So after my last post, I got a couple of e-mails from people who have had similar experiences (from both sides), some offering advice, some just acknowledging that this kinda thing really is an issue. And it got me thinking that damn it, I have a sex blog, I should really make an effort to learn something here. So on the advice of one of these helpful e-mailers, I joined FetLife (the Facebook for kinksters) and started reading up. And, much to my amazement, my small university town does in fact have its own kink community. (From what I can work out, there is no official University Fetish Club, but Rule 34 and all that, it’s only a matter of time.) Not only does it exist, but I discovered that they have monthly meetings where everyone can get to know each other and share tips and advice, as well as eating a lot of pizza. Who knew?
Well, I’ve been complaining for ages that there’s no decent scene or good way to meet other kinky people, plus I keep talking about how good it is to learn new things, so I figured it was time to put my money where my mouth was and see what it was like. Which was, of course, easier said than done. It wasn’t until I was standing outside the relevant pub, desperately wishing I’d worn my collar, that I realised how nervous I was. What was I meant to do? Go in and say to the barman ‘Hey, I’m a sub and semi-masochist – I heard there were some kinky people around, maybe playing with some rope’? I hung around in the doorway for a bit, wondering if maybe it was a good idea to go home and live a comfortable life of vanilla sex, in a monogamous heterosexual relationship with 2.5 kids and a labrador. (I am being flippant. I don’t mean to suggest for a moment that vanilla sex is boring on any less worthy than kinky sex. Also labradors are adorable. Just not quite what I need right now.)
Anyway, eventually I stepped inside and noticed a group of people all wearing friendly-looking name tags. I was only hovering for a second before a woman in a tightly-buttoned waistcoat came over to ask if I was okay and would I like to come over and join the group. She had two very obvious purple bruises on one of her breasts, which was how I knew that I’d probably found the right people.
I’m not going to try to give these people pseudonyms, mainly because most of them had two name tags already, one with their real name and one with their FetLife name, or ‘scene name’ as someone called it. They were all, without exception, incredibly friendly and welcoming. For the first time in years, I was the shy awkward girl in the corner, stammering nervously whenever I tried to talk. This was odd for me. Luckily, no one else seemed to mind, chatting happily to me about xkcd and pizza toppings and the best techniques for Japanese ropeplay (seriously). One guy, who was a photographer, had brought his portfolios, and I spent ages admiring some gorgeous fetish shots, which led to him asking if I’d like to model for him at some point. Cue more flustered mumbling that sounded something like ‘umm thank you, I’ll think about it?’. Which I actually will, because the pictures were really lovely.
What else did I learn? There is a monthly kink club, which is more focussed on play than costumes, and which I’d be very welcome to attend. One of the guys there introduced himself as a slave, while another woman kept referring to her master. Both were eating pizza at the time. I tentatively asked for some advice on the subject of what had happened with Gaius, to which the waistcoat-and-bruises lady replied ‘You’re training tops? How wonderful for you!’. At one point in the evening a guy I’d been discussing Japanese ropleplay with earlier approached me to say his pet had asked to be tied up, and would I like to be tied up too? I politely declined, but I can’t say I wasn’t intrigued by how pretty it looked. Maybe next time? I’m not sure.
It was obvious that the most important point to grasp was the asking permission. For everything. It was quite crowded by the end, but even as people struggled to make their way to the bar, the care they all took not to accidentally touch anyone was clear. One guy with some interesting spiked gloves demonstrated their effect by scratching my neck, but only after I specifically asked him too. (The result had me purring like a kitten, which I think was the idea.) He told my I’d been pretty brave to show up on my own without knowing anyone there, and I confided that I felt rather out of place without a collar. It was strangely flirtatious, whilst remaining entirely non-sexual, which is quite a strange combination for me. I guess the whole evening was a bit like that: people talking about their most extreme kinks and fetishes in such a casual off-hand way that they ceased to feel like kinks and fetishes at all, and became everyday conversation. It was like a snapshot into a the sort of ideal world I keep trying to advocate, but actually being there living it was a lot stranger than I’d anticipated. I think I need more practice.
The final thing to mention is that as I was leaving, someone mentioned that the woman running it was trying to get rid of some corsets she was selling for a friend. So I messaged her, and the next day I went round to try some on (and came away with two gorgeous corsets that I can’t wait to wear out somewhere, but that’s beside the point). It wasn’t until I was standing completely topless in her kitchen, looking at different fabrics, that I realised how nice it was that this felt totally normal and not at all weird, even though usually I don’t get semi-naked around strangers. Not in a non-sexual way anyway. She also made a point of asking me if anyone had said or done anything which made me uncomfortable the night before, and told me I could come straight to her if they ever did. She may have said this while lacing me into one of the corsets, or while packaging them up while I looked for my bra. I don’t entirely remember, but it was very much appreciated all the same. I’m not sure whether I’d been feeling at all worried or not before, but I know I felt safer after.
So, that was my introductory initiation into the not-all-that-scary fetish scene. I’m hoping it will help me with boundaries and communication and being confident around others who are new to it, while hopefully giving me some new ideas and a safe space in which to experiment. At the very least, I met some exciting people and have some new corsets. As for the rest, we shall see.
The feminism will return to this blog shortly, when my brain has recovered from a term of missed sleep and too much coffee. There may even be the promised kittens. It’s all happening here.