A Millennial’s Guide To The BDSM Scene

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Many, many years ago, I was a young and enthusiastic 18-year-old about to embark on her first visit to the BDSM scene. I was both nervous and excited, what was it like, and what would I see?

I want to say here that it’s very YMMV. Some clubs are fairly friendly and not a lot goes on, some seem more like an all-out free-for-all, and for others they are something in between. The club I attended was a lot more of the former and nothing at all of the latter.

When I arrived, the first thing that I saw wasn’t an abundance of latexwear, beating and sex. Instead, all I saw was a couple of people in eveningwear, taking care of reception duties. It didn’t feel like I’d turned up to a BDSM club, it felt more like I’d turned up to some sort of kinky hotel!

There was a 50p charge to hang your coat up and tickets were £10 each. There was also a £3 ticket if you just wanted to visit the market, but then you’d have to leave by 7pm, before the evening party. The market was almost like any other market, with lots of vendors and tables selling all kinds of delights, except, rather than selling cakes and pastries, they were selling erotic media and bamboo canes instead.

I can never forget some of the things I saw at that market. They weren’t scary, they were, if anything, beautifully erotic. There were sterling silver earrings shaped like handcuffs and tiny tassle earrings made to resemble floggers. There were also bracelets and necklaces with a screw closure instead of clasps, I was told that these were “day collars”.

The transition from day to night was almost seamless. The host walked around and announced that the market was closing, and that anyone with without a party ticket would need to buy one or they would need to leave. I had a party ticket clutched in my hand, so I continued to sip my drink.

As the party warmed up, an older man approached me. He had his grey hair pulled back in a ponytail and he started to chat to me. I found him somewhat arrogant and I think he preyed on me, knowing that I was new to the community. We talked a bit about the roles and he asked what I identified as. Not knowing what to say, I told him that I was a Switch.

“Which do you think I am?” he asked me.

Observing his leather chaps, I offered up “sub?”. He scoffed, picked up his drink and walked off. Maybe not, then?

As the evening progressed, the attire that people wore became a little more oriented to their fetish. People I’d seen during the day were now wearing corsets, collars and adult diapers. Men wore heels, wigs and make-up and others wore masquerade masks. I was told that it was okay to notice, but you mustn’t stare or judge. Remember, everyone has a kink!

Once it was open, I dared to go and explore the dungeon. There were two dungeons, and really, neither was that different from the last. The DMs, or the Dungeon Masters, were very friendly and explained fully what was going on. One Dominant even offered me my first spanking, but feeling flustered and somewhat overwhelmed, I bottled it. There was a lot of furniture in the room that I didn’t understand and wasn’t sure how it was used, but as I observed in the public dungeon, I began to learn.

Some of the things you see in dungeons may shock or horrify you. I have seen people pierced with needles, I have seen people flogged until they bleed and I have seen men have easel clips pulled quickly from their nutsack. You need to remember that all of these scenes, no matter how horrific they may seem, they are all consensual. They are what both parties want and agree to do.

A lot of clubs also have quite a few, very strict rules and it’s definitely worth checking out the rules and dress code before you even attend so that you know what to expect. Some clubs allow sex and swinging, some only allow touching and some (like the one I attended) allow no sexual contact at all , and breaking them can see you kicked out and barred from future events. Also, if you don’t follow the dress code and turn up wearing sneakers or jeans, then you will probably be turned away before you even get in.

There are some steadfast rules, for example, it’s fine to talk to other people, but you mustn’t touch them without their permission. If you’re told that you need to speak some someone’s Dominant before they will speak to you, respect it, as that is part of them and part of their relationship.

There are also some seeminglystrange rules as well, for example, that only a Dungeon Master can stop a BDSM scene if they feel it is unsafe. It is also rude to interrupt or participate in anyone else’s scene without their permission as doing so could ruin the headspace for them. BDSM clubs are not a kinky free-for-all, there is quite an etiquette expected between attendees.

Some people will push boundaries. There are some people who regard Switches as submissives who simply don’t know their place and they will insist that anyone who is not experienced or a Dominant address them as Mistress or Sir. You don’t have to call anyone Mistress or Sir if you don’t want to, and if they are being this arrogant then it is quite fine to simply walk away from t hem. You should use someone’s chosen name to refer to them or to address them but you don’t have to submit to their demands (unless you want to, of course!). Unfortunately, although there are many great people, not everyone in the community is such a savoury character and you do need to develop a bit of a tough skin.

Over the years, I have stopped attending the club that I used to frequent. I can assure you that it has nothing to do with the hosts or the people and everything to do with costs, choice and preference. A lot of our at-home sessions, admittedly, end in sex, and the hour-long commute on a Sunday after the club can really put a dampener on things. The music we prefer is choral rather than techno and we prefer a more sensual session than lots of flogging and caning. As the years have gone by we found that fitting in at these events required you to attend all of the others and so we chose no longer to attend. Although these clubs are a wonderful chance to socialise and network and may even be a great opening for your kinky well-being, they aren’t the be-all and end-all of your perverted self existing. If you go and enjoy yourself, great, but you can also have plenty of fun at home.

What was your first BDSM gathering like? Why not let me know in the comments?

Hugs & kinky cuddles,

Helen xx

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