I remember the first time I went to a play party at a BDSM club. It took me about three months of puttering around on Fetlife and OkCupid before I finally got the guts to go. Luckily, I had a lovely date who chatted with me before the event, met me for coffee and then went to the introductory event with me. She answered all of my pre-event jitters and helped me take the biggest step – which is just showing up. Once you have gone once you realize that all the people there are ordinary people like you, and you aren’t going to be judged for playing or not playing and in general it is a pretty cool experience.
Types of BDSM Events
For first timers I recommend a few types of BDSM events. When you enter the scene you’ll find that there is a whole language around kink, and a lot of acronyms to learn. So I’ll help you out a bit with some of the more common events to keep an eye out on.
Sounds like there might be some biting involved, but there isn’t. A munch is an event held in a public place like a cafe or a bar. Munches are for kink people but don’t involve any kinky stuff, you essentially just get together to “munch” on some food and talk about your interests. Most mid to large sized towns will have at least one munch that is for everyone to attend.
Play Party/Intro Night at a BDSM Club
Most BDSM clubs are membership based. To become a member you must attend an “intro night”. Some clubs hold intro nights where anyone can show up on their own. Other clubs require that you are ‘guested’ in to your first night. The nice thing about intro nights is that you will be with a group of other people who are also trying out kink (or at least that specific club) for the first time. Many clubs will actually have a presenter discuss rules of the club, resources for kinky people and some of the basics about how playing with people works.
The other benefit of going to one of these events is that you will get to see people playing in their ‘natural’ habitat and observe, and also mix and meet with a lot of different people. No one will judge you for hanging around the snacks all night and just listening.
BDSM conferences are weekend long events where there will be classes on various kinky topics during the day, and usually two play parties (one on Friday night and one on Saturday night typically). Kinksters from out of town will buy tickets and travel from out of town, and the community will usually pay to bring in some bigger name speakers for the event. Conferences are intense, crazy, and so much fun. Although I personally wouldn’t want my first time to be at a con, there are often times ‘beginner tracks’ where you can take a lot of classes about whatever you think you might be interested in.
Cons are usually looked forward to by kinksters all year long. People will pull out their kinky best for clothes, plan their most intense scenes, and stay up all night hitting each other with various implements. Think Comic Con with the same amount of costumes but more sex.
Fetish Balls or parties are usually one-night events held at a more traditional night club. A fetish ball was my first official kink event I attended. I attended as a body paint model and didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Luckily fetish balls are probably the most ‘vanilla’ introduction next to a munch. These events usually will have various on-stage performances, music and people dressing up in their kink finest. Once again they are a nice ‘taste tester’ to see if you find anything you like. However, the downside is that they are usually loud and people are less willing to mingle and meet new people.
What to Expect Walking in the Door
OK so you finally decided to do it, you’ve nervously picked out an outfit or have decided to just wear your t-shirt and jeans. You have no idea what to expect. What is going to happen? Will weird people touch you? Are you going to end up spanked by some scary German lady?
It Takes All Sorts
All sorts of different people will be at the event. Skinny people, fat people, dudes just wearing t-shirts with comic book characters on them, full on leather daddies, people with bad teeth, people who look like your dentist. The list goes on. Overall, you will find that kinky people are a whole lot like regular people.
You Will See Naked People
Unless you opt for the munch option, you will probably see naked people. And not just gorgeous underwear models naked. You will see dimply, pimply, stretch-mark, hairy and pale naked people. And that is wonderful! Nothing helps remind you what bodies actually look like than real bodies.
A Note on Your Naked Self
You don’t need to feel obligated to be naked. If you’re not sure about this naked business and want to learn more about how to be comfortable getting nakey at a kink event you can read my tips about getting comfy with your birthday suit here.
There Will Be a Mix of Play and Talk
You might imagine some crazy free-for-all where there are people having sex and spanking each other all over the place, but the truth is much more casual. Often times play clubs will have some areas designated for talking and hanging out and others for playing. The club I would go to in the states had three separate rooms: One that was for talking and snacking only with no play allowed, a ‘mixed use’ room where talking was allowed and play was allowed, and the main dungeon where you were expected to only talk quietly and to play/watch play only. The club I attend most frequently in northern Europe has several separate rooms and a bar. The rules are less spelled out, but in general you don’t play near the bar and you don’t drink in the scary German interrogation room.
During a party there are some people who will only watch. In fact, I would guess that less than half of the people who go to a play party on any given night are actually going to play. Especially regulars in the scene, some nights are for socializing with your friends instead of playing. I think this makes for a much easier environment to ‘get started’ in since you won’t feel like you’re missing out if you don’t get your kink on during the first event you attend.
You’re Going to See Something That Freaks You Out
I remember the first time I saw a play piercing scene. People sticking needles into each other for fun? I noped right the hell out of the dungeon and into the side room faster than you could say “do you have any latex gloves?”
Now I actually enjoy play piercing, but that is beside the point. You will see some shit go down that you never even considered as a kink before. Some scenes get nasty, brutal and you might wonder why someone elected to have that done to them, let alone in public. What should you do when you encounter your fist “wtf I am so creeped out right now” moment at a kink event? Leave the room. That’s right. Don’t complain about it, just leave. They are allowed to play in whatever way is legal, abiding by the club rules and not pulling some non-consenting person into the fold. So the easiest thing is to distract yourself with the cheese puffs in the other room again.
Once you’ve gotten over the skin-crawling feeling of being grossed out by someone being fisted, or whatever got your panties in a bunch, my recommendation is to ask someone about that kink. I didn’t understand play piercing and was freaked out about the idea, but when someone explained the endorphin rush that comes with it I understood a bit more. I even realized that I had experienced that same rush getting body piercings, and hey, maybe I would be willing to try play piercing out in the future. I did try it, and love it! (still nope the fuck out of face needles and a few other things, but hey to each their own).