When Dahn Van Laarz, a bearded 59-year-old in Levi’s and a motorcycle jacket, walks the streets of San Francisco’s official leather district, he finds it hard to avoid the ghosts.
The Club Baths, a once-busy gay bath house, has morphed into an even busier homeless shelter. The Bootcamp, a bar whose clientele favored leather, bondage, domination and sadomasochism, is now an acupuncture clinic.
And SF Catalyst, a leather community center and dungeon just outside the district boundaries, must vacate its home by year’s end. The brick dungeon — with ceilings high enough to swing a whip and a calendar filled with “BDSM sampler parties” and Leathermen’s Discussion Group meetings — is scheduled to give way to apartments.