Once upon a time, pervy events were few and far between. People only found out about them through word of mouth, or flyers at fetish/kinky sex shops. Today, it seems that not a single weekend goes by without some multi-day kink festival held in a convention center, hotel ballroom or an outdoor retreat. You’ll find events around the globe, and there’s something to suit just about any subgenre of consensual adult erotic imagination or interest.
So you get the nerve up and register for that event, book the flight and … then what? What do you wear? What do you say? How do you behave? Let me help you to make the best of kinky destination events.
What Kind of Event is It?
First, find out exactly what type of event you’ll be attending. Each will have different social expectations, costuming, entertainment focus and etiquette, depending on the kink. Here are some typical event categories.
The Fetish Night Club—Music, dancing, booze, flirting, naughty actions in dark corners, fetish-wear dress up. Example: Fetish Factory in Florida
The Euro Fet Party—Music, dancing, wild performances, booze and more, serious and freaky fetish dress; debauched after-parties and sometimes dark and moody play and sex spaces at the venue itself. Example: The mother of them all, Torture Garden in London
The Educational Conference—Workshops, seminars, more comfortable attire, large overly well-lit play spaces. Friendly and social, but not very debauched. If in North America, sexual contact maybe considerably limited by local laws. Example: Floating World
The Title Contest—Usually very gay/lesbian/queer focused. High-dress leather or other immaculate fetish attire in accordance with the event theme. Socializing, cruising, flirting, hooking up behind closed doors, see and be seen. Example: International Mr. Leather Contest
The Play Retreat/Camp-out—Often held at campgrounds or other repurposed outdoor venues. Play focused with clear negotiations and boundaries. Lots of socializing. Dress for play, ranging from super casual to super kinky. Can be quite sexual. Very communal atmosphere. Example: Dark Odyssey
The Promenade & Shoppers Paradise—Some of the best shopping venues for kinky toys and clothes with multiple vendors, socializing, flirting, see and be seen. Kinky “streetwear” is most common. Any play and sex usually happens behind closed doors or at parties happening in conjunction with the main event. Example: Folsom Street Fair
The Kinky Sex Parties and Swingers —Focus is on sex and sensuality. Often, but not always limited to couples and women. Attire ranges from lingerie to revealing fetish wear. Some require references, screening or invitations. Bring your own safer sex supplies! Example: Mission Control events
If it’s an event with a host hotel or lodging, it’s best to stay there. It’ll make it easier to change clothes, rest, refresh, and make or alter plans with others without out wasted transportation time. If there isn’t a lodging associated with the event, stay as close as you can. There are nights when stumbling back to your bed is a far better idea than driving or trying to catch a cab.
Get your own room. With all the excitement and new experiences, having your own space to decompress, relax and process it all is vital. If you have to share, share with someone you know and really like. If you have a lover or steady playmate, sharing a room with them will be fun, but don’t stay with someone with whom you are possibly considering play or sex with. If things don’t work out, it could ugly, awkward and possibly toxic.
Rules of Engagement
Every subculture has its own etiquette; each event its own code of conduct. You might think that kinky events are a sexual free-for-all and rules of society go out the window, but go into an event with that attitude and you’ll get bitch slapped and thrown out faster than you can say, “I’m a loser.”
Do your homework before you get to the event. If the event has a discussion forum or online group, join it immediately. Explain that you’re new and ask for advice on the do’s and don’t. This is also a great way to introduce yourself to some of the other attendees. You can even make arrangements to meet up at the event and you’ve got some instant “in”
• Be polite: I don’t care if you’re dominant, submissive, top, bottom, or sex fiend—first and foremost, be a gentleman, lady or civil being. Remember, you are not expected to do anything with anyone—nor anyone with you. “No, thank you” is a perfectly acceptable answer to give or receive.
• Don’t touch without consent. Find out how consent is asked and granted in this context. Don’t assume it’s okay to touch anybody or anything just because you think they want it.
• Don’t ogle. It’s creepy.
• Smile! Make eye contact! Say, “Hello.” It’s really simple, but it’s amazing how many people new to kink events don’t do it. Maybe they’re nervous. Maybe they think it’s not “domly” or “sub-ly.” Get over it fast, or others will think you’re dull, mean or both. People are drawn to smiles and eye contact, and that’s one of the best moments to start a conversation.
• Dress for the occasion. Find out the official or unofficial dress code of the event and follow it. Not doing so will make you look like a lookie-loo tourist, someone who can’t read or respect instructions. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. You can fetish dress on a budget and give off the impression that you’re the most fun, enthusiastic and creative person around. People are drawn to that.
Some events are so over scheduled up the ying-yang that you’d be an exhausted, cranky mush if you tried to do everything.
Don’t forget that your #1 objective is to have fun. It’s up to you what your #2 and #3 objectives are. Do you want to play, sex, socialize, learn, see new things, make friends, dance, dress up, shop or just get away from your work-a-day life and be yourself for a couple of days? Prioritize you objectives and do things that add to your goals.
Sleep. Negative hotness points for bags under your eyes, dulled wit and sluggishness.
Eat well. You need fuel to be a good pervert. Ask people to join you for dinner as a social bonding ploy.
Shower. Your personal aroma should not overpower the scent of leather or latex. Skip the cologne or perfume, as many won’t like it or may be allergic.
Drink plenty of water. For some reason, exciting events dehydrate us more than boring events.
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Consider taking a volunteer shift, or helping out with the event in some way as a strategy to blend in quickly, work around shyness and make connections. (Just don’t over-commit, or you’ll have no time to have fun.)
Talk. Ask advice on how you can make the best of that event. It’s a great ice breaker. Don’t worry about looking “new.” They already know. Good people like to be helpful, and your questions give them a chance to show their experience and wisdom.
Another great conversation starter is the compliment. Go for an admiring word on something that speaks to their character, such as wardrobe, skill or variety of kinkiness. Don’t compliment them on things they don’t have a choice about, such as height, ethnicity or gender. For example, saying, “Oh, you’re Asian. That’s beautiful. I like Asian women” is as disturbing as saying, “Oh, you’re breathing. I like living women.” Just don’t.
Don’t ogle. It’s creepy. Make eye contact, not boob contact.
Unless you’re on a volunteer shift, don’t show up too early and don’t be the last to leave. Find out when the crowd starts to arrive and show up around then.
What happens in Vegas…
Unless you have explicit permission, don’t “out” a person and their activities at an event. You have no idea what their boundaries are for public exposure. Don’t be the jerk who disregards privacy and gets people fired or in trouble. That includes photos, Twitter and all social media.
My rule of thumb for the fun you have at any kinky event is this: “You can say what, but you can’t say who, and you certainly can’t say the what with the who.”