Lots of people are curious about their local scene. Others spend their time searching online, running into countless idealistic role-players, yearning to meet people who actually do this in real life. So I’ve put together a little how-to/FAQ for people who want to get involved in their local bdsm community.
Finding the scene-
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 “munch” along with the name of the city. Or “leather” with the city name. This should hopefully return something, depending on where in the world you are; I wouldn’t count on finding anything if you live in Tehran or Saudi Arabia. You could even ask in message boards/forums if anyone knows anything about a scene in your city. Keep in mind that small towns generally don’t have any bdsm events; you’ll probably have to travel to a larger city.
What to expect once you get there-
A munch is simply a bunch of bdsmers getting together for dinner. Most munches don’t have assigned seating or protocol to follow. It’s just dinner. Munches are usually held at regular restaurants in an area separate from the rest of the customers. While each munch is different, around here, most munches average between 15 and 60 people.
Don’t go in 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.
My biggest obstacle was making progress against my shyness. 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.
Speaking of what to wear- munches are usually pretty informal, and most people don’t wear much (if any) fetish wear. Jeans and a nice top are fine. It’s not a formal occasion. Basic black with blue jeans is a safe bet. If you’re in doubt, ask someone first. Be clean.
Workshops/demos are similar. There’s no need to dress up. Wear what you’d wear if you were going on a night out with friends.
Parties and clubs sometimes have their own dress codes. It’s a smart move to try to find out ahead of time if there is a dress code and what it entails.
Workshops are generally pretty informal too, just like munches. Some are more hands-on, such as in the case of a bondage workshop. Others are more of a lecture or roundtable discussion.
At a party, don’t touch peoples’ toys (or people in general) without asking first. If people are playing, give them plenty of space. Don’t crowd them. If you need to talk to someone while there’s a scene going on, either take your conversation out of the play area or whisper quietly so as not to disturb the scene.
The approach (how to avoid coming across as an online wanker)-
Once I started getting into the conversations, people were naturally curious about me, and asked questions. It was a bit uncomfortable, but I expected that since I’m on the shy side. This is one place where being yourself is really important. If I’d taken the cliché approach of “I’m submissive, so I’ll do whatever you’re into; I have no interests of my own”, well, that’s just plain boring. And very fake. We’ve all got interests and fantasies, and it’s important to be open about them if we expect to live them. None of us are mind readers, whether dominant or submissive. Just because someone is a dominant woman, that doesn’t mean we’re compatible, so it’s important to be honest about our interests and expectations. Even if you’re submissive, it’s still important to go after what you want; if you don’t, you won’t be happy.
I’m honest about not being into protocol, ritual, structure, etc. These things are pretty popular among some dominants……but I knew that if I pretended to be into them, not only would I feel like a hypocrite, but I wouldn’t be happy in the relationship either. Online, it’s common to see weak, obsequious, sniveling little twits who think that agreeing with everything impresses dommes. Invariably, there are a handful of online dommes who will go for this type. Being that way in the face-to-face world won’t get you far, though. Doormats attract abusers. Coming across as too eager to please often reeks of desperation. If you have a life, if you’re confident and strong, these are qualities that many dommes find interesting. We are all equals until we agree to some form of power exchange, and I treat everyone as such.
One thing I continually keep in my head is that I’m deserving of respect. Many subs forget this. They think it’s their “place” to be treated badly or to be unfulfilled, since it’s supposedly all about the domme’s desires. Bullshit. An unhappy sub won’t stay around long; our desires are equally important. I make it clear that I feel that way early on when there’s someone I’m interested in. If she agrees that equality and d/s don’t have to be mutually exclusive, that’s a good sign. This can even show up in little things. For example, if a domme repeatedly cuts me off in conversation and is nasty to the waitstaff, why should I tolerate that? It’s rude, and I deserve better.
Seeing dommes as actual people (and expecting the same from them) is a must. We’ve all got faults and weaknesses. In a loving relationship, I expect to be accepted as I am. Of course, I give the same. If someone loves you, they accept you. This is important to keep in mind. If a domme tried to turn me into something I’m not, then that’s a way of saying “you’re not good enough for me, and I want you to be someone else.” Don’t see the dommes as simply dommes. They wear other hats too. Maybe she’s a doctor, a mom, a diabetic, or any number of things. Ignoring those other facets and seeing her only as a domme is insulting. Likewise, her ignoring the other aspects of who you are is equally insulting.
Don’t assume that there’s an automatic power exchange. Just because she’s a dominant woman and you’re a submissive man, that doesn’t mean she gives her consent. Don’t call her by some lofty title, as that assumes familiarity. And don’t kneel down and start kissing her boots. If you want to play, just ask. If she says no, accept her answer and don’t badger her.
I also 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.
About the same time that I got into the local scene, I started looking into forums online. What I found shocked me. There were so many people, domme and sub alike, who had totally unrealistic, overly idealistic expectations. All “real subs” are expected to be into TPE, do all the housework, and do all sorts of things they don’t want to do. That might work online, but being miserable in a flesh-and-blood relationship just isn’t a way I want to live. A lot of people, mainly online, take a “more is better” approach to submission. Isn’t personal satisfaction more important than playing subbier-than-thou? Submission should cause joy, not agony. We’ve all got our own particular style of submission; it took a lot of introspection and experimentation to find my way. It’ll probably take the same for you to find yours. Be patient, and be yourself.
Here’s the analogy I often use: When I give a woman a single rose, I expect some sort of gratitude….…..not some big showy display, just a genuine show of appreciation. If she said “That’s it?? Where are the other eleven?”, then she’s not someone I want in my life. This is how I view submission. If she doesn’t appreciate me (or vice versa) it won’t last. I don’t have to sacrifice my whole life in order to be submissive. We each give what we give, regardless of chosen position, and it’s important that our gifts (and our selves) be appreciated.
So overall, I try to keep all these things in mind. Keeping that attitude affects my actions, and everything else sort of falls into place. It can be hard to have the confidence to say “this is who I am, and if you don’t like it, then move on.” But if I didn’t do that, I’d be going from one lousy relationship to another. If someone doesn’t accept what I give, too bad.
There is an element of luck as well; even if someone does everything perfectly, there’s no guarantee they’ll meet somebody compatible. But if you don’t try, you may miss out.