If you’re looking to get into the world of kink, you’ve come to the right place. The BDSM scene can be overwhelming for those who are just starting out. While in some situations, it can be alright to go in without much prior knowledge, it’s important to understand that events which revolve around BDSM culture involve a great deal of trust, transparency, and vulnerability. The potential to be exposed to personal or “sensitive” information should always be treated with respect and understanding.
Whether you’re wearing 6-inch fetish heels or going barefoot, every journey begins with the first step…
One question that seems to accompany most outings is the oft asked, “What do I wear?”
In a town like Los Angeles, the potential to “see and be seen” is sometimes the primary impetus for leaving the house. In the context of a dungeon setting, what you wear (or don’t wear) is definitely important, but it’s certainly not everything. My advice is: when in doubt, wear black. Regardless of gender presentation, a clean black outfit is usually the way to go if you’re not feeling super adventurous or don’t have a lot of clothing that lends itself to a fetish environment. If you are feeling adventurous, however, lingerie or “lingerie light” is a good way to go. A camisole or ”corset” top paired with a skirt or pants can look super cute without breaking the bank. Most stores geared towards teen fashion such as Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, etc. sell tops like these. Venturing into Hot Topic can also yield some fun results, whether you want a more gothic or even nerdy twist to your eveningwear. Remember, comfort and style are important. Additionally, sneakers and the like should be avoided, as that usually looks too casual.
Many first timers are eager to jump in with both feet, which is great. However, others might be more timid. As a rule, I find it best to watch and learn – or even find someone to, “show [you] the ropes” – before diving right into this big, beautiful world of Bondage/Discipline, Domination/Submission, and Sadism/Masochism.
What to expect of course varies from dungeon to dungeon and event to event. In order to err on the side of caution and to make a good first impression, here are a few handy tips to help you navigate BDSM play parties.
Don’t touch anyone/anything without receiving consent and permission
It should go without saying, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this happen and it doesn’t end well. Other people’s toys and property (in this case, that can mean humans as well) are not your playthings. It is vital that this is respected. Always, always, always ask first if you’re curious about something. This brings me to my next point:
Do ask questions when appropriate
If you want to ask a question of another participant, approach them at a time when they are not busy. For example, don’t interrupt a scene or aftercare to ask your question. Also, keep in mind that some submissives are not allowed to speak without permission. When in doubt, be overly cautious and ask first before addressing anyone. If you ask your question respectfully and thoughtfully, you will most likely get a respectful and thoughtful answer.
Don’t ask for someone’s “real” name.
Many people have lives/responsibilities/sensitive positions outside of the kink community that could be jeopardized if they were “outed”. It is prudent to ask people their preferred pronouns as well. Don’t assume anyone’s gender identity based on their presentation. Call people by the names and pronouns by which they want to be referred.
Do be aware of your surroundings at all times and don’t be disruptive.
If a scene is going on and you’re trying to walk through it, do yourself, the participants, and everyone around you a big favor and wait. Much like a traffic light, it is important to watch for signals. I have seen countless examples of careless behavior on behalf of people stumbling into the path of a swinging flogger, single tail, cane, etc. Another less obvious interaction that you should certainly avoid interrupting is aftercare. While this process varies from kinkster to kinkster, this sort of post-play “cool down” is usually a time for reflection and a debriefing of sorts. There is a lot of tender, vulnerable energy surrounding the aftermath of play, so it is definitely a good idea to allow a decent amount of space (physically and otherwise) to those who look like they are engaging in aftercare activities. Think of it as being on an airplane and waiting for the Captain to tell you that it is “now safe to move about the cabin”.
Don’t go it alone.
A good rule of thumb for a first-timer is to bring a friend or two; go with people that you trust, and vice versa. In my personal opinion, I’d say it would be best to keep your group small in size for the sake of comfort and security. Make sure to cover some personal ground rules with your party before you head out. This will be especially helpful in case anyone in your group finds themselves feeling awkward or nervous.
Do come with an open mind and a sense of transparency.
Not everyone’s kink will be your kink, and that’s ok. Your kink won’t be everyone else’s kink and that’s ok, too. If you see something you like, great! If you see something you’re not so fond of, you don’t have to stay and watch. If you’re curious and want to try something, ask (again, when appropriate). You might not get a “yes” every time, but if you find someone with whom you might like to try playing, the best way to go about it is to ask and clearly communicate your wants, needs, and limitations. Clearly established “safe words” are truly important in such situations, especially for those first starting out, but really for anyone who engages in BDSM play. Negotiation and clarity are key here.
To conclude, it’s perfectly fine to be nervous about your first time at a dungeon — even your second, third, fourth, and so on. In fact, for as long as I’ve been in the BDSM scene, I sometimes still get nervous before a big dungeon party. The best way to approach a new situation like this is to first and foremost, mind your manners. Doing so will make a good impression, which can open the door for education and new experiences. Go out, make friends, and see what’s good. If you like what you see, it’s a wonderful feeling. If you’re not so sure that this scene is for you, that’s perfectly fine too. Just breathe, relax, and have a good time. Know that there is so much to learn and explore in the world of BDSM. Though intimidating to most at first blush, it is a wellspring of opportunities to grow to have a better understanding not only of yourself, but of the world around you.