Every international fetish event has a distinctive signature. Sometimes that’s by design, sometimes it’s a result of the venues, and sometimes it’s just down to the locals.
At TG in London it’s the sheer number of amazing outfits. At the Montreal Fetish Weekend it’s the friendly vibe that permeates all the events. At the Fetish Factory weekend in Florida, it is, without doubt... the pool.
The Fetish Factory’s 15th Anniversary Weekend was big enough to allow a complete hotel takeover, and what a difference that makes. At other “destination events", your experience after each party and during the day depends very much on who you know or manage to meet while you’re there.
It can be a whirling round of private parties and thrilling photo-shoots, or it can be (depending on the city) a long taxi ride home and a slightly bemused visit to an empty hotel bar.
In Florida, on the other hand, the pool and lobby provide a very welcome focal point for the whole weekend — somewhere you know you can go to hang out with the crowd you travelled there to see.
The fact that the whole hotel is filled means you know you can talk to anyone with a fairly limited risk of them running screaming into the arms of the nearest police officer. And there were quite a few police officers hanging around outside the hotel — not only the ones wearing latex posing pouches!
Emma and I were a bit late in deciding to attend this weekend, so we ended up having to stay at the secondary hotel across the road. This meant we did feel a bit isolated — it was just a little too far to walk in latex in the heat (and involved crossing a 215-lane motorway), and waiting for shuttles to the main hotel made getting to and from the parties a fairly drawn-out affair.
On the other hand, it really didn’t dampen the feeling of community that we felt at the main hotel, and we did have a room with a lovely terrace by the picturesque Hilton pool.
Despite Barry Manilow pumping out of the pool speakers all night long and the occasional space shuttle landing overhead, it was certainly a lot quieter than the all-night party that was the Sheraton. More to the point, it allowed us to play several rounds of “scare the ‘nillas” — always our favourite game on holiday.
There was a great atmosphere at the FF events, though at the first — the Beat and Greet party at a venue on one of Fort Lauderdale’s picturesque canals — the air conditioning made arriving feel a bit like walking out of a sauna into a deep Norwegian winter. No sweaty latex in here!
At the first party – the Beat & Greet – the air conditioning made arriving feel a bit like walking out of a sauna into a deep Norwegian winter
Luckily, you could step back outside at will, and the memory of walking with Emma through the balmy evening along the prettily-lit canal, clad in latex and looking at a couple of James Bond super-yachts was one that I’ll cherish for a long time.
The FF crowd is big and varied, with a strong international contingent; we bumped into many familiar faces, and overall the scale of the event is impressive. The vibe at all the events was also upbeat, sexy and very friendly.
Fetish Factory puts a lot of effort into the shows, and although we didn’t catch all the performances, Perish, Masuimi Max, Empress Stah, Rebecca and S1N F!ST3D were all on the bill. What we did see was polished and very well received by the crowd.
What really makes a night work for me, though, is a club that draws you in as well as providing what you might term “broadcast entertainment”. There was a fair amount of play at all the events, and although the early nights lacked an obvious couples’ area, the momentum built up over the course of the weekend.
By far our favourite night was the Extreme Players’ Party on Sunday. In reality it was too large and varied a crowd to be particularly extreme (though I understand the regular monthly events are more intense), but the venue and the atmosphere were among the best I’ve experienced.
It was held at a strip club called Solid Gold — huge, opulent and decked out in the very finest of “stripper chic” — tacky, but somehow delightfully so.
Most importantly the club was full of different areas, nooks and crannies, including a row of curtained booths that lent themselves very well to what can only be described as an immersive experience. I wish there was a similar venue in London — Emma and I would be there every weekend!
And then, of course, there was the pool. The main pool party on Sunday was quite a spectacle. The whole area was filled with people in latex, with some genuinely great outfits and D/S scenarios dotted around.
As a photographer I tend not to shoot events (I prefer to plan and light my images in a more detailed way), but even I couldn’t resist getting my camera out for this one!
I didn’t last very long though; shooting with a heavy camera in one hand and a flash in the other, in 90-degree-plus heat, wearing latex, is a great way to lose weight. It also made that pool look extremely inviting.
At which point I have to say: if you’ve never been swimming in latex — you’re missing the very best part. If you don’t believe me, try it in a warm bath, try it in a bath with ice cubes in it, and definitely get on a plane and try it in Florida!
I have to say: if you’ve never been swimming in latex – you’re missing the best part. Try it in a warm bath… or get on a plane and try it in Florida
Emma has put together a video of the pool party that you can watch on YouTube if you want to get an idea of the atmosphere — see link in the info panel, below right.
In addition to the formal pool party, the pool area hosted the after-parties and each night saw a good-sized crowd enjoying their latex in the warm night air. This is really a lovely way to finish off the evening.
However, if you’re a light sleeper and tempted to travel to Florida next year, I’d recommend a room that faces away from the pool as the DJs weren’t holding back! One advantage of being at an airport hotel, I suppose: the neighbours can hardly complain about the noise.
I’d been led to expect a fairly rampant scene at these after-parties, but to be honest they were pretty calm. This was largely thanks to the security staff, who demonstrated a deep and unshakeable dedication to a set of rules that was as obscure as it was strict.
When the bouncers insist that people keep their shoes on at a night time pool party, you can imagine that not too much else is going to be welcome. As usual, though, if you’d made the connections, there was plenty more happening back in peoples’ rooms if you were so inclined.
And that’s the rub with travelling to a fetish event: you need to know people there, or establish friendships, to make the most of your time. We were lucky in both respects, but staying in the main hotel would definitely help if you’re a first-timer.
I always find it more pleasant meeting new people in a low-key setting — the public areas of the hotel, the bus, etc — rather than at a club. (This is something I’ve always felt that Montreal Fetish Weekend does particularly well, with an opening cocktail party that lets people mingle before the events kick off).
Overall, the Fetish Factory Anniversary weekend was a wonderful event with some truly lovely and glamorous people, and a climate that brings the best out in fetish-wear. We’ll definitely be back next year, and we’d like to extend our thanks to Glenn and the whole team who made the event a success.
If anyone in the UK is interested in attending in 2011, do get in touch as it’s always fun to go as a group!
I always find it more pleasant meeting new people in a low-key setting – the public areas of the hotel, the bus, etc – rather than at a club