainwash rotation. Other songs the station were playing that weekend were:

Deborah Cox - Absoutely Not (the fab Hex Hector-Mac Quayle remix version)
Darude - Sandstorm
Ian Van Dahl featuring Marsha - Castles In The Sky
Digital Allies featuring Richard Luzzi - Without You (The first time I heard this I thought that it sounded like Neil Diamond doing a techno track.)
Blu Cantrell - Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)

I guess one reason why I have such fond memories of this is that it was held on the weekend before 9/11 happened. It seemed like that the fun and comradeship would never end that weekend. Maybe it was like people were doing the Charleston on the table tops just before the stock market would crash in 1929. When I look back on it now, it seems like five decades ago instead of five years--things had changed so much, it seems that you could never have that much fun again. A sort of innocence lost. But there would be more leather runs I'd attend.


Blogger hot-lunch said...

1. oh how i dream of my first leather run.... sigh

2. is THAT what shep pettibone is up to!

2:48 AM  
Blogger The Divine Ms. Jimmi said...

I can't imagine listening to radio now. I would die.

11:34 AM  

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