Thursday, July 06, 2006

From an early member of the on line BDSM Scene

Party Rules & Expectations
From the home pages of Tammad Rimilla
He is greatly missed and thought of often.

In my own opinion, party "rules" are just another form of negotiation, and are as essential for a successful party as negotiation is for a successful scene.

With that statement I do not presume to specify what the rules _are_, or _should be_, merely that NEGOTIATION should take place. It goes something like this: the host specifies what actions are and are not within their party "limits". Then each invitee has to decide whether they can enjoy playing inside the host's party limits, and also whether they might be squicked by other people's play at such a party. If the guest feels uncomfortable with the party limits then they should probably decline the invitation. If they accept the invitation, then they have to be prepared to honor the party rules and to cope with watching the play of other guests.

In general, the more detailed the information provided by the hosts, the better able guests are able to react and to plan. And "detailed" need not imply "verbose", my own inability to be brief notwithstanding. :-)

Party rules are how the host makes explicit their EXPECTATIONS for behavior at their party. If those expectations are not made clear, then it is quite possible that the guests will unintentionally violate one or more of those expectations. When expectations are violated that the normal human response is anger -- and angering your host isn't cool party-animal behavior.


These examples are all cases where the host's EXPECTATIONS really need to be made very clear, in advance, or else major unhappiness can result. Most people have strong feelings about these issues. [I use the word "host" as a gender-non-specific title, "network host".]

I've known some parties where penetration is not permitted, and others where it is permitted or even encouraged.

I've known some parties where alcohol and/or tobacco are permitted, and other where one or both are forbidden. A similar statement is often made about use of other chemicals. (NOTE: If you need to bring prescription medicines with you to a party to maintain a medication schedule, it is considered polite to mention that to your host, so that they will be expecting you to be taking pills or whatever.)

I've known some parties where donations of money were expected, to help cover the food costs. I've known others where money was forbidden, but guests where expected to contribute "pot luck" food items. I've known still others where (for sound legal reasons) the hosts will not accept money, food, or any form of gift on party days.

I've known some parties where full nudity was not permitted, some where fetish costumes were expected, some where nudity was permitted in "scene/play space" but not in "safe space", and still others where clothing was optional for the whole event. Some hosts might require mandatory nudity.

I've known some parties where guests are expected to help answer the door and the telephone, to unburden the host. I've known other parties where the host insists on being the only person to handle door and/or phone, for privacy reasons.

I've known some parties where the doors are locked after a certain hour and no new guests will be admitted after that time, while at other parties guests are welcome to wander in and out as the mood takes them.

I've known some parties where SM play was permitted only in certain rooms, bondage tickle play was permitted in another room, "generally vanilla" type sexual play was permitted in certain other rooms, and still other rooms were "safe space" for talking and eating. I've known other parties where play could happen anywhere. I've never known a host not to designate at least a small space as "non-play safe space" -- at least in the vicinity of the front door, if nowhere else.

I've known some parties where all occupants of a room were expected to fall silent whenever a scene was in progress, and others where subdued conversation was permitted even during scenes.

I've known some parties where "safe space" differed from "play space" only in that no active _playing_ would be going on, but people in that safe space might be nude, might be wandering around in bondage, might be in some erotic costume. But they would be talking, eating, dancing, and/or generally partying it up there, not scening. At other parties, the nudity and costumes might be OK in safe space, but no ongoing bondage. At still other parties, people in "safe space" are expected to be dressed, so that if a neighbor shows up at the door the tableau inside the door looks like a relatively normal party.

I've known some parties where positive ID, proof of age, and a signed "rules agreement" form are required for admission. Many parties are by invitation only, and there is someone by the door checking names off the host's copy of the invitation list. Some parties allow guests to bring friends without pre-arrangement. Some parties (esp. at SF conventions) are open to anyone (anyone with a Convention badge).

I've known some parties where the hosts have floor space but not many big toys, so the guests are invited to bring racks, benches, etc. I've known other parties where space was constrained and the guests were required to make do with the items provided by the host.

I've known some parties where the host has provided sturdy overhead attachments for those wishing to bring suspension gear, and other parties where the opportunities for attaching restraints to the (rented) residence were very limited.

I've known some parties where the host makes a portion of their personal flogger/whip/paddle collection available for general public use, and I've known other parties where each participant is expected to make their own arrangements for such toys, so that it is easier to keep track of which toys have been used on which Bottoms. (Guests should ask permission to use another guest's toys, and alert the owner if blood contact occurred while using a borrowed toy.)


One particularly nice touch, especially at a party where some guests might be new to the scene, is for the host to arrange and announce one or more "exhibition scenes", whereby the host has prearranged with certain guests to do a particular kind of scene for all to watch, at a time early in the party. It's a nice ice-breaker, and it also helps the host convey in powerful non-verbal ways what sort(s) of play they want to encourage. I had the good personal fortune that my very first play party started with a *very* impressive sensual flogging. It was very reassuring for me to know that BDSM play in _reality_ could be everything I had always _imagined_ it to be.

I was incredibly impressed when I attended one party at which penetration and sex play were strongly encouraged, because the host arranged for a local entertainer (into the scene) to give an extensive and delightful "Safer Sex" lecture/demonstration early in the evening. Guests were not required to follow the practices described, but by the end of the lecture everyone knew enough to intelligently make their own decisions about risk. [I also learned something new: that putting lubricant inside a condom can greatly improve the sensations. Never assume you have nothing more to learn from such a lecture.] A very classy touch.

Some hosts ask that guests planning long, complicated, or "extreme" scenes mention that in advance. That allows the host to "fine tune" any details of the scene beforehand and perhaps to make special preparations. Sometimes mention of these "special events" is made either in the invitations or in pre-party update E-mail. This allows guests who might be especially attracted or repulsed to plan accordingly. [I departed a day and a half early from one particularly nice party, because there was an announced scene scheduled where my assessment of the potential for loss of life was higher than I was comfortable being around. The host did me a BIG SERVICE by announcing the plans in advance. There was no shortage of guests for that event, but I wasn't there.]


Hosts have limitations that may be imposed upon them by their location and their personal situation. Hosts also have moods and interests that vary over time. Thus, hosts will seek to provide different styles and intensities of entertainment for/with their guests at different times. And each host will have their own unique set of tastes and constraints, different from the tastes and constraints of every other host.

For each party the host generally has a fairly specific set of EXPECTATIONS. The good host will make those expectations known in advance, and the good guest will either politely decline the invitation or scrupulously honor those expectations.

Party hard! I do... :-)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Our Friends in Reno Rock!

With permission from the NNVFL :
Party Guidelines
1. The house safeword is RED. Once RED is called by either a
bottom or Top, all play will cease and the situation will be assessed by the Top and Dungeon Monitor (DM). Play will not continue until the DM deems it safe to do so. 2. Dungeon Monitors have the final word on everything including the right to stop
an unsafe or abusive scene. Check with the DM before any fireplay (waxing, cupping, flash paper, etc.), piercing, or bloodsports.
3. Respect the playspace. Clean up after messy scenes. Wipe down equipment
with supplied antibacterial wipes after each use. Use a drop cloth when waxing. No scat or water sports.
4. Don't be an equipment hog. Be aware of the time you spend on the equipment
and that other people are waiting to use it. Negotiate with the DM before beginning a long scene. Pick up your toys or assign someone to do it for you after your play to ready the space for others.
5. Play parties are
semi-public events. Doors to play areas are to be open at all times. For those wishing or needing a little more privacy, please negotiate with DM before beginning scene and understand that the DM may enter the room at any time to check on scene.
6. Although bleeding may not be an uncommon occurrence with your bottom, a
bleedingbottom needs attention immediately to prevent the possibility of spreading blood born pathogens (splatter, toys, etc). Stop all play, attend to bleeding area, and then continue. If you lack first aid supplies, the DM is able to provide as necessary.
7. Privacy and discretion are to be respected. All information about party activities, attendees, etc. is to be considered confidential. In the interest of making everyonecomfortable at parties, cameras and recording devices are NOT allowed.
8. Intercourse and sexual contact is permitted. Safer sex products (condoms,
dams, gloves) are required. Please be prepared to supply your own safer sex needs even if you and your partner are fluid bonded.
9. Alcohol and illicit drugs are not permitted at parties. Please notify DM if you
are on medication or have health issues that could be cause for concern or affect judgment.
10. Tops/Dominants are NEVER to leave their bottom/submissive unattended at
any time during play.
11. Please see the other topics covered in Play Party Etiquette that is also sent to
eachattendee with RSVP confirmation. Have fun, play safe, sane and consensual.
Play Party Etiquette
Below you will find some general guidelines to follow at the event and below that, the directions. Please forgive the length as we have included information for those new to the scene as well. (These basic etiquette notations were adapted from for our use)
If you bring a guest that has not yet become part of the group and attended an NNVFL party previously, you are responsible for your guest.
His/her behavior reflects on you and it is your responsibility to make sure your guest is fully aware and understands of party etiquette and rules. Should the behavior of your guest become questionable, both you and your guest will be asked to leave. On the same note, anyone who violates these guidelinesmay be asked to leave. Arrive to the party at the appointed time. No earlier, no later. Late arrivals will be refused entry. Early arrivals will be promptly put to work cleaning, organizing and setting up for the party.
The house safeword is RED. Once RED is called, all play will stop IMMEDIATELY and the Dungeon Monitor(DM) will assess the situation BEFORE play continues. YELLOW is a lesser safeword, but a safeword all the same. If YELLOW is called, the top will attend to their bottom unless additional help is required by the DMs. At any time, a DM may stop the play if they feel the bottom or top's safety is compromised.
In addition, please alert the DMs of any health concerns they should watch and be prepared for PRIOR to beginning play. Tops or Dominants are NEVER to leave their submissive/bottom unattended during play. Should you need to leave the room ask the DM or other trusted person to watch over your play partner until you return. This is not to say its ok to go for a smoke while your partner is on the cross. Use common sense.
Play is to immediately stop if any blood is visible. The bleeding areas are to be covered. Then play may continue. *this has become a common issue. If you fail to tend to the bleeding areas, you will be asked to stop playing entirely* The conversation area is to be devoid of all play and we ask that you are fully dressed in the conversation area. This is a safe area for people to talk, eat and drink. The conversation area is where couples relax after a scene or relax before a scene. As well as being a place for people to go to if they find that a scene is uncomfortable to them. A smoking area will be set up outside. Please bring something warm to cover up in if you're a smoker.
Do not touch people, even in what you think of as a friendly way (like touching someone's arm in conversation) without asking permission. Leave space for the top to move, swing a flogger, etc. during a scene. If the room is too crowded, stand against the far wall or leave the room. If the top asks you to move, then move! In most play circles, if you get close enough to disturb the scene, the top would be within his rights to swing the whip at you. Be quiet while scenes are going on, or go to the conversation area to chat! The admiring or joking comment you think you are quietly whispering to the person sitting next to you is often heard by the bottom or top, whose senses are sometimes hyper-tuned and on edge. Would you want someoneto whisper something about you right before you reach the point of orgasm or subspace? Be polite, and don't talk or whisper.Yours could be the remark that ruins awonderful scene forsomeone. Do not address comments or questions to the top or the bottom while they are playing! Similarly, do not try to start a conversation with the partners while they are cuddling together after a scene. What looks to you like a lull in the action while the top steps away to get a new toy or while the partners are whispering intimately together after a scene is not the moment to walk over and ask where they are from and how long they have been doing this! Do not ever touch or get too close to the bottom during---or after---a scene. Bottoms are dependent on their tops: the bottom's physical and emotional well-being are the top's responsibility during and after scenes. After a scene, give the players a quiet space on the sofa if they want to cuddle together. The closeness and after care following scenes and the bottom's emotional fragility usually last longer than it looks to outsiders.
Give people time to come down. If you need to ask a quiet question, like "Would you like this blanket that's here behind me?," address the top, not the bottom, and be as unobtrusive, succinct, and quiet as possible. Do not join in scenes, even if it looks like they are free-for-alls. A scene that might look to you like lots of folks are joining in to pleasure or otherwise play with the bottom might in fact be pre-arranged between the top and other acceptable players to look casual. Or it might be that the top is subtly signaling audience members he knows to be acceptable. Join in only if the top clearly beckons you in. If in doubt, check with the top. Do not come on to women (or men---whoever you are sexually interested in) in a clue less manner. If you wish to ask someone if they'd like to play, do so, but if they say no, respect their wishes in a courteous manner.
Most people like to be complimented on their scenes. If you like a particular top or bottom, telling them what you liked about their scene is usually well-received. But wait till they are walking about and socializing again! Asking interesting how-to questions is also a good way to make friends. Do not intervene in scenes. If you are bothered by something you see because it seems extreme, risky, or even impossible to be consensual to you, find a host or DM to check on the scene, explain it to you, or reassure you. If a corrective action like a safety improvement needs to be taken, the host or DM will take care of conveying that to the top in an appropriate manner. When you are more experienced you will be able to recognize if something is possibly non-consensual or unduly dangerous. At your first few play parties, plan to absorb and watch and learn. If something is too extreme for you to enjoy watching, then simply leave the room quietly.
Do not touch people's toys, floggers, etc. that are lying around without finding the owner and asking. Even if someone lets you hold a flogger, it is also courteous to ask again before swinging it through the air at an imaginary target or your forearm. Do not run a knife orwartenburg pinwheel along your skin to test its sharpness---the owner might have gone to pains to sterilize the blade in expectation of an upcoming scene, and sharp edges break skin without always leaving marks or drawing blood.
Clean up play furniture or play areas when you are done using them. Pick up your toys so someone else can use the play area without stumbling on your belongings. Wipe down the play furniture so it is not sweaty for the next person, and if any bodily fluids were spilled accidentally, clean them up thoroughly---we will provide appropriate cleaning materials if you don't have them on hand. Do not hog play furniture for hours on end with your own scene. If play furniture and play space are scarce, ask the host for an estimate of a reasonable amount of time to use it. Alcohol and illicit drugs are not permitted at parties!
Help clean up before you leave! Don't offer and then wait for instructions---just do it. Those ten used plastic cups you gather up and toss out, or the empty dip dish you wash and leave in the drainer to dry at 3 a.m., or the ice bucket you refill mid-party just because you noticed it was empty will save the host a lot of work and mean more parties in the future.
Do not mention anyone at the party to those not at the party without that person's express permission to name him. Especially do not post to the list or any other public forum in a way that identifies someone else without permission. Even mentioning someone in email without that person's permission can be considered a violation of etiquette.
Do not assume that the attire makes for the position. Simply said, a collar does not make a sub anymore than a flogger makes a top or dominant. When in doubt, ask! Be tolerant of things you didn't expect. In particular, even if you are fascinated, try not to gawk noticeably at stuff you personally have never encountered before. Watching and learning are fine---and are often exactly the point!---but there is a social norm in each group about what is appropriate astonishment to show to those around you. Actually, this rule of thumb goes for submissives, bottoms, tops, and doms of all kinds.
No one who is not your own personal partner owes any deference to you beyond common, everyday courtesy. You can and should talk to the host/ess/party coordinators or DM during the party or, if more appropriate, afterwards to ask unanswered questions, say thank you, and follow up in any ways you like. If you felt uncomfortable about anything at all at the party, talking to the host/ess/etc afterwards is an excellent idea! Hosts/esses/etc usually very much want to help their guests learn and sort themselves out according to comfort levels. Hosts/etc also desperately want feedback so they can create environments that accommodate a variety of comfort levels and so they can decide what kinds of play and which attendees make for enjoyable parties. If a host never hears about the individual you felt harassed by in the social space or while you were playing, or that you felt some kind of play you watched was unnecessarily dangerous and you had no DMs you could approach and didn't know the customs about how to handle the situation, the host cannot possibly make thenecessary reforms. The host/etc wants to know, and it is your responsibility as a responsible attendee to take the initiative to inform the host/etc.
Finally it is your responsibility to thank the host/ess/party coordinators! Follow up email is the standard, and don't think for a moment that hosts/etc do not notice those who take a moment to send a thank you.