This week a few friends from MIT visited us in the Bay Area for a few days and this prompted the gathering of other MIT friends who, although they live nearby, we don't often see. We met up with one such guy, we'll call Joe Smith, on Monday night.
By day, Joe works at Apple where he is a respected engineer. By
night, Wed nights, he is a Go-Go dancer at Bondage-a-Go-Go.
Bondage-a-Go-Go is the name given to the Trocadero Club on fetish nights. The club is in the South of Market area of San Francisco. Joe told us that it was really kind of interesting. Lots of people dressed in leather with pierced bodies, lots of transvestites, and upstairs, a special whipping area where people can sign up to have themselves whipped by a muscular male in tight black leather shorts, or by a large abusive female dominatrix.
We got there around 11:00. Joe said he would be dancing on the stage, for which he gets paid $10/hour.
We immediately felt like we stuck out. Our normal everyday clothes had somehow grown these neon signs which said "Clean Cut and Well Adjusted Within" and bells and whistles seemed to go off wherever we walked.
The place was just getting going and so we strolled around. Downstairs we checked out the stage and cages where the Go-Go dancers did their thing. No sign of Joe, but it was early. We played a little guess the sex game as some lovely "ladies" walked by in rather revealing outfits. I wasn't amazed at how feminine and beautiful some of them looked - having seen the Crying Game, I was prepared for that. But the extent to which some will go was amazing. Let's just say that not every suit against Dow Corning is brought by a woman.
Upstairs, some leather clad dungeon masters were setting up the whipping area and making a few bucks on the side selling whips and chains. We waited around for awhile chomping at the bit to see the real thing.
I moved downstairs with a friend of mine that we'll call Elanit, to check out the dance floor. I recognized a few songs which I guess are classified as industrial and gothic music. The classification was new to me as I had always just called it head banger music. We danced for a while under the leadership of Go-Go dancers on the stage.
The crowd was pretty tame, which was rather surprising. There was plenty of space and I didn't see any couples grinding like you see in the more conventional clubs. Everyone sort of did their own thing and some of the things they did were rather entertaining. Nothing too wild, just interesting head thrashing, hair waving, and arm swining. A few guys had the most serious look on their faces as they sang, played air guitar and even acted out the songs.
A few songs later we moved back upstairs and saw that the whipping had begun. It was all consensual and very organized. (There is even a sushi bar behind the whipping area.) I must say it even seemed comical. The first guy to be whipped had his arms tied up in the air, like he was chained to an invisible wall. He was pretty normal looking, average to small in size, with blue jeans and no shirt on. He was chatting with his tormentor. Although I don't know what they spoke about, he was calm and had the air of ordering breakfast. I suppose he was telling her the fashion in which he liked to be whipped.
The woman whipping him was pretty large and had tatooed breasts stuffed into a piece of lingerie more likely to come from the North Face than Victoria's Secret. Her face was calm and motherly, however, and if you saw her on the street you might take her for a school teacher, which she very well may be.
First she rubbed his skin with a feather duster and rubbed her hands all over his bare chest and back, I guess to sensitize the skin. Then she began whipping him. Gently at first. He continued to talk to her and was rather at ease. She whipped a little harder for a while and then went back to dusting and rubbing, then back to the whip. He grimaced a few times in pain, but never screamed.
Then we started watching another guy. This guy was a middle aged man with a big beer belly and a big smile on his face. He bent over a stool and was getting his butt whipped with a leather strap held by a topless, muscular man in tight leather pants. The strap cracked pretty loud across his butt and the guy getting whipped really seemed to enjoy it. After every ten whippings or so, he would turn around and stand up. Smiling the whole time he talked to his abuser about where he would like to be hit next and how hard. A few rounds more of this and he decided he would take a round across his bare butt. This phased no one and the next round was delivered directly on his skin.
Meanwhile, the guy getting whipped across the back now had his back to me and I could see scratches, perhaps scars, and skin that was peeling and on the verge of blistering.
We went back downstairs, letting others crowd in to see. We saw our friend Joe and talked to him for awhile. He was dressed in long black leather shorts with fish net stocking underneath and no shirt on. He said he would be dancing later, as there were enough other dancers on the stage at present.
Elanit and I danced some more and I noticed that one of the new stage dancers had her breasts hanging out of her leather.
Soon it was time to go. One friend had to catch the 12:00 train back to Berkely so we found Joe to say goodbye. Joe was getting a few quick lashes across the back from a seven foot transvestite he knew. I figured it would be rude to interrupt a thing like that, so I waited until they were finished before saying goodbye.
Overall, it was not quite as wild as I had imagined. The mood was really quite tame, especially compared with something like the Sound Factory on a Friday night. People were polite, and no one bothered anyone, but kinda let everyone do their own thing. I even stopped feeling out of place because of my clothes - my neon sign must have turned off - and saw a few others who were dressed down, so to speak.
All in all I have to say a good show is to be found at Bondage-a-Go-Go and I recommend going . . . once.