I lived in Manchester for eight years. It's a city I know well, and when it comes to the gay scene, I thought I knew it all. So, when I first learned there was a Manchester Rubbermen it gave me pause.
I've lived in London for six years, and it's during this time that I discovered fetish, so it's maybe understandable why I didn't know about a Manc fetish scene while I was there (There was talk. There were rumours. Nothing substantiated). Learning of the MRM, though, my curiosity was piqued as to what this scene might look like. Fortunately, I work for Recon and I was given the opportunity to get a taste at MRM8.
We headed up to Manchester with glowing endorsements of MRM weekends ringing in my ears. I'd heard from numerous sources that this was a fun weekend and one to be looked forward to. I'll jump to the end reveal: these reports were correct.
To me MRM8 gave me exactly what I'd want from a Manchester based rubber weekend. Hot guys, non-grey skies (surprisingly), and rubber, rubber, rubber!
The events and parties were all packed with guys decked out in their best gear. Day and night. The weekend has a strong social vibe, which works its way into every aspect, and everyone in attendance seemed to be welcomed warmly. I was fortunate enough to be attending with a few guys I knew, but I can't imagine that anyone by themselves remained alone for much longer than 10 minutes. The whole event is geared up to be inclusive and small details like a special wristband for first timers only made this more apparent.
Everything takes place within the Manchester gay village, meaning that you can literally stumble about the place and land in a rubber social/rubber party/rubber market/rubber bingo/rubber show tunes night (I'll be coming back to those last two shortly). It's all contained within a few city blocks, and seeing as there's a large number of hotels in the surrounding area - that were filled with rubbermen - it had a bit of a festival/campus feel to it.
The itinerary for the four days is packed with social events, gear parties, demonstrations, history walks and a whole host of other activities, day and night. The socials were a great chance to meet other rubbermen as well as catch up with mates, and the parties were full of guys having fun. Though there are some restrictions on what play can be had in the venues, there was plenty to be found if you wanted it; either in a darkened corner or back at one of the nearby hotels. Though the weekend leans more on the social side of things, there was certainly lots of misbehavior taking place all weekend.
Coming back to my earlier note, though, there are aspects to MRM8, such as the Sisters Bingo and Geartunes, that make it uniquely Mancunian. The bingo being a chance to win thousands of pounds worth or fetish prizes – including rubber gear – and Geartunes being a show tunes/rubber hybrid (this year with an Aladdin theme). It's elements like these that set the weekend apart from other fetish events.
Manchester and its people don't take themselves too seriously. People there are generally warm and for a long time have embraced the gay community. One of the UKs leading soap operas, Coronation Street was created and is set there, and is known for having a seam of camp running through it. It's reflective of Manchester in the same way MRM is. Both contain plenty of sex and scandal, but are not afraid to have their tongues squarely in their cheeks when the time is right (MRM's cheeks are up for debate).
As I said at the top, I thought I knew all there was to know about the Manchester gay scene, but as with most things in life, I was proved wrong. Fetish is alive and well in the home of the Industrial Revolution, and they're doing it their own way, whilst opening the doors for everyone else to come join the party. I'll definitely be returning for MRM9 next year, and I suggest you should aim to as well.
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