Back to Basics

Sometimes it is useful to get back to basics. Whether it is the fictional Rocky Balboa revisiting his old gym or an experienced BDSM lifestyler reflecting on the bedrock that he/she has built his/her knowledge on, it is often inspiring to revisit the fundamentals from time to time. In this installment, we will look at the basic practices of our lifestyle with respect to your initial meeting and first scene. In a couple of weeks, we will be presenting a panel discussion, “Old Guard vs. New Guard,” at DomCon LA on May 20th, 2017 at 4:30 PM. This article will review some essentials that both groups should find useful.

This examination should be particularly instructive for newbies. However, we would wager that even the most advanced player ignores some of these fundamentals. So, let’s do a little recap!

• If you are meeting for the first time, meet at Starbucks. No, this is not product placement. (Although I like their Frappuccinos!) Have a “vanilla meeting” before you agree to any type of BDSM play. A coffee house is a low pressure, convenient and inexpensive place to get together. Although most lifestylers are fine people, there are some predators out there. To ignore this fact would be naïve. Both Dominants and submissives should also have the option of meeting before playing. Thus, a meeting in a vanilla environment is a natural, and safe, way to begin – especially if you had met online or in a club setting.

• Negotiate your scene. If the vanilla meeting goes well, you should negotiate your first scene. The submissive should clearly state what her/his hard and soft limits are. Are you into pain and to what level? Are there any types of play that you might not want to do in your first scene? Where do you both intersect? You should both be on the same page with respect to play styles and BDSM preferences; otherwise the scene, and any potential relationship, could be ruined.

• Plan your first scene. When you see musicians jam, they usually have their sets planned out. It is not totally free form. It is the same with your first scene. If you are a newbie, you will naturally be apprehensive; planning your scene will help put you at ease. Have a good idea of what equipment you will be using, what your scene will consist of and the general arc of the play. It need not be a note-for-note plan, but you should not leave a lot to chance – especially for your first session.

• Safe words and safe signals. Once you have your scene planned, a “safe word” and a “safe signal” should be agreed upon. This is a word or gesture that once used by the submissive, stops all play immediately. Although some experienced couples eventually eliminate safe words, we are very suspicious of any Dom/me who states categorically that he “does not believe in safe words.” To us, this is a big red flag and the submissive should proceed very cautiously.

• Arrange a safe call. We are not saying submissives need a “safe call” for the Starbuck’s meeting. However, once you decide to let someone tie you up, especially in a private residence, it is “safe call” time for the sub. If you are going alone to a Dominant’s house for your first scene, even after a vanilla meeting, plan a safe call. (Especially if you met on Craigslist. LOL!) Better still, play first at a dungeon where there are Dungeon Monitors and other lifestylers to make sure your scene goes right.

• Dungeon etiquette. We have covered dungeon etiquette in a previous article. But there are three universal rules: do not intrude into a scene space, don’t talk loudly while watching play and never touch anyone’s body, even a naked one, without permission. And, don’t forget to bring your own toys. Never assume that you can borrow cuffs, floggers or other BDSM items, at the dungeon. Other than the big-ticket furniture, like St. Andrew’s Crosses and spanking benches, it is BYOT.

• Be aware of subspace. This is addressed to the Dom/mes. If you put your submissive into subspace (“an exhilarated state that most believe is caused by a rush of endorphins emitted during a BDSM scene”) during your scene, be aware that the sub may be flying and may thus be unable to give a safe word or safe signal. Learn to recognize the subspace signs – glassy eyes, insensitivity to pain, inability to speak clearly – and use your judgment as to when you think enough is enough. Don’t ever rely solely on the submissive’s safe word during any scene – especially when in subspace. Safety is ultimately the Dominant’s call.

The BDSM mantra of “safe, sane and consensual” is repeated so often it can lose its impact. We hope that this review of basic safety practices will illustrate the broad concepts we preach about in very specific ways. At the very least, it will show you that you are doing things right. Or, it might point out areas you might have neglected. Either way, it is a win/win for everyone!

By BaadMaster
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.


  1. reginals says:

    i think people forget a lot about safe calls and its so easy now with cell phone! “back in my day” yea I’m showing my age-it was a lot more difficult to even meet people much less safe call. people these days have it little easier, minus the larger number of fake out there

  2. I’ve only had to deal with safe calls twice. Ironically the two ladies involved each used the other as their safe call. But that was no surprise.

    I think the biggest advantage of a safecall is the person you are playing with knows someone knows who you are out with and that you will be missed before Monday at work. I strongly advise people who use a safecall to tell their partner. If you tell them ahead of time there is far less risk of hurt feelings. Also it gives even the stupidest predator time to realize you are a poor target. Just as important I’ve never heard about a safecall saving someone (perhaps because when the partner knows well ahead of time there is no dramatic evidence). On the other side I have heard several stories of interrupted scenes running from the sub suddenly asking ‘what time is it’ and going straight to must make safecall to the police knocking on the door. If the Dom/me knows of the safecall that is 2 people to remember.

    I’m out the door to a large munch as soon as I post this. One thing Baadmaster did not mention is references. I do not put too much on them, often they are meaningless. But depending on the claims made by a Dom/me sometimes they are worthwhile. If I claimed lots of experience and that I was well known I should be able to find someone at the munch that knew me. For once I’d be golden as one of the central people knows me well.

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