[NOTE: Apparently when I am super caught up in a project, I forget I have a blog! I'm really excited about the Open Dungeon parties coming soon! Meanwhile, enjoy this piece I wrote a while back and forgot to post!]
As you may or may not be aware, I've relocated to Calgary and am looking to reinstate My "Open Dungeon" play event method. I am currently collecting data to see how best to integrate the schema into the current Calgary kinkscape. As I do so, I realize that My lexicon is not necessarily commonplace. I've ranted previously about words and what they mean, and how having a common language is essential to communication. This time, it was about My use of the word "safe" in that I plan events around the concept of safe spaces vs safe people. I was asked how it could even be possible to have a safe space, because it doesn't exist.
First, let Me clarify. I use kink terminology based on old-school California kink. Like, old leather kinda kink. And they questioned the phraseology too! In fact, they had to actually define what "Safe Sane Consensual" meant at the leadership conference in 1998:
"Safe is being knowledgeable about the techniques and safety concerns involved in what you are doing. Each participant must be informed about the possible risks, both mental and physical. Sane is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality. Knowledgeable and informed consent cannot be given if you are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Consensual is respecting the limits imposed by each participant through safewords/redflag gestures etc."
Although we use PRICK at My events, it is really just a way of trying to convey the underlying safe, sane and consensual as defined at the LLC. We also shifted to "no altered play" when MMJ in California started being a thing. Meaning, if your baseline is buzzed, then altered would be sober.
So how does an event ensure a safe space? With trained, skilled DMs and a solid event organization plan. Hosts and staff are always present, and scenes are over-the-top negotiated, even if there is an existing carte blanch dynamic.
When the 50 Shades effect started rippling through the community in California, we saw a lot of events starting to pop up that failed to meet the level of transparent safety that we had been used to. There was an immediate need to shift our existing complacency in party monitoring to be over-the-top explicit in demonstrating safest practices. We heightened DM monitoring and emphasized explicit negotiating as to the tools to be used, locations to be used on the body, and the skillset of the Top. With the added influx of new players, we also started adding "on-staff" Tops or bottoms for unpartnered attendees to dip some toes in the kinky pool.
Play events attract newcomers and experienced players alike. The level of understanding of scene etiquette, use of equipment, and safety techniques varied among players. Because of this, the importance of having one or more trained DMs for the event cannot be underestimated. The safety of the attendees is at stake, as is the reputation of the organizers. By having a collection of parties organized by Open Dungeon, there is a consistent, reliable format that attendees can trust, regardless of the party location.
With the new influx of attendees, fewer people had toy bags so having a furnished space equipped with the essentials (and proper cleaning supplies) was yet another change in format. Just goes to show, one must always adapt to the present environment in order to remain relevant!
Probably the most important aspect of an event is a solid DM staff. The DM is crucial in making the event successful and comfortable. They act as a lifeguard (monitor play space, provide assistance, intervention, and instruction if needed); and are also a guide (providing directions, safety equipment, and information) and a security guard (enforcing the rules established by the organizers). Reliable, safe staff in a venue format that you can rely on is what makes or breaks a safe space.
Can we ensure everyone feels safe? We do our best, but there are always some who will not ever be comfortable in a public play setting. Just like some people are afraid of drowning and never go to a swimming pool, some are afraid to attend a BDSM event. We do our best to ensure that if you do attend you will not drown. We provide the closest monitoring possible while still respecting the rights of others, but if this still does not satisfy your comfort requirements, we respect your choice to simply not attend.
So stay tuned, folx cuz Open Dungeon YYC is on its way!
Once covid winds down, I am looking at once again organizing "Open Dungeon" parties, this time in Calgary! For those unfamiliar, Open Dungeon is a great place for a new partner pairing can have a safe, supervised play scene. Smaller parties, no hoops to jump, and drama-free. Just a furnished, supervised Dungeon for you to get your kink on! Stay tuned for more info!