“The Red Chair” was established on a Saturday afternoon November 1997 in the basement of a bar on the Southside of Five Points in Birmingham.
For nearly two years prior to its establishment, Mistress Dominique and Grant burned a trail down I-20 to Atlanta as often as they could in search of their kinky kindred to the East. Over the years, they met wonderful people and they absorbed all they could learn, experience, and feel from them.
In Atlanta, they partied in “The Chamber” a nightclub pulsing with techno music and filled with eye candy for the gothic and fetish-a-go-go crowd. Often, they were welcomed into the private lairs of their fellow BDSMers. They were members of “The Sanctuary of a Dark Angel” the crown jewel of the South’s Kinky Mecca ran by Grand Master Doug and “P.E.P” -the largest public dungeon in the region.
Occasionally, they would hear of Alabamians from here or there weaving through the latticework of what was Atlanta’s alternative scene. It was known that they existed, but there were no channels of contact, no social networks, Halloween bashes, Fetish Balls, nor Kinky Christmases in the heart of Alabama. (Side Note: there was a young group in Mobile, “Cradle of Thorns” which -a short time after the TRC inception- closed before being reborn as “SABLE” after which they closed once again).
Mistress Dominique and Grant knew a lovely D/s couple from Montgomery with whom plans had been made for brunch one Sunday. Then the idea struck them “it was time to make things happen.” They culled through profiles and online identities; spreading the word through the few kinksters known locally. With less than 7 days notice, a meeting was to be held.
Before the meeting they sat and wondered; “who would possibly show up?” “what kind of people would they be?” “How many would come?” They could only guess. Twenty-four people walked through the doors that Saturday afternoon. The attendees ranged from early twenties to people over sixty. They were swingers into kink, Gorean, 24/7 household, pro-Dommes, hard core, curious of every rank, file, color, and shape. Wow!
They ate, drank, talked and made friends. Then finally, they made plans to meet again. But the obvious questions remained; how would they find each other online? How would they know when to meet again? What should the group be called? Initially, Grant wanted to call the group The Red Coterie – but it didn’t quite stick. Suggestions were made like “the Alabama bondage society”- but that was so overt, so plain, so uninspired.
As Grant stood there, looking around at the tables where they now stood, he realized that the chairs in which they had been sitting were covered in burnt-red cherry (fake) leather. In the end, fate named the group The Red Chair (TRC).
A year passed with meetings being held in local restaurants and bars before TRC found a private meeting place. Before TRC could begin to use the new location, Mistress Dominique moved to Atlanta leaving TRC to Grant. Grant ran the group –with the help of others- until October of 1999. When Grant stepped aside he left The Red Chair in the hands of an established group. This group was organized and the Leadership Team was formed.
Craig was named Captain of The Red Chair and with him as Co-Captains were Bill, Laura and Greg. The Leadership Team began to planning and established a structure on which the group could operate. Over the years, individuals on the team have come and gone but throughout “Leadership Team” remained.
In April of 2000, TRC took over ownership and operation of ALAFF (A Loose Association of Fetish Friends) as a subgroup of TRC. ALAFF is a coffee social group that had been around for several months. It started out meeting once a week on Wednesday night at a local trendy coffee house. TRC wanted to establish a social group that would be a great place to just relax and talk to with others. This was a wonderful place for beginners to get to know others. The group falls under TRC leadership but is administered by a committee. The group still continues today and meets a couple times a month.
On August 19, 2000, The Red Chair began to host Dungeon Parties along with their regular educational presentations. They began at local hotels. The dungeon furniture was transported and stored in pieces and with the supplies and were kept in an enclosed trailer. At each party, the dungeon furniture had to be set up and then torn down.
TRC parties continued this way until November of 2000 but unfortunately hotels lacked discretion and couldn’t provide the atmosphere that was needed. Meetings were moved to a private building in Huntsville while the search continued for our own home. In February of 2001, a new location was found. Several investors were found and the process began to secure the building for our own.
Meetings continued in Huntsville until renovations of the new building were completed. The Huntsville crowd, which had been instrumental in forming TRC, had a very strong following in the group. Their location served us wonderfully while we were there and our shared history helped to forge the strong bond that TRC has with NASSA/NAPEX.
The building was a mess and had to be cleaned out. Big Bird is the only thing that remained. With the help of several people, the building began to take shape. The upstairs’ fireplaces were boarded up. The roof was leaking and the ceiling had been burned. The lights and plugs had to be installed. Windows were boarded up. Tiles in the floor were patched and wood on upstairs floor replaced. The toilet was replaced twice (don’t ask). In addition a sink was installed. A was stage built as were walls to cover storefront divider walls and an awning over door. Brick was busted out and A/C installed. Sheet rock repairs, heaters installed, and the entire place from floor to ceiling painted (custom mix of “Mike Blue” downstairs, and “Craig Purple” upstairs). HUNDREDS of man hours were put into that building by only a handful of people.
On April 7, 2001, the first educational presentation and dungeon party was held in the new building and continued at least every month until November of 2005. TRC’s dedicated play space was a huge step for the Alabama communities since there were no other groups in Alabama that could boast the same. There were very few groups in the entire United States that had anything to compare. The TRC building was almost 3500 square feet. The downstairs of the building contained a meeting area and the upstairs held the dungeon.
In August of 2005, the ownership of the building swapped hands and TRC began to lease the space. This didn’t affect TRC’s ability to use and treat the building as theirs. However, the building no longer belonged to TRC. This arrangement was going manageable until the property owner quadrupled the rent. November 5, 2005 TRC held its last meeting in this building and at the end of November the group packed up and moved out.
The group continued to have monthly events hosted in the homes of members and a new search began for a new location for the group. In June of 2006, The Red Chair received the Jack Stice community service award at the SouthEast Leatherfest in Atlanta. Neither the TRC representatives nor the event attendees knew about the award before the presentation. It was a complete surprise. The award was presented during the contest finals for Mr. and MS. Southeast Leatherfest 2006 and hundreds of people from all over the South and beyond were in attendance. A brief history of TRC was given during the presentation of the award. Craig and Mistress Dominique accepted the award on TRC’s behalf.
Jack Stice founded SELF in 1996. It was the first major leather event of its kind in Atlanta. Jack died of AIDS soon thereafter. In 2000, SELF began presenting this award annually to individuals, clubs, or businesses in the Southeast Region that exemplified service to the community and dedication to charitable concerns; both were traits for which Jack was known.
Fall 2007 was a very busy time for TRC. Mistress Sabrae, who was the captain at the time, won the title of Ms Southeast Olympus Leather 2007. The very next year she went on to win Ms Olympus Leather 2008.
In November 2007, TRC celebrated its 10 year anniversary. A weekend retreat with author Jack Rinella was held at a camp in southern Alabama to commemorate the event. The group’s founders along with other members from the first year were also in attendance.
In January 2008 TRC brought in Jay Wiseman for a huge event at a local hotel. Two days with a numerous presentations brought in a big crowd from all over the Southeast. The event was very well received and has helped to propel the group into new endeavors.
November of 2008, TRC joins forces with NASSA to bring Jay Wiseman back for another weekend. Another big crowd comes into town with two days of classes.
January 2010 marked a major milestone for TRC. The first ever presentation of leather from the group was to Craig for all of his hard work, dedication and perseverance. He was presented a leather vest by Heinz (from NASSA), Ms Insatiable Amazon (from Atlanta) and Tony (TRC Captain). It was definitely a very emotional evening that will be long remembered.
TRC remains the oldest group in Alabama.