Ooopsie daisy. I found this the other day. 2012’s festival is soon coming up. I’m not sure I have anything from the Sunday or Monday written down anywhere, but I think it will have to be a ‘perhaps, maybe’ kind of thing.
On the Saturday, 2nd day of the festival, our little group of rope lovers all fell asleep on the train in the morning when going to Resistance Gallery. We got there a bit late (again) and by then, the schedule for the day had already been subjected to a reshuffle. The Japanese team were jet lagged and needed some rest, so others stepped in and did their classes or classes on other topics. I must admit I was terribly bad at keeping check on what went on during the day time, as it flew by so very quickly. Wykd Dave did his class on tension while Esinem held a beginners class upstairs, which went on during the day. I found myself walking around, looking at what was happening as well as relaxing. My two friends, one who has just only recently started to explore rope, went in very enthusiastically with all of his energy to learn as much as possible, and for others I offered myself up to be a demo-bottom. After a couple of intense weeks previously to the festival, with a lot of tying, I was quite happy to just kick back and relax. The mezzanine got very warm very quickly. That weekend was sunny and very warm, and while we were inside with ropes, the sun heated the building. A fan will probably be appropriate for next year, as people who walked down the stairs from the mezzanine were sweating like they had just been in a sauna. Rope can indeed get you flustered.
As a side-note, for the organizers, during the Saturday, the information was better displayed then on Sunday. Although the chalk-board worked as well as it could, those who arrived later during the day found it a bit confusing to find all the information. All in all, the festival was busier than ever, with more amazing rope going on, but for next year, the challenge will be to develop the organisation of the festival itself and focus on the small things which makes it even better for the visitors. One lecture which was very engaging and I would say vital, was Esinem’s talk on nerve injury. He was joined doing this by Wykd Dave. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this talk, and yet, I make sure I always try to listen as if it was the first time hearing it. Give the document a read if you yet have not done so, do this regardless if you bottom or top with rope, that is my advice. To no surprise, the Q&A section of this talk was buzzing, and had to continue even if Esinem had to leave to continue doing the beginners classes upstairs. Due to different reasons, I did not have time to stop and sit down to listen to talk and demo on Hojojutsu by Strange Love. During the day, Esinem performed with Ika. Previous to the show, he had written:
Whilst most have been busy practising their shows, I have been busy not practising. In part this is due to logistics, as my model does not arrive till Friday, but it is also a case of attempting to practice what I preach. In other words, I believe passion wins over emotionless precision every time. Anyway, if I properly get into a rope scene, I become lost in it and there is no way I would ever manage to follow a rehearsed set. So, I have decided to “let The Force be with me” and rely on the connection with Ika to guide me. It remains to see whether I can make the grade as a rope Jedi or will crash and burn …either way, I plan to keep it real!
And keeping it real he did. While I missed the beginning of the performance, a friend of mine did a recap. Esinem started with a floorbased ichi-nawa session, very distinct to his style. You can see it here. Up close, fully embracing Ika, playing with balance moving her back and forth, off balance, utilising all of the small nuances that are so important to kinbaku. Ika was then tied into a TK and a futo momo, partially suspended sideways and had wax dripped over her body. It was at this point I came into the room, and to my surprise, the soundtrack was one from the operas, and
other classical pieces. An interesting contrast to the music that you usually hear in rope performances. What followed, I saw Esinem demonstrate how it is possible to make the untying seamless from the tying, and in the end, Ika was rather wobbly legged and had to be helped off stage.
The evenings’ performances started off with something really special. Yui Namiko . I first met this shy firecracker in Berlin a week earlier, where she was Kinoko’s model. During that week I slept at Schwelle7 and got to see her both in practice as a bottom, as well as on her own, + a performance for the crowd at the playparty in Berlin. All left me rather….flustered, as her presence and passion is somewhat out of the ordinary. Tiny, smiley and though as nails, determined as no other. In London, Yui entered the stage with dimmed lights carrying a large candle, dressed in a kimono with several layers of sheer fabrics and cotton ropes tied around her body as decorations. Her performance cannot be described in any other way but as a demonstration of her love of ropes. First, it evoked a sense of loss, sorrow and mourning within me and I thought that the candle represented someone close who was with her anymore, but after thinking more about this, I decided to revise this notion and instead focus on the story she told us with her body, without having some kind of imagined ghost from the past lingering in my imagination. If there was any loss, it was her loosing herself completely into the ropes, with acrobatics and movement very rarely seen. She peeled layers of layers of clothing off her body, and the striptease aspect was heavily ingrained with the way in which she stripped herself raw, revealing layers of herself through the ropes. Every movement was deliberate, as an illustration of specific feeling; a story written and told with the body, all for art. To say it was a night of wax-candles it not to exaggerate. Yui herself lit candles that were tied into a bundle of and traced it over her body,and there was no way of escaping this, no way to stop watching (not that you wanted). She drew all of us in, as she poured the wax over herself whilst still being suspended. The candles burned close to her body, the drips of wax falling into her face, into her hair. Yui held us in a tight grip from start to finish and afterwards, when she left the stage on shaky legs, she had the whole crowd in the palm of her hand, standing and cheering her name. When she peaked out from the balcony back stage area she was meet with even more cheers. If it wasn’t that she had given us all, we would probably would have asked for an encore.
The next performance was from one of the Peer Rope London crew, Will Hunt, who tied the wonderful Rabbitbunnie and Zahara. This was something completely else. Will Hunt was the guy dressed in black who had caught an innocent lady, Rabbitbunnie, who was prim and proper in a pussy bow blouse and a pencil skirt. Hunt is not someone who hesitate to pull a punch, and the tempo went from 0 to 100 in less than 30 seconds.
With somewhat of a new take on the damsel in distress, set to music by She Wants Revenge, Hunt was rather terrifying and Rabbitbunnee played the damsel so very convincing, demonstrating a growing panic, but also screaming her lungs out, resisting, trying to get away from the brutal Hunt. He tied her into a TK while tossing her around, and if Esinem previously had played with balance with Ika, the way in which Hunt had Rabbittbunnie like a rag doll was a much more extreme example of this. While it looked rough and aggressive, it was also controlled. This kind of physicality also came through when he started to ripping the blouse open, tearing her skirt up, flipping her forwards across his knee to tie her leg. Rather than him moving,he kept her moving around him, like a cat playing with a mouse; catch and release.
As his frenetic aggression started to make her submit physically, we suddenly were all surprised as he brought out Zahara, covered up by a trench coat. As he uncovered her, he showed her off. She was already tied into a tight 3 rope Takate Kote, he smiled, and giggle rippled through the audience.I laughed, because it made me feel a bit like the classic cooking show; “Here is the one I made earlier!” but with a much darker undertone obviously. This damsel was completely different to Rabbitbunnes’, as she had surrendered completely to his will, completely letting go into the ropes, showing no sign of struggle. They all looked at each other for a moment, him grinning, Zahara completely calm and centred, Rabbitbunne on the ground, struggling to breathe slowly after her ordeal.
He quickly the attached a suspension line to the TK, and suspends her face down, in a very sharp angle so that she is almost diving down, before it is evened out. The only points of suspension at this point is the TK and one ankle and this is how the suspension remains; yes, Zahara is a tough one. Securing the points, Will then took out wax candles, and a lighter run by gas.
He lit it with another huge grin and for the second time made the audience giggle. Zahara turned into a chandelier, watching down upon her co-prisoner. As Zahara came down, he positioned them next to each other and started untying. During this time, Rabbitbunnie sought to get the attention from her, to wake her up, to make her realise what situation she was in. But Zahara were lost, in the ropes, perhaps the Stockholm syndrome. A favourite moment of mine during this show were these still seconds, captured so beautifully in this photo.
These contrasts, with Rabbitbunnie’s desperation, wanting to escape his aggression and Zahara’s stillness, acceptance of her predicament, showed us a classic story about the damsels in distress, with signposts that were still rather wonderfully kitsch in its portrayal of the bad guy; add then also excellent rope work, showmanship, control and technical skills. Speaking of technical skills, the untying of the two damsels were done in a tandem, right hand working on untying one of the TK’s, left hand on the other, never relinquishing his control over the situation. support, or attention from Zahara, who was completely still.
The next performer was Pedro & Karina. Tying with no music what so ever, only a history being told by a voice in a microphone, we heard of Karina, who had disgraced her family and thus had to be punished by being exhibited, tied up on public display. The story, narrated by the excellent Mac added much of the feel. Pedro, dressed in black with the classical black glasses embodied a type of kinbakushi we rarely see in this day of age; the distant shadow. All the focus here was on her exposed body that made us into the ultimate voyeurs, the exposure and the intention of the humiliation of being on display, tied up. We did not get the flashy, fast rope, nor explosive transitions, but instead a slow build up of a situation, a scene, also illustrated by the changing of the setting of the light which marked the passing of yet another day. We get very used of seeing a specific type of rope here, and have often quite rigid ideas about what it should be like, that it gets easy to forget where it comes from and different expressions of it. It has not always been the kind of ‘connected’ experience that we like to push it, there are other factors there, playing with shame, but furthermore, also playing with a total kind of objectification, in which the object is the female body being tied up for display, and the subject of the rope artist is the person enabling this. If looking at rope and forgetting about the history, the background, and much of its present use, and denying these specific pornographies which are still very much alive and kicking, if we remove this, we would commit some serious cultural appropriation. Pornography or not, rope is multifacetted, and through Pedro’s historical reminder which was also very beautiful and technically excellent and innovative.
Next up on stage were Wykd Dave and Clover. The calm of the previous performance was gone, this was a performance with a lot of sadism, adrenaline and insanely beautiful bottoming. The way in which Clover totally surrenders into the ropes is rather extraordinary. Suited up, Dave cut the dress off Clover, and started tying her into a sidesuspension, , moving into a futo momo, using a lot of wax as well as a couple of cane strokes. Clover always look remarkable in rope, and my friend noted how Dave controlled each and every part of the performance, even when they bowed to the audience. You can find a video of the performance here.
Max and Tina came on stage next. This is a couple who have tied only with each other for more than 10 years. He does not tie anyone else and she is not tied by anyone else. Seeing them work together thus become very personal, intimate. The first thing you note is the focus of Max. His eyes, firmly fixed on Tina sent chills down my spine, in a good way one might add, and probably down Tina’s as well.
The drums pushed this performance very much. Tina was tied into a beautiful, slick face down suspension with both of her legs in futo momo’s which more or less had become the new black of this festival, a tie which featured a lot both in private play as well as on stage. But still, the way in which it featured in this performance made it really beautiful and unique.
Attaching clamps with bells on that then were slapped off with the help of a towel, Max followed the tradition of the evening, which was really about a lot of sadomasochism. There was a different pace here though, slow, controlled, almost settled way of moving, with outbursts of energy. Tina herself looking very strong and beautiful in the ropes, working not against, but with the ropes. Tied into a tough guyaku ebi (face down suspension) with both of the legs in futo momo’s it was a performance which was truly memorable.
And I’m sorry dear readers. But this is as much as I will write about the festival 2012. The post is more than one year old now, and it is time to let it go. Time for new adventures. But this has really been nostalgic.
See you on the flipside.