Tips For Newbies

We know that attending any event for the first time can be a daunting experience. We’ve all gone through similar situations. So here are some helpful tips for how to make your first Mr. International Rubber (MIR) experience a little more manageable and a lot more enjoyable!

REVIEW THE SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
MIR weekend is action packed. And there are far more events than one person can attend in a single weekend. Take some time to review the weekend schedule and begin to prioritize which events you want to attend. There are events tailor made for critters, educational sessions, potlucks, cocktail parties, sober events, bar nights, play parties, demonstrations, buying/selling gear, and of course the centerpiece of the weekend - the Mr. International Rubber Contest. Determine what YOU are most interested in doing, and make your own schedule of events for the weekend.  Keep in mind that new events will be added throughout the weeks and months leading up to MIR Weekend. Be flexible with yourself.  We all suffer from Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), don’t let FOMO rule your weekend. 

CONSIDER VOLUNTEERING
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, to have an active role in the weekend, and to earn credits to help reduce the cost of your weekend. Check out our volunteer page for ways to be an active part of making the weekend a success.  You can volunteer with registration, coat check, production (help with stage and sets), logistics, set-up and tear-down, or being a floater who goes wherever there is a need. There are lots of options and shifts throughout the weekend. Volunteer opportunities are typically posted in September of each year.

ATTEND NEWBIE ORIENTATION
Each year we provide a Newbie Orientation on Friday of MIR Weekend. At this orientation, you’ll have a chance to meet other newbies in person, you’ll review the schedule of events, and have a chance to ask questions from experienced attendees and staff. You’ll be able to meet others who are new to the weekend, and perhaps find a conference buddy to chat with and wander around.

FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE VENUES
MIR events are centered in Chicago LGBTQ entertainment district, known locally as Northalsted or Boystown.

Center on Halsted (CoH) is our primary venue for daytime activities.  CoH is Chicago’s state of the art LGBTQ Community Center. MIR events take place on the 3rd floor of CoH. We take over the entire 3rd Floor which includes: a large reception lobby, a black box theater, an outdoor patio with views of downtown Chicago, a gymnasium, two locker rooms, two very large all gender restrooms and one family restroom. CoH also features a Whole Foods Market on the ground floor, which can be an easy spot to grab some healthy food options throughout the weekend. 

Fantasy Nightclub is the venue for our Friday night cocktail party, MIR Opening Ceremonies, Fashion Show, and the RECON Chicago Dance Party.  It is located directly across the street from Center on Halsted. It is the largest LGBTQ nightclub in Chicago's Northalsted gayborhood.

The Riviera Theater is our primary contest venue. It is located several blocks north of Center on Halsted. It is easily accessible by taxi or ride share, and Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line trains. The Riviera is a large movie theater turned concert venue. Seating is available in the balcony or on the main floor at tables. Your weekend package determines where you sit for the contest.

Bars and late night locations all tend to be within a short ride from CoH and The Riviera. Here are some details on those venues.

Steamworks Chicago is a men's bathhouse in the heart of Chicago LGBTQ district.

Sidetrack is a video bar, and one of Chicago’s most famous LGBTQ night spots.Known for their fruity slushies they host our closing party which involves showtunes. (It’s a fun way to just let go and have fun on the final night of the weekend.  Many consider it the highlight of the weekend.)

GET TO KNOW TRANSIT OPTIONS IN CHICAGO
Mr. International Rubber happens in multiple venues, but getting to and from them is easy. The Getting Around page on our website will help you navigate either public transit or ride hailing in Chicago. Most venues are a short ride from each other.

ACCESSIBILITY AT MIR
If you have concerns about accessibility, check out our Accessibility page for full details on accessibility at MIR. Have a question that is not answered there? Email registration at MIRubber.com.

WHAT TO WEAR AT MIR
There is no dress code at most MIR events.  You’ll find people in full rubber, full leather, as well as people in jeans and t-shirts, and occasionally folks in fur suits. Wear what ever makes you feel comfortable and confident.

BUYING GEAR AT MIR
There are two ways to buy gear at MIR. Both happen in our Kink Market, in the gymnasium at Center on Halsted. We are pleased to welcome vendors from diverse backgrounds to our kink market to sell their wares.  You’ll find leather, rubber, neoprene, toys, t-shirts and more from a variety of vendors. Check out our Vendors page for more details on what vendors will be in attendance. The Vendors page is updated in September of each year, and will continue to be updated as the event nears and vendors finalize plans..

The other option to buy gear at MIR is via the Chicago Rubber Club Gear Sale. Each year the local rubber club hosts a gear sale where attendees can sell their gently used or lovingly abused gear. Gear is sold on a consignment basis. Typically there is lots of gear sold at affordable prices, far less than retail prices.  This helps newbies buy some gear, and helps experienced kinksters generate some cash to buy new gear from our vendors.  It’s a win - win situation! Be sure to check the gear sale frequently as new gear shows up throughout the weekend. (TIP: Sometimes prices get discounted on Sunday if an item is not selling at the initially listed price, but most items move FAST if the price is right.)

TRAVELING IN GEAR IN CHICAGO
We know traveling in gear in a new city can be nerve wracking.  While some folks feel totally comfortable wearing rubber and kink gear on the street, others choose to be more discreet. Wearing a pair or track pants and a jacket over your gear is an easy way to travel between venues in a discreet manner and easily switch between street clothes and kinky attire. There is a coat check at each venue to store your coats and bags. (Having a string bag to put your tracksuit in is an easy way to store them together.)

As mentioned above, there are two locker rooms at Center on Halsted. You can change into your gear completely at Center On Halsted, or even make a costume change after the market and before the contest. Lockers are limited in number.  Be sure to bring your own padlock if you wish to use a locker. If all of the lockers are taken, we recommend using coat check,

"I WANT TO GET TIED UP / TRY BONDAGE”
Our Kink Market also contains a “Demo Pit” where a dedicated team of experts bring and use bondage equipment in demonstrations and scenes in the middle of our market. The Demo Pit is first come, first served, and we restrict the number of individuals in the demo pit in order to ensure safety. Take some time to observe the activities in the demo pit first.  If you see something that you’d like to try, strike up a conversation with one of the demo pit leaders about what you are interested in trying.

Please keep in mind, the demo pit staff are primarily charged with ensuring the safety of those in the pit at all times.  There is not enough time or space for everyone to get time in the demo pit. If they are busy, check back at a later time. If they are unable to accommodate you, please know it is simply a function of staffing, time and not a personal slight.  The demo pit is not always the best situation to try new complex activities. 

SAFETY AT MR. INTERNATIONAL RUBBER
MIR has a Code of Conduct that we require all attendees and staff to abide by.  It includes a process for reporting incidents, as well as rights and responsibilities of all attendees at MIR as it relates to safety. Familiarize yourself with the Code of Conduct.

Additionally, MIR has safety and security staff on duty, to help augment venue security staff at Center on Halsted and The Riviera Theater.  Individual late night venues may have their own safety and security policies as well.

I'M NOT 21, CAN I ATTEND MIR?
MIR is open to anyone 18 year or older.  We have attendees each year who are in the 18-21 age group.  Center on Halsted, The Riviera Theater and Steamworks Bathhouse are open to individuals in this age group.  Bars, nightclubs and other venues that serve alcohol are not accessible to those who are under 21. Venues on the schedule with 21+ age restrictions include: Touche Chicago, Fantasy Nightclub, The Baton, Cell Block, & Sidetrack, 

I DO NOT IDENTIFY AS MALE, WILL i BE WELCOME AT MIR?
Although Mr. International Rubber is a contest to select a "Mister", we welcome all gender expressions to our event weekend. You'll find non-binary, trans and female identified people at our events.  People feel comfortable to be themselves at MIR, and we welcome all expressions of rubber, fetish and kink, regardless of gender expression.

WHERE SHOULD I STAY, DO YOU HAVE A HOST HOTEL?
MIR does not have a host hotel. We have found that most attendees can find the best deals on lodging either through travel sites or via AirBnB services.  We have an Accommodations Page that lists the hotels and accommodations that are closest to Center on Halsted. We cannot provide roommate connection services for attendees.

REMEMBER TO EAT AND REST
MIR Weekend can feel like a marathon of events and activities. Be sure to plan for time to eat, sleep and rest. Pack some granola bars, or snacks to take with you. Grab a salad or a hot plate from Whole Foods and relax in the lobby over your lunch/dinner. Take time to sit down and let your feet rest. There are seats in the gymnasium and in the lobby at Center on Halsted..Get back to your hotel or room at a reasonable hour, and get some good sleep. You’ll thank yourself later.

I'M SOBER, OR IN RECOVERY. ARE THERE RESOURCES TO HELP ME STAY ON TRACK AT MIR?
Chicago is very fortunate to have many recovery programs and meetings for those in various recovery programs.  There are even kink focused recovery and sober groups.  Plan to attend the Leatherfolk of Recovery Sober Social on Friday evening, and consider reaching out to them via their Facebook page in advance of the weekend to gather info on meetings and support to help you throughout the weekend. 

JOIN THE MIR ATTENDEE TELEGRAM GROUP
You can meet other attendees virtually before you arrive at the event.  Simply join our Telegram Chat for MIR Attendees. Share pictures, ask questions, and introduce yourself. It’s a great way to break the ice in a medium that most folks interact in every day. The Telegram group typically opens in September of each year.

REMEMBER, MIR SHOULD BE FUN!
MIR attendees are friendly folks, many are happy to strike up a conversation with strangers. But we all get into a funk at times.  If you’re not having fun, change your circumstances. Consider one of the following: Move to a different space. Take a walk. Get some air. Grab a snack. Drink some water. Take a little nap. Head back to your room and watch some TV.  Whatever works for you.