OK, so you’ve discovered the scene and done some research; you’ve taken your first steps in getting to know this new world… Now what? My friends and I sometimes joke that the first year in the scene is like Nirvana — a virtual paradise where you revel in the ‘home’ and ‘family’ you’ve found. All these great people who really get you and all the groundbreaking new experiences! You have boundless energy and you just know it’ll never end…
Well, just like finding the love of your life, the honeymoon period will eventually end and you’ll have to deal with the snoring and fights about the toilet seat. In other words: reality! But hopefully you’ll be able to hold onto this love you’ve found and, even though the Nirvana ends, the ‘relationship’ will only get deeper and fuller as you move forward and conquer the pitfalls of life together.
In this column I’m continuing with the newbie’s journey to the next step: What do you do once you’re IN the scene?! And I’m going to focus more on the guys in this one because scene etiquette, or lack thereof, can be especially tough on them.
A lot of single sub guys feel that they’re looked upon as the scum of the scene, (yeah yeah, I know… you like it,) but in actuality it’s not the singleness or the ‘sub-iness’ that causes so much rejection, but the tendency that some of these guys have to cross boundaries and make the space feel ‘unsafe’. The gals are not off the hook, by the way: we can do this just as easily! I’ve been put off by more than a few over-eager women who’ve demanded that I play with them or grabbed my breasts without asking; sliding their hand up my latex, thinking it’s OK because they’re a girl. It’s not.
Even though this scene encourages you to express very specific parts of your personality, it doesn’t mean everything else about being a human is chucked out the window. Basic rules of courtesy and manners apply, and if you don’t use them, people are going to be offended, just as they would be outside the scene. This means not staring and drooling at someone as if they’re a character on a TV screen and not a real person standing in front of you. Obviously, everyone wants attention but when you’re looking at someone and only thinking about what you want to get from them, they’ll get the creep vibe and avoid you like the plague.
The most widely agreed-upon basic tenet of the BDSM culture is ‘Safe, Sane and Consensual’. This means that everyone involved in the act wants to be participating in it and has agreed to it. Throwing yourself at a domme’s feet and telling her all about how bad you’ve been is not a consensual act. You have to ask her first!
‘By doing that, he immediately showed me how little he cared about who I was as an individual and what I might want’
Once, I was standing at the bar after a lovely scene, having a conversation with a friend, when I felt something on my foot. I look down to find someone I didn’t know licking my shoe and rubbing himself on the carpet! Needless to say, he almost lost some teeth and I will never even consider playing with him. By doing that, he immediately showed me how little he cared about who I was as an individual and what I might want.Because we’re crossing personal boundaries when we play, those boundaries must be honoured and respected the rest of the time. Don’t touch anyone without being given permission to do so. You may like to hug people hello or goodbye but that Goddess in rubber you like so much might not, and if you wrap your arms around her without getting the OK, she might just break one of them. And that hot couple getting it on in front of everyone? Just because they’re in public doesn’t mean it’s an open invitation for anyone else to get physically involved.
But enough with the shouldn’ts… What should you do? First, get comfortable with the idea that you might face some rejection starting out, and that’s ok — it’s not personal. You’re new and people are going to want to get to know you a little bit.
Wait until you see that the person you want to meet has a break in their conversation and politely introduce yourself, like you would in any other situation. Let them know that you’re available for play/foot worship, etc, but don’t push it or feel bad if they don’t reciprocate. There have been plenty of times when I’ve turned down the offer to play with someone, not because I didn’t like them but because I was busy or tired or just didn’t feel like it at the time. More often than not, if they were patient and respectful, I’d make a mental note and look for them the next time I was in the mood.
Once you find someone to play with, take at least a few moments to negotiate. This means letting them know what you like and don’t like, and seeing if what they like matches up. Making that connection and opening up a dialogue are some of the most essential and exciting elements of the experience, so take your time and have fun with the foreplay.
‘Everyone has limits and saying you don’t have any is a big red flag for the dominant. They know that they’re playing with someone dishonest’
Be sure to be honest about your experience level and when someone asks you what your limits are, TELL them! Everyone has limits and saying you don’t have any is a big red flag for the dominant. They know, in that moment, that they’re playing with someone dishonest and many will not continue, with good reason. What if they really hurt you? Nobody wants to cause permanent damage and if they have to be worried the whole time, it’s not worth it.
If you don’t know what your limits are, tell them that, and you can hopefully have fun finding out together! I played with so many people, of all experience levels, during my stint as Headmistress, but the ones I loved the most weren’t those who could ‘take’ the most, they were the ones who were open with me so I could just let go and create a scene we could both enjoy.
The attention you receive after a scene is done is called ‘aftercare’ — if at all possible, know what kind you need and be responsible for it. If it was a good scene, a lot of endorphins will be flowing through your body and emotions can really get stirred up. As much as it seems like people can read each other’s minds during play, they really can’t. Nobody is going to ‘just know’ what you need, during or after a scene.
And in a club environment, if you are playing with someone with whom you don’t have a deeper connection, that person is not going to be into spending the rest of his or her evening holding you while you slowly come down. Make sure you’ll be well taken care of.
On a final ‘newbie’ note: at my very first munch, my first mentor, Ms Diana, taught me an important lesson: don’t limit yourself by strictly defining who you are or what you like. She’d point out this tendency to limit and define by reminding us to add “at this time” or some equivalent to the end of our sentences. “I don’t like flogging at this time”; “I’m a submissive at the moment.” Obviously, a certain level of definition is important and helps us know who and what we’re dealing with when we’re interacting with others in this community, but as far as your inner definitions go, stay open.
I didn’t really get why that was so important back then but wow, do I get it now! When you’re first starting, you’re acting on a lot of feelings and images you’ve been nursing in the fantasy world of your own mind, most likely using fiction and the internet to fuel them. As you start to experience things for real, your feelings will start to shift and with them, maybe your desires. You’ll grow and change and the more open you can be to that, the better. No one is just a sub or just a dom or just a foot fetishist and even after decades in the Lifestyle, Ms Diana was still discovering new aspects of herself! Hopefully you will be too.
Take your time, choose your partners with care and enjoy the first-year Nirvana! It’s wonderful and with a little luck and good sense, you’ll be able to make the fun last well past the honeymoon.