There are times we, as a community, tend toÂ forget our established proprietors (who supply us with our trappings and equipment) are also integral parts of our respective Communities. In Toronto, Northbound Leather has been in, around and an integral part of the fetish and SM communities in Southern Ontario for what seems like eons. Other companies hoping to gain a foothold and a following will forever be benchmarked beside the iconic Yonge Street landmark leather emporium.
Your Humble Narrator and True Friend would like to take but a moment to thank the event organizers, George and Anna,Â for a really lovely evening in the Distillery last Friday night at the Kinky Pride gathering. The night was truly perfect, weather wise – one could not have asked for better cooperation from Mistress Nature. The skies did open up for a period of time during the day – this is summer in Southern Ontario, after all – but by the time things got into full swing, the evening had turned perfect for a mostly-outdoor affair amongst the pyramidal flame pots and ancient cobblestones of the historic District. The ambience and the atmosphere created by the impeccably-kept old Gooderham and Worts whiskey factory (you can still catch a whiff of long-ago brewed spirits in the rain-tinted air) was truly … Magic.
I do believe that the absolute most fun for everyone in attendance … had to be the astonishment at some of the passers-by, each in turn suffering some severe form of whiplash, from taking in all the delicious, classy and elegant eye candy having a grand time with their peers on the cobbestone patio. Lady J, myÂ beloved partner in this life,Â and I both were quite pleased and honoured to renew acquaintances with some old friends (some rather surprised she had moved to Toronto) and start new friendships with great people.
Our most special of “Thank Yous” to Ms. Marina Black in particular. The LadyÂ was amazing last Friday night and Lady J and I both very grateful and honoured beyond compare for her hospitality, andÂ her friendship. Legends are born from the minds and actions of great people: and this Lady is already well on her way to that elusive “legendary” status. From the bottom of our hearts, we send our love and our appreciations.
These days, I think that most of the general, world-wideÂ SM Community take Northbound Leather completely for granted: They’ve been such an integral part of the Community for so long, that we just tend to assume that they’ll always “be there” to organize events, build our coveted apparel ensembles, and supply us some of our accoutrement’s. With the myriad of other options available for kinksters to prance about and ply their proclivities, I think it is sometimes easy to forget the contribution Northbound Leather has made to the success of our collective in the Gay and Lesbian and Heterosexual communities both. I think it’s easy to feel intimidated and therefore discount Northbound as a viable option: not just for attire and some equipment but as a venue host and event organizer as well. I know that last night, watchingÂ George andÂ Anna (owners of Northbound Leather)Â tirelessly working to make sure each guest was having a good time (along with Ms. Black), I gained a new-found respect and admiration for all of them. Each year in the crisp autumn air, Northbound Leather hosts the largest annual gathering of fetish folk in the world at the immense Docks facility along Toronto’s storied waterfront. The quality of their smaller events does not suffer in comparison: George and Anna work very hard to try and provide a fantastic experience to each attendee who ventures out to any of their events – and the Kinky Pride Event was certainly no exception.
The previous evening, Northbound hosted a much smaller “Meet and Greet” at the Yonge Street store location, which was well attended by some of the more recognizable names that practice our lovely little pastime. It was wonderful to talk to some well known authors of important SM-related literature – and it was nice to see Midori, the Fetish Diva from the West Coast, out and enjoying the festivities amongst Toronto friends and admirers. The Lady is always so cordial, friendly – and the very personification of the word class – it is impossible not to instantly fall prey completely to her charms. On a personal note, the Friday Meet and Greet at the retail location was somewhat of a “Coming Out Party” for Lady J and most everyone in attendance made sure she was warmly welcomed. It is this kind of mutual respect and admiration for some of our iconographic figures that gives me great hope for the continued future of SM folk as a true, if not gigantic, extended family.
While the focus of Pride Week events on the Northbound calender have, in the past, tended to focus nearly exclusively on the Gay and Lesbian contingent, this year George and Anna decided to invite and include the general SM populace to join in the celebrations. While it is true that this decision may have ruffled some hard-core feathers amongst the Gay and Lesbian crowd, in general the gesture was received enthusiastically and was most welcomed by the majority of the party-goers in attendance. Lady J and I renewed acquaintances with new friends (pictured to the left) – who treated us with the utmost respect and welcomed us with open arms as one of their “own”. We loved their playfulness – and were deeply touched by the affections they both displayed for not only each other, but for all of their leather and latex comrades in arms that braved the early rain to take in the evening’s fun.
SM types are going to be hard pressed to match the enthusiasm and the boundless energy that is wrapped up in a little latex package known to all in the Toronto community as simply Anna. Amazingly, the lady took great care (as one of the hosts, naturally) to make sure all of their guests were taken care of. She did all of this, mind you, from the early morning until well into the wee hours of the next day, without complaint and an ever-present smile and enthusiasm that was unmatched – and all the while in skyscraper heels. Lady J and I were astonished at just how much energy and sheer joy she exhibited that evening. George, the other half of the Northbound team, was equally unmatched in energy and enthusiasm – and together they provided allÂ party-goersÂ a stark reminder of how grateful we as a Community should truly be for the efforts they both continually make to bring a little taste of leather and latex into the large and varied Toronto scene.
We are certainly looking forward to the rest of the summer’s events! Wherever you may call home in this world, we urge you to go out during your own Pride Week festivities (if they haven’t already passed, of course – but there’s always next year!) and support all aspects of our alternative communities. We also urge you to support the vendors and organizers, like Northbound Leather, who take the time to plan and organize such fabulous events that give all of us a chance to gather in the spirit of friendship … and be a part of a true family.