The History of Our Group

It seems that the most often asked questions about our club are: "Who are you, what do you do, and why?". Those questions are usually followed by "How often do you get together?"; "What services do you have to offer?"; "How much does it cost?"; and "How do I get involved?"

Webster's Dictionary defines a club as:

A group of people associated for a common purpose or mutual advantage, usually in an organization that meets regularly; to unite, combine or pool (resources, etc.) for a common purpose; the room, the building, or facilities used by a group of people associated for a common purpose or mutual advantage."

This seems to be a universally accepted definition. We like to combine it with one additional thought. Although we are not a private, closed club, we maintain that a persons identity and wishes should remain his or her own business. Around the building, we introduce people by their first name only. If you want to have other people know who you are, or what types of things you are interested in, you will need to tell them. We do not disclose your identity to anyone.

Originally, we were a very select group of about thirty people. We called ourselves the "Menlo Park School of Bondage". We operated very privately with membership being offered on a very select, invitational basis. We soon found that there were a 'lot of people out there' that wanted to be a part of our group. Unfortunately our charter and by-laws had placed a limit on the number of people who would be allowed to join our club.

About 1970, we went through our first major reformation. A "school" is a great idea but we found it to be very narrow in scope. A school is a place of learning, which is only one of our purposes. Also, a school does not allow for social interaction. We changed our structure to become a Club. We decided to change our name to "The BackDrop Club" because it better describes what we are, even today. We are a organization which provides the scenery and props to enhance the fantasies of our members, with emphasis on B and D. We started advertising for new members, but we were still very selective about membership. Membership was still invitational.

In 1974, we underwent our second change. In Hayward, we became an open club. We went through all the formalities including elected officers, Club Constitution and By-Laws. During this period, we grew at an almost unheard of rate. A few national magazines and newspapers mentioned that we were there and a whole new problem came into being. We started receiving mail from all over the world and we grew even faster. By the end of 1974, we found that we were being swamped by mail. Other publishers began writing articles about the club: who we were and what we were doing. This exposure also generated more members and mail in a very short time.

About two years later, we again outgrew our space. In Oakland, we opened up what was to be the harbinger of things to come. We leased a four-unit apartment building.

The original plan was to have one apartment to be used as a membership lounge, one for sessions, one for parties and one for staff. This plan also allowed for club offices and work space. In 1978 we moved to Redwood City. Our first building (on Spring Street) had session rooms, lounges and staff areas. We expanded and we moved to our second address in Redwood City, a building on Price Street. This building was large enough to hold all of the club events, sessions areas, club offices, and living quarters for some of the Club Staff. We started using computers to handle data and club publications. This allows more time for the staff to do those tasks which require "the human touch". We felt that if we were to ever grow larger, we needed to have access to urban mass transportation. In the spring of 1981, we moved to Berkeley. That location had two buildings (just like Hayward), one of which has four apartments (just like Oakland), professional sessions areas (just like Redwood City), and we had the personnel to hold it all together. We had about six thousand square feet of offices, lounges, library, living and sessions space.

In the past we have tried many things to advance our club and make it grow. We tried opening clubs in the Los Angeles area and a series of closed clubs in the Bay Area; clubs to allow special interests groups to interact; and quite a number of other things. In almost every case, success was not attained because of the lack of dedicated, fulltime personnel. We decided to obtain the help needed. We had a staff of over a dozen people who produced over two hundred and fifty events a year.

We produced a monthly newsletter, "BackDrop Party-line", which was sent free to all of our members. It was printed for people who live in, or travel to, the San Francisco Bay Area. It had news of our social events, as well as calendars of other clubs and/or organizations of similar interests.

We also began publishing "COMMON BONDS MAGAZINE". This magazine was a compilation of stories and articles by, for and about the general membership of the club. We also published advertisements which allow people to get together via correspondence.

In 1984, the Club Director moved away from the Bay Area. For this reason, a lot of the social events were suspended, although the session part of the club remained in Berkeley through 1986. When Robin moved back to the Bay Area in late 1987, he was asked to again take the helm as Director and reorganize the Club.

In Palo Alto, we leased about 1300 square feet of space used for lounges, a library, office spaces and a fantasy session room. We are currently housed in a 5,200 square foot facilty in downtown San Francisco. We have four session/play rooms and a 750 square foot lounge/library where our members can just stop by and visit.

In closing, we would like to leave you with this thought. The one major factor that makes the club work, and makes us different from other groups, is BALANCE. The balance of events, fantasy sessions, staff personnel, services and costs. The balance of Dominants, Submissives, men and women. The balance of full-time personnel, volunteers, people who live nearby and those who live outside the Bay Area. This balance is sometimes hard to maintain. We are doing our part by being here when you want us. Please do your part by participating.

We have prepared this brochure to provide you, whether you are a member or a prospective member, with more detailed descriptions of some of the parties, social events and forums which are presented by Common Bonds. You should consult the Club Calendar or call the Club Offices for specific details and/or dates the events are held.

If you find you still have questions about membership, eligibility or services, please feel free to contact us.

Prepared by Robin Roberts -- Revised March 31, 1995 -- Copyright 1995

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