Baltimore Furry Weekend and #FurUpBmore – the coolest party yet for the Furclub Survey.
by Patch O'Furr
Furclub: A repeat/regular nightlife event by furries for furries. The linked survey may be the only complete list for independent furry parties around the world. The concept has been spreading since the late 2000’s – it builds on the growth of cons, but it takes things farther. It’s more ambitious than informal or one-time events. It brings partnership with new venues, and crosses into public space, so a stranger can walk in and find their new favorite thing. It encourages new blood and crossover. It makes a subculture thrive – it’s a movement! There’s many one-night events, but Baltimore has the first all-weekend one yet:
- FRIDAY 11/10 – FUR-FRIENDLY DRAG SHOW (FUZZY PARTICIPATION ENCOURAGED)
- SATURDAY 11/11 – PROTOCOLLIE & ABLE (DJ SET WITH LIVE DRUMS), BEARS DOING MURDER (LIVE BAR ROCK), I’VE MADE TOO MUCH PASTA (SCURROW’S ACOUSTIC SET), DANCE PARTY FROM 10PM TO 2AM THE NEXT MORNING
- SUNDAY 11/12 – ALL-DAY FURRY HAPPY HOUR
Any party that sends a Q&A gets a featured article, and organizer Seiko generously sent me lots of info. He started “Furry Night” at the Baltimore Eagle and I’m happy to see this rising up. Baltimore tried a furclub party in 2011, early on when only a few existed, but it was short-lived. Now it sounds like the venue and the local scene is coming out in full force to support this, more than almost anywhere, even in San Francisco with “the original” Frolic Party!
I see high-profile names attached – Duke Doberman‘s kink modeling has a massive Twitter following, and what better than having a top quality documentary photographer to catch the action? That’s @atty_boy, AKA Tommy Bruce of Furry Doc (he was interviewed here, and in my post “Five pro photographers advancing the art of furry documentary.”) It sounds like a dream team for event promotion.
Even more impressive is organizing a whole weekend of variety with a hotel block. It almost sounds like a mini-con out of the box in the middle of a city, not stuck inside a hotel. It’s something I’ve been suggesting and hoping to see with these parties. Organizing it around a hashtag on Twitter seems like an excellent promotion approach, as open as the party itself.
Congrats to Seiko for building this with the awesome energy that keeps raising furry subculture. Here’s his reply to the survey questions:
The Party Launch
We first ran the Furry Night at the new Baltimore Eagle on March 5th, 2017. I (Seiko/John Lucia) had been working with the Eagle quite a bit in my role as an event photographer, originally getting pulled in during the Mr. Maryland Leather competition of 2016 to photograph the place while it was still under renovation. It quickly led to more work with Eagle staff and eventually strong relationships with the owners. When a couple Baltimore-local furs expressed interest in a “Frolic-alike” event there, I popped the question to Chuck (one of the owners who manages events there) and he was all about it.
Largely the event is a community-based thing, with no direct hierarchy of organizers. Given my rapport with the Eagle staff, I headline communications with the venue, and with some background in marketing and graphic design I push advertising on my own. For supplies to operate the party such as fans for fursuiters and long straws and cases of water to cool down, if I can’t get it myself, I ask and get help from Baltimore-local attendees directly. Otherwise, the event shares the space with the Eagle’s own T-Dance event, so they provision their own DJ, and set up a couple podiums on the dance floor. Suiters are more than happy to play go-go dancer for a more than enthusiastic crowd!
It’s a very informal sort of meet-and-greet event, but given that it co-opts the same time slot as the Baltimore Eagle’s T-Dance each Sunday, a DJ is always around to spin fun disco tech live (none of the pre-recorded stuff!). No cover charge for the event at all, but the venue is strictly 21+. We get the Nest space upstairs, a dance floor styled after an old 1920’s speakeasy, for use as a headless lounge/community room to hang out privately and/or get in and store suits. Never made a formal headcount, but we typically get around 10 to 12 fursuiters and their respective menageries, probably in the headcount range of 40-50 furs. On top of the attendees of the T-Dance, it ends up being a crazy crowd!
Always on the first Sunday of the month. (Our third event on May 7th was also on the Grand Opening weekend of the Eagle – they were been running on a soft opening since January). Time is set at 4:00pm to 9:00pm so people can come early for a relaxed time, or swing in later on when the craziness kicks up. Typically, suiters start parading around closer to 6:00pm, and frequently folks stay well past the 9:00pm end time which the Eagle folks don’t mind at all. They’re very flexible about our use of the Nest space!
The Baltimore Eagle is a renovated re-imagining of the Eagle formerly occupying the same building. It closed some years ago with a reputation for being a seedy joint, but under the new owners the venue has changed dramatically and in a very progressive direction, not beholden to historic tropes of Eagle venues (basically men-only). Instead of shunning anyone outside the classic overplayed masculinity of the gay male leather scene, they are open to the full LGBTQ+ rainbow, frequently hosting drag shows and Ladies of Leather events. Adding furries into the mix seemed all too logical!
Baltimore has always had a disjointed furry community, with plenty of furs in and around the city but often not co-mingling. This event seems to have helped close some major gaps in community building. And with the help of @duke_doberman, word got out to a large scene of furs in Northern Virginia who have made it a point to come each time the event is held. @JL_wol even managed to drag along some Bostonites!
The story is almost hilariously disappointing, really! Quite simply, I had the connections, and I heard from @JL_wol and @atty_boy that there was interest in having a furry night at the Eagle some time. They were intent to ask themselves, but I stepped in with my connection to Chuck and quite lackadaisically made it happen!
While the venue is quite tame, it’s also very gay, very flirty, and even if it’s only subtext the place is definitely adult. Crowds quite readily engage with suiters on the main floor and LOVE getting group photos, and are giddy voyeurs when some of our more “animated” attendees put on a bit of a show on the dance floor. (It’s not THAT bad, just very friendly). Furs also seem to enjoy themselves either putting on a show by the floor-to-ceiling windows on the front of the venue, or hanging out on the ramp leading into the Eagle. It’s drawn a lot of street traffic into the venue that otherwise wouldn’t have considered going in – (based on conversations I’ve had with some of those random visitors, and on reports from Eagle staff, who were a bit taken aback that we drew in such a broad crowd).
People of course like to dance, but personally I enjoy hanging out and getting fun photos in front of the venue – Last time around @blueberrywuff rode in on his motorcycle, and we got some top notch shots of the “Furry Gang” that were just great!
Ad graphics are original photos and layouts of my own making, which both get posted to Twitter, and shared around and played on the TV screens at the Eagle that run advertisements for various events. With a couple ad graphics as a foundation, the rest of the interest drummed up requires “word of mouth” via Twitter shares. Some fursuiters have tremendous pull that way.
Reception has been crazy positive all around. The Eagle staff are in love with the character and playful attitude of our crowd. They’re super appreciative of the added traffic we’ve inadvertently encouraged into the bar. During our April event, the leather shop incorporated in the venue even dolled up @duke_doberman with $600+ in leather gear and attire, excitedly parading him around like a billboard with his permission. A local liquor vendor was invited to set up a specialty “Furry Shots” booth we just loved! @duke_doberman has also been a huge support in bringing in the NoVA crowd – He’s very much into supporting his local furry events, and he counts Baltimore as local. There was even some discussion among the Eagle owners about moving our event to the first Friday each month, a coveted time slot. Sticking with Sundays for now, but if we get invited for a Friday night showing that would be pretty amazing.
We’re still very informal, so no money is made. So long as people keep spreading the word and folks are adventurous enough to try out a venue historically on the far fringe, we’ll keep growing!
Lots of stuff is available on the #furupbmore on Twitter (the reason I set it up).
Thank you so much for your interest in covering the event in Dogpatch Press! So exciting to see this thing grow and get noticed! (- Seiko)
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