With "leather boys" from as far away as Korea in attendance, the DC Boys of Leather celebrated its 10th anniversary last weekend with a "run" -- also known as a bar crawl.
''It's a tradition that dates back to the old motorcycle club days, when everyone would meet up in a certain bar,'' says Jason Carcione, president of the Boys. ''We had people from as far north as Maine and as far west as Denver.''
Carcione estimates that about 100 people attended the banquet, and about 60 attended the full weekend's roster of events, which included everything from cocktails to the group's Atlantic Motorcycle Coordinating Council meeting.
The DC Boys of Leather formed in the summer of 1999 as part of a movement to distinguish "boys" from "slaves," says Carcione. Justin Smith, club member and former vice president, adds that it was meant to be a safe space for submissives, who he says were sometimes treated poorly by "doms" or dominants, in the parlance of the bondage-discipline/sadism-masochism (BDSM) community.
Boys, says Carcione, are usually submissive, but are characterized mostly by a ''playful, silly, jovial personality.''
''Boys can be anything under the sun,'' says Smith. ''There are dominant boys, there are girls…. I know 60-something boys that enjoy being submissive. It's all about personality.''
Smith says that he entered the club in 2006 identifying as a submissive, but that he transitioned into a dom.
''I'm the only dom in the club,'' says Smith, adding that some doms raise an eyebrow at his continued membership with the club. ''They say I'm not really a dom, or I shouldn't be in the club. … But with the love and support I get from the boys, I'm the happiest dom in the world.''
Carcione says that the club underwent significant bylaw changes in its third year, with a new mission and purpose, to become more inclusive.
''We wanted to be more accepting and more service-oriented,'' says Carcione of the group's changes, ''but we're a fun, social club, ultimately.''
Carcione says community service is a huge part of the mission of the boys, and so an important event over the weekend was a fundraiser for Brother Help Thyself. The boys auctioned themselves off, and Carcione says they raised about $2,000 for BHT, an organization that channels funds to a variety of GLBT and HIV/AIDS causes and organizations.
The club also runs an annual toy drive for the local Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care organization.
The anniversary weekend also saw ''boyhood'' awards going to entities that have demonstrated service to the community: the Green Lantern, the Leather Rack and the Atlantic Motorcycle Coordinating Council.
Carcione says that, in the coming year, the club will be making an effort to have more events outside of the bars.
''We're planning a zoo trip next weekend,'' he says, adding that the group just launched the Leather Identity Project, a Web site designed to collect data and explore and discuss the BDSM community.
Still, the group plans on spending plenty of time in bars, too, and Smith says the weekend's crawl was a great success.
''Mostly, it was just amazing to see all of these different leather groups, all of these people identifying in different ways, getting together with each other.''