What behaviour is expected of us at public dungeon events? When we’re new to the leather scene, no single question-with the possible exception of “what shall I wear to the fetish party tonight?”-consumes our interest to a greater degree.
The trouble with party etiquette is similar to a common difficulty with polyamory: everybody thinks they’re in possession of the sole correct set of rules, and that the rules are self-evident to any reasonable person. This can lead to all sorts of misunderstandings.
Over a decade ago, as I lovingly peeled my smiling, limp girlfriend off a rack in a public dungeon after a particularly intense flogging scene at a Muffs ‘n’ Cuffs party, some woman marched up to me and brandished a shiny new riding crop in my face.
“Can I give her a few whacks with this?” she said.
No, I’m not kidding. It really happened.
(And if that now older, no doubt wiser woman is out there reading this-yes, dear, I’ve been using you as a lesson for all these years. Sorry. A little.)
In any case, I restrained myself mightily, gave her seven abrupt words, three of which are unprintable, and she stumbled back, obviously aghast at my terrible manners and churlish unwillingness to share.
Right this moment, she’s probably somewhere telling the story of how the nasty lady in black ruined her very first play party.
The simple party rules posted at the door didn’t quite cover that situation, nor do they often cover the more common dungeon faux pas of turning onlooking into overlooking.
When playing, I don’t pay close attention to spectators. Usually I notice them because I see my bottom’s uneasiness about someone standing so close that a DM would mistake them for a helper, or-I swear I don’t make this stuff up-making hit ’em harder comments like they’re in the stands at a sports match, or standing within a few feet and talking loudly about cleaning products.
Then it can be too late to keep the smooth rush of my scene going, and the nasty lady in black hurts someone else’s feelings.
Look, most of the folks who play at parties-myself included-do so because we are exhibitionists.
If you’re watching our scene politely, you’re feeding us the voyeuristic goodness we love so much, and you’re welcome to complete the cycle by enjoying whatever you see. Without you, we might as well play at home, and take our chances with being watched with faint disdain by our cats.
I love the yummy charge I get from empathetic watchers, and when the tables are turned I’ll be happy to watch your scene. With quiet admiration. From a slight distance.