Not long ago, many squads catered to enthusiastic leathermen. But predatory property developers, changing outlooks to gender and the rise of rubber threaten the scenes existence
In a dimly lit sidestreet in London’s East End there is a black box of a building scrawled with graffiti. A CCTV camera roosted above the door signals it probably isn’t a squat, but there is no signage. Inside, past three places of openings and a changing room cordoned off with an age-old tarpaulin, is a shadowy warren of alcoves, enclosures and dark areas. Knee-high leather boots hang from iron series looped through ceiling fastens like fetish bunting. Men kitted out in gents and overcoats prowl the passageways, while others sip Foster’s, awaiting a gesture and a winking. A gregarious barman responds regulars while hairy-chested musclemen appear on a small screen next to an ice bucket.
This is the Backstreet, London’s only remaining gay skin bar. But after a 33 -year run serving London’s kinksters, the working day might be numbered.” The developers have been inhaling around us for years ,” says Aaron the barman.” They want to build another high-rise .” Opposition from Tower Hamlets council and parish activists has granted the sorority a brief relief, according to the staff, who all cultivate for the purposes of the assumption that any period could be the venue’s last.
A string of closures has caused relate for those interested in various categories of fetishes, but the leather incident seems to have been most seriously affected, particularly in London. Bars such as the Coleherne, the Anvil, Bloc, Substation and, most recently, the Hoist, have all disappeared into the annals of lesbian record, replaced with gastropubs, luxe suites and identikit places. Rising hires, contestant fetishes and competition from online dating apps have all been a turn of the screwing. Aficionados dread its drop-off is another milestone in the homosexual scene’s slow drop-off into homogeneity.
” If some people want to have their matching knitwear and a cocker spaniel, then I’m happy for them ,” says Nigel Whitfield, director of the Breeches and Leather Uniform Fanclub,” but some of us don’t. For lots of kinky people, we knew we were kinky before we knew we therefore gay. Losing these openings is a tragedy .”
On today’s gay scene, skin signifies an aesthetic and, sometimes, a specify of sexual practices. An entry-level leather fetish has the potential to was like going your rock-and-rolls off in a well-cut bomber. But for the more committed, it’s a full ogle: boots, trousers or people, regions, shirts, jackets, overcoats, skipper hats, all in premium, black leather. The copulation tends towards BDSM, from rough horseplay to sadomasochism.