The Power of the Web
Its just over a week now since we had Gay Pride in Amsterdam. As usual, at all the Amsterdam "Special Days" we arranged a BLUF meeting at Dirty Dicks on the Warmoesstraat. I was standing with the boy and pup on the door, the boy was doing his usual great job of checking mens packages - oops, sorry, dresscode for entry, and pup was sniffing around for big Daddy Bears as normal! A steady stream of Leather Men kept arriving, and from time to time I popped back in to get a drink and have a walk around to talk to friends. As I approached the back room, guys were playing (yes, action at a BLUF event - who knew? lol) I saw several pairs of boots get the attention they needed from attending boys and slaves, I heard the impact of several floggers hitting those that needed it but more imporantly - I saw people that I had not seen for a long time, many of them who live in Amsterdam, but I no longer see them in the bars or in the community. Several people stopped and thanked us for arranging the BLUF events and liked the AKA initiatives and workshops that we were starting. I asked several guys "Why dont I see you around any more?" and the answers I got were quite surprising. There were the obvious "Im busy at the moment", "I lost my job so I cant afford it anymore" however these were few and far between, the most common responses were:
1) I dont find what I want in the bars anymore; Id rather meet guys on the Web and play at home.
2) I get shouted at on the street by drunk British Tourists when I walk down the street in gear
My gut feel was to say in answer to 1) Ok - but what about the community and meeting your friends? and 2) So what - deal with it, gay men in other countries have a lot more to deal with than a few nasty comments! But no, I engaged tact, smiled and thought about it a bit more, everyone is different, and these things affect people in different ways and i need to respect that.
Lets take each in turn. If everyone stops going to the bars because they dont find what they want anymore, the reason they dont find what they want is that too many people think the same way! Several people stated that they looked forward to BLUF events because they knew when there was a BLUF Event, the bars would be full of leather/fetish/kink guys. Yes - we all know we can find guys to play with on cruising sites like Recon, but it can also be used to arrange meet ups with mates in the bars as well as tricks! If more guys were to use these tools to arrange meet ups with mates for a beer as well as tricks to play with in the bars, the bars would be full of "your sort of people"! It takes only 5 or 6 guys, to arrange a couple of others to come along on a Friday or Saturday night and suddenly there will be a mass of your sort of people in the bars - simple isnt it? There are hundreds of leather men and fetish guys in Amsterdam and the surrounding area, all we need is 10% of them to make a decision to do this and a huge difference will be made - TEN PERCENT! The bars are getting busier again, the hard work done by the owners and management of the Leather Bars to create a nicer, more pleasant environment is resulting in people going out again, tourists are starting to return, but play beyond the cabin BJ or fuck is still rare to see except on the "Special Days" such as Queens Day, Gay Pride and Leather Pride.
Secondly. Yes - even in Amsterdam there are childish comments (usually from drunk British tourists) when they see guys walking down the Warmoesstraat in gear. At first such comments used to annoy me. Especially when you hear the haunting tones of YMCA comming from a stag night expedition thru the red light district. At least in Amsterdam its only words, there is rarely anything beyond a few comments despite what the scaremoungers state.
These comments from idiotic tourists, and some narrowminded locals however rarely happen on the special days, because there are many more of us than them! If we solve the first problem and people start going out in gear, these comments would be minimized if not completely eliminated. I recently heard that the local police in Amsterdam stated that they would like to see more fetish guys on the Warmoesstraat again, as when we are around there is much less trouble from drunk tourists! But if this really worries you, why not change in the bar, or wear a pair of sports pants over your chaps or leather pants till you get to the bars?
Some say that the internet has killed cruising in the bars, I disagree that that is the main cause, its had an impact but its not the main reason. Lets use the power of the web to arrange more meet ups in the bars and restore the community to its former glory.
Id be interested to hear what you have to say about this? Years ago - did you go out to the bars and clubs a lot, then it stopped? why? what were your reasons? What would have to happen or change to make you decide to go out to the bars again?