Doc Martens, Handcuffs, the Works…


October 1988
Issue 9

CLAUDINE MAGUIRE goes in search of some Leather Lesbians at Chain Reactions, London.

Chain Reactions is an S&M lesbian bar full of ill repute. Any decent, right on or politically sound lesbian wouldn't be caught dead there. Naturally the more we heard about the place the more our curiosity grew until one Tuesday night some friends and I decided to brave the unknown. We descended on Vauxhall Station and made our way toward the Brixton exit. We knew we were going in the right direction because some brave, bright spark wrote "Chain Reactions" above the Brixton exit. Had the sign not been there we still would have found the way as five yards ahead of us we saw two cropped heads complete with leather motorbike jackets, leather trousers with a little red hanky coming out of the back right hand pocket, Doc Martens, handcuffs, chains, the works. We looked at each other and nodded, we were definitely on the right track (the dog collar gave it away).

The path below the entrance was lined with every sort of motorbike imaginable and having drooled over these for a few minutes we made our way, tongue in cheek, towards the entrance.

It was £2.00/1.50 concession in the door. The first thing to hit me in the face (literally) was a topless, bottomless waitress. She wore just a leather bodice with a few dinky little chains hanging on it. I was faced with a choice, leg it now, say three Hail Mary's and save my soul, or stay, act cool and absorb the atmosphere. So we stayed, sauntered (and I mean sauntered) up to the bar. The aforementioned waitress came up to us and said "If you want a drink I'll serve you", to which we declined, stuttering and mumbling to our corner in the bar.

The place was very dark, the smell of poppers wafted up our noses like old friends ready to kill a few more brain cells. There were about 150 women in the bar wearing every sort of outfit and uniform imaginable. They all wore the customary chains, some had handcuffs, others whips, most wore leather. Nazi hats with chains around the peak were quite popular. I met one woman who I'd seen around and we started talking about S&M. The next thing I knew she'd pulled out her whip and said "Turn around, I won’t hurt you," I nearly dropped dead on the spot and declined, making a hasty retreat to the loo.

The atmosphere itself was very cruisy. A good night at the Hirschfeld Centre had nothing on it and it was all women only. Behind where we were sitting was a large wooden grid and behind that was a dance floor. During the course of the night one woman in particular spent a lot of time dancing. Nothing unusual about this you might say except for the fact that she was topless and kind of on the big side to boot. We spent a lot of time peeking through the grid with our eyes nearly popping out until eventually we turned back to some steady drinking. By that stage we needed it.

The other waitress wore Doc Martens, fishnet tights, suspender belts, a full bodice and a leather cap complete with chains, handcuffs and whips. You could sit all night watching her. Well I could.

Normally on Tuesday night Chain Reactions holds a floor show. The night we went however a band was playing.

The women themselves had a very positive attitude about themselves. They were different, they weren't very well liked among other lesbians, they knew it and they loved it. Personally I say fair play to them, whatever turns you on, as for me, I think I'll stick to hot vanilla in the future.

pull quote icon close