In the room downstairs, a strobe flashed over mounds of muscle and harnesses. Men slipped in and out of shadow. I later understood that to be the point. Upstairs, things were different — a quiet dive bar, people milling around wooden tables.
The leather subculture denotes practices and styles of dress organized around sexual activities that involve leather garments, such as leather jackets , vests , boots, chaps , harnesses , or other items. Wearing leather garments is one way that participants in this culture self-consciously distinguish themselves from mainstream sexual cultures. Male leather culture has existed since the late s,  when it likely grew out of post- WWII biker culture. Early leather bars were subcultural versions of the motorcycle club with pioneering motorcycle clubs including the Satyrs, established in Los Angeles in ; Oedipus, also established in Los Angeles in , and the New York Motorbike Club. The first leather bar, the Gold Coast, opened in Chicago in Leather Clubs started in Amsterdam and Berlin in the s, and in Sydney from
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Eagle competition. The popular gay leather bar boasted a diverse group of patrons: men of all ages, a couple of women, people of color, body types that spanned the gamut, guys in leather harnesses and some men simply wearing jeans and a T-shirt. The pub had been in operation for almost 40 years, but after the Stonewall Riots, the new owners of the Manhattan space decided to change course. The spot quickly became a popular spot for traditionally masculine-presenting gay men and hosted meetings for biker groups and sports clubs.