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Friday, July 6, 2012

Review of Saturday's BELT Party

A good number of the photos that follow are from Photos by Cali's collection of photos from that evening's festivities. She is a superb "Event" photographer, while I'm more of a documentarian.
PART ONE: WHAT IT'S ABOUT

For the last two years of FMSD's existence, there has been a constant, ongoing barrage of hundreds of new events in San Diego, with different themes, locations and leaders, each of whom have different ideas. It may seem confusing to anyone who is paying attention, but the over-arching purpose remains the same:

To build more and more Tribe for gay FetishMen.

Our numbers are going up (amazingly rapidly, with new members every single day), our events are always amiable, welcoming and pleasant, and our diversity has accelerated. We haven't done this by repeating old ideas - We've been taking risks on a constant basis. Not every event has worked out, but we have always gotten back up and tried something even MORE "out there".

On Saturday, July the 2nd, 2012, the third BELT party pushed the envelope pretty damned far, and it paid off. The whole evening was one big lab-experiment. There were so many things to learn from it, it's going to take a lot of processing and brainstorming to learn everything we need in order to move forward…. and push things even further.

Why experiment at all? What's the point of all of this? Why not play it safe?

Because it is 2012. Not 1962, 1972, or 1982, or 1992, or 2002.  Gay FetishMen have a long, proud history, but we dropped away from each other when things went really wrong for our community. Things broke down really badly for DECADES, and it is a long, ongoing process to bring our brothers back into close approximation with each other again. New generations have arrived, and they have a right to take their natural place as leaders, volunteers and teachers.

We have clung to the old, moldy ways, and they don't work any more. The world has moved on. Now, we have to try messy, unpredictable and out-of-control new ideas, that can pay off really big if they succeed. The payoff will be huge and exciting new traditions that will serve to unite us even more over the long run.

At each of the three BELT parties so far, the primary lesson to be taken away is that the original goal of bringing the spirit of Folsom Street Fair to San Diego was a powerful and valid one. The methods have changed each time, but the BELT events are getting bigger, more-unified, and friendlier.

For a long time, there has been a seemingly unbridgeable gap between the generations. That is going away quickly, thanks to events like this one. There were around three dozen men (most under the age of 35) whose job as Community Representatives was to go up to new, shy men and make sure that they felt welcome and included in the community. If you've ever felt unsure and out-of-place, you'll know why. If we are going to stay true to the goal of including every age, color, body-style and experience-level in our Tribe, we have to continually and consciously break out of the "clique" mind-set.

PART TWO: WHAT HAPPENED

Our Community Representatives showed up early, worked hard to make everyone feel welcome, and left late. New, surprising stars on the team used this opportunity to show the rest of us how effective they could be, now that they had a chance to shine. From age 22 on into the mid-60's, every volunteer gladly brought Tribe to everyone who showed up.

In my publicity before the BELT party, I promised a hot and sexy event.  The BELT party was cruisy and exciting, but it simply wasn't hardcore raunchy, and was never intended to be.  The good news was that the After-Party at the Eagle's Wolfs Revisited Party WAS. The lesson here is to continue to provide the socially-powerful and the more intimate events on the same night.

The BELT party provided a swarming, animal-level of close and intense approval and acceptance. Everybody got to fly their freak-flag WAY up high.

Aaron's friends gathered for dinner in the hours before San Diego's best Gear Night in anyone's memory, including mine. You can always judge people by the company that they keep; if you know even one of these guys, you will know that Aaron has superb taste in friends!

These are the sort of new leaders that are now running things in San Diego's gay FetishMen community - Check out their power, their confidence, and their poise. If you were around at the BELT party, you saw them in action. They worked as if their lives depended on making the entire crowd feel welcome, involved and included. San Diego is blessed with dozens of men like this, and every day is a cause for celebration. Every month includes many events that never go wrong, never veer off into the ditch, and always satisfy. Best of all, we are all unified, thanks to the efforts of men just like this.

I was there in the 1970's gay leathermen's community, and I can tell you - These are better days for us, right now. Better than ever before!
25-year-old Brandon (that's him on the far right) got in touch with me last week via telephone. He had been feeling isolated and alone, because he felt like he was the only kinky guy around. His sister found my number, and got us in touch. I invited him to our Planning Committee meeting this last Wednesday, saying "the guys that will be there are the finest men that I know, and they're all just as kinky as you are!"

He showed up, and immediately relaxed. His high spirits, sweet nature and passionate ways immediately charmed the whole crowd. He was asked to give a demo of what he likes best, once the big BELT party started: tickling!

He was paired up with slave bob (the best, most-satisfying reactions in Southern California - No contest!). I held bob from behind, and the crowd got a great show from men having a truly pleasurable time together.

Not bad for only his second time in our community! He went on to have a wonderful time. He sure feels like it's HIS community now…

Mikey Marinas is my personal trainer at 24-Hour Fitness at Mission Valley mall. He has been an incredible inspiration and coach as I've been trimming down half an inch off of my waist per month, every single month since November. He's getting me back into fighting trim!

The BELT party was 22-year-old Mikey's first event as part of the leather community. He bought his first harness in order to be ready for Gear Night. He had a wonderful time - He spent the whole evening absorbing information from the flood of interpersonal interactions going on all around him. As I told him beforehand - "The first time, your job is to step back and observe. At the next event, you will OWN it!"

Two things I want to point out about this picture of the crowd attending the BELT party last night:

CLUMPING. You'll notice how physically close everybody is. That is by choice. The Blue Room was where the Gear Only section of the party was held. It was not 100% full, despite appearances. There was a clear area by the bathrooms, but the rest of the place was jammed up tight. Pople were there for social intimacy, and they got it. No isolated, shy guys marooned out on their own.

TOUCHING. Look closely - very few people are not actually touching somebody else in some way... Hugging, kissing, standing close and liking it. I'm a big fan of sexual intimacy, but I think that there is a whole lot to be said for social intimacy, too.

Again, with the touching, but now look at the eyes. Everyone is being present with whoever they are with, but their eyes are darting this way and that. Why? Because the whole room contained a constant, powerful flow of interpersonal dynamics, sexual attraction, re-establishing friendships, and building new ones.

Oh, and cruising for sexual partners, too! Yay!

Once more, check out the closeness, intimacy, relaxed body-language and naked flesh. Now, look closer:

Look at the diversity - Every body-style, age, color and experience-level, all blended together in a complete lack of stress. Expect more of this, and more often. This is what 2012 looks like. It's very, very different from any earlier time in our community's history, and that is a very good thing.

Everybody brought their "A" game and shared their specialties in performances that lasted through most of the night.

PART THREE: LESSONS TO LEARN - WHAT DO YOU THINK?

I could easily pontificate about what my own conclusions are, but I want to leave this part wide-open. What are your thoughts?  Complaints? Praise? Ideas?  Send them along to me at papatony@ mac.com and I will make sure that the right folks get your feedback.

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