It was June 17, just two days before my 28th birthday. I was at Booker’s Restaurant in West Philly with a femme date, enjoying a pre-birthday dinner. As the evening approached, the sun hung low in the sky, the air was hot and heavy. I was ready for an adventure. As I was musing over my upcoming birthday plans, my phone chimed. I glanced over and saw a text from K, one of my leatherdyke friends. She was inviting me to the Women of Drummer meetup at the Bike Stop, happening that very night!
I had never heard of Women of Drummer, but I was too excited to ask questions. Turning up the charm with my well-known smile, I kindly asked my date (who is not a leatherdyke) to attend with me. She thankfully obliged, and we skipped dessert – the sight of my date in her short red dress was sweet enough for me. Soon we were on our way.
Neither my date nor I had been to the Bike Stop before. I knew it was a gay leather dive, but I wasn’t prepared for just how much. We approached rather nervously, unsure which door to use. A gaggle of women were gathered on the stoop out front, smoking cigarettes, decked out in leather. I immediately noticed a petite femme with a bright smile, curly hair in a bun on top of her head. They pointed out the correct door to use, and we hurried inside. We emerged into a dark bar filled with patrons dressed in Friday casual. Not a woman in sight! Before we could start asking each other questions, the women from the stoop entered the bar.
The woman with the curly bun walked towards me. “You look like you’re here for us! Come downstairs!” She bounded down some stairs that could not have been there when my date and I first arrived. Reality is subjective in the Bike Stop.
Downstairs was a completely new vibe. There was red lighting, a bootblacking chair, and several dykes from the neighborhood I recognized. K had not yet arrived. The woman with the big smile came over again. “We’re the Women of Drummer! I’m Fidget, what’s your name?” I told her, and we hit it off. Soon she was inviting me to their play party.
And so began a new chapter, marching to the drum beat. Later Fidget would tell me that she knew I belonged with them right away. I was overcome with gratitude and excitement. I have longed for the chance to learn from my forebears, play, and become part of a movement. At last I have found it! Up until that point my leather journey progressed in bedrooms and incredibly local parties. At the Bike Stop my journey became part of a movement. Thank you to the Women of Drummer for welcoming me with open arms. I am so happy to spread this movement with you.
Woman of Drummer 2022