First things first; could you introduce yourself to our readers? My name is Daniel, Secretary of the ECMC (European Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs), which is the organization that supervises and coordinates 28 non-profit leather, fetish and motorcycle clubs across Europe. I spend a lot of my time supporting all clubs in Europe and particularly clubs of emerging leather communities. I am always happy to see the emergence of new communities.
What does leather mean to you? Leather is my second skin; the skin in which I feel myself. I want to wear my leathers and want to be seen in them. Leather is a key that opens the door to a fantastic community with a shared passion for fetish, manliness, hard sex and strong friendships.
Could you tell us a little bit about the history of the ECMC? The ECMC was formed in the mid-1970s, at a time when homosexuality had just been de-criminalized in Europe. Homosexuality was not considered a normal or acceptable lifestyle, let alone leather and SM. Six motorcycle clubs in Europe got together to create a network of bikers and Leathermen in order to provide accommodation along their travel routes. These were the early days of the ECMC. Today, the ECMC is a network of clubs with a large variety of fetishes, but still focuses on leather and bikers.
How did you get involved with the ECMC and what is your position? I was the president of MSC Belgium for many years, and represented our national leather club all across Europe. When Dimitri became president of MSC Belgium, I wanted to use my experience to serve the European leather community and build bridges between Eastern and Western Europe, as well as other continents with a similar leather tradition.
What is the importance of the Mr Leather Europe elections? The Mister Leather Europe election is the highlight of the year for local and national titleholders. It gives contestants the opportunity to share a moment of their leather lives with their European brothers and to showcase their local community to on the European and international stage. Whether contestants come from Finland, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Belgium, the UK, the Netherlands or Austria, all have the chance to do well and make their project a European project. This year, we elected Joe King to be our Mister Leather Europe. He has the perfect look for a Mister Leather Europe, but there was also a symbolic reason for selecting a British citizen to represent Europe; to serve as a big Fuck-You to the Brexiters. What are united by our leather and are a big European community, irrespective of political issues in the various countries.
Is there a difference between the European leather scene and the American Leather scene? The European leather scene has always been more sexually explicit. This may be one of the reasons why the leather scene in Europe is almost exclusively gay male oriented. The leather scene in North America has always remained open to women and pansexual leather enthusiasts, and has developed a stronger community spirit.
Could you name some ECMC events we should visit? Every event is worth visiting. My message would be to visit and support your local community first and foremost. Give them the support and consideration they need because they exist to serve you.
As I said before, I am committed to supporting emerging communities and will thus visit Geared Ireland in January, Leather and Fetish Milano in March, Saint-Petersburg Leather Club (Russia) in July, Manchester Leathermen in September, Leather Friends Spain and Evidence in Nice in November. You would be amazed by the good work and positive energy that members of these clubs are investing in their local communities.
How can new clubs or communities that want to join or support the ECMC get involved? A club represents a community and joining the ECMC means this community wants to share its enthusiasm with other clubs around Europe, visit one another, experience their fetish with other Leathermen, forget language barriers, ignore political issues in their respective countries and erase their social positions in society. In other words, becoming a member club of the ECMC is like becoming part of the larger leather tapestry of Europe.