''It started out as just a twinkle in my eye,'' Michael Sessa says. Six years later, Sessa's twinkle of an annual local Leather Pride event has become something of a full body twitch.
In addition to educational events, this weekend's DC Leather Pride offers a full range of nightlife activities, from a light ''Dungeon Dance'' to a more hardcore Code party to a leather-inspired outing at the Crew Club.
Sessa started DC Leather Pride soon after he became volunteer president of The Center, the area's LGBT community center, in 2005. He's grateful for support of others, from the educational events of Master Taino to club outings of Jacob Pring, David Merrill and Charger Stone. And, of course, the staff at the DC Eagle, which serves as the weekend's de facto home base. The Eagle hosts activities every night and, in its adjacent parking lot, Sunday's street fair and festival.
''Everybody does a little piece and when we pull it all together, it creates quite a weekend,'' Sessa says. He expects thousands of people to take part.
Nightlife activities kick into full gear Friday, June 3, when the Eagle hosts the Mr. & Ms. DC Leather contest, the successor to the former Mr. & Ms. Capital Pride Leather. Also that night brings the brand-new ''Dungeon Dance'' at District Underground. The space is in a lower level of the same Adams Morgan nightclub that currently hosts Jacob Pring and Charger Stone's Sunday night Truck Stop event.
When asked what people should expect from the Dungeon Dance, Sessa cites the event's motto: ''Safe, sane and consensual,'' adding, with a laugh, ''everything else is up for grabs.'' But Pring, who's throwing the party with Stone, says the space, which is set to be totally remodeled after the dance, won't actually be decorated like a real leather dungeon -- there'll be no slings, no cubbyholes, no glory holes. ''It will just be a dance in the dungeon," says Pring. DJs Frank Wild and Pornstar will tag-team the party, which starts at 10 p.m. with a cover of $5.
Those two DJs will also spin for a special Leather Pride Truck Stop Sunday, June 5, in District's upstairs space. Meanwhile, popular local DJ MAJR aka Mikey Adolphson will spin for Code Saturday, June 4, starting at 9 p.m. at Green Lantern.
Saturday night will be a busy night for Code organizers Pring and David Merrill, since they'll be recognized along with the Eagle's Ted Clements and local leather leader and HIV activist Justin Terry-Smith with Community Service Awards from DC Leather Pride. In addition to the awards ceremony, the Eagle will also host a charity auction on Saturday night. And the Crew Club will throw a special ''Fetish Night'' to close Saturday night festivities, offering CODE attendees $5-off entry after 2 a.m.
Sessa points out that DC Leather Pride is distinct from January's massive, nationally recognized Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend. ''[Leather Pride] is totally local,'' he says. ''It's a community event -- more like a family picnic.''
A full schedule of DC Leather Pride events, including links to all nightlife activities, is available at dcleatherpride.com.