Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Part 18: Going Real Time: First moves / Finding your local scene

this one's for timid

Your teacher today: Mistress160!
(unknown provenance)

"I'm well nervous about going to a Munch!
I've never been to one before. *gulp*"
ShyUnknown, FetishLore

"Brand New To The Lifestyle I Have Read
All The Books. Now I Need To Be Around People Who
Share My Interests. Can You Help?"

This post is part of the BDSM For Beginners - Going Real Time series, a series about moving into the BDSM Lifestyle. You may have experienced kink online. This series works on that assumption but can still be read if you don't have cyber kink experience. You can find the introduction to the series here on Mistress 160's Abode and here on my BDSM for Beginner's blog. I'd suggest reading the intro post before this one.

In this series we'll explore some of the questions you have asked me, including:
This post looks at the first point, making your first moves into the lifestyle and how to find your local scene. Here are some of the individual questions you've sent that I've responded to:
  1. Working out what you are (and desire) kinky-wise
  2. Dealing with the "buts" (excuses to not move to real time BDSM)
  3. Defining the Lifestyle you want
  4. BDSM Lifestyle ... which means exactly what?
  5. Being honest about real time experience levels
  6. Finding your local scene
  7. What type of BDSM event should I attend first?
  8. So what's a munch when it's at home?
  9. BDSM / Fetish clubs
  10. Play parties
  11. Problem: There is no local scene where I live
  12. Problem: How can I protect my privacy in real time BDSM
  13. Problem: I'm not meeting the kind of people I expected
  14. Problem: I'm having trouble finding kinksters in my age group
  15. Problem: I'm disabled, should I even bother entering the lifestyle?
  16. References and Online Resources
All BDSM For Beginners posts are very long posts. Think of each post as an hour's seminar. It will take that long to read, if you include some detours via links I provide. So have that pee now. Then go make yourself a coffee and keep the biscuit tin close by...

Remember, don't skip the quotes in red (they may contain questions we then discuss. Or provide a point of view important to the section) and do the homework.

Shall we begin?


"Do you remember when you first started looking for the lifestyle?
What was it that first piqued your interest in BDSM?
What were you looking for or expecting to find?

"What did you think living the lifestyle would be like?
What features did your image of the "perfect" Dominant include?
How many of those initial drives and images centered solely
around the idea of hot, wild, kinky sex?
How often did you fantasize about getting abducted, stripped, blindfolded, strapped in a sling and left there to be used for whatever by whomever?
How often do you still have that fantasy?
i know i still do. Often.."
Bob Harris A Fragile Balance

So you've worked out that you are kinky. Congratulations! (well it takes some of us quite a while to work it out). Now, go back and reread the quote by Bob Harris above. And think - really think - about the questions he raises in relation to yourself. Keep those thoughts in mind while we discuss things today.

The fact that you are reading this post means you have begun to think, as Bob Harris points out, about living the lifestyle. You've probably been spending considerable time online in kinky / fetish forums and chat rooms. Perhaps you play casually in the chat rooms or have experienced online D/s relationships ... whatever you've been doing, you certainly now feel comfortable amongst the kinky communities where you interact online. You have lots of online friends, and no one seems to think your being a pervert is anything out of the ordinary.

But you've developed this itch that you just can't scratch...

Your cyber friends talk about their experiences at local munches and kinky clubs. Your online play partner or favorite blogger writes about the private parties they attend. You find yourself hanging onto every word of their real time experiences. You lie in bed and fantasize about attending events, where you'll be firmly restrained on some enormous piece of dungeon furniture, with a huge crowd watching, and then...

*Ms160 fans herself then gets back in teacher mode*...

You so desperately want to make the move to real time BDSM. But...


"I really want to make the move Ma'am, but..."

We all have "buts" in our lives. So what are yours, regarding real time kink?

Are there practicalities like the fact that you live with your parents or that you in a vanilla marriage? That you have kids? Or do you believe you are too young and inexperienced? Or too old and it's too late? Or have health issues or are disabled? Do you have an important job or a hard to get grant at university or a reputation to protect and can't "come out", you'll "lose everything"? Perhaps you think your kink is just too weird?

I'm not taking the piss out of you here. These are deadly serious issues. Before I started playing publicly I could tick several of those "buts". And while we are being honest, let's remember that underlying all this is the fear that if the world finds out you are weird / kinky / totally perverted and a seriously sick rabbit everyone will loathe you, your family will cut you off, you'll lose your marriage, kids and profession and you'll never have sex again.

This is why you went online, isn't it? Whatever your particular combination of "buts", they are probably the reason you began to explore cyber kink in the first place. You somehow found enough privacy in your life to go online and discover people who think like you do and places where you could tell people what your desires were and be taken seriously. This is good - apart from having a lot of fun, what cyber kink has shown you is that you - your real self, your kinky self (and don't make any mistake about those two not being linked) - can find acceptance within a particular social group.

Now for some people this acceptance is enough. The majority of kinksters you know online will never make the move to a real time lifestyle. Either their particular set of "buts" are too difficult to surmount or they are happy to stay in cyber kink. Think how marvellous cyber is for disabled kinksters, or those in isolated circumstances.

But now you want more. So let's look at how you can make that happen. As Fetish Diva Midori points out in her essay "How to Get into SM Online and Finding Partners" in Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink Educational, Sensual, And Entertaining Essays:
"the Net as the primary resource SM play suck for getting you quality experiences, building long lasting SM relationships or getting you some really hot action other than the onehanded variety ... sure its safe, but so is phone sex ... nothing replaces the caress of actual hands on excited flesh" (pp182-3).

"From the time I was a teenager some 40 years ago I wanted
to play bondage games ... I dreamed about it ... until 6 months ago.
I went online
and found a BDSM club about an hour away.
I joined it and after a few
months got to know how to meet and
enjoy a play party. I'm in my 50s
and my big regret is it took me this
many years to go from dreaming
about my desires, and start living it"
Steve in California

So the next question you have to ask yourself is what sort of kinky real time life / experience are you looking for? How desperate is that itch of yours?

Answering that is something only you can do. But you will know by that answer how to define what you are looking for, in regards to real time kink. Your circumstances in life - your "buts" - may be such that the time you can give to real time kink will be severely limited. If this is the case you need to think how best to scratch your itch within that time frame.

On the other hand you might just be starting out in life, perhaps about to leave for college or university, and for the first time in your life be facing the possibility of unlimited time and unlimited privacy away from home. I can tell you right now you are not the only kinkster on the planet who has made a major move at this time of their lives for exactly these reasons.

Trying to define what you are looking for depends on what you desire. Be honest with yourself here: How kinky do you think you are? How kinky do you think you need to be? What % of kink do you desire in your life? What would you give up in your life to obtain that lifestyle? Because some people - usually those with the most "buts" - give up a lot. Here's the thing: very few genuine kinksters leave the lifestyle. This is a journey you will continue forward on; you will not go back. Here's how a sincere lifestyler, luna, responds when she hears of submissive bloggers leaving the lifestyle:
"I made the decision almost 2 years ago to be lifestyle and nothing else. I could never go back to the vanilla life. I left a husband to pursue my new life. I changed the way I live, I want to be different. I know I am happier than I was. I embraced the lifestyle with both hands and jumped in deep to be active and happy that way ... I can’t take the lifestyle out of me, and I just can’t fathom others doing it either, if they are truly honest with themselves and what they need/want."
Which is why I'm harping on here about you working out exactly that. Once you know what you want from the lifestyle, then it's time to look at ways to make your entry into that lifestyle a reality.


"I really want it Ma'am. I think.
What does being in the lifestyle mean?"

"Oh I know all about it, don't worry about me"

Tap tap tap...

* Ms160 stands up the front of the classroom tapping her cane against her leg*

So you've all enrolled in BDSM 101! You have a pretty good idea of what BDSM lifestyle consists of, from your time online, right? You know your definitions, you know your tops and bottoms and subs and dominants and fetishes and kinks, you know how to behave at play parties and fetish clubs?

*Ms160 taps cane harder and peers over her eyeglasses at her students*

Well honey bunnies if you said yes to all that you are wiser kinksters than me, lol. You can never learn enough. And with the greatest of respect for the places you've been hanging out online, you've probably picked up some real bullshit.

Let me tell you what the BDSM Lifestyle is. It's being part of a community. You need that community to support you, to sustain you, to educate you, to provide the resources to allow you to scratch not only the itches you know about but all the ones you don't know about yet. You need that community to help you find the partner you know is out there somewhere.

You cannot do this alone. Listen to Jack Rinella:
"Over the years I have spoken or written to hundreds of people, mostly horny guys, who admitted to being confused and doubtful about what they wanted. To a person they craved some kind of kinky activity but were paranoid as to how to get started, where to go, whom to trust, etc. Their state, as far as I can tell, was primarily caused by their isolation from those who can best, by word and example, help them out of their dilemma.

"You know, when they write "There are no masters in LA" or NY or SF or Chicago, I know they are loners, seeking on the Internet what can only be found in real time, face to face. It's like the guy whom I met on-line, then met in person in Oklahoma City. When the weekend was over, he admitted how strange it was to have to meet a guy from Chicago (me) in order to find folks in OK who were into kinky sex. Like many he thought he was the only one. Ironically, some of the kinky folk to whom I introduced him, he already knew!"
"We have for too long thought that having a partner is the end-all and be-all of what we want", Jack continues:
"I disagree. Having relationships is more important. We are social beings before we are sexual ones and it is the fact that we are social that accounts for the greatest part of our success as humans. Because we cooperate, support one another, and share
information, we are more than we would be as isolated individuals"
Now it's time for you to find your local community. And to be more comfortable in that community you need knowledge about it. So, time for some homework: read.

I'm serious. Read up on everything you can find about "real" BDSM. Read about the history of BDSM. Technique. Read up on individual fetishes. Read articles that state they contain important information for BDSM beginners or newbies. Google all these words and see where they take you.

For a start (in no particular order) try some of these:

Lists of articles / FAQs:
BDSM Cafe Resources
BDSM Resources: Beginners Kit
BDSM articles list
Misc Tips for Newbies
BDSMRC Articles on the Basics
Wizdomme D/s Newbie Pack

Jack Rinella Our Need for a Community
Jay Wiseman An Essay about "The Old Days"
Raven Shadowborne Finding Your Place in BDSM
Raven Shadowborne Types of Relationships in BDSM
Raven Shadowborne Learning the Lifestyle
Mistress Michelle What is Fetishism?
Jack Medlin SSC vs RACK
Sensuous Sadie Getting Started in BDSM
Sensuous Sadie Protecting Your Identity in the BDSM Scene
Limits and Negotiations
How Does a Novice Male Submissive Get Started?
Hans Meyer Ten Great Questions and Answers about BDSM ABIS
"If BDSM is for Me why do I Feel So Guilty?"

And if you have money, invest in some books
Race Bannon "Learning the Ropes"
Philip Miller and Molly Devon "Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns"
Pat Califia "Sensuous Magic"
Jay Wiseman "SM 101: A Realistic Introduction"
Fetish Diva Midori "Wild Side Sex: the Book of Kink "
John Warren "Safe, Sane, Consensual, and Fun"
William Henkin and Sybil Holiday "Consensual Sadomasochism"
Lady Green "The Sexually Dominant Woman: A Workbook for Nervous Beginners"
Dossie Eastman + "When Someone You Love is Kinky"

(see my BDSM For Beginners Published Resources list for reviews and links for many of these, plus some other publications that might be on interest)

When your mind is overloaded with what you have read, then it's time to start talking to other kinksters. You have already begun that online. But it's time now to talk to your own kinky community. But first....


We need to talk seriously about this for a minute.

Only you know your level of practical BDSM experience. Crossover activities - where you undertake physical tasks set by an online dominant - are perfectly legitimate and you may well have intimate experience with butt plugs, erotic humiliation, CBT, nipple torture etc. You may even have spent time purchasing corporal punishment instruments, or have other serious toys in your collection.

But let's be honest here. At this point in time you don't have much practical play experience. You don't want to fall into the kind of reality trap Bob Harris describes below:
"a friend ... wandering into a chat room where four female cyber-subs were discussing the thrill of being cyber-singletailed. Each one expounded on their ability to absorb a heavy cyber-blow. Each were convinced they knew exactly what it would be like to feel the real thing. After a few minutes of cyber-eavesdropping, my friend broke in and asked if any of them had in fact, actually ever seen, much less felt, a real singletail. All four admitted that they had not, but were still convinced that they had a total awareness of the actual feel. Sure they do.

"Imagine their surprise if they should ever walk into a real-world dungeon and present themselves as experienced in various forms of play, including singletails!? They would find someone who took them at their word and, at some point during real-play, would actually use a singletail on them. Wonder if they would still believe they have an accurate grasp of the real-sting of a real singletail?"
As the world of cyber kink becomes increasingly important, these kinds of problems continue to appear. A Domme friend of mine encountered something similar:
"The sub presented himself as an experienced player. I asked him during scene negotiations whether he enjoyed the cane, and he said yes. But on the first stroke he safe worded: "I didn't know it would hurt so much in real life!"
This is why some real timers get very twitchy about cyber kinksters. My friend Carrie Ann sums this type of attitude up when she writes:
"Real time is not perfect … but it is real. And, I am sorry, but those who have an online only relationship cannot fully say that. Sure, the feelings, emotions and often actions (doing tasks, self punishment upon orders, etc, etc) are real as can be. But it's never going to be the same as a real time relationship. You are absolutely not gaining the same experience and education via chat, IM, email, forum or even phone and web cam as you are in a face to face relationship.

“And, by gods, I am TIRED of people acting as though they are”
Carrie Ann was right to title her post "the never ending battle between cyber and real time". Because it feels like a war. In response to this I published an article "CyberReality?" in Kink-E Magazine - you might remember I quoted from this in the Intro to this series:
"If we don’t want a permanently divided community we ... need to work on redefining problematic and outdated terminology like “reality”, “real time”, and “real life”, which, as Sensuous Sadie points out: "[are now] offensive terms because [they] suggests online relationships are imaginary. Even worse, some real time players flat out deny the possibility of an online relationship, an approach which is disrespectful at best and cruel at worst”

"The internet has created a completely different way of experiencing “reality”. “Some argue this is not "reality" in the same way people say going to school is not "real" life”, writes Sensuous Sadie, “I might suggest that all experiences are "real" even if they are so different from your own as to seem alien. If your cyber life brings you joy; that's all the validation you need”.
"If our main issues with cyber – and newbies entering real time from cyber - revolve around lack of education and experience then we should work on improving online BDSM educational resources. Share our knowledge, and act as welcoming advisers, actively encouraging dialogue as well as assisting them in seeking resources and real time contacts"
We'll go more into cyber issues in the post in this series that deals with cyber kink / real time transitions such as meeting your online play partner for the first time. In another post we'll also discuss at how you to gain practical BDSM experience. For now, don't exaggerate what you know. Remember that as you make local connections and begin to attend real time events you will understand more of what's going on, and to find opportunities to learn.

"Ms160 what if everyone thinks I'm
experienced online, how do I make
the transition without losing face?"

That you're asking this question is a great start. Look, it's highly unlikely that you plan to use the same scene name as you use in chatrooms online. So start out in real time with a new name and a new history.

"Newbie" is not a dirty word. There is no shame in being inexperienced - only in concealing that inexperience, by which you may put both yourself and others at risk.

JKPS Howe "History if Histrionics" (good article re online / real time misrepresentations of kinky experience)


Coffee, Cake and Kink, London

"Can't find a group? You're not looking hard enough, not
asking enough questions of enough people, not willing to
move a bit further out of your self-determined
comfort zone. You will succeed if you but try"
Jack Rinella

Jack Rinella is right: you can do this. You can.

Just appreciate you were not trying to do this in the days before the internet ... it was so many harder then to find others interested in similar perversions.

The first thing you need to do is track down BDSM organizations, societies and clubs in your region. Here's roo-roo's advice:
"One way of finding your local scene is to google "bdsm" along with the name of the nearest big city. If that doesn't work, try "leather" along with the name of the city. Or "munch" with the city name. This should hopefully return something, depending on where in the world you are ... You could even ask in forums if anyone knows anything about a scene in your city"
The idea of joining these groups / organizations etc is to get on their mailing lists and familiarize yourself with what's happening around you in the lifestyle. Obviously if you live in a smaller town or an isolated area you'll need to cast a wider net that if you live in say, London or San Francisco. Quite honestly I'd do that anyway. The more places you join the more information you'll receive. They will advise you on munches and other opportunities to meet with the local kinky community. Their websites will feature pages devoted to info on munch and play party etiquette (as do many kinky publications - Midori's Wild Side Sex includes chapters on "Getting lucky at fetish parties" and "How to look cool with hardcore Perverts").

Some cities have websites that will keep you in touch with the scene; like attitudes in Montreal:
"Montreal’s online sexuality education & information forum website, geared to community awareness and promoting positive sexuality through education, demos and performances. Facilitate and co-ordinate workshops, provide extensive resource listings, and feature articles, creative writing for all sexual orientations and lifestyles. In addition, we host erotic cabaret fundraising events (Kinky Kabaret) highlighting the diverse sensual and sexual attitudes of our time"
You'll also find websites linked to specific regional play spaces - such as Power Exchange in San Francisco - who promote their own events and often provide chat, forums, original photo / video galleries etc. As a reviewer from Jane's Guide noted, they also offer something unique:
"what I like about this site is that it gives people a place to meet online for quiet and less pressured interaction, and then also offers a real life safe and public place to meet up and fulfill your interests. I'm not aware of another place doing the same thing"
Don't forget to search for regional groups on larger sites on which you are already a member, for example ALT, Fetlife, My Dungeon Space, etc. A few random examples: here's one at Santa Clarita on ALT (speaking of ALT, at this point keep your nose out of the personal ads please, lol, you are trying to gain some knowledge not get sidetracked about getting a partner!) and here the Asylum Dungeon in Oregon has set up a group at Fetlife, which gets across all the info you need to know if you live in that state:
"The Asylum dungeon is Oregon's only publically available professional dungeon. This group is focused on information and to connect our members. The address will never be posted here, our parties are strictly members only. Application for membership is a very easy process that can be done at our website ... we hold monthly pansexual play parties(typically the last Saturday of the month). We also hold workshops, as well as occasional themed parties..."
Fetlife appears to be becoming a great place to check for these sorts of connections. New regional groups (as well as regional groups centered on specific fetishes) are forming every day.

Also look for newbie groups on those same large sites - here's one on Tribe. Speaking of newbie groups, most BDSM organizations hold programs - or even have special groups - for newbies. One of these is The Eulenspeigal Society's Novice Group in New York:
"Regardless if you are a brand spanking "newbie" (person just discovering BDSM) or just new to TES or the public scene, THE NOVICE GROUP is for you! SIG CO-Facilitator's: Bo and Lady D host monthly educational seminars, workshops and frequent social events geared to the BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadomasochism) newcomer. Their number one goal is to provide you with a safe and loving atmosphere where you can get the answers to all your many questions as well as learn both the physical and mental fundamentals of BDSM!"
So what happens at a TES Novice Meeting?
"We start the evening with an approximately hour long presentation, then we take a short break and come back and do the famous TES Circle. This is where we all sit in a circle, introduce ourselves briefly (or not if your shy) and ask questions or give feedback on the presentation we just saw or any other thing you'd like to talk about. At the end of the meeting both Bo and Lady D are available to answer any other questions you might have. After the meeting many of the members go to a local restaurant for a snack and some more good conversation"
Some universities have great BDSM student groups, like Cuffs at Iowa State University and Conversio Virium at Columbia University. Cuffs writes that it's:
"for people who want to learn more about kink, fetish, BDSM, and other expressions of safe, consensual, and non-exploitative human sexuality. Topics for meetings may include how to meet a play partner safely, bondage, negotiating a scene, sexual assault prevention, homemade toys, and others. So come and join us! (If you're not tied up.)"
Keep in mind the popularity and programs of university groups may rise and fade and revive, depending on the commitment of the current student body.


Here's a good link to a serious list of organizations, while here are few major / regional organizations that friends have suggested:

  • for info on local scene see AusBDSM.org
  • for Australian forums and regional email groups, click here
This is appallingly incomplete. If you have any you'd like me to add, drop me a line.


While I obviously can't list all regional BDSM community websites, here are a few access points:

The Adult Directory - US bdsm yahoo adult content regional groups / lists
BDSMAustralia - local events directory, forum
- Indonesian BDSM and fetish support group
To find a list of clubs near you in the US check out
The BDSM Site
- UK based BDSM resource site with practical information, techniques, stories
The BRC - BDSM Resource Center
- provides for the dissemination & exchange of adult/BDSM information & resources, as well as a forum
caryl's BDSM Page
- A site dedicated to helping people find local contacts and resources anywhere worldwide, comprehensive listing of organizations and resources as well as the BDSM ICQ List with thousands of users listed by location
Dark Heart - USA local listings
DomSubFriends good lists of groups etc for both US and international
Collarme - a South African BDSM community site
Desejo Secreto
- Brazilian site featuring fiction, reports, interviews, technique, health and arts
- extremely comprehensive free British fetish site, with contributions from readers
Fetish Scotland
- includes comprehensive link directory, forum and ads
Greek Bdsm Community
- includes personals, discussion and more
Informed Consent - great for UK scene (groups / parties / munches / events)
TheKinkLink.co.uk - BDSM/fetish/alternative scene in the UK
London Fetish Scene
- clubs, reviews, photos, fashion, links, news and views
- major Argentinian site
ML's Playsite
- Dutch BDSM infosite
Munch Info - lists almost all the munches around the country, and you can chat to people that attend them on the various UK BDSM/Fetish discussion boards
ScenesUSA - US clubs etc, includes a great list of national resources
Power Exchange
Z Nights - South African BDSM community, good calendar, educational essays and erotic art

Finally, of course there is:




SMart Cafe, Vienna

Did you take that break? Go on, bugger off, I'll be here when you come back....

Okay. What you should attend first depends on your own interests, what is physically available to you in your region and how shit scared you are. You've noted by now that there are as many different types of organizations, clubs and societies as there are kinky communities and that every community is a little different. But don't panic - that's why you've done your homework and have read up about your own local scene. You are becoming aware of the type of activities that are happening near you.

For someone completely new with no real time experience, I'd suggest the following:
  • Too nervous to contact anyone?
  1. How about checking out local fetish fairs or expos, like Folsom Fair in San Francisco and the London Fetish Fair ? You can wander around without talking to anyone checking out toys for sale, and vendors from local fetish clubs and dungeons. Some (like Fetish Expo in Melbourne recently) hold educational workshops. Go! And pick up all the business cards you can at the fair ... then when you feel ready to contact people you have their details.
  2. If you are lucky to find one near, attend openings at the nearest kinky gallery or make the local kinky coffee shop / bar your second home. In Belgium there is Fetish Cafe. In Germany Cafe Sittsam. In France qgbar. In the Netherlands, Same Place. In Vienna, SMart Cafe. Londoners have access to one of my favorite informal drop-in kinky places: Coffee, Cake and Kink - great for coffee and also a wide selection of books on all things BDSM and fetish. The cafe also host lots of different scene related events. Get on their mailing list!
  • Done your research on local organizations / groups and ready to make contact?
  1. Join them and attend their next munch, a casual get together in a public place. We'll talk more about munches below.
  2. Attend their next educational program, where you not only meet people you begin to develop practical skills. Keep an eye out for educational programs specially for newbies
  3. Desperate for meaningful conversation? Once you get to know a few people and start receiving invitations, keep an eye out for "Salon" or dinner party style events - these are sometimes held in private homes and involve articulate conversation about BDSM and possibly play. University BDSM groups are also known for being very literate, lol. Also Coco de Mer holds salons in London.
  • Don't want to attend anything kinky in your own town?
  1. No problem. Join the societies / groups etc in the next major city and make the effort to attend their next munch or educational workshop - take a weekend off and have a night away from home, and introduce yourself at the event with the name you always wished you had
  2. Attend a major BDSM / Fetish conference or convention. Again it will take you out of town and you will learn an unbelievable amount.
  • Feel confident enough to attend a public play event?
  1. When you are searching online, keep an eye out for organizations like Cherry's "Getting 2 Know U" group in Sydney who organize parties and munches specifically for new kinksters, or Unmasked in the UK: a newbie night organised by MissP, "designed so you can ask as few or as many questions as you like and get to play a little with the dom/mes if you feel brave enough".
  2. Talk to your new kinky friends about attending fetish clubs, then arrange to go in a group to their favorite club. This will probably be your introduction to actually seeing people in the scene play. Feeling nervous? Check with club staff whether they hold a pre club munch.
  3. Got a particular fetish, like rubber? You will be able to find clubs or special event functions like the Rubber Ball that focus on the things you like.
  4. Got a particular interest you'd like to combine with BDSM? Look around for special interest groups who enjoy practicing BDSM with a twist. One such group here in Oz is the 4WD BDSM Getaway group who combine weekend road trips with outdoor play.
  5. If you react positively to the experience of seeing people play, then attend a local play party. We'll talk about this in depth in another post.
  6. Once you are known and trusted on the public play party circuit you will receive invitations to private parties
  7. Reserve a place at a major BDSM convention - what they sometimes call in the US a bash. These usually include an educational component plus play parties and a marketplace for kinky products. Attend as many seminars as you can, and also enjoy those huge play parties!
  • Want to learn more about specific skills?
  1. We'll talk about this more in another post, but for now: Never stop reading!
  2. Attend parties and events: watch and learn!
  3. Talk to people at parties and events to find out who has the most experience and might be willing to share that experience - don't be offended if they say they don't mentor or teach, just ask very respectfully if you might be able to observe next time they play publicly
  4. Find a lifestyle Mistress who offers training (like Miss Demmie's The Edge in the UK)
  5. Contact a professional dungeon and see what their dominants like to do most (you become more highly skilled at things you enjoy)
  • Still too scared to make the move?
  1. Don't beat yourself up over this (excuse the pun). When you are ready you will know.
  2. Keep reading, keep playing online, keep checking those mailing lists. When the right event comes along - something you desperately want to attend (workshops with Fetish Diva Midori did it for me :)) - you'll find it's now the right time for you.
"Ms160 can I attend these things alone?
Is it better to go with someone?"

There isn't any more of an inherent danger in going to a BDSM event than to any vanilla gathering. As to the attendees, unless the event you are attending is couples only (which some are) then no one is going to mind your attending alone (there is an exception here, which is single men attending some events but I'll talk about that in a different section a bit later).

Otherwise going alone is a personal thing. It's like going to the cinema. Some people prefer to go alone, others prefer company. It probably comes down to whether you have a kinky friend to accompany you. Obviously in the early stages you won't - unless of course you have a partner. But once you begin to make friends its always easy to suggest several of you attend an event together.

Every event has a different ambiance. I've attended educational events on my own, play parties etc. But then I'm one of those people who doesn't mind going to the cinema alone either. On the other hand attending the very first public party I went to alone was a bit nerve wracking, at least until I was inside and met up with friends!

"I'm not a social person, I mean I want
to be a part of all this but I do don't
crowds or parties ... maybe I should
just stay online?"

Again this is only something you can know. But if you are reading this post then there is a part of you that wants more.

You don't have to do the big public party circuit. In fact once you get to know people most private parties are quite small. You just need to make some contacts. Try the person who organizers your local BDSM group's munches and educational events. They might meet you for coffee and to talk about how best your needs can be met. Munches too are usually quite small ... talk to this person about what events are best for you. You CAN do this.

So let's look at what exactly happens at munches etc.


"Hello and welcome to the munch!
Perhaps this is your first munch.
Perhaps this is your first BDSM event of any kind.
Congratulations for contacting what many of us call
the BDSM community (or, more simply,“the scene”).
You are on the threshold of meeting many new people
, having many new experiences,
and both learning and growing a great deal"
Jay Wiseman
A Beginner's Guide to BDSM Munches

I'm sure you are familiar with the word. Here's what Wiki says:
"A munch (short for burger munch) is a low-pressure social gathering for people involved in or interested in BDSM, usually at a restaurant. When available, munches often use a private room. In the UK, the venue is usually a pub, and people are free to arrive and leave within the specified hours. The primary purpose is socializing, though some munches also have announcements from local organizations. Munches often help those who are curious about the lifestyle meet others who may be able to help them become more comfortable and better informed. Munches can also be a place to get advice about or pass on anecdotes about BDSM experiences.

"Unlike a play party, most munches are casual affairs that exclude fetish attire or BDSM play, though a rare few include covert Master/slave interactions or other play. Some munches may have a specific focus. Others may be restricted to a specific group, such as women or submissives"

What a munch isn't:
"It's not a dating service. It's not a singles group. It's not a swinger's club. The purpose of a munch is not specifically to find you a date and/or a partner. If the only reason you come to a munch is for that reason, you are likely to be disappointed"
Thank you, Ms Constance. You'll often see people online recommending attending munches as an entry point into your local scene. I mention it myself in an earlier section of this post. It's certainly a good way to start. Some groups even hold newbie munches, designed to be as unthreatening as possible:
"The [TIES] Newbie Munch is a monthly no-play, streetwear gathering held on the second Saturday of every month at 1pm. The location varies from month to month, but it is always held in a public space such as a restaurant, mall, or park. Attendance varies but averages between 15 and 30 people.

"It is designed for people who are completely new to BDSM, familiar with BDSM but new to a real life community, or even those familiar with BDSM communities, but new to this area. We also typically have several veterans of the local scene to help answer questions and with whom one can make contacts. We even invite those who have a limited familiarity with the local community and wish to expand their social circle"
Isn't this exactly what you need? If you are still nervous ask organizers if they will meet you for a quick coffee before the event. This was something roo-roo experienced, prior to his first munch:
"My biggest obstacle was making progress against my shyness (can’t say I’ve overcome it though.) Just walking into the first munch was a nerve-wracking experience but well worth it. (on the way to my first munch, I was screaming the Oscar Meyer Weiner song in my car, to try to calm my nerves.) Before going to the munch though, I looked at the munch's website and e-mailed with some basic questions, like what people normally wore to these things. The person I ended up talking with was very friendly and understanding, and even asked to meet for coffee before I went to a munch, so that I’d at least know one person there"
Keep in mind that the word can mean something more formal in some countries, as Rowen from The Netherlands pointed out on BDSM-Dream, after having other members of the site suggest he was confusing "munch" with "play party":
"Far be it from me to tell you what the meaning of the word munch would be! Can only tell you about the "event" I visited [in The Netherlands]: that is open only to members of the society and people who have expressed their interest in BDSM. There are no "bystanders" present, all present people at least know that it is a BDSM orientated occasion. The name the organisers called it roughly translates as a meeting or gathering.

"In the bar some light play is common ... When things went further, lets say when the doms briefcase was opened, they went to the playroom that was on an other level. Hope that makes it a bit more clear"
So keep in mind things may be different in other countries where other languages are used. To avoid any confusion just check with the organizer, they'll let you know all you need to know:
  • where the event will be held
  • what to wear
  • how much it will cost
  • whether alcohol is permissible
  • how to recognise the group in the public space (for example, "You can spot Yeovil Munch People by looking out for the big wooden hairbrush" lol)
What's important to remember is not what makes a munch a munch or a party but how much Rowen enjoyed his first BDSM real time experience:
"[my first] local munch in my neighbourhood ... was an almost overwhelming experience ... Some scenes really got to me, more than dreamed (or feared) possible... Yes, I will be back, have no idea when, where, let alone with whom, but I want more"
And now Rowen has made that first step it will be much easier to go back again.

Jay Wiseman's A Beginner's Guide to BDSM Munches
House of De Sade History of Munches
Stu's Beginners Guide to Munches
Ms Constance What to Expect at a Munch
A tribe thread about attending a first munch


"Showing an interest in learning is also going to go
in your favour with any potential play partners"
Lauren The Single Guys Guide to BDSM Fetish Clubs

"why do we need to be educated in the first place?
To the Dominants I say knowledge is power,
to the subs I say wouldn’t you like to be able to take another
hundred of the cane and still come out smiling?"
Miss Demmie, The Edge

Attending skill share workshops, BDSM educational seminars etc is a great way to not only learn more about being kinky but to meet other kinksters in your region. Even if educational events are held outside of your local area they are well worth attending.

This was how I first moved into real time and I highly recommend it.
To be honest I didn't give a toss what the first seminars I went to were about, I was just so stunned to be sitting in a room full of people who didn't think the BDSM topic was appalling! "They all look so ordinary", I whispered to my husband solipsist. And then Fetish Diva Midori started speaking and my entire world changed.

There are also many different styles of presentation. You might be lucky enough to have a VIP kinkster like Midori come to town, or your local dungeon might organize workshops to promote local expertise. If you are in the UK, I highly recommend visiting Miss Demmie's The Edge for her courses for both couples and - in the light of this post - for newbies, for whom she runs "Bridging The Gap":

Bridging The Gap

BDSM Orientation Workshops for those new to the BDSM/Fetish Scene.

New to BDSM? New to Fetish? Not sure where to start? Looking for help and information? Need to know who is who and what is what? Fancy a bit of bondage and having trouble with your knots? Then this is an ideal way to start.
Bridging the Gap weekend workshops aim to help those new to the BDSM & Fetish world find their feet and to help them discover and explore the wonderful world of fetish and BDSM in a safe and sympathetic environment. These are discussion based workshops with printed materials, demonstrations and time for hands on exploration
More info on her courses, sample agenda and links to reviews here.

Something else I highly recommend is attending BDSM / Fetish conventions and conferences. It's worth the money to travel there for the workshops and of course the play parties. Most of these are held in the US (like Folsom Fringe in San Jose, DomCon in LA and Atlanta, Shibaricon, Master/Slave Conference in Washington DC, FetishCon in Tampa, Florida etc ), some have European counterparts (like BoundConEurope). Canada has quite a few these days, including several camping conventions like Tease 2009 in Canada:
"TEASE is an ANNUAL outdoor Canadian Alternative Lifestyle BDSM Camping Convention; open to any and all from around the world – located close to the shores of Lake Erie, in South Western Ontario Canada.

"It isn't a weekend - TEASE 2008 is 5 days / 4 nights of; Workshops, Pony Events, Hot Tubs, BDSM Games, Socials, Nightly Play Parties (with multiple Play Areas), HIGH TEA, Special Events, as well as Camping with friends and meeting new friends. TEASE is a PRIVATE, Pre-Paid Registered Members ONLY event - located in a Private Kink Friendly Adult Camp Ground"
Being into outdoor play I like the sound of this!

Over on my side of the planet, New Zealand is about to host the second Southern Exposure conference:
"where open minded people gather to explore Polyamory, Intimate Communications, BDSM, Alternative Lifestyles and more. With nationally and internationally reknowned presenters, hands on workshops, intriguing lectures and exciting social events, experience a weekend you are sure to not forget!"
Check out what your local BDSM organization, local commercial dungeon and local clubs are offering for newbies. Here in Oz Uber continues to offer challenging and thought provoking workshops:

sunday 19th october 2008: bdsm basics bonanza with optional stay & play

a new concept for us. some of our workshop attendees have suggested that it would be good to stay on after the workshop and have a smaller playparty for workshop participants. that way, they could practice what they had just learnt, and well as blow off some steam. so we thought "great idea, let's do it". so we thought we would combine this with a bit of a basics techniques session. there will be 4 different learning stations, covering caning, spanking, flogging and the violet wand. you will move through each of these areas, getting a basic know-how from different experienced players. (more full details on these, see here)
Programs like Uber's "optional play and stay" idea are terrific for newbies. You have a chance for real time play in an informal and intimate atmosphere. If you feel uncomfortable you can leave earlier rather than later.

EduKink in San Francisco provides a fantastic example of what can be done for newcomers. Here's an overview of their events:
  • Newcomer's Series - Six classes aimed at people new to BDSM/leather/Kink. Offered in rotation, usually on first Thursday. These are very safe - you only need to sit and listen.
  • Paideia - A set of more than 20 playshops on specialized topics, aimed at intermediates and advanced players. Some are accessible to beginners. Some topics are fairly common, like spanking, others are more psychological, exotic, or experimental. Some have prerequisites, building on others. Each evening centers around practical exercises. Each begins with a brown bag munch and ends with open practice time. Offered monthly, usually on second Thursday.
  • regular classes - About a dozen presentations in the more common demo format.
Munches and Parties:
  • Eat N Beat - a munch, followed by a (discount) group outing to Power Exchange, a dungeon / sex club. Held every third Thursday.
  • Dinner and Dungeon - an informal dinner, followed by a (discount) group outing to SFCitadel, a luxurious dungeon. Held on Fridays, every few months.
  • Primal - a Kink-friendly, Queer-friendly sex party. Held on a Friday every 2-3 months.
  • Theme parties - annual historic theme parties, including Renaissance Dungeon Night, Holiday Fantasia, and Dickens Kinky Christmas. certain private events
  • We present at 4-7 conferences annually.
  • Dog and Pony Show - Host an animal role play conference, with two parties, a day of classes, a dinner, and a day in the park. If you've ever enjoyed playing fetch, grooming a pony, or having a kitten in your lap, this is for you. This is probably the largest and longest running event of its type in the world.

How do you find out what's on? Easy - your local lists, sites and forums will include info. Fetish Scene has great pages of lists. Also check places like the BDSM Public Workshop Presenters & Organizers group on Fetlife.


Chains, Melbourne

Ready to go public? Wiki says:
"A fetish club is a nightclub, bar or other entertainment venue which caters to clientele interested in some of (but not necessarily all) fetish fashion, bondage, dominance/submission, and/or sadism and masochism (For short, BDSM). Some clubs have active "play" going on inside the club while others are a socialising place for like-minded people. Often fetish community events take place at clubs or sometimes other public venues (such as Fetish Factory's Alter Ego Fetish Party & Skin Two Rubber Ball, and so on)".
Hmm. Someone really needs to do some work on that entry. As London's famous club Torture Garden's co-founder once said:
"A fetish club is a very limiting description of TG because it is a fetish club on one level but a whole lot more on all the others. We are basically about the celebration of sexuality and fantasy in a safe environment. On a basic level TG is a nightclub like most others, however we like to give our customers something different from their clubbing experience. We have top DJs, eclectic music policy, fashion shows, performances, casino, dungeon/playroom, visuals and a crowd that is the most dressed up in the world. Our customers expect the unexpected"
Torture Garden is an amazing place, but I probably wouldn't suggest going there for your very first BDSM event. So what happens at a smaller, less famous club? I asked my friend who also writes for Kink-E Magazine, MJ'sgirl to tell me a little bit about Chains in Melbourne, which she helps to run:
"Chains is a BDSM club in Melbourne which has been running for over 2 years and is very popular. It has evolved into a place not only for the more experienced Lifestylers and casual players but also as one of the best places for a newbie to go. Chains averages between 20 and 30 new people every month, which is an amazing statistic.

What makes Chains so good you ask… there are several contributing factors:
  • The team who run Chains – led by Master Joe – are a friendly and knowledgeable group of people and its that friendliness and the great atmosphere which brings people back month after month.
  • There is always a member of the team available to answer any questions and to offer helpful advice, and one person in particular who acts as a “meet and greet”. She takes the new people and shows them around and then introduces them to others to talk to, making sure they are comfortable and feel safe.
  • Master Joe is on hand and tries to have a word with every single person in the room, taking special notice of new people and reassuring them when he can.
  • The music is kept to a fairly low level background noise which gives people the ability to talk without having to shout.
  • The play area is kept separate from the main socialising area, and is therefore totally non- threatening for anyone who may find it a little too daunting to watch a flogging or a spanking for the first time.
  • The play area is also monitored by an experienced Dominant, so therefore there is never anything dangerous or injurious taking place.
  • The cost is kept to a minimum so it is affordable for most people to come along on a semi regular or regular basis, for a regular the cost is $15 per person.
  • The other really good thing is the regular “Dinner Before Chains” which has become very popular as a way to share a good meal with us before the evening starts and a great ice-breaker for anyone new to the scene or just new to Chains…
"To sum up, then, Chains [provides] a good social evening, where anyone can indulge in his or own kink in a non judgemental, safe and non threatening environment"
If you are lucky enough to live near Melbourne I'd definitely go along. And it's not only me and MJ'sgirl saying its a good place for newbies. Reviewer Sabrina agrees that Chains is "a very good introduction to the scene for people who's perhaps played amongst themselves for a bit and now want to meet others" while MsCfromMelbourne on Fetlife writes:
"if you are new and looking for a partner, Chains is more social than "full on" BDSM and very welcoming of newcomers. If you want to meet like-minded souls in an even less fetishy, more laid back environment, try a munch (they come up every couple of months) or Roses Dragon House. If you have the gear and want to go play with the beautiful kinky people, head to Confessional at Abode (once a month) and Provocation (every month or so)"

The relevance of the info MJ'sgirl has provided for those of you elsewhere on the planet is that this is the sort of info you'll receive from the organizers of any similar well run BDSM club. Apart from giving you an idea of what will happen at the venue, that info is important for another reason. You'll have noticed I'm sure that MJ'sgirl mentions issues to do with playing ("The play area is kept separate" etc). This is important because for most of you reading this, attending a BDSM / fetish club will provide your first exposure to real time BDSM play. And it's equally important to be aware of how you personally respond to that experience. Because standing in the crowd at a fetish club event watching a submissive being caned or erotically humiliated is the moment when - if you are truly kinky - that real time itch of yours starts to get seriously itchy. If on the other hand the whole scene makes you feel uncomfortable, then you need to seriously think about why you are having that response.

What types of play occur at these clubs? Again this depends on the venue, the event, it's theme and the evil mindset of the people who attend. Which brings me to another important point: something else you should do before attending a club is check out it's rules. Any organization's rules will tell you a lot about what happens at that organization, and BDSM establishments are no exception. As someone new to the scene, checking out the rules not only tells you how to behave, it provides a valuable clue as to what to expect at a function. This is important because you need to work out what you'll be comfortable observing or interacting with, at a special venue.

As an example, here are Hellfire Brisbane's rules:

General House Rules

1. See dress code for acceptable attire.
2. No cameras or other recording devices without advanced permission from the promoter. House photographers will be identified and will not take pictures of anyone without their permission.
3. Do not touch anyone without permission. Also do not "pester" people.
4. No Sex , drugs on the premises. Smoking is only allowed outside.

Dungeon Rules

1. Please listen to and respect the Dungeon Monitors at all times. Their decisions are FINAL.
2. Do not interrupt BDSM scenes, including talking loudly. Also be aware of people's back swings.
3. Genitals must be covered at all times.
4. No sex of any kind .
5. No knife play, gun play, water sports, or scat.
6. Get permission for edge play from the DM before you start.
7. Please clean up your play area when you're finished. Wax play or other messes are only okay with a drop cloth. Be aware of where you put your drinks so that they don't get spilled.
8. Play within your means. DMs will stop anyone who appears to be drunk or playing in an unsafe manner.
9. The house safe word is "Safe word". If your bottom uses it, the scene is over - period. If you are using gags, please tell the DM your alternative "safe word". If you have questions or suggestions about these rules, feel free to email webmaster@hellfireclub.com.au
You can certainly have a lot of fun within those rules. However, you can also see that what you can do at these types of venues is restricted. If (for example) you are someone who enjoys BDSM and sex together, or if you want more extreme types of play, you are going to quickly find these types of restrictions a problem. Where can you go? Most commonly, private play parties. Master Tony and Angel set up Hardcore Heaven in Sydney for this very reason:
"Club HCH is held at a licensed premises and therefore play is restricted. At HCH private parties your play is limited just by your imagination and also “Safe, Sane & Consensual"... We found that to explore our kinks to the fullest, it was difficult to find a place where there are no limits, where there were no judgments, so we decided to invite our hardcore friends home to party hard..."
Even Sydney's Hellfire (run by Ultra and Master Tom) has found these restrictions tricky. Hellfire was launched in 1993, writes TimeOut:
"the night prides itself on the unadulterated nature of the entertainment it provides: there are no models, no staged performances, and no bullshit. Instead, members of Sydney's fetish community share the stage equally, participating in spontaneous expression - be that whipping, spanking, cutting, piercing, bondage, paddles or role-play"
But as Ultra writes in a recent newsletter:
"We too get frustrated at times at the limitations imposed by NSW licensing laws on what play can occur at The Hellfire Club, so we’ve decided to try out a new event in an unlicensed venue where we can all be let “off the leash” for the night in true play party style"
Remember what I said earlier about BDSM / fetish clubs providing your point of introduction to BDSM play? Well, Hellfire are proposing Hellfire XS will provide a transition from lighter play seen at clubs to more extreme parties, like HCH:
"The night will be designed primarily for couples who’ve been attending Hellfire and are now ready to stretch their wings (or other bits) further, but aren’t really into the hardcore private party scene yet.

"There will be plenty of playspaces and equipment, along with inspirational demonstrators and players to help you on your way to fun, safe and sexy expressions of your darker desires ... it will open your eyes, your mind, and who knows what else as well!"
So if you are in Oz and you feel this might provide the kind of introduction to the play party scene that would make you comfortable, then check out Hellfire's website and join their mailing list. Other local clubs include Abode in Melbourne, DV8 House in Sydney, Hellfire in Brisbane and Club Retribution on the Gold Coast. You can find a great list of London's fetish clubs here.

Lauren Single Girls Guide to BDSM Fetish Clubs
Lauren Single Guys Guide to BDSM Fetish Clubs
UK: Informed Consent's BDSM Club Events plus London Fetish Scene


Master Tony and solipsist, Hardcore Heaven play party

"i cant move to real time Miss 160 I really
cant, i
m so scared. I dont know even what a
party is let alone how to find one"

Play parties are very important events. I originally quoted Wiki definition when I wrote this, but it wasn't quite right, and now I prefer Portland Leather's:
"A play party/dungeon party is an event that gives kinky people the opportunity to engage in BDSM play at a public event. It is a chance to watch others interact, to meet and possibly play with new people, and show off your kink in an accepting environment. Dungeon furniture such as bondage crosses, spanking benches, padded tables, slings, and other furniture are provided. Everyone brings their own portable toys. Every play party has its own rules but some etiquette is standard"
Wiki includes an extra line or so about location ("play parties may take place in a dedicated dungeon (run by a professional dominant), a private home or a rented space) and restrictions ("Play parties generally have a list of activities that are prohibited. These rules may be enforced by dungeon monitors), and sexual contact ("the amount and kind of sexual contact allowed varies ... depending on local laws")...

Between the two definitions, I'm sure you get the general idea - which is basically that every play party (or more accurately, every party organizer and kinky community) is different.

I'm going to be posting a separate post on attending your first play party, and we'll look more then into what happens at a play party, how you find them, how you get your name on the invite list, how to behave, etc. For now your homework is to keep researching your own region, making contacts and friends, and see what types of parties are happening. Keep roo-roo's advice in mind:
"Don't go ... saying things like "where are all the parties at?" If people like you, they'll invite you in due time. They have to get to know you first. It's okay to ask about public parties though. It's generally considered rude to talk about private parties, unless everyone within earshot has been invited"
Especially, keep an eye out for parties geared for newbies. I've mentioned some of these earlier, particularly American organizations, but to repeat: look for
organizations like Cherry's "Getting 2 Know U" group in Sydney who organize parties and munches specifically for new kinksters. In the UK check out events like Unmasked ("a newbie night organised by MissP, "designed so you can ask as few or as many questions as you like and get to play a little with the dom/mes if you feel brave enough") or the "Newbie Night at Purple Passions" held in Peterborough:
"Are you new to BDSM, fetish or never been to a Dungeon Party? We are holding an event especially for those of you who are new to the lifestyle and want to find out more, or who have been playing for a while but have never been to a dungeon event and want to look and try, [or just look]. You can dress if you would like to in fetish clothes of your choice, try out all the equipment and ask questions about use and play. Couples, sub's, and Dommes / Doms will be available to give you advice, chat and demo sessions if required! So come and see for yourself"
Informed Consent's BDSM Club Events list also lists house parties. How to find things in your region? Yep, you got it, lol: google your region's name and the words BDSM / newbie / party / etc.



Several readers have written to me with specific problems. Here's where we address them. If they are not relevant to you, skip to the conclusion.


Okay. I hear you!

You have a couple of options here. The first is obviously to link in to the BDSM group in your nearest town or city. You may be too far away to attend everything they put on, but at least being on their mailing list you can schedule the odd trip to the city for functions you are interested in. You will also make real time friends this way, and the way networking works you may well end up with connections to people closer to home. Don't forget the experiences of others in your search:
"I am reminded of a woman I met last Saturday in Kansas City. The single mother of six children (I think that's what she told me) had traveled an hour to come to the Kansas City Leather University. Living in rural Kansas, even she could find a community. You can too (Jack Rinella)"
Believe me, I know people who have crossed continents for a friendly kinky face.

Secondly, how about starting your own group? Don't you DARE try and give me a list of "buts"! No excuses! Sensuous Sadie has lots of practical advice and great links here. I've added some of her reading list below. Here's what Nancy Ava Miller has to say about starting your own group:
"Find the conference room. Schedule the dates. Secure the speakers. Set up a voice message to announce group information. Place a few classified blurbs touting your events. And people will come, men in boots; women in garter belts and heels; (guys in garter belts and heels!); leatherdykes on motorcycles; gay boys with earrings, nose rings, and dick rings; housewives with collars and exposed nipples..."
LOL. In terms of obtaining BDSM real time experience, it will probably be worth your while to attend major fetish conventions as well as other BDSM workshops and educaitional programs. They might be 1000 miles away, but its still worth making the effort.

Above all: don't give up, okay? Head back into cyber space if all else fails, but do give these other things a try!

Laura Goodwin How to Start a Fetish Support Group
Craftman How to Start a BDSM Discussion Club
Mistress Ren How to Start a Munch
Nancy Ava Miller How to Start Your Own S&M Support Group!
Sensuous Sadie How to Screen Guests for a BDSM Organization


Violet Blue's Open Source Sex podcast on anonymity

Confidentiality and privacy are serious concern for many people who attend BDSM events. Bea Amor writes:
"Why are so many people afraid of being outed when they participate in BDSM? Why are so many desperate to keep it all a secret? I know I was and I still am to some extent. The reasons are many but we must first look at how society in general view BDSM. People outside of the lifestyle see those involved in it as being psychologically damaged and use the fact that up until about a decade or two ago sexual deviance was cited as abnormal and something that needed to be treated...

"BDSM is maybe as difficult to explain as homosexuality. Homosexuals have led the way in emancipation and proudly stand for who they are in many respects. People in the BDSM lifestyle aren't at that level yet where they would fight for their rights publicly and to the same extent as homosexuals do ... We live a double life although, according to me the lie is the vanilla life we pretend to embrace"
Yes, things go wrong when people come out, or don't take care online. I could quote you several horror stories - perhaps simply referring you to read about Oliver Jovanovic, Jack McGeorge , Max Mosley and the Jason Fortuny-Craigslist Affair, is enough. Violet Blue and BDSM researcher Peter Tupper have both documented and commented on the latter. Tupper also noted that:
"As the Jack McGeorge case indicates, there are prejudices against kinky people, and if you don't deliberately conceal your identity, you can't ever be certain that your kink life won't intersect with your vanilla life"
At the conclusion of the Jason Fortuny-Craigslist Affair, Violet Blue observed (quoted on Tupper's beautyindarkness blog):
"we can never, ever expect any media to discuss something like this in a mature, nonjudgemental or accurate context in our lifetimes"
Tupper responds:

"Blue's assessment may be a bit excessive, but I substantially agree. It's hard to explain kink in general to people, and to explain edgeplay, such as rape/kidnapping fantasies, is even harder. People still make this muddled leap from "a woman gets off on abuse fantasies" to "she must really want to be raped."

"Will that last for our lifetimes? Maybe. I think BDSM memes are slowly seeping out into the mainstream, and a growing number of people can grasp the idea of fantasy and consensual extreme play"
Let's hope so. Sensuous Sadie agrees:
"In his book Ties that Bind, author Guy Baldwin says that, "Secret lives make for secret suffering, and the time for secrets about who we are and what we enjoy is slowly ending." Today we live in a culture where there is increasing freedom to be who we are without fear. Generally speaking I believe that coming out is a good thing, in part because it makes a statement that we are not ashamed of our orientation. Keeping secrets can also create an atmosphere of fear that can poison our joy in BDSM.
But she offers a cautionary note:
"Coming out can most certainly put you in a vulnerable position financially and legally, but then you may be vulnerable in other ways by staying in the closet, so you will need to balance the risks carefully. [Myfriend] Stacey adds that, "The thing to remember that if you come out about yourself to everyone (whether your D/s self is about your sexuality, your manner of relating to a single person, or your way of relating to the world), you may then be identified with that only and lose some opportunities to explore the other facets of yourself. You'll be 'the submissive nurse' rather than 'the nurse who can work a double shift and still hold the hand of someone who is dying.' Me? I just don't want that label, or any label, frankly."
Violet Blue has also made an interesting podcast on the issue of kinky anonymity:
"Can anyone really be sexually anonymous online? Being outed, thinking you’re “anonymous”, trolls and stalkers taking advantage of online communities, porn laws resulting in performers being stalked, Google’s history logs tracking all of us, and paying for adult goods and services online safely: Internet sexual privacy affects everyone – and our rights.

"This panel brings together a spectrum of views on sexual privacy and identity, including controversial sex bloggers, a cyberlaw expert and a hacker who works for a social networking site. We’ll discuss and demonstrate how easy it is to lose control of your sexual identity online – and how to get it back, or keep it intact in the first place. You don’t have to be a sex blogger, answer the wrong Craigslist ad, or order a vibrator online to have your sexual identity messed with – sometimes all you need to be is female, LGBT, or just make a simple mistake when you hit “send”. The consequences can be devastating. We will explore what obstacles face maintaining personal privacy, including bad or unsympathetic online community management, system and social exploits (like Craigslist baiting and outing), stalkers and trolls, the legal aspects of sexual privacy online and their application for individuals, and what you can do to keep your sexual privacy, private"
Obviously listening to this is a good start, in terms of addressing the practicalities of privacy that concern you. But Violet Blue is talking about cyber issues. For real world problems a good person to read on this is Sensuous Sadie, here. I'll also talk about privacy issues in the next post, re attending play parties (taking a scene name / photography rules at parties, etc) but keep in mind for now that what you choose to reveal about yourself is largely a matter of personal judgement. Most people err on the side of caution until they get to know you. When you meet someone, make sure you are respectful of their personal choices. One example: avoid personal questions like "where do you live" at a first meeting. And be careful about approaching someone you have met at a BDSM event in a vanilla setting, especially if they are with family.

"I think it might be safe for me to come out
should I risk it?"

Only you know your personal circumstances and "buts". Might coming out be possible for you? As Barry Slemmings argues:
"it makes life so much simpler; you do not have to do that quick mental 'double-take' every time someone rings you up and you have to remember if it is okay to discuss the dark half of your personal life with that person"

Barry notes another matter, that may be important to you if privacy is an issue "coming out removes blackmail potential". Barry's article on coming out contains the story of his own experience, its worth a read. Meanwhile why not test the water with your close friends. See how they feel about alternative lifestyles (wonderful euphanism, that!). Sensuous Sadie suggests telling them a sexually oriented joke:"If they are offended, that’s a clear indication that they aren’t comfortable with sexual issues".

Here's something I've actually done myself (and suggested kinksters do to see if their vanilla wife has any kinky potential): invite your friends around for a DVD and pizza. Make sure the friends come with you to pick up the pizza and the film. You select "Secretary", mentioning to them that you've not seen it but heard it's good. If they enjoy it you have the perfect occasion to mention that you do stuff like that. If they totally freak out, you can distance yourself from the film because of course you only selected it on some other friends' advice!

A final story from Barry to make you smile:

"When a female friend 'came out' to her family as a submissive, the only reaction from her family was: "Well, that's very nice dear, but wouldn't it be better if you were a dominatrix...?""
OzAbis Coming out (an Australian perspective)
BESS Newcomer FAQS
Barry Slemmings Coming Out
Bea Amor Why do dominants and submissives keep their BDSM lifestyle a secret?
Why do you hide your identity online?
Julian Joyce Britain's Secretive S & M Scene
ptupper BDSM privacy and hate crimes on beautyindarkness.blog.ca
ptupper BDSM privacy and hate crimes addendum
ptupper L'Affaire Fortuny
ptupper Understanding Extreme Fantasy
Sensuous Sadie Protecting your Identity in the BDSM Scene
Violet Blue The Seattle Craigslist Sex Scandal
Violet Blue
Open Source Sex: Episode 64
Lady Evyl Sex Blogs and Personal Privacy


In cyber kink we are all great looking. In real time we are simply human. Sometimes people making the transition from cyber to real time forget this fact.

When I listen to cyber kinksters complain that their expectations at munches and other events are not met I think a lot of the problem is that some people are fixated on finding a partner, be it a play partner or a life partner. And they are disappointed when the group they meet doesn't magically contain the person of their dreams. As Lauren observes in her guide to Single Girls Guide to BDSM Fetish Clubs:
"If you’re expecting to meet Prince Charming and be the Belle of the Ball at your first event you’re probably going to be disappointed. Think about what you’re expecting from your night out. If you are intending to make some new friends and have a pleasant evening you probably won't be disappointed as long as you’re going to make an effort to do so :)"
roo-roo has some
wise words on this subject:
"I realized that finding someone shouldn’t be my only reason for getting into the scene. I’ve made lots of friends there, and continue to have lots of great times with them………not to mention casual play with friends. If I’d ignored (or been cold to) everyone who didn’t seem “useful” to me, I wouldn't have many friends"
Another problem for newbies is feeling they receive little attention at events. Jay Wiseman addresses this concern in his A Beginner's Guide to BDSM Munches:
"Sadly, this often happens to single men who are not yet well known. Fortunately, if such men continue to attend munches and other events, they should make friends before too long. There is always room in the BDSM community for another ethical, friendly single man."
As for clubs and play parties, here's some advice from Lauren:
"If you want to have a good time then you need to take responsibility for your night. A club is a forum in which you can socialise play and in some cases dance. The organisers create the place and help generate the atmosphere but you also need to take some responsibility for yourself...

"There are more men than women in the scene so yes, as a man, you are probably going to have to work harder to find a partner ... The best advice I can give comes from two single men of my acquaintance who regularly attend clubs in the north of England. They’re pleasant, friendly, considerate, not at all pushy and basically they’ve become very good friends of mine. Their perspective on fetish clubs is that they come to have a good time and they always do! They come to enjoy the atmosphere, watch the play and make some new friends. They are both also looking for partners but their attitude is that if they find one either for a scene or for more then it’s a bonus ‘cause they’re going to keep on coming to clubs and enjoying themselves anyway! It’s a great attitude and there would be a lot less problems with ‘solitary’ males if more of them adopted it! Realistic Expectations and being pleasant and sociable = a good night for you, for everyone else and far less moans about single men!"
And Jay again, re munches:
"If you attended a munch ... and didn't have such a good time, and are not sure about returning, please don't feel too discouraged. Consider coming back at least another time or two before writing off a particular munch forever. Given their highly variable nature, you can have a very good experience at a munch that you previously didn't have all that good an experience at. However, if you've attended three times and not enjoyed yourself or connected with the people to any significant degree, it may be time to seek another munch or other activity"
So remember: keep your expectations realistic. You began your journey into real time wanting to find other "normal" kinksters. That's exactly who you are meeting. Don't turn down friendship. And just to prove it's not just single males who have a hard time, here's a final word from the amazing MsMcComb:
"One can not discount simple jealousy in receiving a cold shoulder at any function. Years ago while attending a "play party" a couple of young cuties both wanted to come home and play with me and some other guests even went to far as make up a couple of false stories about me in order to dissuade the lovelies from leaving. Obviously they saw my being there as a threat to their having a chance to "get some", lol.

"P.S. The three of us had a lovely evening,,, which ended very close to the early morning"


This is a problem for some people, especially younger kinksters who's generation was practically born in cyber and is taking a longer time to move to real time. Don't panic if it's a problem you are facing. Your skills at developing social networks will help with this. And I know it's boring but time is important here. So is your geographical location. You might be lucky to find a group like UngBDSM ("a Norwegian network with happy-pappy kinksters between the age 16 and 27") in your country (UngBDSM also have a sister group on Fetlife). Many major cities in the US and Europe have well established BDSM groups like CYPRUS:
"CYPRUS, Cleveland Young People Realizing and Understanding Sexuality, is a group dedicated to 18-35 year-olds interested in Risk Aware Consensual Kink (S&M), pansexuality, polyamory, and other forms of alternative sexuality. Built on respect, honesty, communication, and education, CYPRUS is a resource for networking, brainstorming, and supporting kinky young people in Northeast Ohio"
(Join their Yahoo group here). Or Early Bloomers:

"a Louisville-based online and real-time meeting and discussion group for people interested in BDSM, kink, and fetish between ages 18-35 for the purpose of education, socialization and exploration of issues pertinent specifically to the 18-35 year-old demographic".

Or check out local branches of The Next Generation:
"The Next Generation (a.k.a. "the TNG") is a safe, comfortable way for BDSMers aged 19-35 to meet other like-minded people, expand their knowledge of BDSM, and just hang out and have fun. All experience levels are welcome. The group goes to area BDSM events, has periodic classes on topics of special interest, and participates in various outreach activities"
In a Fetish Lore thread about joining local groups, roo-roo posted that he'd found TNG definitely worth while:
"[the people in] my local scene are generally ... warm and welcoming......especially one group in particular (TNG, the next generation) which is designed for those new to the city, new to bdsm, or new to the public bdsm community. People will introduce themselves and carry on conversations even with people who don't "do anything" for them. I like that"
As I mentioned before, some universities have excellent, highly active groups. If you can possibly get yourself to a university with one of these DO IT! Some organizations have younger groups, like TIES' (Tremendously Intense Erotic Situations in Twin Cities, MN) youth group MIN-KY (Minnesota Kinky Youth):
"a pansexual kinky group located in the Twin Cities, Minnesota serving local people between the ages of 18-35. We organize educational classes and recreational gatherings with the goal of helping kinky youth make informed lifestyle decisions"
Keep in mind that access to younger groups is sometimes only provided after you have spent time with the main local group. As pornucopia points out:
"You should also check with the local BDSM groups to see if they have sub-groups for people in your age range. My local group has a monthly social for the under-35 crowd, and that group has occasional play parties... but you don't get invited to the parties unless you've been attending the socials"
Having said all this: a word from the wise:

" Both of us are very interested in playing semipublically ..
We've visited public events held by two of LA's BDSM
organizations, but most attendees were significantly older, and
neither of us felt any sexual energy with the people there ... [or feel]
enthusiastic playing in front of people for whom we feel no
sexual attraction, which is the case with the older crowd "
Help us...

Beware the unconscious arrogance of the statement above by two newbies to the scene seeking help on moving into real time play. No matter your levels of confidence or your youthful ability to look good on a piece of dungeon furniture, it's not enough to swan around a new scene advertising your availability. And not everyone thinks that you are sexually their flavor of the month, either - even if you are at a BDSM venue that allows it. As one poster responded:
"One warning, here. I've never been to LA, but I can tell you that if you let it be known in Alabama that you're seeking play parties where the participants are more physically attractive, most people would take offense"
Quite rightly. Same with publicly complaining about the age group you are mixing with. It's discourteous and wins no friends. As roo-roo said earlier: "If I’d ignored (or been cold to) everyone who didn’t seem “useful” to me, I wouldn't have many friends". Without friends you will never make the contacts required, to be referred to other / younger groups or be invited to the parties that matter. And don't make the mistake of thinking a local scene is boring or non existant when you've only been attempting to access it for five minutes - you simply show ignorance of what's going on around you. Put in the time and effort to make friends and you'll receive invitations, it's that simple.


"Is it possible to be a submissive when I'm so unhealthy
I'm forced to take more than I can give?"

The answer to the question above is yes, it is possible to be a sub when you are unwell or disabled. Or a dominant. Or anything you want. As Mistress Steel observes:
"There are Dominant's who are blind, deaf, paralyzed or otherwise physically impaired. And, there are innumerable submissives with varying degree's of disability or other physical problems that to some extent leave them handicapped. It is quite possible to scene from both sides in spite of such impairments"
If you are a new Dominant or submissive with significant physical limitations, writes Mistress Steel:
"these limitations should not be allowed to prevent you from seeking out a relationship of the type and nature which will give you fulfillment. The percentages of physically challenged people within the BDSM community are the same as those within all of society

"These issues [you face] are not insurmountable. They are merely challenges. The important thing is to approach the issue creatively. Something you may consider to be detrimental may be viewed entirely differently by someone else."
Between thee and me, if you have a disability you have probably been having a tremendous kinky time online. So many friends who are physically disabled or recovering their health are having such a good time that I rarely see them in real life. But if you are reading this post then your real time itch finally needs scratching...

Raven Shadowborne (who himself is disabled) has written a very interesting article on BDSM For Those With Disabilities:
"Disabilities can affect everyone no matter the age, race, creed, sex, or religion. They vary from only a slight impact upon one's life, to a lifestyle altering state. There are many different kinds of disabilities, from dyslexia to paralyzation, to learning disabilities and each one affects a person and their relationships differently. For me, I have a physical disability with my lower back. I present the following information to show that even those with disabilities can enjoy the lifestyle with a little creativity, communication and some effort...."
So have a read of the rest of it. He concludes:
"As you can see, many things can be altered to allow one with disabilities to still enjoy most of the acitivities they did before they were disabled. Or even, to try out new ones they've always wanted to. Communcation, imagination, creativity and effort will bring great results. Remember, play safe and have fun!"
You know what your particular health circumstances are. Talk to others in the community about how things can be altered to allow you to obtain the experiences you desire. Contact the organizer of your local munches and see what they suggest - venues for munches can easily be changed if they are not disabled friendly. If you want to attend educational workshops let the organizer know your circumstances in advance so they can prepare if you have any special needs (like extra space, or room to lie down, or a partner to help with workshop "homework" if you are on your own - we had someone with cerebal palsy at the last bondage workshop I helped with at Uber who had great fun trying out different types of restraints with me).

You already know to do all this stuff, you don't need me reminding you. There are some excellent blogs by kinksters with disabilities (see Further Reading at the end of this section). Read them. Especially SexAbility. Check out their lists for other sites that might interest and assist you. Make sure you check larger kinky online communities for groups relating to disability (if they don't have any, create your own, lots of others will join). Fetlife has a new Kink and Disability group here, its very active already. Read the intro thread for new members for some excellent posts about how kinksters with disabilities adapt. You should already a member of kinked.org, the site set up by ShadeDiva because:
"I have heard for years about how many disabled Yahoo groups were deleted or abandoned and there jyst seems to be a need for there to be a home on the web for people that may have disablities and that practice BDSM ... If nothing else, perhaps someone struggling with something new can learn from someone that has already been at that point themselves"
If you are not a member, then join now, its free. Chat to other members there about real time practicalities. As one poster noted a while back in response to several positive posts from real life kinky couples:
"Its great how you both just get on with things, its a real and positive image and one which proves that this lifestyle isnt the barrier for people with disabilities it seems when you keep bumping into people on other communities who run a mile at the very mention of a disability"
This BDSM For Beginners series is all about quoting kinksters out there who have dealt with the issues we discuss, so let's finish this section with two quotes from the non disabled partners of kinksters with health problems. My friend billc393 writes:
"Illness and disabilities are situations the average person doesn't understand, and has difficulty relating to. I know that when my wife/Mistress first began having health problems I ran the full gamut of emotions, from sincere concern for her, to outright anger over the change in our ability to enjoy each other sexually.

"I'm finding however, that our relationship has grown from this, I love her more now than ever, I think we're closer now than ever before as well... not to mention I have total admiration for her continued refusal to 'accept' any limitations until she's tested them several times!!
As to Zephr's anguished question ("is it possible to be a submissive when I'm so unhealthy I'm forced to take more than I can give?), here's billc393 reply:
"There's no reason your disability should prevent you from being submissive.
First, and foremost, submissiveness is a state of mind, it's the mental yeilding of control to another. Everything else is the result of that mental state. You (and he) need to find tasks, activities etc, that are within your abilities to carry out. Test you, yes, set you up for failure, no.

"All subs (and Dom/mes) have limits, some mental, some activity based, some as in your case due to physical limitations... it's a matter of knowing what those are, and finding ways to work with, or within them. My Domme/wife is in severe pain nearly all the time. We are rarely able to have any sort of interactive sexual play... one of my acts of submission is to deny myself orgasm, until those times she's able to interact in the process. This doesn't make her less of a Domme, or my submission any less 'real', or important, to us both... it's just a fact of life at the moment"
Wise words indeed. And let's give the final word to Bandit:
"Adaptation is a wonderful thing... Master is diabetic, is on dialysis and has arthritis. Certain positions are out for us. We have to watch His sugar levels (test before any play and keep jelly beans nearby for a quick boost if needed). Tiredness and pain are the biggest bugbears we face, but affection is always shown and even His grabbing my hair at the back of my head can send me into a subbie shiver..."
I hope those of you who wrote asking me to include this section find similar happy shivers!

Mistress Steel Handicapped in BDSM
Mistress Steel Physically Challenged
Mistress Tammy Diabetes and its effect upon the BDSM lifestyle
Raven Shadowborne BDSM For Those With Disabilities
Ryn BDSM, Sexuality and Disability

Fetlife Kink and Disability group

BENT Voices
CyDy Blog
The Gimp Parade

Info on Leathercrips - also here

(thanks to SexAbility for some of this info,
please check this site for detailed useful sites)


So. What have we learned today? That every BDSM community is different and that we need to put some serious effort and time into finding our niche in it. But you have some good tools at your disposal now to make that happen.

In the next post in this series we'll look at the extraordinary adventure of attending your first play party. For now, go back and do that online reading homework or buy a few books. And take this final point by Raven Shadowborne with you:
As time goes on, and you learn more, you will find that you grow in ways you may not see at first. Your ideas of what is dominant or submissive will change as you learn more about yourself and the lifestyle in general. Your expectations for a relationship, and your likes or dislikes as far as physical interactions, will change as well.

"Finding your place in BDSM, is a journey that never ends. It is a journey of self discovery and broadening horizons. This journey requires an open mind, and self honesty. It is one that will have many ups and downs but is well worth the effort put forth"
Play party info / resources will be listed on the next post in this series

Bea Amor Why do dominants and submissives keep their BDSM lifestyle a secret?
BESS Newcomer facts
BDSM articles list

BDSM Cafe Resources
BDSM Resources: Beginners Kit
BDSMRC Articles on the Basics

Violet Blue The Seattle Craigslist Sex Scandal
Carrie Ann View From The Floor (blog)
Cherry Getting 2 Know U group, Sydney

Craftman How to Start a BDSM Discussion Club
Laura Goodwin How to Start a Fetish Support Group
Hardcore Heaven Sydney
Bob Harris A Fragile Balance
Hellfire Sydney
House of De Sade History of Munches
How Does a Novice Male Submissive Get Started?
JKPS Howe "History if Histrionics
"If BDSM is for Me why do I Feel So Guilty
Julian Joyce Britain's Secretive S & M Scene
Lauren Single Girls Guide to BDSM Fetish Clubs
Lauren Single Guys Guide to BDSM Fetish Clubs

Jack Medlin SSC vs RACK
Hans Meyer Ten Great Questions and Answers about BDSM ABIS
Fetish Diva Midori Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink Educational, Sensual, And Entertaining Essays
Misc Tips for Newbies
Nancy Ava Miller How to Start Your Own S&M Support Group!
Miss Demmie The Edge Experience
Mistress Michelle What is Fetishism?
Mistress Ren How to Start a Munch
Mistress Steel Handicapped in BDSM
Mistress Steel Physically Challenged
Mistress Tammy Diabetes and its effect upon the BDSM lifestyle

MJ'sgirl The Importance of BDSM Clubs (contact author) and Chains, Melbourne
Ms Constance What to Expect at a Munch
Ms Constance What to Expect at a Bash

OzAbis Coming out (an Australian perspective)
Portland Leather's "New to the scene" page.
Raven Shadowborne BDSM For Those With Disabilities
Raven Shadowborne Finding Your Place in BDSM
Raven Shadowborne Types of Relationships in BDSM
Raven Shadowborne Learning the Lifestyle

Jack Rinella Our Need for a Community
roo-roo New to the Scene
Ryn BDSM, Sexuality and Disability
Sensuous Sadie Getting Started in BDSM
Sensuous Sadie How to Screen Guests for a BDSM Organization
Sensuous Sadie Protecting your Identity in the BDSM Scene
Barry Slemmings Coming Out
Stu's Beginners Guide to Munches
ptupper BDSM privacy and hate crimes on beautyindarkness.blog.ca
ptupper BDSM privacy and hate crimes addendum
ptupper L'Affaire Fortuny
ptupper Understanding Extreme Fantasy

Uber Sydney
Jay Wiseman's A Beginner's Guide to BDSM Munches
Jay Wiseman An Essay about "The Old Days"
Wizdomme D/s Newbie Pack


Endless thanks to all the BDSM organizations,
clubs, groups + sites as well as kinksters and their
partners, quoted in this series.
For Beginners series would be nothing without you ...
you all inspire everyone who reads this blog!
Miss Demmie, Midori, Sensuous Sadie,Violet Blue,
Bob Harris, Raven Shadowborne, Barry Slemming, Peter Tupper,

Carrie Ann, MJ'sgirl and Chains, Melbourne
billc393 and members of kinked.com
roo-roo and friends at fetishlore.com
luna (BDSM is Love), Lauren, Rowen


banners: Chains / Edukink /
4WD BDSM Getaway
photos: coffee, cake and kink, London Hardcore Heaven Violet Blue - podcast
top photo:
unknown provencance

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