Old Guard vs. New Guard II

red leather

Read Part One here.

As we approach our panel discussion, “Old Guard vs. New Guard,” that will be presented at DomCon LA, May 20th at 4:30 PM (Dexx will participate, so mark your calendar), I would like to review what the basic precepts are for both groups.
As with any analysis of cultural traditions, there are many forms of each group. For example, there are the original “Old Guard Leather Societies” that first appeared in the 1950s – 1960’s. These original “leather men” laid down the code of respect that a submissive accords a Dominant – such as addressing the Dominant as Sir, kneeling before the Master and courtesy to other lifestylers. A lot of our BDSM terminology — Tops and bottoms, Daddy’s and boys, Masters and slaves, alphas and betas and more — came to us from these leather men.

The Old Guard ritual in which the slave was required to keep the Master’s leather gear polished – often shining the boots in a formal “boot blacking” ceremony – is still practiced by some D/s couples. The collaring ceremony was codified by the leather men, as was the concept that the actual collar was the Top’s property. The use of slave contracts, according to some, also originated in the leather societies. The list of old guard traditions, many of which are practiced today in some form, is quite extensive.

The modern “Old Guard” was less leather oriented and more inclusive – especially as the “OG” old guard was a primarily gay subculture and leather was an integral part of this community. Today’s old guard is centered more about play rules – such as safe words and dungeon etiquette – rather than the strict leather code of their predecessors. Go to any dungeon party today and even the higher protocol lifestylers might not be wearing leather. Latex yes, leather no!

What has remained from the classic Old Guard is an integration of protocols into BDSM relationships. “High Protocol” is still quite common among the “new’ Old Guard. In a High Protocol relationship, there will be detailed rituals to perform. For example, a slave will be required to get up before her Master and make breakfast. And slaves are usually required to address their Master in a certain way – for example, by always calling her Master “Sir.” (Or Mistress or whatever is specified, depending on the relationship.)

This is but a quick overview of the “Old Guard”, both classic and modern versions, which will be covered in a more personal and easier-to-understand way at DomConLA. (Sneaky plug, eh?)

As to the new, Millennial-dominated “New Guard,” many partake in a more casual style of BDSM. This “lower-protocol” approach implies a more relaxed and less rigid type of D/s. For example, the submissive may not be required to address the Dominant as “Master,” “Sir” or “Mistress” every time.

As to the “New Guard,” many of the changes in their BDSM interactions reflect changes in our society. In the real world with real life demands, this “new style D/s” works best in their younger and faster paced community. It is not lower “on the food chain” than Old Guard BDSM; it might simply be more realistic for their age group. Some changes – such as cell phones with location tracking – have enabled the new generation to be less obsessive with “safe calls.” But this does not mean that the new generation is not into D/s; far from it. The new BDSM generation wants Dominance and submission – including switching. Adventurous lot I must say!

Since I am part of the new “Old Guard”, I have a lot to learn about the “New Guard” and where BDSM is going. Thus our panel.

I will see you at DomConLA!!!

By BaadMaster
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, 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. It’ll be interesting to see what changes the new generation makes in Protocol and Scene practices. Some things probably won’t change; kneeling seems to be a universal human instinct, for example. But a lot of others will, if only because the Scene is gradually becoming more accepted and mainstream.

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