Brighton Bear Weekender 2014

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BBWE2014This past weekend I traveled down to Brighton with my best mate P to attend the Brighton Bear Weekender, a weekend dedicated to bears and their admirers with a series of social and fun events throughout the weekend

This was the second time we’ve gone for the weekend, and once again, we had a terrific time.  Oh who am I kidding, we always have a great time when we go to Brighton, be it on a special weekend or not.  It’s our favorite place to go to when we want to get away for a weekend.

After meeting P at London Victoria (he’d traveled down from Glasgow), we jumped on a surprisingly busy train (it was mid-afternoon on a Thursday..) to the coast and were thrilled that the weather was looking to be warm and sunny all weekend.  Which for us meant one thing – naked beach!

Once we’d arrived and checked into our hotel Legends, we chilled for a bit on the terrace before heading around the corner to the local bear bar for a few drinks, some delicious pub food, and the first of the weekend events – Quiz Night at the Camelford Arms.

Brighton BeachWe were both hesitant to join into the quiz since neither of us are any good at them, but we went for it anyway.  It wasn’t an easy quiz and we’d thought we’d done alright with the questions.. until they announced the results and we came DEAD LAST!!!  Ooops.. but at least we got a free (disgusting) shot as a booby prize.  LOL

The next day after enjoying breakfast at the hotel, we grabbed some food and sunscreen from the shops before heading down towards the marina where the nude beach was.  They have it situated so the stones/pebbles (there’s no sand on this beach) are molded into a bit of a dune so you can relax on the nude beach without worries about being peeked at by those walking or driving past.

198It basically makes the place very secluded (other than from those on the beach or walking through it), and quite a relaxing place to be – my upcoming guest post on aguywithoutboxers will go into more details about how I feel about going to a nude beach.

After a lovely afternoon in the sun, we headed back to get ready for the Welcome Night and Cabaret at the Royal Oak.. and as we were getting ready we both realised we’d missed a couple spots with the sunscreen, so had little sunburns amongst our tans.  Oops.

After the welcome party, we followed the bears to the Bear Cave at Subline, which is a basement S&M club.  Sure there were a few people in chaps or leather, but for the most part it was just regular guys hanging out, drinking, chatting, dancing.. and others who were a bit more naughty in the darkroom.  😉

bearded kissAs for myself, I ended up making the ‘acquaintance’ of two different guys that night – one from Saudi Arabia, the other a Spanish guy from London.  Neither guy were really my type, though things did get a bit naughty with the Arabic guy (I’m blaming the drink LOL), but whatever.  It’s always good to get a bit of attention.

What can I say, sometimes you just need a good snog.  LOL

Anyway, the next day instead of heading to the Brighton Bear Weekender Picnic in Queen’s Park, P and I headed down to the beach once again for another afternoon in the sun.  In hindsight, we probably should have gone to the picnic to be social and went to the beach on Sunday instead, but oh well.  It was a nice afternoon as always, and we came back refreshed and very sun-kissed.

Saturday was the big party night, first with Bear Shaft at Legends basement club, then with Come to Daddy at Envy down the street.  Both parties were great fun with loads of people, cheap drinks, and great music.

Sadly we were both good boys and nothing much happened, though I did see the Spanish guy again but we didn’t chat much.  He was literally on the hunt for someone to stay with for the night as he’d come down for the weekend without booking a hotel room…  Which was a major turnoff for me.  He suggested we meet up once we’re back in London, but I kind of brushed him off with a vague ‘maybe’.

Sunday afternoon found P and I hanging out on the hotel terrace overlooking the sea for a bit before going for a walk.  First stop was Prowler so P could get something special to wear for the final party that night, then we walked along the pier and checked out some of the little shops along the promenade.  It was a nice afternoon despite all the crowds – Brighton is a major tourist area, especially for those wanting a day trip from London.

Later in the afternoon, we headed to the Bear Bust at the Camelford Arms for several drinks.  We chatted to a few people here and there, with one slightly annoying and very handsy guy practically latching himself to us, before we decided to grab some drinks and sandwiches from the shop to take back to our room at the hotel.  We’d wanted to gear ourselves up for the weekend’s final event, one we were a bit nervous about going to..

Think smaller, darker venue.. and a lot less clothes ;)

Think smaller, darker venue.. and a lot less clothes 😉

.. the Fur Foam Party at Subline.  A dance party covered in soapy foam.. with everyone just wearing their undies, jockstraps, or less.  I was just wearing a pair of simple black-striped boxer briefs, while P had bought a pair of Aussie Bum boxers that definitely made a certain part stick out..

And we were both a bit uncomfortable about going.  Sure, we’re fine with the nude beach, but there was something odd about standing around a pub in our undies. LOL

Not surprisingly, several of the attendees quickly removed their under-gear to walk around naked.. and then the ‘party’ really got started with people playing with each other right out in the open, some while standing against the bar with the barmen watching the action.  Hell, we watched one guy stand there with a big grin on his face while he got blowjobs from a succession of different men.

Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at things lol), there weren’t many guys at the foam party either of us were attracted to.  So instead we spent the evening chatting to a few people here and there, did our best to keep our beers foam-free, and danced in the foam.. and at one point had a very awkward cigarette out front the club (it’s down a side street) standing in our pants, covered in foam up to at least our knees, chatting with the very hunky (and fully dressed) doorman.

I suppose, when you look at it, it’s not any more shocking than say going to a sauna where you can see all sorts of things going on.  And we both knew there’d probably be some hanky-panky going on, we both just didn’t think it would be so out in the open really.  But of course that could be our naivety kicking in.

Anyway, in the end it was a very enjoyable weekend, and we’re looking forward to planning another weekend there in the near future while the weather is still warm.  And we’ll definitely make plans to go back again next year.. and maybe even take part in the foam party again.

If we’re drunk enough. LOL

To find out more about the Brighton Bear Weekender, please check out their website at http://brightonbearweekender.co.uk.  All profits from Brighton Bear Weekender 2014 go to the Rainbow Fund (http://rainbow-fund.org), a grant-giving fund for LGBT and HIV/AIDS organisations in Brighton and Hove.

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Fitting the Physical Stereotype

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As a bigger (read: chubby or fat) guy, it’s fairly normal that I get discriminated against due to my size or how I look.  Especially when it comes to going out on the gay club scene.

no fatMost clubs want what they perceive as the ‘pretty people’ to come to their clubs or events.  You’ll be walking down Old Compton Street in Soho some evening and will see the people handing out flyers to this club or that, sometimes even giving free entry.  Heaven/G-A-Y for instance is famous for handing out wristbands in Soho earlier in the evening to get more people to head to their club.

I’m guessing sometimes they’re a bit selective as to who they give their flyers to, as I’m assuming they’ve been instructed to only target a certain demographic – cute, young, fit, muscular, etc.  It’s similar to straight clubs where promoters will advertise ‘ladies nights’ as a way to get more women to come to their clubs.. And in turn, get more guys out to socialise with said ladies.

It’s all about knowing your market and targeting it I suppose.

Well a couple weeks ago, the tables got turned on the ‘usual’ physical discrimination you see at these gay clubs.

The big bear club XXL was advertising free entry if you show your profile on their social/dating app upon entry, so a mate and I decided to go out and shake our booty.  Neither of us have been in years, and figured this would be a good opportunity to get out there and socialise a bit more.

CharacterHowever we should have read the advertisement a bit closer – the free entry was for ‘bears‘ only.  That’s right, for once being a bigger, hairy guy with a shaved head actually worked out for me and I got in free.

But my mate didn’t and he had to pay the full £15 cover.  He did try to halfheartedly argue that it was discrimination as some people may consider themselves bears but don’t fit the physical stereotype.  It wasn’t about the entry fee itself, but more of the principle behind it.

As much as it was great to get in for free, I felt a bit bad for my mate that he had to pay. Though was nice to be on the other end of things for once.

I did find it interesting how some guys tried quite hard to argue their case with the doorman/attendant because they felt it was unfair that the club didn’t consider them a ‘bear’, despite how they may view themselves.  In fact we watched an average sized guy in front of us argue that he was a bear, going so far as to unbutton his shirt to show how hairy he is.

At one point the doorman just looked at him then pointed at me and stated, ‘You need to look like that to get in for free.’  And when he was asked to pay the cover charge because he didn’t fit what they considered the physical bear stereotype, the guy asked for a manager as he felt this was unfair.

I’m not sure if he succeeded in getting in for free or not.tumblr_lnf3j1F61G1qbo6lto1_500_large.png

I used to love going to XXL back when I first arrived in London, as it was fun and friendly(ish), and it was great to find a place that actually catered to guys who looked like me and those who are attracted to them.  I had many terrific nights there dancing the nights away and flirting with cute guys, including my first NYE in London.

But then the club became popular among the twinky and muscle-queen scene, and suddenly there were prissy guys there sneering at the chubby guys, making them feel uncomfortable in what was supposed to be the bear club.  It literally stopped being an inclusive place where bears could let it all hang out (and some did more than others…), and it stopped feeling like a ‘bear’ club.

This changed the attitude of the club, and like a lot of others out there, I stopped going.  Being surrounded by others that looked like yourself and those that were attracted to bigger guys was this club’s appeal.  And they lost it for awhile.

I just hope their current push to bring the bears back to the club works for them, and that feeling of inclusiveness comes back to it.  Only time will tell..

And until then, I may just have to use that free entry again sometime when I’m feeling like dancing my butt off.  😉

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‘Bear’ly Realisations – Finding your Gay Stereotype

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It never amazes me how much as a community we stereotype and sub-categorize ourselves even further than just being ‘Gay‘.

Ok… this isn’t so much a new thought for me (or anyone really), but I felt like talking about it and how I became aware of the different sub-sects over the years.

Up until several years ago, the only sub-sect of gay men I knew about were ‘twinks‘ as the most of my friends were either just regular guys or were twinks themselves, and we generally hung around with other regular guys.  The gay bar we went to in our neighboring town was a mixture of all types, so stereotypes weren’t as easily distinguished.. at least not to my naive mind.

Just eat a cheeseburger already!!

It wasn’t until I moved to Montreal back in 2000 that I started to realise there were different sub-sects to the scene.. mostly because they all had their own bars, saunas, hangouts and so forth.  But even then for the first few years I can see now that I kind of had blinders on.. and the attitude of my ‘friends’ that anyone bigger than a size 28 or 30 waist were just gross and unattractive didn’t help at all.

Of course, that included me, as I’ve never been skinny or thin and didn’t really diet or exercise.. I was just myself.  And it also resulted in my not getting laid that often.. which has probable lead to my willingness to jump at any sexual interest cause I’m scared it’ll be the last one… we’ll have to talk about that another time.

Now of course I wasn’t so naive or narrow-minded that I didn’t realise that I didn’t really fit into the scene my friends loved so much.  I’d never found the effeminate, limp-wristed, super-skinny guys they liked attractive at all, and being a bigger guy with body hair, I most definitely didn’t fit into the stereotype.  I did my best to try to have fun while out, but man was it ever depressing always going home alone..

Montreal at night

So eventually I went off exploring the other options in Montreal by myself…

I’d never lived anywhere where there was a selection of bars to go to before, so this was fascinating for me and I was interested in exploring.  Since I didn’t have anyone to go to these places with, it was almost like my own dirty little secret, and anytime someone asked me where I’d been that night I actually felt ashamed saying the name of the bar.

Eventually it got to the point where I completely stopped going out with my friends to their bars.. because they would never come out to the bars I wanted to go to.  Why was I the one who always had to suck it up and go where I wasn’t comfortable?  I’d spent years being tired of being dragged to the same places over and over again, watching the same people make the same stupid choices, all the while wishing I was somewhere else.

No.. I’m not into leather… and that’s not me lol

So I stopped inviting people out with me, and I went out alone very regularly.. and the invites to hang out with them stopped as well. I became more aware of the sub-sects around me, as much as one could in a city like Montreal, and eventually realised I fit the stereotype of a ‘bear‘… the exact type of guys my old friends used to think were unattractive and gross.

But.. it was when I moved to London that I truly realised that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as there were loads of guys out there who were totally into bigger, hairy, bald guys with facial hair (last couple of years in Montreal I’d started shaving my head as I was losing my hair anyway, and had tried out a beard…).

And some of these guys were down right sexy!  And some actually looked like the fit guys my old friends would have drooled over.

Funny how things turn out, huh?

~M~

Note: Of course I don’t always necessarily feel a part of the ‘bear’ community either, as I don’t label myself as such… it’s just easier to try and be part of that community than it was the other one.  😉