Executive Summary: Gearblast US is a unique gear-intensive weekend, straddling nicely between social and sexual, and providing a wide variety of gear interest to cater to most gearheads. While the venue is a bit out of the way, it’s perfect in size and layout for an event of this nature. Strong, professional volunteerism provided excellent practical arrangements from good food to an excellent play space.
Gearblast US, one of the three Gearblast event franchises in existence, took place May 3-7 in The Dunes Resort in Douglas, Michigan. Being the fourth incarnation of the US franchise, this was my first visit to it. Having previously done both the UK and EU versions of the event, I was curious to see how this 4-day event compared, and I was pleasantly surprised.
The Dunes is a gay-resort, hosting other sexual events as well, so the venue and staff are well-equipped to deal with special clientele. As the venue itself did not have capacity to host all 150+ participants, some were in overflow motels within walking distance. While there’s nothing luxurious about the Dunes, the rooms were clean, housekeeping efficient, and security present; that’s all you need for a great weekend.
The concept of Gearblast is somewhat loosely defined: get together in gear. This is probably intentional to cater to the fact that not everyone goes to it for sexual purposes, and you can get a lot out of the weekend purely on a social basis. Also, due to US legal issues, genital exposure is forbidden in public; however, bondage play and other mild forms of touching took place all around the venue. It’s also perfectly fine to wear any gear at any point during the weekend.
Talking about gear, all forms of gear were present during the weekend, from American football to full-on furry costumes. There’s no reason to fret your particular fetish isn’t compatible with the weekend.
The volunteers paid particular attention to the non-sexual aspects, with add-on events ranging from a gear walk and lacrosse match to Pup Olympics.
The playspace was well designed, with some unique pieces of furniture, providing ample facilities and space for bondage play, or just sex in gear if that’s your thing. It was also continuously monitored by volunteer Dungeon Masters, providing an additional level of safety. I volunteered for a DM shift, and the training was thorough and professional. Also, several workshops, from saline play to electro, were organized in the play space, providing an interesting educational aspect as well.
Registration, food, and information flow were all professionally organized. A Telegram group kept everyone up to date. It’s a sign of heavy volunteer effort that you don’t really notice that everything just works. Food was standard American fare, with enough calories to keep you energized for the whole day.
GBUS also has a no-nonsense photo policy: just don’t be a dick and ask everyone in the photo before you take one.
Comparison to GBEU and GBUK
It would be unfair to really compare Gearblast US to its UK and EU counterparts, the latter two being essentially club nights in city clubs. What was truly remarkable about GBUS is the fact that being stuck in rural Michigan for 4 days forces you to chill: there’s no rush to do anything, so you end up socializing and having deep, philosophical late night discussions in the parking lot, which would be impossible in the other franchises. Also, the venue is perfect to stay in gear all 4 days, though this is by no means obligated: the only place with a dresscode was the playspace.