So, after a couple of days at the convention, I was taking it a bit slower, only attending a couple of more classes. One of these were Wykd Dave‘s class on tension. It was a pleasure to attend this class, in which the core concept boiled down to ‘Do not loose the tension’. Or more over, do not let go of the rope. If there is something that you can see with all great riggers is that the rope continuously flow through their hands, almost seemless in its movement , one hand follows the other, constantly holding and controlling but also following the rope; a mix between control, tension and movement.
The element of tension is probably often forgotten when a pattern of a tie is learned, because the focus is so much on where the rope should go, instead of how it which should go there. That essentially means that if you let go of the rope, the tie itself quite often looses its integrity. So all those nice things that you perhaps build, you loose when the rope loose contact with your hand (unless you need to/have to/intend to). Dave also pointed out how different types of tension gives different kinds of sensations and impressions of the experience of the rope. So it is not just about the practicality of the tie, but if you let go of the rope, you essentially let go of the person you are tying.
One of the things Dave demonstrated which I found was very interesting was the baseline of his way of tying, a beat making it fluid and consistent, but never boring. It made so much sense to see how he had almost a beat in the pace he was tying. If you remember the Saturday cabaret, Daves tying made jaws drop towards the floor, and his system of flows, tensions and the connection he has to his wonderful partner, Clover is truly worth to study. Clover is also an extremely talented photographer who work together with Dave as a rigger.
The last class on Sunday was Lochai’s Speed Bondage. Again a class which was really well presented, clear and focussed. I especially liked it because of my poor spatial skills, something which I need to work on. Lochai pointed how the speed is not about how you tie, but the preparations that one makes, both in terms of one self, the rope, the environment around you and how to keep aware of these and what it means to keep these factors in mind.
Play followed on the Sunday evening, such as the experience of an inverted one ankle suspension, but also much more. I think Monday was one of those almost unreal days, as it by then had been so many days of rope. It was almost like there was no outside world, like this was a world we could live in, and continue to live in. Sadly, it was also the last day of the con, and it felt like my body had gone through a marathon. Aches and tensions, but those that you get from really good play, rather than the disconcerting kind. Needless to say, I wanted to be a responsible adult (hrm) and take a class which could probably benefit my knowledge as a member of the Peer Rope London crew. That was why I attended Graydancers, RACK roleplay class in the morning. This was really, really good, both on a personal and ‘professional’ level. I don’t know if this is the case in the U.S because you seem to have so many classes and talks and a general discourse which constantly seems to be centrered around communication skills, but in the U.K and Sweden we talk a lot about the importance of communication and action, but not really how. And dear god, we need it.
Graydancer had set up a couple of different scenarios that was to be played out. The scenarious would challenge those involved with the scene to think about safety, communication, outside factors, all of those things that can jeopardize the safety of a scene. Suddenly, I’m about to be a rigger that has to stay in control of an over-zealous dungeon monitor, a grumpy and slightly unruly sub and a scene that is, well, hardly allowed to start. The unruly sub was the wonderful Naiia, and the DM was a man who kept asking me questions about everything from the rope to the hardpoint. Lets just say it is easier to shut a sub up, than steering off a DM who is (in the roleplay) not knowledgeable about rope. The brain was really going full out to deal with it all. At one point, when the DM came up and I responded to him, I placed myself automatically between him and Naiia, as if I was the physical barrier between them. This was pointed out afterwards by someone, and I kind of had not realised I was doing that, but it felt good such a move is so ingrained into my spine. It could be because of the nature of some of the clubs that I go to, such as TG, in which one really has to be hyperaware of wandering hands, and actively guard your play-partner. In the end, I have the responsibility to make who ever I play with feel safe and if that means stearing off wandering hands, or automaticallyput myself between the sub and an intruder (who ever they are) I will.
As Gray broke the role-play, we got feedback and constructive criticism. And this is something which is really unusual on the scene, to get a review of the good and the bad things. Some of them, like my potentially poor spatial awareness, I had already noted, but other stuff was fairly new to me. One of the interesting things that was said, was how it was pointed out that I did not react stronger when the ‘DM’ picked up the rope. And it really struck me how slack I’ve gone with that, and how silly it is to not mark that it is not ok for any non-consensual touch what so ever. I’ve often found myself getting slightly annoyed with having my stuff rumaged through (like the odd “what kind of rope do you use?” and the person pick up a coil without asking) but not knowing why. And it became clear that these ropes and the stuff I use are under my control, they are that which is so important to what I do, but also what they are. I need to know that the ropes are in the same condition as when I left them, need to know where everything is, and for god’s sake, it is my bloody stuff!
The other role-plays were one about negotiation for a scene and then seeing how much a playspace would get out of control before a rope-bottom would call it a day.
The negotiation was interesting, as it did not focus that much on ‘I want to do A, B and C’ but rather on ‘Who are you and how are you feeling?’. The general interest in a suspension was established, and who would be doing what, but then it became more about the relationships DNGG was in, such as other partners attending the same event. Who else but her would one have to consider? What kind of closeness and intimacy is ok? Any sexual contact? Any medical history? Et cetera et cetera. All of this was so bloody good to hear, and to pick the bones carefully, it also made the feedback afterwards really good, as it showed that it is quite good to be specific and clear in both questions and answers while ‘negotiating’ (hate that word sometimes!). So if the question is about sexual contact, make sure what you both understand as being ‘sexual contact’, what does that entail? Also, specific questions in regards to health and safety are good. Instead of a general; “Do you have any medical problems?” ask specifically about arms, legs, diabetes, history of fainting/nausea, back problems, or even about the last time they were in the hospital. Old injuries, or not even that old are easily forgotten, and it is when prompted to think about that part of your body that it might trigger a memory. And note, these are questions to ask both the top and the bottom!
The last roleplay was one in which a rope-bottom that was to be suspended suddenly had everything from puppies, people speaking loudly and commenting upon the scene to a group of littles sitting and loudly singing. Suffice to say, it was hard to not laugh and while really admiring the lovely rope-bottom who just took it in with such serenity. Following the scen came a discussion that was about trust, limits and safety, mainly in relation to when a bottom/submissive feel they are not safe or in a situation which could go out of control. Here my mental notes actually are completely blurred, so if anyone remember what we spoke about more specifically, please feel free to comment and I can update this section.
As a final part of this class we sat down, divided into one group for tops/dominants, one for submissives/bottoms and one for the switches. We were asked to note down a scenario which could stand for a problem that we, as switch, dom or sub could encounter, and that could be role-played. These scenarios were then the last discussions in a class which I would have loved to have more time to engage with, as it was a really good work-shop. Apparently it was also the first time Gray had given the class, and I’m seriously considering bringing it to the U.K as it raised so many good questions, answers and scenarios to work with.
The last class of Shibaricon 2011 was one with Midori. But this turned rather special and I think it has to be written in a separate post. Stay tuned!