(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #211, June 27, 2003)
Most people who attend leather runs arrive at the beginning of the run, have a weekend’s worth of fun, and leave when the run is over—probably without giving much thought to how much effort is involved in pre-run planning and preparation, actual operation of the run, and clean-up afterward. According to one long-time club member, “It’s like planning and hosting a wedding—every year!” I beg to differ—it’s actually more work than a wedding, unless your wedding plans include four dungeons.
Here’s a recipe that shows what’s involved in putting on a leather run. The Knights of Leather recently used this particular recipe to make this year’s Tournament XV; the result served 75 people. But with a little tinkering and a few ingredient modifications the same basic recipe could be used to prepare a Black Frost (Black Guard), Gopher (Atons), or any one of the many runs that leather clubs everywhere present each year.
First, procure a place to hold the run by calling the State of Minnesota and reserving a group campsite in a state park. This must be done months in advance, and the call must be perfectly timed or you’ll find that some Boy Scout troop or church youth group has already booked the site for the weekend you wanted.
Next, come up with a theme for the run (this year’s Tournament theme was “Little Dungeon on the Prairie”). You will be applying this theme to almost every aspect of the run.
With your theme in mind, make food and beverage plans—a Saturday-evening banquet plus four other meals, plus two early-riser breakfasts, plus round-the-clock snacks and beer, sodas and water, for (in the instance of this year’s Tournament) 75 people. Plan your menus and make your shopping list. Be sure to make arrangements for run participants who have special dietary restrictions.
Oh, and if your campsite doesn’t have kitchen facilities, figure out how you’re going to cook and serve all this food—and who’s going to do it. (Tournament is blessed with two things: a campsite with a full food-service kitchen, and two caterers named Joy and Michelle d/b/a Rainbow Creations to handle the food-preparation duties.)
Again keeping your run theme in mind, design, produce and distribute advertisements, posters, flyers, press releases, registration forms, etc. Also get something about the run on the club’s website. Arrange to accept registrations by mail or e-mail and payments via credit card or an online payment service like Paypal. Process registrations as they come in by mail or online.
Entertainment and education are important parts of a run, so find people to present run-themed workshops, seminars, demonstrations and other events. To give just one example from this year’s Tournament: plan a workshop on ponyplay, then design and build (from scratch) a covered wagon and arrange to have it pulled around the campsite by four (human) ponies.
Line up other leather clubs to host evening cocktail parties (at Tournament XV the Chicago Leather Club hosted one on Friday evening and the Atons of Minneapolis hosted one before Saturday’s banquet).
Plan your dungeon layout and logistics (the Knights plan called for four different dungeons filled with varying equipment). Also plan placement of tiki torches for nighttime illumination of the paths between the main lodge, bathrooms, cabins and dungeons.
Prepare run packets, one for each participant, filled with a run booklet, run pin and/or run t-shirt (all of which you have previously designed and produced), safe-sex supplies and other sundry items. Also prepare table decorations for the banquet and award plaques for the closing ceremonies.
Several days before the run, go shopping. The caterers will buy the food, but you must buy beer, sodas, water, snacks, safe-sex supplies, insect repellent (!), tiki torches and fuel, and other supplies.
Once all the preparations are made and the supplies are procured, it’s time to actually make the run happen. Here’s how the Knights did it this year:
Thursday evening: Disassemble dungeon equipment in various members’ dungeons. Rent a 26-foot truck and load it with disassembled dungeon equipment (and tools for reassembly), beer, pop, water, tiki torches and fuel, safe-sex supplies, insect repellent (!!!), run packets, table decorations, covered wagon, etc. (Do you know how much stuff a 26-foot truck will hold? A lot.)
Friday: Drive to run site. Unlock all cabins and other buildings and start settling in. Unload truck. Set up dungeons, reassembling all dungeon furniture (including three steel cages). Stock dungeons with firewood, candles, and safe-sex supplies. Fill tiki torches and install throughout campground. Get beverages iced. Check in guests as they arrive. Light tiki torches at sundown. Have dinner, welcome guests, present workshops and cocktail party, build campfire, open dungeons. Play if you have any energy left.
Saturday: Present more workshops and seminars during the day. Replenish firewood, candles and supplies in dungeons. Refill tiki torches. Decorate main lodge for banquet. Light tiki torches at sundown. Present cocktail party and banquet, build campfire. No matter how tired you are, if you’re going to get any use out of all that dungeon equipment, this is your last chance.
Sunday: Have breakfast. Present awards and bid farewell to run participants.
Take dungeons apart, disassembling all dungeon furniture. Load truck with all dungeon equipment and all the other leftover supplies. Sweep out dungeons and clean fireplaces. Collect tiki torches. Pick up trash from all cabins. Clean all bathrooms. Sweep all cabins and close up. Clean main lodge and kitchen. Drive back to city, unload everything from truck and return it to truck rental office. Reassemble members’ dungeons.
Monday: Start planning next year’s run.
PHOTO: Some of the people who made this year’s Knights of Leather Tournament XV happen. They’re smiling because they just finished loading the 26-foot truck.