Cheers for Queers: A Grand Reopening

Sex, hugs, and rock & roll: the Chain Drive is on the move

When I first walked into Chain Drive, the dimly lit, sign-less building on a dead-end street, I knew I had found my Cruising-esque wet dream. What I did not expect to find was my second Austin home.

It became the place where our struggles are all the same, and everybody knows my name, a welcome respite from the bright lights and stuffiness of Fourth Street.

What started as a Tom of Finland-fantasy evolved into a family of staff (including "Best of Austin"-winner Garold Bates) and regulars I could always count on for a cheap drink, a laugh, and the freedom to be my frisky self. The key to the Chain Drive's success is balance: sleazy atmosphere and cleanliness; free love and sexual responsibility; play and civic duty; rock & roll and pop music. The magic of the place is one minute, you could be making out behind a tree, and the next, you could be bidding for a jock strap for charity.

The Austin fetish scene was experiencing a relative lull when I first arrived in town in 2008, despite the best efforts of the Central Texas Boys of Leather, hosts of the long-running cigar social. But a perfect storm of pent-up energy and timing was about to bring about a renaissance. I proudly watched the scene gradually get back to the classic leather bar's mix of debauchery and community. Of course, when you get so many people of similar inclinations in one place, you begin to organize, so in summer of 2012 came the Austin Gears, an inclusive, fetish lovers group of which I am a proud member. We started the monthly Gear Night, a judgment-free party which quickly became the Chain Drive's most popular night. Throughout the years, CTBOL, Austin Gears, and many more have raised hundreds for charities such as AIDS Services of Austin. While the hallowed location tucked behind Rainey Street on Willow will be missed, it's only walls of concrete. The spirit of that Chain Drive will flourish in its new home.

Chain Drive's Grand Reopening is tonight at the new location 84 East Ave. (southbound access of I-35). Cover is $10, and it's BYOB until a liquor license is worked out. Check out the Facebook event page here. See y'all there.

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