Often thought of as one of the most 'European-style' destinations in America, San Francisco is a city that revels in diversity and sexual exploration. With a large and uninhibited kink scene, SF is home to an active and thriving gay fetish community - and they know how to party.
Here's our round-up of the best fetish venues in San Francisco.
A bit of background
San Francisco has flown the flag for gay rights for decades. Christened as the 'Gay Capital of America' in 1964 by Life magazine, the first Gay Freedom Day Parade took place there in 1970 and Harvey Milk became the first openly gay elected city official in the history of California in 1977.
Today, San Francisco is known as one of the best places to be gay in the world; in 2014 GayCities members voted SF district Castro the world's best Gaybourhood. And when you consider that the city welcomed its first gay leather bar back in 1938 and now boasts over 60 gay bars and clubs, it's not hard to see why San Francisco is a must-visit for gay fetish men.
Top recommended bars and clubs:
• SF-Eagle: Part of the global Eagle biker bar movement, the SF-Eagle is a bastion in the city's leather fetish scene. With cold beer and raucous live music, you'll find the leather-clad clientele taking part in fun-themed nights including karaoke, games nights and open mics, or cruising the huge open patio. • 440 Castro: If you're on the lookout for a San Francisco bear, make sure to check out 440 Castro. With a warehouse-feel, great drinks deals and a friendly, mature cruisy setting for locals and tourists alike, this bar hosts a weekly underwear night, Furry Sundays and a strong Levi and leather scene. • Twin Peaks Tavern: This Castro-based gay bar was the first in the country to feature full plate glass windows at the front, wearing its orientation with pride. Great for early warm up drinks, this is a place to see and be seen. • Powerhouse: Located on the eponymous Folsom Street (see the event below), Powerhouse is one of the most popular bars in all of SF. Come for the pumping music and contests that take place throughout the week - wet jockstrap and smelly armpit to name just two - and stay for the pick-up potential.
Top recommended events:
• Folsom Street Fair: The celebration of everything leather, kink and BDSM has had numerous events created in its honour, but this is the original. Held in September, thirteen city blocks close to traffic and over 400,000 followers of fetish gather to mix and mingle. • The Leathermen's Discussion Group at Mr S. Studio: For those serious about their kinks, this free of charge monthly event sees gay fetish men come together to get into a chosen fetish theme in a whole new level of detail. Educational and a great place to meet like-minded men. • Up Your Alley at the Powerhouse: Self-titled as Folsom Street Fair's 'dirty little brother', this lewd and crude BDSM extravaganza doesn't hold back and isn't for the faint of heart. Taking place in July, all kinds of fetish and kink are catered for, including rubber, sportswear, skinheads, biker and punk.
This is just a taste of what's on offer in San Francisco. For more local knowledge, get in touch with SF-based Recon members who will be only too happy to introduce you to other venues, and tell you about events to add to your must-visit list.