IML 2016 welcomes leather and fetish community to Chicago

Fri. May 27, 2016 8:39 AM by News Staff

iml 2015

photo credit // anthony meade
Chicago, IL - International Mr. Leather opens Friday welcoming the leather and fetish world to Chicago this Memorial Day weekend.

Now in its 38th year, IML draws nearly 20,000 to downtown Chicago and Boystown for a celebration of everything leather and fetish. The four days of non-stop events will be hosted for a second year at the Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 S. Michigan Ave.

IML weekend is filled with conventions, workshops, and parties all celebrating a shared love of leather, rubber, sports gear, pup play, and much more. All the events are organized around the annual competition to crown International Mr. Leather as well as the newer International Mr. Bootblack.

The IML Open Ceremonies, which include the introduction of contestants and judges, kick off the weekend Friday night at Park West, 322 W Armitage Ave, from 8-11 p.m. Constants return tomorrow for the Pecs and Personality Contest portion of IML and reconvene on Sunday at the Harris Theatre, 205 E Randolph, for the International Mr. Leather Contest -- doors open at 5 p.m. with shuttles leaving the Congress Plaza Hotel starting at 4 p.m.

All these events aside, however, nothing says IML like the annual Leather Market, hosted this year at the Congress Plaza Hotel between two enormous convention halls. Featuring over 120 vendors from across the U.S., the Market offers an amazing assortment of leather and fetish goods and an even more amazing opportunity for people watching. Those not holding an IML weekend pass will need a Day Pass to enter, with the $10 donation going to Chicago's Leather Archives and Museum. The Leather Market opens at 11 a.m. during the weekend, closing at 7 p.m. on Saturday, 5 p.m. on Sunday, and 4 p.m. on Monday.

Two of the weekend's biggest and most highly anticipated events are the Victory Party and Black and Blue Ball, the annual circuit-type parties that bring contestants, winners, and IML revelers together to shake, sweat and dance it out.

"IML is always a favorite weekend for me," Matthew Harvat, ubiquitous Chicago DJ and entertainer, told "I have the honor of representing the IML organization with five different events, three nights of DJ's in the host hotel lobby, The Victory Party and, of course, the epic Black and Blue Ball."

After the new International Mr. Leather is crowned on Sunday, the crowd will flock, per tradition, to the House of Blues, 329 N Dearborn, for the Victory Party. The favorite IML closing event, Black & Blue Ball, returns to Sound-Bar, 226 W Ontario, on Monday where it will be the first major party to debut the club's remodel and all new lighting systems.

Related: Wildest IML, Bear Pride and Grabbys weekend parties