In our post-Fifty Shades world, there is confusion (caused, I think, by the movie itself) as to where and how “negotiations” take place between potential partners. Although, for box-office reasons, the film emphasizes slave contract negotiations, in my experience this would occur only after some scening, so both partners know whether they are actually compatible. (No, you don’t walk into a hardware store and “pick a slave.”) And when you first begin to scene, pre-scene preparation is critical.
Pre-scene preparation. When it comes to BDSM, this is often the most overlooked aspect of all play. There are volumes written about sub-space, flogging and the best way to wield the bull whip. But, rarely is a word written about the importance of pre-scene preparation to the success of a BDSM scene. This article is addressed to the Top, since the Top is charged with the responsibility of orchestrating the scene.
There are many things a Dominant must be aware of when performing a scene. He/she must be conscious of the tendencies of the submissive, know the amount of pain that the sub can take and be aware when the submissive has entered sub-space. The Dom/me must constantly monitor the submissive for signs of distress; after all, one should not simply depend on the safe word to determine when enough is enough. He/she must understand the importance of aftercare. But, aside from being an expert during the scene, he/she should be an expert before the scene! Let’s get specific here.
The physical interaction of the instrument (hand, rope, flogger, cane, etc.) and the bottom’s body are but one aspect that determines the arc of the scene. The other, and even more important, determinant of the scene is the mental state of the submissive. Before playing, the primary aim of the Dominant should be to inspire confidence and relax the submissive, so that tension and apprehension are banished from the submissive’s mind. Thus, even before the scene starts, the submissive is already in the head space that is most receptive to the Dominant’s play. The psychological ability of the submissive to become a receptive bottom is often determined long before the submissive puts on the cuffs and is tied to the St. Andrews Cross.
The aim of most scenes (other than an abduction scene, for example) should be to start the sub off in a stress-free and trusting psychic condition. Ideally, the submissive should have the same faith in the Dominant’s abilities as he/she would have with a skilled surgeon. You might say a skilled Dom/me has a good “bedside manner” – or, more precisely, a good “dungeonside manner.” First among these is the ability to inspire confidence in the submissive.
You should start with a very open line of communication in the pre-scene negotiations. It is here where the psychological setup of the scene truly begins. There should not be even the slightest hint of an adversarial relationship here. Respecting limits without question is a wonderful way to start. (You can start pushing limits once you develop a rapport with a submissive after a number of scenes.) You should make the scene seem to be one of partnership; even if you are the Top, a team approach puts the submissive at ease. Most importantly, listen. A good Dom/me is a good listener. The Dominant should use the information the submissive provides to plan the scene in such a way that the submissive can’t wait to do it. A little salesmanship and enthusiasm will go a long way in putting the submissive into a very cooperative head space.
A pre-scene instruction talk won’t hurt either. For example, stress that you want him/her to breathe deeply and rhythmically during the scene. Tell him/her that you will stress this from time to time during play. This will accomplish two things. One, deep rhythmic breathing is very important in any scene where pain, even light pain, is involved. Two, it will stress that you are an expert in areas other than just using a flogger – that you grasp other aspects of a scene besides just the mechanical ones. This, too, inspires belief in you.
Finally, don’t skip mentioning the safe word. Even if you are playing at a dungeon where the house rules include “red” as a safe word, you should make sure the submissive knows you have his/her safety as your prime consideration. What better way to stress this by emphasizing that you will be always watching for her safe word or safe signal? Even if you plan on playing lightly where the odds of her safe-ing are infinitesimal, the “safe word pre-scene talk” will work wonders at calming your sub’s psyche.
If you use the “pre-scene negotiation” talk as an opportunity to both better understand your submissive and also put her/him into a super-receptive headspace, rather than just as a way to learn his/her limits, you will be going into your scene with a huge head start. And a great scene is…well…a great scene. There is nothing like it!
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.