Dipping a Toe Into the DC BDSM Scene

24 Jul

whipI have worked as a sex educator for over 3 ½ years and my journey with BDSM began around the same time. For me, however, my BDSM practice has always been a personal one between my partner and myself. I’ve never gone to a BDSM club or party, because, quite frankly, I was scared. I was scared that I didn’t know enough, that I would be judged or shamed and, that most basic of all fears, that I wouldn’t fit in. This surprises many people because of my profession. There is an assumption about sex educators that we know everything, have done everything and that nothing phases us. It’s not true!  

When I moved to DC, I began to realize what a large BDSM community we have here both because of the number of calls I field looking for equipment and from customers coming in and asking questions. With this came the realization that I was nearing the end of my knowledge on the subject and, more and more often, found myself saying “I honestly don’t know” when being asked more advanced questions. This was true at home too – “Did I tie this knot right?” “I honestly don’t know!” You can only learn so much from books so it seems and, for my partner and me at least, rope work doesn’t appear to be one of those things!*

black rose logoI have been referring customers to Black Rose for a while to get answers to their BDSM questions and decided that it was time to refer myself to them as well! For those of you who are unfamiliar with Black Rose, they are a non-profit educational and social BDSM group. They host workshops every Tuesday on a staggering array of topics, from how to deal with scene negotiation to the phenomenon of Nazi officers cross dressing in Hitler’s Germany (yes, this was a thing and it’s fascinating!) They also host an event once a month called “Gateway / Dungeon 101”. This is a two part event – night one (Gateway) is hosted by Black Rose in a local hotel ballroom. It is an intro to BR, their mission and outreach, as well as an intro to BDSM itself. Night two (Dungeon 101) is hosted at The Crucible, which is a privately owned, membership only, BDSM club in DC (you do not, however, need a membership to Black Rose or The Crucible to attend the 101 night). This night functions as an intro to the club and the etiquette of public play. The night concludes with an “Exploratorium” where you can try a number of different types of BDSM play, all of which are administered or taught by people who have been studying the art for years. This sounded like the best thing for me so with a gulp and butterflies in my stomach, my partner and I trudged up to Capitol Hill. And boy am I glad we did!

Thursday was the Gateway meeting. My first impression was one of inclusion! Folks from every walk of life were sitting in the room – from Capitol Hill power players to nerds like me in Doctor Who t-shirts and jeans. The meeting was laid back, well structured and incredibly informative. Most importantly, it really helped put people at ease. The presenters were just so engaged in what they were talking about and really took their time to answer questions and to address any fears that the attendees expressed. They even took the time to explain how the equipment at The Crucible was cleaned so as to prevent the spread of infections (I’m glad someone asked the question, because I forgot. Bad Sex Educator … Bad!). The presenters then explained Black Rose’s relationship to The Crucible (they do a lot of events together but Black Rose and The Crucible are separate organizations) & how the Exploratorium would work – telling us what stations would be available, how the club would be laid out and even what to dress in if we were uncomfortable taking articles of clothing off. My partner and I walked out of the meeting feeling excited and much more at ease.

 

crucible logoFriday was Dungeon 101. We arrived at The Crucible around 7:45pm and mingled with other attendees for a bit. At 8, the owner of The Crucible and staff members from Black Rose talked about how The Crucible operates, proper etiquette for public play and how they keep people safe inside the club. Then the presenters for the evening were introduced and the Exploratorium stations were opened. It was like being a kid in a candy store! There were a total of 10 stations that night (flogging, sensual caning, spanking, rope bondage, sensation play, sensual knife play, violet wand, hot wax, single tail whip and tickling). At each station, you could chose to observe or participate. Some stations also had mini lessons on how to use the equipment. For example, you could choose to be flogged or learn how to flog someone. I wanted to try everything but only managed to get through 8 stations before the Exploratorium closed down at 11pm. And let me tell you – it was AMAZING! All of the presenters had years of experience and were energetic, kind, funny and incredibly knowledgeable. All the shyness and nervousness that I had going in just melted away in minutes when I saw everyone running around, trying new things and laughing with joy. A few of the things I got to try were mind blowing. I also tried a few things that ended up not being my cup of tea but I think that’s important too. It’s just as important to know what you DON’T like as what you do like and I was glad for the experience (if not the numbness in my arm!) The night was over all too soon and I went home exhausted, criss crossed with whip marks and buzzing with excitement. I learned so many new things that I could bring into my practice as a sex educator and into my own personal life.

If you are new to BDSM and don’t know where to start, you want to get into public play or you are an educator like me that just wants to expand their knowledge, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Gateway / Dungeon 101. I can’t think of a better or safer way (they don’t even allow sex on club premises on 101 night so that no one feels pressured or uncomfortable) to begin your journey. The folks at Black Rose and the Crucible are caring, friendly, wonderful people who are excited to share their knowledge and their passion and you just can’t ask for more than that! So take a deep breath and go for it!

__________________________________

* There are several fantastic books on rope work (such as Two Knotty Boys: Showing You The Ropes)  that I highly recommend. I just happen to be more of a kinesthetic learner! And, also, a klutz. 🙂

8 Responses to “Dipping a Toe Into the DC BDSM Scene”

  1. Erika September 17, 2013 at 1:31 am #

    Do you have any recommendations- books, sites, other(?) for someone dipping their toe in slowly? One rather jumping in – mostly on D/s (female D/male) but from a very vanilla place?

    Like

    • Gwen September 17, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      That’s a great question. I think SM 101 by Jay Wiseman and Sensuous Magic by Patrick Califia are both excellent books for someone just beginning. They give a really great overview of what BDSM is (and isn’t) and talk about all the ways that those relationships can manifest in safe and wonderful ways. If you are local to DC, Black Rose is a wonderful resource for beginners as well. Their site (www.br.org) has a lot of useful information and they do workshops every Tuesday. If you aren’t local to DC, the Black Rose website also lists organizations in other states that do education as well so check that out and find one that is close to you! 🙂

      Like

  2. Mike December 14, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

    Do you know of any similar classes/clubs that are a little further out from the city? Closer to Manassas or Gainsville.

    Like

    • Gwen March 22, 2016 at 10:13 am #

      Unfortunately we are unaware of any clubs in the Manassas or Gainsville area. You might want to try asking on Fetlife – if there aren’t dedicated clubs, there may be events and such being held in the area.

      Like

  3. Nicky December 24, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

    Hi!
    I moved here some months ago. I would like to get contact to the BDSM scene in and around DC. But since I don’t know any one in this area who is interested in BDSM I don’t have the courage to check out on my own Gateway/Dungeon 101. Do you know any chatrooms or something like that where I can meet people with the same interest?
    Thanks in advance

    Like

    • Gwen March 22, 2016 at 10:11 am #

      Hi There and welcome to DC! Fetlife is a great place to meet people in the area and get information about what is going on in DC. That would be our suggestion for you. Also there are MeetUp groups in DC centered around kink where you can meet folks casually. DC TNG is one for younger folks. You can find others on Fetlife as well. Hope this helps!

      Like

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