Parties are a ‘rite of passage’ for some in the BDSM community. How do you find one? What can you expect? And most importantly (for me) what on earth can you wear?
Where do you find a party? The most popular place now is the event listings on FetLife. You can browse through ‘events near you’ (although I find that it is not too accurate for my area). It is easier on FetLife to check under your friends’ names and see what events they will be attending. In Ontario, check the listings on www.ehbc.ca. It is a terrific resource for parties and munches, with links to home web pages. For public parties, check ads in fetish clothing stores, alternative newspapers, and fetish websites.
There are many types of parties. Some parties are openly advertised and open to the public. You do not have to register in advance, do not need to be ‘vetted’ by other party goers, and you pay at the door. To be honest, I am not comfortable with at these types of parties. The ones I have attended have been held in places with questionable hygiene. I’m sure that is not always the case, just my experience so far. At each of these parties, I have felt like a piece of meat, being stared at by some fairly odd and threatening looking people. I tend to wear a lot more clothes at these parties, and do not end up playing. The advantage of these parties is that you do not have to know anyone to attend. Their dress code usually says ‘fetwear’, so you can get practice dressing in black, black, and more black. You can learn about different types of play, and not worry about staring at a scene. If you do play, make sure you bring disinfecting equipment for the play stations for before and after you play. Don’t trust your health and safety to strangers.
Some of the open-to-public parties are known as ‘s&m’ parties for ‘stand and model’. You will notice as you enter that everyone looks very pretty and dressed all in black, kind of like an 80’s new wave convention. Play scenes are mostly staged or very light. There is an excellent party of this type in Toronto. You may also meet people who can introduce you to parties more of interest to people who like to play.
Many parties run by people or organizations in the bdsm community are by registration only. You must know someone in the community, and mention their names to the hosts in order to register. This is one reason to attend local munches. Once you are known to the hosts, they are often happy to be named as your reference. Payment is most often required in advance, and can be sometimes be made by email transfer, Paypal, or through representatives at munches. Each party will list the payment method on their home webpage.
While you are visiting that page, check out the rules of the party. You can learn a lot about the type of party by their rules. Check out the dress code. Often ‘fetwear mandatory’ will be listed. However, if the organizers know you are a serious player at a party, they will not demand it. My Master rarely dresses up for a party, preferring comfort if he has to beat me for half an hour or more. If you don’t know what to wear, it is always safe to stick with black. Lingerie on women is always welcome, as are corsets, short skirts, thigh highs, and other traditional fetish wear. Guys often stick to black pants, with a trend towards leather. I usually spend one to three hours a week before a party trying to decide what to wear. It depends on my mood – lingerie, costume, sexy clothes, boots, heels – anything in my wardrobe is up for grabs. I often write to a slave friend and tell her what I've narrowed it down to. She laughs, as I am usually naked within 15 minutes of entering the party site.
That’s another rule to check. Is nudity allowed? Ontario has a law that one cannot be nude where alcohol is served if the venue is ‘public’. Some parties get around this by declaring themselves a ‘club’. Other venues demand that genitals be covered (male and female), which can usually be accomplished with a thong. Many newcomers have issues about getting even partially naked in front of a crowd. At open-to-public parties, I agree, but once a person attends a few registration parties, they will find that there is open acceptance of all body types, shapes and sizes in the bdsm community.
The registration parties in my area are very popular and well run. The ones that I go to have anywhere from 80 to 150 people depending on the venue. Most of these parties have 8-10 play stations (equipment set up for you to do a scene). I have also attended some who have separate rooms for more intense scenes, such as interrogation. Quite often the hosts will warn other party goers if more intense scenes, such as branding, are about to take place. (Some people don’t like the smell of burning flesh. Go figure.)
Parties are ‘policed’ by DM’s. These are ‘Dungeon Masters’ or 'Dungeon Monitors' who are trained in what to watch out for during a scene. They are there to keep you safe, to keep the watching audience out of your play space, and sometimes will provide water or blankets after a scene. Their word is law, and they are personal representatives of the host. If your Dom plans to play with an unusual or more lethal tool (knives, needles, gags), He will likely have to inform the DM.
Many parties have sign up boards for the play stations. Each station usually has a number. You list your name under that number, and you are expected to keep an eye on the list. When it is your time, please be prompt to come up and play. There will probably be more people waiting for their turn to come on that piece.
Don’t forget to thank the host(s) before leaving the party, and it is also nice to send an email (once you recover) thanking the hosts. Let them know what you particularly liked about the party. Even though there is usually a fee for registration, you are still attending someone’s party, not a public event. Be respectful and you will be welcome at future parties.
There are also parties held in private homes. These are by invitation only. Often they are more high protocol, or have a planned theme. They can range from basic play to anything goes, so be sure to find out what is expected when you are invited!
Do you have any party advice? Have you had a great party experience? Please share in the comments below!