On October 30th, my parter and I jumped into his plane and made an impromptu overnight trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas to take part in the Friday night festivities of that town's Fall Diversity Weekend. For those who don't know, this tiny bright oasis of tolerance in the middle of Arkansas hosts two events each year - the Spring and Fall Diversity weekends -- to which gay men and lesbians from all over the country flock. It's truly a welcoming environment.
For the first time, one of the bars in Eureka hosted a Leather Night. The bar is called Henri's and is nestled right in the middle of downtown Eureka Springs. On our previous trips to Diversity Weekend events, neither my partner nor I had ever encountered much going on in the way of leather, so naturally we packed none for this simple overnight trip. When we walked into Henri's in the middle of the afternoon and learned what they had planned for the evening, we rolled our eyes and slapped our heads like extras in a Charlie Chaplin movie.
However, the afternoon visit proved fortuitous. Business was just casual enough to give me a chance to talk with Henri's manager, Lynn Whitley. Lynn explained that she came from a strong leather background, mostly in the Tulsa community. This Friday Leather Night represented the bar's first-time effort, however they plan to continue to offer leather events at all future Diversity Weekends. Lynn was very conversational, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the leather scene, and she urged us to return later that evening.
Of course, we did. With a bare minimum of leather, specifically a motorcycle jacket and my favorite polished combat boots, I returned that evening with Ron to find the bar packed. Because it's called "Diversity Weekend" everyone is welcome, whether in leather or not, but a number of hot leather men and women were present, including the current Mr. Central Plains Leather and Mr. Oklahoma Leather 1997.
In leather or not, the crowd was lively and friendly. It seemed that everyone wanted to chat. "Where are you from?" was a common question. The bar is not huge, but with a spill-over dining area, I never felt crushed. The bar staff, including Lynn on duty that night, was quick and efficient, and the drinks very reasonably priced. Along with the dance music, a little ocassional karaoke (scary-oke) gets mixed in, but not so much as to intrude on the good time.
There is no leather contest associated with Henri's event, nor do they plan to introduce one, according to Lynn. This is for the best, in my opinion, as focusing on contestants and judges would detract from a celebration in which all the guests are the town's focus. A good leather party can thrive on its own, and Henri's hosted a fine leather party.
Good luck, Lynn, and good luck, Henri's. Your Leather Night is a fine addition to Diversity Weekend. Thank you for making our visit so terrific. I'll certainly spread the word.