11 Things You Can Expect to Find at BDSM Events, From a Veteran Attendee

There are a lot of articles out there about first experiences, but I have gone to these kind of events for almost two years and volunteered at a few of them.
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Publish date:
June 12, 2015
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bdsm, kink, bondage, Play Party

Last weekend, while I was cuffed to a St. Andrew's cross wearing nothing but lingerie and garters, I got a completely unstoppable fit of giggles.

Daniel stopped smacking my thighs for a second, raising an eyebrow.

“Why are you laughing?” he asked.

“I just thought of a joke I really like!”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, um...OK, so... you know those things that divide groceries in the cashier line? Well, I've been trying to buy one for months, but the cashier keeps putting it back!”

Daniel looked at me for a very long moment. About ten feet away from us, a woman was receiving a naked massage, and across the room, another woman was getting artfully tied into a one-legged standing position.

“You like terrible jokes,” Daniel says, and he starts hitting me again.

I've known Daniel for almost two years. He's one of my favorite people in the world, and my steady date for this event.

Over the course of the last year, chance has lead me to several people who are quietly fascinated with the idea of kink and public play. Some of them are just curious, but one has ended up coming to the events with us and having a great time.

The information on what to expect at a kink event is out there, but I've found that it never hurts to give people who are curious a rundown of what they can expect.

There's Paperwork

If you want to go to the event that I go to, you need to sign a document stating that you understand the rules of the event and that you will abide by them. To gain entry to the event in the first place, you must attend an orientation. There are open invite, open door events out there, but the one I go to is not one of them.

This vetting provides an extra level of safety both in terms of privacy and in terms of making sure that everyone is working under the same set of rules.

Volunteers Are Worth Their Weight in Gold

50 Shades of Gray had a ton of issues, but one of the bigger myths that it propagated was the idea that kink was for the wealthy. There is a lot of economic diversity at the event I go to, and the event itself is run on a shoestring budget by people who genuinely love the community and the culture.

I've pitched in as a volunteer for set up and tear-down, my friends have done front desk check-in, and most of the furniture (spanking benches and crosses) is built by volunteers. If you do local theater, you'll find the vibe to be very familiar.


Tons of Scene Names

A scene name is a pseudonym that allows you to protect your identity in kinky spaces. There are plenty of Cat and Kitty variations, a few Wolfs here and there, and more than a few Lord This or Master That. Some people, myself included, just use their legal names and don't worry too much about it.

I'll admit that I have a pretty hard time taking a guy who gives himself the title of “Master” seriously, but I just nod and move on. The usual protocol is that if you run into someone you met at a party in real life, you play it cool and pretend you don't know each other. There are educators, cops and civil servants at this event, and they deserve to protect themselves.

Lots of Body Types

One of the best things about going to a kink event for me is the wide range of body types that are being treated as desirable and loved. There are fat bodies, skinny bodies, older bodies, younger bodies, disabled bodies, scarred bodies and more.

You will see all of these bodies, and you will see them naked, clothed and in every state in between.

This diversity is incredibly affirming and comforting in a world wants bodies to look a certain way and where so many attributes can make you effectively invisible or undesirable.

That said, speaking as an Asian woman, the racial diversity isn't impressive. I'm pretty sure part of it is that I'm in the Midwest, but kink has a long tradition of being seen as a white people thing.

You're Probably Going to See Things That Weird You Out

They say that for every kink, there's someone who likes to do it, someone who likes having it done to them, and someone who thinks it's disgusting. While the event that I go to does forbid fire play, you will regularly see cuttings, electrical play, needle play and sex of all kinds. There are several rooms available for people to be in, so if you see something that you don't like, move on.

There Are Dungeon Monitors

When you get a bunch of people throwing whips, shocking each other with TENS units and screaming for mercy, it's always a good idea to have people around who are keeping a cool eye on things. A dungeon monitor is an individual who is in charge of overseeing the action and making sure that things stay safe. If a risky or potentially disturbing scene is planned, the participants will clear it with the dungeon monitor first. A dungeon monitor also has the authority to pause a scene in order to check in and to make sure that everyone is having a good time. If you are at an event and you are not sure what is going on, this is the person you speak to.

There Is a Right and a Wrong Way to Watch

Daniel and I do fairly intense scenes, and we tend to draw an audience. I enjoy being watched by respectful people who keep their distance. What I don't like is having people crowd us or having people try to interact with us while we're doing things or just finishing up.

Watching politely is just fine. Asking us questions while we're both recovering in the snack area is dandy. Compliments about Daniel's accuracy or my jokes are more than welcome.

Don't interrupt people. Don't put yourself in the scene. Don't start touching yourself while watching a scene unless you have been invited to do so. It's not hard to be a pleasant and welcome observer.

You Can Play at Any Level

I like to get hit until I bruise. One of my best friends likes to get very gentle floggings with a doeskin flogger. Yet another friend is purely there to watch. All of these things are fine!

One of the common misconceptions I see is that people think that they're not "hardcore" enough to be in the kink scene. The truth is that if you have kinky interests, you are welcome at kink events. If people try to shame you for not playing hard enough or for playing too hard, they're assholes.

You Don't Have to Do Anything You Don't Want To.

This is a kink event, it is not Fight Club. The only thing you are required to do is to respect the rules of the venue and the other attendees.

Every Event Has Different Rules

Check the fine print. The event that I attend allows for sex in certain very specific spaces. It is equipped to deal with the clean-up and logistics of people having sex. There are plenty of events that do not allow sex at all. Another event I attended could not allow visible nipples due to zoning issues and passed out black pasties to anyone who wanted to lose their shirts. Always check the rules!

Yes, There Can Be Consent Issues

I have never dealt with any violations of my consent, but it is an emerging concern in the kink community at large. One of the best essays I've seen dealing with the issue is Pervocracy's The Missing Stair, which is worth a read no matter what subculture you swim in.

Some people like to brag about how safe the kink community is, but it is not perfect. I always recommend that people know who they're playing with, how they're getting home, and what their exact limits are. In general, take the same precautions that you would at a busy club.

For me right now, kink events are the primary way that I socialize and make connections. I find them very comfortable and fairly welcoming. They're not for everyone, but if you've been curious about public play and kinky experiences, they are safe places to meet interesting people and to expand your horizons.