The pop sociologist in me is endlessly fascinated by the way that different spaces and groups of people create certain sorts of play environments. I'm not the only one. Rossetti and I will meet for breakfast every now and then and discuss the "mix" in our tribe, the sorts of people we want and need for the kinds of parties, events and gatherings we like. I select kinky events based on who I know is going to be there, rather than the theme, or venue or even the actual sort of play party. Because I know that it's not just the people I am going to play with, but those around them.
People create moods, experiences more so than anything else. It's very new age to say "energy" but it's a word that keeps coming up over and over again in BDSM circles - the vibe and buzz in a room, the waves of sensation that hit you, like a warm breeze, from a hot scene. There are ways of making group dynamics better - smaller groups, who know each other well, who communicate in a way we understand and generally gel nicely with ourselves and our mores. This is why we tend towards cliques surrounding ourselves with those whose play we find enjoyable and in whose company we are comfortable being naked, vulnerable, powerful, weak, pained and pleasured. All at the same time, if we're lucky.
Then there's the unlucky. The awkward shuffling of an inadequate mix with too many voyeurs and not enough players, or the uncomfortable silences of unspoken play requests and poorly worded play refusals. Bad play that causes damage, physical and emotional. A lot of drama goes on in Kinksville, and often it is entirely unnecessary. It happens because we, as people, do not always treat each other as well as we could, with as much realistic kindness and consideration.
On bad days we are moody, socially awkward nerds, shuffling our feet at the edges of the disco, never feeling cool enough to ask the pretty ones to dance. We're over-inflated ego maniacs, desperately attention seeking, swinging from giggling highs to weeping lows - anything to get a bit of a fuss. We're uber dominants swelling puffed up chests out of bat utility belts (you know what I mean) and demanding everyone kiss our boots. We're snivelling, lisping submissives or snooty, snidey brats clamouring for attention. On bad days. We're also a bit unhappy inside too, annoyed with ourselves perhaps. Caught between rocks and hard places. Failing to fit in and needing to compensate or just plain lonely and finding the whole scene too much, too little, not what we thought it would be.
So how do we fix it, and where does the fault lie? We can blame the scene - and sometimes it is the fault of the scene as a whole, but mostly it's because the mix isn't right. The things that we want and the way that we want them cannot be provided by those around us, at this place and at this time. Which includes us. And that's good in a way, because whilst we cannot fix the entire universe and cannot make those we fancy fall madly in love with us (though I stare hard at photos of Tom Hardy every now and then, just in case) we can sort out ourselves. And if all of us agree then we might improve the scene in general.
These are my ideas, they are quite "big asks", so I've tried to expand them a little in terms of what might be eventually possible.
Communicate and listen! The major one, really. Without which everything else will fall over. If you do not tell people things, they will not know. Some people may need telling twice (we play in noisy clubs...). This covers a lot of bases including the ability to articulate what you want, making the approach to someone for play and being receptive to those offers - as in listening to, not an assumption of agreeing to do it! We rarely listen, properly listen, to what people are saying and take it on board. Too often we hear what we want to hear, and happily filter our things that don't fit with our world view. We deceive ourselves, and those around us. And sometimes miss out on the real positives by only hearing the bad stuff.
Know what's behind your desires and feelings. We all have days when we feel a bit tired, low or just out of sorts and that might make us more needful of certain things, or to have something done in a particular way, or not done. We also know that there are people who can inspire feelings in us. This can lead us to want things from them, which is great if they feel the same way, but difficult and painful when they do not. We need to understand what emotions are motivating our desire for play. This isn't to say that all scenes are built on this, but I from experience that if you have additional emotional involvement then scenes become more powerful - both to the good and to the bad - so if that is the case, then it needs to be understood by everyone involved.
Even if we know what we want (often a tall order) we might not know how we will react when we get it, or don't get it. Or when it comes from this person, or that, in this space. We don't think about what we really want when we ask for play - is it to experience the physical sensation, is it a sense of belonging, the thrill of exhibitionism, to be close and intimate with someone? How do our feelings about the person affect what we want, or contextualise what we think we want: is it because we have a crush on them or love them or even hate them and we want the play to act out part of a fantasy of that relationship - real or imagined?
Respect boundaries, and push to have yours respected. D/s creates additional rules to live by. And whilst there are a lot of general guidelines they tend to be exactly that - general and guidelines. Some people are very protocol driven and like having specific rules, some people hate that. A group can seem to be operating at random, but really there are lots of things going on under the surface. As perverts, we have unconventional set ups and need to accept that people have created patterns of living that might exclude what we want. Especially if we in turn want to have that level of exclusivity for ourselves. There's a lot of quid pro quo in these suggestions, but especially in this one. If you want people to take how you live seriously, then treat them in the same way.
I know it's hard, but be honest. It's not always the best policy, but most of the time, it is. Doesn't make it easy though, does it? We struggle to say the truth. We might be ashamed of it, of our "dirty little secrets", we may worry how we come across or what other people think of us. There is rarely any kindness in lying to someone about your intentions if the end result will hurt them more. To say "I'm not interested in playing tonight" when you really mean "I don't want to play with you tonight" will be discovered. I know. I've both had this happen to me, and, to my shame, said it myself. Because I thought I was being kind, because I was embarrassed. I would say to myself that I didn't want to hurt someone's feelings, but really I didn't want to hurt mine, I didn't want to feel the sense of reflected upset you fear from refusal.
Accept the consequences of your actions, apologise if needs be Kind of like being honest, but I wanted to be really specific about this one. Whatever we do, however we chose to behave, and you do chose your own behaviour, ultimately, it has an impact on those around us and we need to accept the consequences that come with it. It's really easy to shrug off blame, to point the finger elsewhere. But we're all just people. We will not be perfect, we will fuck up and things will go wrong. And if it does, we need to say sorry, and mean it. This is something I've always struggled with - and probably always will. I'm proud and I hate being in the wrong. I find acknowledging and apologising for something that I have done which has upset or messed around with someone else - especially if I care about them. Equally, we can accept that our decisions have amazing, wonderful consequences and we should revel in that, really taking the time to enjoy the good things we have created.
Chip in and spread the love, if you have a mind to do so.