So I’m lying in bed wearing day pyjamas and generally enjoying a very lazy Bank Holiday Monday after a tiring but extremely fulfilling weekend at Kinkfest 2018. it was tiring in lots of ways- I’m completely brain- mashed from taking in lots of information about topics as wide- ranging as ageplay, the use of fear and terror in kink scenes, safe use of canes and caning techniques, sadism and masochism and how not to write good erotica (information I obviously needed because I am completely great at it, lol).
As well as these and a FOMO- inducing range of other workshop sessions there was also a munch on Friday evening and a fabulous playparty at the conference venue Xtasia, which is without any question the smartest and most salubrious sex club I’ve ever been to (okay, I’ve only been to three, but Xtasia knocks the others into a very sexy hat). So I’m also physically tired from a combination of staying up late, excitement and constant socialising- I hugely enjoyed the latter and met some truly lovely people, but I am a classic introvert and it will take couple of days of hiding to recharge my batteries.
I’ve not been to an event as large as Kinkfest before, and the most exciting thing for me was really seeing myself part of a larger BDSM community for the first time. I’ve been to munches and events in London as well as my hometown, so I’m not completely unused to meeting and playing with kinksters from elsewhere, but it was the first time I was able to have so many conversations about peoples’ local scenes all over the country. I love my local scene- the people are friendly, and we have some great events, but I also love feeling part of something bigger, a feeling which is familiar from other unrelated areas of my life but new to my kink life. That feeling of connection is so valuable and touching.
I went to Kinkfest with a platonic friend and ex- play partner, and after a long period of time where I haven’t been able to play as much as I’d like I was worried that i might find myself standing on the sidelines again watching other people joyously getting their kink on, which is only ever a frustrating feeling. I’d promised myself that I was going to put myself out there, swallow my nervousness and ask someone to play. However, after a cheerful conversation of the Friday evening about caning turned into another cheerful chat on Saturday about masochism things happened much more organically.
I ended up receiving a very lovely caning from a very sweet and accomodating Sadist, with his lovely sub watching (and sympathising) from the sidelines as I was slowly warmed up with hand, paddle and tawse and then given a couple of dozen strokes with a sweetly stingy cane. It was such a relief to finally feel my very favourite kind of pain- explosive, breath- taking, searing strokes, the kind that you’re told to count off and be thankful for. I fucking love being caned.
There were some challenging moments. Some of the workshops brought up some difficult stuff around my last relationship; Brene Brown once said something very wise about not exploring certain things in writing until you’re sure you’ve processed them and, with the exception of one revelation I had in the workshop about sadism and masochism, I’m going to stick very closely to that advice. At points in the afternoon I had exactly the kind of feelings of outsiderdom and loneliness that I read described in a couple of recent pieces about Woodhull- I looked at all the practised kinksters in their groups of friends and felt lonely and dorky and like I knew nothing and didn’t belong. I was able to say to myself ‘you know what? You’re tired, and this is a function of your tiredness, you’ve been extremely social on not enough sleep and a nap/ some carbs/ a distraction will absolutely definitely help’. And lo, it passed, and I returned to my normal state of bearably familiar dorkiness. I am very glad that I was able to make use of other peoples’ experiences in order to confirm that this was just a thing that brains do at conferences.
I’m not going to write about the content of the workshops in this piece. I’m going to try and write shorter posts about what I gained from each one, because I have a tendency to verbosity as it is and there’s lots to say… but every one of them was at the very least entertaining if not deeply thought- provoking. I felt very sad at the end of Saturday when I thought about all the sessions I’d have gone to if they didn’t clash; in a setting like this I have to try and rejoice in my deep- seated urge to Know All the Things Now rather than get caught up in dismay at not being able to be in more than one place at the same time. However, next year I would like to prioritise the workshops about D/s relationships- not because I’m in one, but because I’d like to be, and I’d like to know as much as I can before I take that step. (Assuming that I don’t meet the dominant of my dreams next Tuesday, of course).
My favourite thing about Kinkfest was the crowd. It felt like an incredibly warm and accepting group of people, all of whom wanted to keep on learning, however long they’d been on the scene. Those are the people I want to be around- people who are honest about and at one with who they are, fascinated by the very many facets of BDSM and kink, and open and welcoming to strangers with a common interest. I’m so impressed by the amount of organisation that obviously went into Kinkfest, really grateful to the Kinkfest and Xstasia teams for all their hard work and to have been given the opportunity to learn, to play, and to meet, talk and laugh with some truly fab people- a few of whom I hope will become fast friends.
(image credit: from kinkfest.org.uk)