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Amsterdam Leather Pride History


by Pieter Claeys in Events & Agenda , 17 October 2013

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
length: 5 minuten


From October 24-27, the eighteenth edition of the Amsterdam Leather Pride will take place, with as highlight “Ruff! The Party” in the Depot on Saturday, October 26. And because eighteen years is a long time, we dove into the archives to find out about the history of Amsterdam’s longest running fetish event.

‘Martijn’s Party’

The first Amsterdam Leather Pride was organized in 1996 by leather and fetish store RoB. The owner, Martijn Bakker, got the idea for this pride event a year earlier, during the thirty year anniversary of Motor Sportclub Amsterdam (MSA). The club had organized a large party weekend in October 1995 in a sold-out Hotel Arena (the communal dorm was a big success), with the cooperation of the entire fetish scene. Rightly, the party was highly praised by the more than thousand guests from home and abroad.

Martijn Bakker, who was also publishing the iconic leather magazine “Drummer” next to his leather and fetish store, was ambitious and planned a sequel. With a flourishing gay and fetish scene in prosperous times, organizing the first Amsterdam Leather Pride seemed a logical step. Practically everyone who had a thing for leather and fetish participated, thanks to the organizing committee, somewhat overwhelming the local entrepreneurs with the initiative. Whether the initiative was welcomed or not, it resulted in an extensive program for a week of leather and fetish fun. (Yes, in those days Leather Pride lasted a week.) Various parties, a sextafette in the cruise bars, a boot black service and lotteries in bars, a Mr Drummer Europe competition, a leather market, a leather diner in Hotel Arena are just some of the activities of the diverse program of that first Leather Pride.


Leather Pride Nederland

This much fetish pleasure came at a price. Even though RoB’s task as organizer of the event was fun, it was also too much to be the only one initiating everything. Bakker had to look for partners to collaborate with. In 1997, Leather Pride Nederland was founded, a cooperation between RoB, Mister B and rubber specialist Black Body with the goal to continue the Amsterdam Leather Pride and put Amsterdam on the map as a gay and fetish destination. As small scale activities had become forgotten, Leather Pride Nederland organized a competition with some other parties, granting the winning idea a budget of 1,000 guilders. The entries, among others, were a fetish fashion show, waxing without anaesthetic and with bondage at the treatment table, and a back to the 70s and 80s theme night at the Argos. The winning idea came from restaurant-hotel La Strada, which wanted to organize a Master & Servant Eat, Drink en Play Party... or maybe not, as La Strada withdrew from the competition. This made the jury decide to donate the prize money to the Spanner Fonds Nederland (“A fund for financial support for education on leather/fetish/SM and activities to improve the social and legal position of practitioners of SM”) and Spellbound (“Activities for and by youth in leather/fetish”).


W.A.L.P.

Today’s youth might find it strange, but in the 1990s, there were also women among the guests of Amsterdam Leather Pride. They mostly came from leather and SM women’s group Wild Side. In 1996, there were some activities for women on the agenda, as well as some mixed or female-friendly parties. In 1997, Wilde Side organized the very first women’s SM conference under the name WALP - “Women at Amsterdam Leather Pride” - an event that was unique in Europe at the time. In the following years, WALP developed into a special part of the Amsterdam Leather Pride, which did not only contain a conference, but also an auction, demos, workshop and women’s parties. The event was so successful that it was also held in various other European cities, and was at the top of the travel agenda of International Ms Leather.


‘Get Ruff’

With the start of the new millennium, the Amsterdam Leather Pride scaled down. The event now concentrated on the last weekend of October, with the Playgrounds parties as a highlight. This did not decrease the number of visitors, however, by now around 2,000. Remarkably, the city was not as tolerant as one might think after the gay 90s. This magazine published an article in 2004 about the Amsterdam Tourist Information Office, which blatantly ignored the gay scene by refusing the Amsterdam Gay Map en information on GLBT events, something Leather Pride Nederland also protested against.

We now know that city hall is now much more tolerant and appreciative of the social and economic value of a flourishing gay scene. At the same time, the Amsterdam Leather Pride and the fetish scene became smaller. The number of events decreased, the women disappeared to who knows where, and Leather Pride became a fetish weekend instead of a fetish week. The cooperation between the organizers did not always go smoothly either, and in 2009 Leather Pride Nederland was dissolved. RoB became the sole organizer again. Martijn Bakker sent out a press release in which he revealed the new name for the Pride week: “Get Ruff,” with as its highlight the new fetish party Ruff! The Party.

Initially, this name change caused some confusion and led to critical reactions in the fetish scene, and “Get Ruff” was quickly renamed “Get Ruff – Amsterdam Leather Pride.” Yet it became clear that the event was reinvigorated. The first Get Ruff – Amsterdam Leather Pride spanned five days again, and the well-known sportswear party Ladz was included. During the past years the fetish week ideal seemed unfeasible, and Amsterdam Leather Pride now concentrates its activities in a weekend with Ruff! The Party as the highlight. The name “Get Ruff” also disappeared into the background, and this autumn, the fetish scene is again celebrating the familiar “Amsterdam Leather Pride.”


2013

In 2013, the Amsterdam Leather Pride is no longer the only big fetish event in the capital with the arrival of the Amsterdam Fetish Pride at Ascension. Despite of this, it remains a classic on the Amsterdam gay and fetish agenda, and thousands of fetish lovers are again expected in the capital this year.


Please check www.get-ruff.com for a complete listing of events and tickets, and of course at gayamsterdam.


The LeatherHistory.eu foundation has compiled a time line with material from the archives of the Amsterdam Leather Pride , to which everyone can contribute:
www.facebook.com/LeatherPrideAmsterdam




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