I write this as an insider, in cahoots with the system, at once fully indoctrinated and amusingly charmed by it all. I'm English, through and through: I say "sorry" when people walk into me, I queue patiently and I dunk biscuits in my cup of tea. I'm also kinky and two things co-exist in a special relationship with each other and I am convinced that there is a particularly English breed of BDSM both in terms of physical practices and social relationships. The formality appeals to us, I imagine, given that having a code to cling to as well as clearly defined methods of behaviour allow us to overcome our twin clashing concerns of being "too forward" or "impolite" in our relations with each other.
There is also a welcome aspect of privacy, the agreed understanding of secrecy which gives rise to those clubs and cliques that we are also so fond of. We get to belong, and in doing so, we get to drop (a little, not too much) of that famed English reserve, which is not reserve at all, merely an outward expression of permanently feeling in the wrong place at the wrong time.
With these things in mind, consider the suburban English play club, which I was able to do in some detail on Friday along with The Photographer. We arrived, and I divested myself of unnecessary clothing and was invested with a collar, lead and ankle cuffs, I imagine I was probably grinning, although also trying not to, I certainly felt like I was grinning. The space itself was very large, a number of reasonably sized private rooms full of benches, chairs and racks with a main room surrounded by seating. There were perhaps twenty or so people present, maybe slightly more. It was clear that they knew each other quite well. We dallied a little, I fetched drinks and he watched the room whilst I, on my knees, facing the other way, watched him. There was a nice moment when I could hear the impact noises and groans from someone being flogged, but not see them, just the calm, slightly amused expression on The Photographer's face.
Later, we wandered into one of the side rooms for a demo. Only it was not a demo, it was someone's birthday, there was a cake with lots of candles. We sang "Happy Birthday". Then played party games. Not kinky party games, but actual party games. Stood in a circle of pvc and leather clad people playing pass-the-parcel (prizes between the wrapped layers included a plastic swatter, condoms and some sort of dentistry set) and then watching musical chairs will go down as one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. Neither The Photographer nor I could stop tittering in that embarrassed fashion of forced participants: it was absurd, delightful, mortifying and utterly, utterly English.
We later restored some level of normality through some play on a bench: canes once again rearing their ugly head and once again I had the honour of being "brave". There was more but different electrical play with a kit that came nearer to pain than sensation, and, blindfolded as I was, a little scary. The Photographer rounded the evening off with a bit of voyeurism-enabling for two nameless men who had been loitering at regulation distance, coming a little closer when I was left alone for a while, but then edging back. I am not precisely sure how well the sight of me, on all fours at The Photographer's feet attempting (and failing miserably for the record) to bring myself to orgasm, worked for them as they had shuffled back into the gloom from whence they came once it was decide that I had had enough.