I had a relaxing time at After Pandora last night. I was taken with the feel of the event - the organisers knew everyone and were doing a very good job of actually hosting, taking the time to introduce people to other people, mingling and helping the night mix. It struck me as somewhere between a gentle mid-week shindig and a munch. Plenty of people had made the effort to dress up, and whilst there were a few pairs of jeans in evidence everyone was certainly smart rather than scruffy (although a couple were charmingly dishevelled, which I'm reliably informed counts as fashionable). I went along with Kiss Curls and her beau, after a lovely getting-to-know-him dinner and despite all the efforts of our kind hosts we found ourselves a little nervous.
Partly it was because we didn't know many people, which I'm slowly starting to become more used to as I broaden my range of events and activities, but also there was a mix of very kinky, new-to-kink people and arty people which meant that I wasn't quite sure how to start. Additionally, I always find just going up and saying "hi" a bit strange at first. Once I've done it a couple of times (and had a fortifying gin or two) it becomes much easier. I wouldn't say I was shy, more that the process of being social requires a bit of a push.
And so pushed, it was on to conversations. I managed to actually get some time in with people I'd only tweeted to, which was nice, and also chatted to a self confessed "dabbler" alongside others new to the scene. What was especially nice about these conversations was that those I spoke to had a very definite idea of what they wanted and were using the event to get more involved. I'm always appreciative of directness, but more than that, these people were clearly not tourists, mostly private players wanting to become more public and this provided an attractive avenue for them to talk to other kinky people in a non-club forum. Now, obviously a munch can present similar opportunities, but unlike a munch this was very definitely an event that had other, non-kinky aspects such as live music and a more party feel, which made it both open and accessible. Added to that. the fact that we were all invited made the event private and cosy and therefore possibly a little less daunting than the "just turn up!" nature of a munch.
One of the things we got to talking about was relationship styles and the boundaries between vanilla and kink. Someone expressed the opinion that having vanilla sex meant they appreciated kinky sex more, which I found interesting (I also disagreed, but it was in the spirit of healthy debate). I certainly understand the way in which variety is the spice of life, but the past few years have made me realise that vanilla sex (and by inference, a vanilla relationship) doesn't work for me. We talked through how it was perfectly possible to have an interaction that, from the outside, looked vanilla but is actually D/s and that the real barometer of a kinky relationship lay not in the things that were done or the equipment that was used, but in the connection between the people involved.
This hit the nail on the head in terms of what I am looking for and why it is so hard to find. Connections don't just spring out of nowhere, you can't pick them up in a pub and certainly don't get them with casual sex or one-night-stands. Particularly when one is submissive, strong-minded and very clear on what one wants. That thought has made for a slightly lonely-making morning as I realised that which I want, the thing that really gets me off is not an easy win. Not that I have a problem working for what I want, merely that sometimes when I wake up forlorn, cold and with too much room in the bed it would be nice to have that right now.
And a hug.