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Friday, January 18, 2013

Review of Jan. 11 HARNESS Party

The HARNESS Party last Friday at Numbers is EXACTLY what I promised a few days before:
The HARNESS Party is here again, and I can't WAIT. When I show up, I feel like I am soaking in a brotherly culture of men who all want to find reasons to like each other. This monthly event is turning out to be a very accurate way to judge the overall health of our Tribe. It's social in the extreme… Not just a crowd of isolated, lonely individuals.  I wrote this recent review, and I MEANT every word. I predict that this one will be a big old swarming mess of fun, now that the holiday season is over...
The guys who showed up were READY for some playful, relaxed sociability:
It would be trivially easy to order people around, 
and tell them to "smile". This is the "posed" crowd photo 
from the recent HARNESS Party on January 11th.
Still, they seem amiable and brotherly enough.

This photo is 100% un-posed. Our photographer Chris
held the camera above his head in the darkness and went FLASH!
Same guys, grinning constantly because they CAN'T HELP IT.

In the old days, if you expected to attend a big bar event, you HAD to bring a hard-shelled clique of loyal friends, if you were to have any fun. You had to bring the fun WITH you, or else you were lonely, isolated and damn unlikely to break through into those exclusive social circles.

Now, since we have so many, many men who have learned to always trust what happens in our ongoing series of Guaranteed Safe Spaces, the mood gets ecstatically joyful, right away. The number of men attending is ever-increasing.  

I did "Market research" with every new face I saw. I would ask each man "How did you find out about this event?"  In every case, he would say "My friends here invited me". This means that they had so much fun last time, they gladly brought trusted friends. They vouched for the credibility of the event, because they knew that there would be a burst of happiness for their friend.

I would then always turn to his friends, and with him listening in, asked "Am I a good guy?" They would strongly assert that I was.  At that point, I would ask "Is my newsletter a good one?" and be rewarded with praise.  I would turn to the new guy and say "Would you like to be on my newsletter list?"  Who is going to say "NO!" at that point? Back in the Seventies, we vouched for each other as a matter of habit. It is now coming back strongly as the expected form of courteous behavior. Credibility matters a lot in the age of Internet flakes.

Our own Mr. San Diego Leather 2010 Anthony was there, creating custom-fitted harnesses, belts, armbands and the like.  These are NOT required fetishwear. We don't have a rigorous dress-code at events unless it is specified clearly beforehand. Instead, folks are gearing-up because it is a clear statement of Tribal affiliation. They BELONG, they are happy, and they are using an unmistakeable, non-verbal form of communication to make it plain.

The best part is that the old "clique" paradigm is going away fast. The social circles are now PERMEABLE. Nobody has any desire to stand off in a distance, feeling and looking lonely, pawing at a smartphone to see if anything better is showing up on Recon, Grindr or Scruff. I kept my eyes open for that, all night long. IT NEVER HAPPENED, NOT EVEN ONCE.  Men just dived in, and stayed in the closely-packed swarm. The crowd has become a constantly-shifting organism, dedicated to congenial exploration of new contacts.

As time goes by, I see trends:

- The crowds are growing steadily. It takes time to build a movement that is based on authenticity and credibility.
- The levels of shared, communal happiness and mutual trust are increasing.
- It's getting much, MUCH easier to invite men to join the FMSD list, and be a part of future events. I get turned down maybe once every four or five months now. We added 32 new FMSD members last week.

I can't imagine where we will be, even a year from now. All that I can do is to report back on what is shaping into the best years of our Tribe, ever.

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