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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Let's Talk About Etiquette

I posted this on Fetlife quite a while ago, but felt the need to re-post it in other places so that people who aren't on Fetlife can find it as well. I've edited this a bit and added some information that I've learned since originally posting this. Hope everyone finds it helpful!

I can't claim to be an expert on what is correct and incorrect play etiquette when it comes to the scene, but I feel like not enough people actually ever talk about it. Sure, most play parties have an established set of rules that everyone follows, but it I feel like play etiquette goes far beyond just being polite and the whole SSC (Safe, Sane, Consensual) and RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink). There's just a lot of things people don't really know or talk about and, when you're new to the scene and public play, don't really dawn on you as something that could be potentially seen as rude or uncomfortable.

THE GOLDEN RULE: Don't be a douche bag. If you think that your behavior may come off as slightly jerk-baggy, it probably is.

GOLDEN RULE II: The house rules are always to be respected. If it's your first time going to a venue, ask someone what the rules are. Rules that apply to one place may not apply to others. (Example: Most venues in my community are sex positive, but I know that venues in Washington DC or NY aren't.) All venues have their rules written out somewhere and someone who has been there before will happily show them to you. Not following these rules is grounds for expulsion from the event, banning from the venue and you being labeled in the community as someone who doesn't play by the rules.

1. Talking to people while they are in the middle of a scene. Generally, if I'm watching a scene or I know people who are participating in a scene together, I don't try to talk to them until after they are done or if they approach me first. A lot of times, I don't want to break the energy the scene is building, the concentration of the Top or the subspace/headspace of the bottom. And really, is whatever you want to say to someone who's in the middle of a scene that important that it can't wait? I personally don't like it when someone comes up in the middle of a scene and starts talking to Daddy. We do a lot of suspension work and, as much as I trust him with my life, I need him to be paying full attention to the rigging and rope work to make sure I stay safe.

2. It's okay to say, 'no'. A lot of times, a lot of people are afraid to say no when it comes to public play; instead, they go into wishy-washy mode. If you don't want to play with someone, just say no. You don't have to be rude about it and it won't hurt the others feelings. In fact, stringing them along with a bunch of excuses and 'uhmmmms...." and "eeerrrrrrs..." is much worse.

When negotiating before a scene, don't just go along with anything if you aren't comfortable with something, As a bottom, you definitely have to be able to express what your limits are. If a Top can't respect your limits, maybe playing with them isn't the best idea. Tops also get a ridiculous amount of pressure as well. As a Top, you should be able to say, "No, I don't want to do this." The scene you're about to be in is also YOURS, you have the right to agree or disagree with anything during negotiations. If a bottom is making you feel pressured, you shouldn't feel like you have to play.

Side note: Unless otherwise pre-negotiated, saying 'no' in a scene does not necessarily constitute a safe word.

3. Respect the play space (Reiteration of Golden Rule II). You've been lucky enough to be invited to a lovely party, one of the best things you can do is respect the play space. It's super important to clean up after yourself. Condoms, training pads and plastics are meant to be used, so why not use them? Even if they are your own toys and your own body fluids, not everyone is so comfortable with them. Disinfecting an area after play takes less than a minute to do and everything is provided by the party: sweat, blood, tears and other fluids can be anywhere. Make sure all your used condoms and things that have touched bodily fluids make it to the trash can.

When I finish using a play space, I try to clean up quickly and receive my aftercare somewhere else. I know other people are waiting to use the same play space and I don't want to be the one holding up the use of it. On the other hand, I usually am a bit lost in subspace when cleaning up my messes, so please be understanding if I do NOT clean up fast enough for your liking. Asking me, "Can you hurry up?" is a million times more rude than, "Are you still using this area?"

Also important is respecting the intention of the space. Most play parties are designed to have play areas and social areas separate. A direct quotation from my good friend, CurtisMercury on FL: "Talking (loudly) with your friends seven feet from where a scene is going on is just so disrespectful. If your conversation is more important than what is going on there, please please please take it elsewhere. Respectful voyeurism is a wonderful thing. I wish people practiced it more. Vise versa, playing in a social space is also rude, IMO. Spankings have their time and place, ya know? Often, having a social area puts those who are new at ease in a potentially scary environment. You don't want to be the asshole that scares away that new person, do you? Its easy to get into what you want to do but think about others around you, especially in a vanilla environment. To the unassuming eye, what you are doing could very well look nonconsensual."

4. Asking for permission is always a good thing. Sometimes, being in a play party or with kink people in general, you feel a lot more welcome to do things you normally wouldn't do. That's a perfectly acceptable feeling, but don't think that everyone feels the same way. It's acceptable to want to hug every stranger in the room: it's not acceptable to do so without asking them if they are comfortable with it. If you ask someone if it's alright to touch them, even it's in a non-sexual manner, like a hug, they will feel so much more comfortable around you.

If you want to play with someone or scene with someone who came to the party with a date/their significant other/their play partner, why not ask both of them if it's okay to play, even if you only want to play with one person? It just seems polite to let everyone who is involved with each other what your intentions are.

5. Play parties are not dating services! This isn't the place to pick up a date or a fuck buddy or grab a live in 24/7 slave. If you come in with that kind of mind-set, I don't think you'll make it very far. It makes people feel very uncomfortable when you come to parties with that kind of intention and you'll be labeled a creeper really quickly.

I'm sure there are bunches of other things I could write about. If you want to add anything, please feel free to as a comment below :D

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