Sunday, May 1, 2011

Getting into BDSM Part 2: Your First Play Party.

I went to a party last night. Hung out with Rowdy and Sprite and a whole lot of nice folks we know, naked wrestled with another woman for a bit, hung out some more, Rowdy flogged and fisted me, hung out some more. Good times. So I figured I'd do another education-y post to follow up on "How to Get Into BDSM", about how to attend a play party.



This should be Part 2.
I don't think a play party is a good first entry into BDSM. It's important to get to know people as people before getting all up in their nasty sexy-hitty business. It gives you a better perspective on BDSM as a particularly vigorous hobby activity rather than an exotic unreal fantasy, and it gives you a better chance of having people at the party who will give you some companionship and guidance. Seeing your friend Sally beat up her husband Bob is a totally different--and in my opinion, much healthier--experience than seeing some dominatrix lady beat up some submissive dude.

Whether you're entering BDSM alone or as a couple (or group), I'd really recommend going to a few munches, classes, or social events and putting in some mingle time before going to a play party.



How to find a party.
This totally varies depending on your local scene. Some places have relatively public playspaces that actually advertise their locations and schedules (for example, the CSPC in Seattle), and that's the easiest. Other places aren't that organized, but they have parties posted under "events" on FetLife, visible to any FetLife members.

But in other places, whether because it's a smaller or more conservative community or because the local law enforcement has given kinksters a hard time (as in Massachusetts, sadly), things are a little more hush-hush. It's like buying weed, I guess; it's not exactly hard to do, but you can't look it up in the Yellow Pages. You gotta know a guy who knows a guy. Parties are hosted in private homes or other Undisclosed Locations and you have to be invited. The only way to do this is to get to know people in the scene, and it can take time, depending on your luck and social skills. (Yes, being conventionally attractive helps a little, but you can look like anything if you can put people at ease and give them the impression that you'll be chill and not creepy at a party.) This requires a little bit of social finesse, but when you consider the preponderance of Warcraft players, Ren Faire folk, and software engineers in the BDSM community, not that much really.



Five things to have before you go to a party:
1. The fee. Most parties require a small donation to the host. Find out beforehand how much and who to give it to, and in what form--some hosts prefer to receive it by PayPal, some want cash, and a few venues can even take credit cards. (Very few; if you don't know, assume cash.) This donation is just to cover use of the venue, equipment, and snacks; you're not paying for play and you're certainly not paying for sex.

2. A sexy but comfortable outfit. Elaborate fetishwear isn't necessary in most scenes (nightclub fetish nights tend to be dressier than play parties), but it's nice to dress up a little. A little black dress, a tight black t-shirt and well-fitted jeans, or your "night-on-the-town" shirt and a nice skirt or slacks will do fine most places.

3. Any toys you'd like to play with, and the necessary safer-sex supplies for any kind of sex you'd like to have. (Even if you bareback your partner at home, a lot of venues want you to use condoms/gloves/dental dams when you're there anyway.) You may not to get to use these if you're coming solo, but if you do, you'll be glad you weren't empty-handed.

Although some venues provide safer-sex supplies, it's a good idea to bring your own anyway just in case. It's also nice to bring a towel, small sheet, or even "puppy pad" or Chux if you're planning on sitting around naked or doing anything that might let off a few fluids. Your gracious host should not have to deal with your crotch-juice on their furniture.

4. Sobriety. Don't show up to a party drunk or high (and definitely don't get drunk or high while you're there). It's not safe to play under the influence and it's not socially acceptable to hang around a party smashed off your ass.

5. Managed expectations.
-You will get to socialize with lots of kinksters in a much more fun, relaxed, and flirty atmosphere than a munch.
-You will get to watch play. Probably some very cool and fascinating (and hot) play.
-There will be a bowl of M&Ms.
-If you came with a partner, you almost certainly will get the opportunity to play with each other. It may be a bit of a shuffle to get a good spot in the "dungeon" space if things are crowded, but it's usually not that hard. Ask a host if you're confused. Don't start whupping on each other in purely social space; no one wants a scene blocking the punchbowl or making a lot of noise and fuss on the chill-out couch.
-If you came alone, it's possible you'll find someone to play with. It's a toss-up. Depends on your social skills, depends on the crowd (some parties have a lot of pick-up play, some tend toward more prearranged scenes), depends on the whims of Fate. And depends whether you want to. If you're not comfortable playing, or if you get offers but they don't make you comfortable or aren't what you're looking for, it's perfectly okay to come to a party, socialize, watch some scenes, and go home.
-If you came alone, it's unlikely you'll get laid. As at any party, it could happen. But play parties are not orgies--a lot of people don't include sex in their play at all, or at least not casually. Some venues don't allow nudity or penetration. And even if you're surrounded by casual-fuckers in a sex-happy environment, I can't say if you'll get laid. Don't stake your enjoyment of the night on it. And certainly don't come to a party with the main intention of getting laid; not only will you likely be disappointed, but you'll miss out on enjoying everything else you could be experiencing at the party. Plus you'll be widely perceived as a total creeper.



Etiquette.
The etiquette at play parties is largely about consent. Someone being a kinkster, being at a party, or being identified as a sub/slave/bottom/slut/dom/etc. does not give you permission to do anything to them. Ask before you touch--any touch, not just sexy touch--and negotiate before you roleplay. Sometimes a scene may look like a free-for-all with a lot of people joining in, but this may be prearranged or the people may all know each other in a way you don't. Wait to be specifically invited.

The same rules apply to you. Anyone telling you that you "have" to call them by some exalted title or do something (even something innocuous like grabbing them a soda) for them is full of crap--you have the choice whether you'd like to do that or not. (Likewise anyone who wants to call you by some exalted title or do something for you.) Anyone touching you without asking is being rude, and anyone touching you sexually without asking is a fucking creep and you're within your rights to tell them to fuck off and immediately tell the host what they're doing.

Most parties will have quite a lot of people expressing non-heterosexual, non-cissexual, non-monogamous, generally non-inside-the-box sexuality in various ways. Be cool about it.

Ditto when you run into people practicing non-"glamorous" fetishes. There may be animal players, age players, people in diapers, people doing various forms of intentionally goofy-looking humiliation play, middle-aged men in somewhat unbecoming latex ballerina costumes. You don't have to be turned on by it to be cool about it.

Don't provide color commentary on scenes within earshot of the participants. It's okay to watch public-space scenes, and it's usually okay to have quiet conversation in the same room, but don't get distractingly loud and don't make any helpful "whoa, I think I can see her cervix" comments on the scenes.

Don't touch people's toys without their permission. Their toys may have been carefully cleaned, or recently made extremely unclean, or carry special emotional significance, or just be none of your damn beeswax.

As with munches, You Don't Talk About Fight Club. Talking about where a party is, who hosts it, who was there, what happened there--all ways to get other people in all kinds of unpleasant trouble.

Put a towel or sheet between your naked butt and the furniture. If not for the furniture's sake, then for your butt's.



Chill out and have fun.
The operative word in "play party" is party. No matter how well the night goes for you, between 75 and 100% of your time will be spent hanging out and socializing with kinky folks. Enjoy it, learn from it, and just relax in it. Don't expect to get all your fantasies fulfilled your first time out and don't spend the party stressing about how "much" you're going to "get." Grab another handful of M&M's, find a comfy spot on the couch, watch that gorgeous suspension scene they're setting up, and ask the ballerina man what he thinks of this weather we've been having.

42 comments:

  1. Cash is not always king. The host of the party I attended last night actually prefers that you pay beforehand using PayPal. This isn't just about convenience; wads of cash laying around looks kind of suspicious.

    Otherwise, some very good advice! I particularly enjoyed you analogy to buying weed.

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  2. True, O.F. (Were we at the same party?) And at the CSPC you actually can pay with a credit card. So the real answer is to find out what kind of payment you should bring. I'll edit the post.

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  3. 4. Sobriety. Don't show up to a party drunk or high (and definitely don't get drunk or high while you're there). It's not safe to play under the influence and it's not socially acceptable to hang around a party smashed off your ass.

    Do people have any cocktails at all at play parties?

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    1. Not ones that are serious about safety. You're there to learn about how to get high on endorphins, not bombed on alcohol.

      By-and-large, if you're the sort of person who thinks you can't have fun unless your drunk, you're not going to have fun at a BDSM party. Deliberate intentionality and explicit consent really don't work well with alcohol

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  4. Comrade PhysioProf - Many play parties are completely "dry," especially the ones associated with any large or "legit" organization. It's strictly soda and juice.

    Some private parties may have a bit of drinking, but it's still not a major activity. Obviously there can be some blurry lines when kinky people get together to drink, but being drunk at an organized play party is really frowned upon.

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  5. Holly - there can be some blurry lines when any people get together to drink...
    (spoken as a lifelong abstainer; it surprises me how many people don't think they can enjoy themselves without alcohol.)

    Remind me what this "party" thing is again? I think I remember something from way back - is there a cake? With candles?

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  6. Well... sometimes there's cake.

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  7. Yes, the very same party! But that brings up one thing you forgot to mention: Don't Talk About Fight Club.

    You don't know who was or wasn't invited to a particular party, so don't discuss the party before or after with random folks from the scene.

    Also, don't talk about who played with who, or what they did. In addition to protecting each other's privacy, talking about what you saw at a party is likely to cause unnecessary drama.

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  8. I think the parameters of "last night" and "PayPal" stay within Fight Club okayness. But you're right and once again I'm going to edit the post.

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  9. @ Mr. Monster
    There was cake at the party I went to last night! There were also candles, but that was separate from the cake.

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  10. There will be rules, they may be a form you sign, or a sign on the wall, or unsaid. They vary depending on the venue and the host. Find the rules, read/learn them, follow them.

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  11. This post made me remember: we forgot to thank you for introducing us at the munch!

    We had a great time, and everyone made us feel really comfortable, even if Rogan did most of the talking. Here's hoping we can come back, but I'm not sure we'll have time before getting laid out for surgery. Regardless, we'll come again.

    As for play parties, after getting to know folks, is it okay to come even if you aren't experienced and might more want to just see what's going on and absorb what play parties are like, rather than actively participate? Are some parties meant more for newbies, and others not?

    --Mac

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  12. I think the parameters of "last night" and "PayPal" stay within Fight Club okayness.

    It's kinda funny... at least in this area, that almost certainly narrows it down to the series of parties that folks used to refer to (individually) as The Party That Wasn't. The host of said party used to be a bit more paranoid about the location getting out (said host has relaxed quite a bit on that in the last couple years and dramatically expanded the guest list, accessibility, etc.), to the point that the running joke for a while was to talk about having Not Gone to The Party That Didn't Happen, in The Place That Didn't Exist (especially when it was on the third floor -- less so when it was downstairs), on The Day It Never Happened.

    @ Mac: yeah, as long as you get an invite, it's ABSOLUTELY okay to simply go and watch. Participation is NEVER mandatory (except at an exceedingly small number of specialized parties, generally attended by a tight-knit group used to that model --small orgies, etc. -- and expecting it going into things, so you'd know -- not the kind of parties that open their guest lists to anyone except the well-known-to-the-host and experienced, usually), and don't let anyone tell you different.

    Holly has it correctly: go, politely socialize, absorb, and enjoy; you don't have to do anything except have fun.

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  13. Jack - To someone who doesn't know about the Un-Party, I don't think I've revealed anything other than "there is at least one party in this area that you don't know about," and I think that should be everyone's standing assumption anyway.

    And ditto what you said to Mac; any of the non-super-private parties I know of around here are fine with people coming to parties to watch and socialize but not playing.

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  14. If anyone is interested in what not to do when people are scening, watch the movie "Fetishes" - it's available on Netflix streaming and is one of the most horrible, awkward things I've ever seen.

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  15. I never thought about going to a play party before, because I'm in a monogamous relationship am not interested in playing with others - but after reading this post (and part I) I might give it a try, either with my S.O. or with a kinky friend. I like kink, I like parties, so it's pretty reasonable that I'd like the combination. So thanks!
    By the way, as someone who doesn't live where you live and doesn't travel in the circles you travel in... nothing anyone has said gives away any useful information about the parties you attended. Don't worry.

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  16. I'm going to ask another probably silly question. If you don't talk about fight club, do you have secret friends? Because that sounds about as shaming than "whoah, I can see her cervix." I could be totally reading this wrong, but it seems like getting involved in the kink scene means you have friends you can't invite to any non-kink social events and won't acknowledge in public, and that seems... weird? Unpleasant for that person? Kind of pre-stonewall? I get the need for privacy, since you obviously don't want someone shouting across the street that you looked like you were having fun getting spanked last weekend, but from your posts it all seems so fraught. I've seen friends do embarrassing things at regular parties before, and we're pretty calm about not talking about it everywhere. Is kink really different? How do you keep it from feeling like kink is some seedy underbelly secret?

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  17. Emma - That's not a silly question at all. It's a very difficult one. Kink is a seedy underbelly secret and it sucks balls. (Sometimes it's kinda fun to play Secret Agent and I get a kick out of how we use code names and meet at secret rendezvous points, but most of the time, balls.)

    However, it's not entirely like we can't go out in public. I do all sorts of vanilla things with kinky friends; we can go to a vanilla social event and just not talk about kink and that's fine. The main reason I might not acknowledge someone on the street is if I'm not sure what name to call them by, but if I do know the right name or can gloss it over with a "hey... you", I'll say hi. It can be a little awkward sometimes talking around the kink part of our friendship when we're in hostile territory, but we don't have to pretend we don't have a friendship. There's plenty of other stuff to say.

    It can make for some stupidly unnecessary lies ("So how did you two meet?" "At... a coffeeshop."), but it's usually workable to simply acknowledge kink friends as regular friends.

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    Replies
    1. I have noticed that people just laugh and gloss over it it you tell them a comically unbelievable lie, for example: "Oh, we met the last time I tried to steal the Hope Diamond. I ran into them snooping around and we just hit it off."

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  18. I have a question. Is it acceptable to just use my real first name, or do I have to make up a code name for myself?

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  19. I wish this were true where I live (which is: a small European country, whose population is smaller than small).

    I'm aware there are quite many active BDSM communities here, I even know a bunch of people who are 'members' (know in the way that I say hi to them when I run into them, they're really not my friends friends), but still.

    There seems to be no munchies/non-play parties whatsoever. At all. Ever. And they're really strict about dress code in the play parties, basically you've got to show skin and/or have Fancy Fetish Costume. Also, they openly advertise the parties with posters and other ads. Though that probably has to do with legislature and the general attitude, which is tolerant towards different sexualities.

    So anyway, I managed to get myself appropriate clothes and visited one of the play parties (well, the only kind of parties they really have), but I didn't get to know anybody. I chatted briefly with an older woman, who was really friendly & nice, but who was also very busy meeting her friends.

    Such a weird thing that the culture can be so, so, so different. I've been to U.S. and I noticed that overall people there are a lot more friendlier, more social and more open than here. And when I say a lot, I mean you really wouldn't understand unless you visited us folks here :)

    And that thing about alcohol? Not true either. Everybody was drinking - and the party took place in a bar. I guess that's because here it's considered weird/offensive/suspicious/creepy to talk to people you don't know - that is, unless you're drunk. And even then, too.

    I guess I should try again, but I'd really love to get to know people first in non-play situations. It's difficult to start speaking to new people when everybody's all dressed up and there to play.

    Sorry I complain about this here, it's just that your BDSM community seems to be so super cool!

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  20. Thanks again for this. I kinda just face-planted doing things the wrong way (hoping to just be able to jump in from FetLife). Whoops.

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  21. Emily - The name you use is all about your comfort. People pick scene names either because they're concerned about privacy, or because they think the name is more expressive of their personality than their given name. So it's fine to use your real one if you're okay with it.

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  22. A note about dress: in the New York scene a lot of the public play parties have a pretty strict dress code. At least all black, and generally don't wear what you'd wear to a regular club. That means some kind of clearly fetish or creative clothing. This is in an attempt to keep random folks from the street from wandering into what are otherwise open-to-the-public parties. This is probably different from other cities where parties have to be more underground and wouldn't get random attendees in the first place.

    There's also alcohol served or BYOB at a lot of the NYC parties. I don't drink myself when I'm in those environments, and it's still definitely socially unacceptable to be wasted, but the drinks are available. I think it's partly an economic thing; many of our parties are in bars and they need a way to keep the venue happy.

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  23. @Holly,

    Thanks! I can see why the privacy is necessary. I guess you kind of explode your typical ideas of privacy when you're hanging around watching someone get covered in clothespins, and you need to put up a different privacy wall somewhere else.

    @Paradox,

    I went to a play party in NYC and it was dry, with tons of people in regular clothing just kind of standing around watching. Maybe the party you went to was started to get away from the atmosphere of this one, where it seemed like people were wandering in off the street.

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  24. Funny how it turns out, but this was sort of eye opening for me too. Thank you for being so spesific. It seems a lot less threatening now.

    I have also never seriously thought of attending a play party, because I'm not interested in playing with anyone except my Wonderboy - mostly because I'm too afraid to give anyone that power over me and also because it's a huge emotional connection I can't imagine building with a stranger. But your post made me realize, how seeing other people into the same things, doing those things, being themselves, interacting with each other and maybe myself - and most importantly - making the space for solely BDSM, could be healthy and maybe loosen up some serious stereotypes I'm fighting with. That's the thing I've been missing.

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  25. One note to the people talking about coming to parties but not playing--this is an okay thing to do, certainly, but your attitude matters.

    If you come as a fellow kinky person immersing yourself in kinky life--socializing with people, behaving politely, dressed for the occasion, and generally friendly and open then it's just fine to come and watch.

    However, there are two types of people who are not welcome to just come and watch:

    1) Tourists. These are people who show up in street clothes, don't play, don't mention being kinky themselves, don't mingle, and openly gawk or even laugh at scenes. They see themselves as "normal people" here to observe the fascinating local culture of the charming natives.

    2) Creeps. These are people who see themselves as kinky, but still see the kink world as there for their convenience. They may be appropriately dressed or not, but they don't socialize except with their preferred "target" demographic and they leer or stare at scenes and at sexily dressed people. They tend to touch or talk to people inappropriately. In general, they act like they're trying to somehow harvest sex and sexiness from the kink world.

    If you can show up not as a tourist or a creep, but as a friendly ally or as a "oh, I play, but I'm just sitting out this round" kinkster, then you're quite welcome to attend most BDSM events without playing.

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  26. I'm afraid I'd be considered a tourist. I still remember, how I was treated in a gay nightclub, when I answered the question "are you a lesbian?" with a "no": "so, you're just a tourist." But yeah, friendly and open attitude probably goes a long way.

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  27. If you're respectful and genuinely interested/curious, you won't be seen as a tourist in most circles, I'd guess.

    Respect is just so key. :)

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  28. Second what Aaron said -- be interested and RESPECTFUL and you'll probably be fine. A lot of kinksters don't mind an audience and will cheerfully discuss their favorite toys/activities/kinks at length as long as you're not interrupting a scene or whatever. Some will even demonstrate/let you try out the toys/experience/etc... again, as long as you're interested, and respectful of them and what they do.

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  29. (I don't like posting my name on blogs since content seems to be very google searchable but you'll know who this is!) (:

    Yeah. EXTREMELY different experience about getting invited to parties. You've seen me at them- but after a really disappointing couple of months. I knew about the parties- people knew I wanted to go (even some people who had the authority to invite me) but didn't because they were so unsure about how okay it was for an 18 year old single male to attend.

    I turn 19 in about two weeks and I got into this whole scene the second I turned 18 in LA- that gives me six months in both scenes. One of the big differences I've noticed in the Boston scene is that it's EXTREMELY polyamorous. The vast majority seems to have multiple partners; or at least a partner.

    Being single and young gave me about 4 months waiting time before being invited to anything private (while attending every public event I possibly could and making friends and even playing in private with said friends like a social butterfly.)

    "It's not exactly hard to do"

    I haven't gone into how I ended up getting invited...but it wasn't easy at all. In fact, it was very difficult. It definitely involved speaking up and asking some questions that probably weren't completely polite to ask, but I was told by enough friends that given my situation, it probably wasn't going to happen anytime soon.

    Sorry for ranting on your page! That one little note struck the rant. Otherwise, great post!! (:

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  30. Anon 9:27,

    I don't know you or your situation, but if you tried to break into my social scene by telling everyone you wanted to be invited to my private events and "asking some questions that probably weren't completely polite to ask," I would think twice before inviting you to my super bowl party, let alone a party where I'm going to be naked and tied up and trusting you with my guarding my privacy.

    Maybe that was the problem, not the solution?

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  31. Different anon here:

    So if sitting back and waiting to be invited doesn't work (unless you're in a desired demographic or know the right people), and speaking up and asking to participate alienates the people in the scene who are being asked, what is one supposed to do? Drop hint after hint? Try to create a new scene ex nihilo? Just quietly fade into the background so as not to inconvenience the in-crowd?

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  32. Sorry, looking back on that comment it came out a bit obnoxious. I just meant that if you feel like your own behavior was impolite, that could be a sign it was a problem. It just seems like the kind of social interaction in which there's more at stake than usual when you cross other people's boundaries, and saying that people were cold even though you were super pushy doesn't compute to me. In my guise as an annoying anonymous internet commenter, I gave my totally unsolicited opinion that pushiness might have been the problem.

    Either it sucks to feel excluded from a group that prides itself on being open to so many people and their wacky sex. Especially for things that you can't control or seem trivial to you, like your age.

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  33. Different anon - Remember that you're asking people to invite you into their private homes for some highly intimate, always taboo, some places illegal activities. You have no entitlement to this. It's not "in-crowd" behavior for hosts to be cautious, and we're damn lucky that anyone is willing to step up and host anyone but their closest friends.

    If you can't get into parties, play in private. Parties are dramatic and fun, sure, but the majority of my BDSM play happens in my boyfriend's bedroom, and I don't need anyone's invitation for that.

    (If you can't find anyone to play with you in private, all I can say is sorry, man. I can't give the magic bullet for sexual attraction and social acceptance in blog form, or I'd be selling a LOT more ad space.)

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  34. @Emma- My eventual asking was something that came way later- after having determined that it was probably my best bet. People with authority to invite me basically told me that they wanted to- but weren't quite comfortable asking about it, due to previous debate at said private party about age restrictions and such. I had been nothing but friendly, respectful, and appropriate to everyone- I had even built somewhat of a friendship with the host of the party at other events.

    It *did* turn out to be the solution- I'm now perfectly welcomed in good spirit at said party. I definitely took some risks by asking- but nothing ended up being taken as rude in the end, as my situation was pretty understandable, and at that point I was already known to be a friendly dude and not a creep. I was just stating that sometimes sitting around and making friends isn't all there is to it.

    Just to paraphrase- the asking came later. I completely understand what you're saying. I didn't join the scene and immediately run and bug people to let me into their space, I spent months getting integrated, but remaining excluded from things due to things out of my control.

    Anyways, I really like that last bit that you wrote. The scene really does hurt some people emotionally- being excluded from a scene where people pride themselves on doing really intimate things with a wide range of people (even while in relationships with one or many people)...hurts. It makes you feel inferior, unwanted, and like you're lacking something everyone else has.

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  35. Aaron, Some will even demonstrate/let you try out the toys/experience/etc... again, as long as you're interested, and respectful of them and what they do.

    This made me smile. I'd like that. I kind of want to go. And I am respectful and curious, I swear!

    I guess I’m just afraid of the same thing that happens in parties, where you don’t know anyone, but everyone else has something in common and knows each other (though I’d have it too, but if I wasn’t participating, it could seem like I don’t). Feeling like an outcast.

    I've also met a lot of gay, kinky and otherwise marginal people in other situations (parties too, but not play parties), and many times I've felt like I was being put down for being bi but in a mono hetero relationship/not open enough about my sexual preferences (kinks)/not wanting to do anything in public. Maybe it was because we were all young? Or maybe I just met kind of pushy people?

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  36. My local shooting range only allows people over 21 to shoot without a parent/guardian. I can understand why my local kink parties might take the same stance. Age discrimination can suck, but in this society you aren't viewed as a full adult until 21, and I can see why people would want to protect their asses. I'd hate to see some expose about about "underground sex parties" and "teenage boys."

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  37. I've been reading your blog for a while (since 2009 maybe?) and it's always fascinated me; also made me laugh and just been fun to read; but at the same time, I never thought any of what you wrote about was "me". Yanno, that whole idea, "it's fun to read but I'l vanilla as fuck, not interested in kinky stuff, i'll just enjoy the stories."

    ...yeeeeah well, um, I might be changing my mind. This (and the other, too) is a really great resource for me, and it came at just the right time, since I've been...gaining fetishes? thinking about it/considering BDSM? for a little while here. At the same time I know that safety and consent are of THE top importance. (and i wouldn't have vocabulary for that without your blog either. so thanks.)


    yeah, i might find me a munch when i can. (read: when my living situation changes....) *shrug*


    - a possibly kinky teenager

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  38. As a newbie to BDSM, I thank you for your description!

    Thanks!

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  39. Yet another Anon!
    I'm just about to go to my first play party in a couple of weeks, and what you have written makes me a whole lot less nervous! Thank you

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