We’ve covered already the steps to take if you wish to find yourself a kinky partner. But what about if you want to explore the larger scene surrounding kink and fetish in your area. There are many reasons to do this: perhaps you want to make some friends who share similar interests, widen your dating pool, find people to try new things with, or simply be part of a community. Whatever your reason for wanting to do, joining the local scene can be a daunting task, and one that it takes a lot of courage to initiate.

The nature of the scene varies from town to town and city to city. Some are extremely strict and ritualised, whereas others are a lot more relaxed. Some meet on a regular basis – maybe weekly. Some are much more ad hoc, getting together whenever an event is organised. Some communities revolve around purely social munch meetings, and some are much more geared towards play and kink.

The first step towards finding out what your local community is like is to log on to FetLife. This website acts as a social networking hub for kinky people all over the world. The local scene in your area might have their own separate website, but they will additionally almost certainly have a presence on FetLife as well.

You do have to make a profile on FetLife in order to be able to access its event listing and forums, but there’s no need to upload a picture or any details. It’s quite possible to make a basic account solely for the purpose of lurking and checking things out. Have a look at local events, and search for any groups that are associated with them. This rudimentary survey should give you a good idea of what’s going on in your area.

Events often fall into a couple of different categories. On the one hand are munches. Some of these allow play, and some do not. They are predominantly a social occasion, and a good way of getting to meet other people in the scene. Further up the scale there are play parties. These are events specifically intended for people to practice kinky activities at – to explore and play in a public setting. Most of the time people meet and munches, share their interests, and then go on to play at the next party they happen to find themselves at.

There are also workshops, discussions and purely social meetups which take place every now and then. Scan the listing on FetLife to find out what combination of things are available in your local area, and then pick an event to attend as your first. Whether you go for a munch, a play party of a grand ball, there are a few rules it’s worth keeping in mind.

Firstly, introduce yourself online first. This isn’t strictly compulsory, but it generally helps create a good impression, and ensure that you don’t spend your first event sat entirely on your own. Find the group associated with the event, and post a greeting – there will often be a designated thread especially for this. If you’re nervous about attending, let everyone know –  a lot of events offer a service whereby you can turn up early and be introduced to people as they arrive…  practice that makes the new environment and new crowd of people a little less daunting.

Don’t forget also to read the rules for the group and for the event itself. These should be posted somewhere either in the group sticky threads, on a separate website, or on the events information page if it has one. It’s important to follow the rules of a particular event or group,

even if you can’t see the logic in them. Rulebreakers are not well received unless they are famous or already have a  good reputation within the scene. Think of them as house rules – if you’re attending an event that somebody has organised your are their guest, and should abide by the rules they set.

Some general rules that apply at most parties can be seen below, but these are by no means exhaustive, and you shouldn’t depend on this list. Read the rules of each and every event you attend, and stick to them.

Make sure you are invited. Some parties you can simply turn up at, while others you may need to buy a ticket, or even ask for permission to attend. It can be difficult to get a place at some of the more popular events. Make sure you are expected, and have taken the necessary steps to gain admission before you turn up at the venue.

Get vetted if you need to. Some events require that  you be vetted, or that somebody with a goosd reputation on the scene vouces for you before you can attend. Some will not even give out the address of the venue until you have been spoken for. This is one good reason to make your first event a munch, where new people are relatively welcome. Make friends, be personable, and obey the rules listed here and sooner or later you should find someone willing to speak on your behalf to gain you access to more exclusive kink events.

Stick to the dress code. A lot of events will have a dress code of some kind. This may range from all black to a requirement for full on fetish wear. Although this may seem exclusionary towards people who don’t own or can’t afford fetish wear, it does serve a purpose. When others can see that you’ve invested time and money in your outfit, they know that you belong there, and are no simply swinging by to goggle at the freaks. Check the event information to find out whether you should arrive fully dressed, or whether there is a place to change once you arrive at the venue.

Don’t assume anything. It may be thoroughly obvious from first glance what role a given party guest occupies, but all the same it is impolite to make any such assumption. Usually, if you are curious, it is acceptable to ask. Some sensitive people are not even keen on this, however, so phrase your question delicately, and don’t be surprised if the person you’re speaking to storms off in a huff. When someone tells you what they are, accept it without question – it is obviously very rude to say to someone “Well, you don’t LOOK like a dominant / submissive / pet / daddy”. Similarly don’t assume that just because your orientations match, someone will want to play with you. Do not expect all submissives to want to submit to all dominants, and vice versa. If in doubt – ASK!

Don’t touch. Unless you have explicitly been told otherwise, assume that it is not okay to touch. This edict extends to cover anybody you don’t personally know, as well as their clothes, possessions and toys. Collars in particular are a sensitive area. Do not touch anything, even if you simply want to get a closer look at it – by doing so you risk causing a great deal of offence.

Watching people play. It is almost always acceptable to watch play that is taking place out in the open or in the communal areas of a party. The players accept this condition when they select the location for their play. That said, make sure you allow them adequate space, and don’t intefere with their scene. Keep your voice down. Don’t try to join in. Don’t commentate. If you want to pay them a compliment or ask them a question, wait until they’re done and their aftercare is over. Don’t masturbate unless you have been told specifically that it is okay

to do so by the players and by the venue owners. And don’t make eye contact with them – it can be very distracting!

If you see something that worries you, tell someone. Who you tell will depend on who is present, but there will often be deisgnated Dungeon Monitors, who should be easy enough to find. Do not try to intervene yourself. The chances are that everything is fine, but the Dungeon Monitors are better placed to determine whether this is the case than you are, and will likely have more experience at intervening in a tactful manner.

Don’t hog the equipment. There is likely to be a limited amount of equipment, and a lot of people who want to use it. Therefore, don’t spend an unreasonable amount of time on any one piece of equipment. This may not be quite so necessary at quieter events, but at busy parties it is basic etiquette.

Inform someone if you want to play close to the edge. If you wish to do a scene that is somewhat extreme, inform a Dungeon Monitor or the venue owner first. Obviously at all times you must comply with the rules they have set – so they may tell you that you cannot play in the particular manner. If that is the case, accept their decision. If they’re happy for it to go ahead, proceed – by telling them beforehand you’ve headed off any potential interruption to your scene, or debate about what is and isn’t allowed.

Be aware of space, mess and noise levels. Make sure there is adequate space for you to do what you wish to do without injuring yourself or any spectators. Make sure you keep routes clear and don’t block doorways. Don’t make too much mess, and clear up the mess you do make. And keep noise levels reasonable, so as not to disturb the people playing on the neighbouring piece of equipment.

Don’t be wasted. This one is fairly simple. Don’t show up drunk, and don’t get drunk. A few drinks is, of course, fine, but nobody wants to have to deal with a stoned or drunken idiot at a play party.

Respect people’s privacy. Don’t share any details of people’s identity. Even if you know them from the vanilla world, don’t tell anyone else who they are or what they do. Likewise don’t tell anyone in the vanilla world that X is into kink. Keep the details of what happened at a particular event at that event, and don’t gossip or spread rumours. Also, don’t take photos unless you have got permission from the venue owner and everyone who will appear in them. Photos make many people uncomfortable, and most kinksters do not wish to appear in them.

Treat everyone with respect. This last one is the most important. If respect is at the root of everything you do, it will be difficult to go far wrong. If you do make a mistake, of course, accept any advice your given gracefully, and endeavour not to make the same mistake again. Most kinksters will be fairly forgiving if they see that you’re genuine and don’t wish to cause offence.

Finally, be aware of high protocol events – these almost always have much stricter rules than regular ones. You should be able to access these rules before the event – make sure you commit them to memory. Breaching protocol spoils the experience for everyone involved, and may mean that you’re not invited back to future events.

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