Rough House at Club120: Sunday, 2:40pm
Crossing Church Street at Richmond, on my way to Club120, I pass a straight couple who have just run a marathon. I know this because they are still wearing their bibs and holding hands, chatting and laughing — such a different life from mine. I wonder what they would think if they knew I was going to a dungeon party just down the street from where they are standing. I admire the contrast on this beautiful sunny day: inside the club, red lights flood the floors and paint the walls. Men roam around in leather gear, exposing skin, some in jockstraps or even less, all to an electro-rock soundtrack, all on a Sunday afternoon.
Onstage, by the entrance, a man wearing only a leather vest has an electrical device connected to his cock. There is a trigger on his thigh, which he pushes every so often, throwing his head back and brushing his nipples with his thumbs while indulging in the pain. A group forms around him, pointing and asking questions while somebody explains what is going on. The man onstage is oblivious to their presence.
I head to the coat check and wait behind a thick daddy who is pulling leather gear from a bag and handing it to his two boys, who can’t be more than 21: one white, the other Asian. He is absorbed by the process, meticulously deciding what to use like an artist honing his craft. They move aside to let me check my things, allowing him more time to decide.
“Do you need a bag or a hanger?” the woman behind the counter asks. I’d planned on wearing just a jockstrap but decide to keep my jeans on, at least to start. “You can always add to the bag,” she says. Fine by me. I place my jacket and shirt in a white bag, hand it over and thank her. I sport a bare chest and leather restraints — that seems good enough.
Rough House is the first dungeon party I’ve been to, and it’s the only regular BDSM dungeon party for gay men in Toronto. I’ve become more interested in BDSM lately but have found that opportunities to meet like-minded people are often limited to the social app Recon or occasionally the Black Eagle, which seems to have lost its BDSM focus.
Though I’m intimidated by Rough House at first, thinking I will stand out, I feel comfortable in no time. Nothing is expected; nobody judges. You enter the doors as you are and are free to just be. Your perversity is not only welcome, but celebrated. It reminds me of the stories I’ve heard of the San Francisco leather bars in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
The Rough House space is dictated by the different levels of the club, and action seems to happen as a series of vignettes throughout. I settle into a spot where I can scope things out above the main space and between the east and west mezzanines.