Illustration by Dirk Hooper
I hear from people with very different problems, but all share the same solution.
One guy is into FinDom, and deeply enjoys the interaction he gets online, but then feels a profound sense of loneliness afterward. He thinks he knows about BDSM, but, he’s only had a small taste of it.
A woman has practiced professional domination, enjoys it, and wants to be an amazing Domme. She’s also interested in the lifestyle component. But her research hasn’t answered any of the questions that she has, and she’s having a hard time learning the ropes, so to speak.
Another woman hangs out on Fetlife and reads a library full of books, but still can’t put it all together in her head. Plus, she’s looking for the right partner and all she’s finding is a bunch of guys who want one night stands instead of a real relationship.
So, what do all these people have in common?
They all need to get out from behind a computer screen, their cell phone, or get their nose out of a book, and find a local BDSM group.
Look, I know all the reasons why you’re not attending the local BDSM group,
Maybe you’re shy,
Maybe you’re scared, and it all looks a little weird,
Maybe you live in a small town and you must travel a little bit to find the local group,
Or maybe you’re busy.
I’ve had all those reasons and many more to not go to a local BDSM group. I get it. I really do. It’s so much easier to dig around on the Internet or lose yourself in books, but the fact is that connecting the dots, seriously putting it all together, comes from real life, hands-on, experience.
Now, before I go any further, I want to state unequivocally that you’re not required by law to attend BDSM group or a kink event. If you don’t do this, it doesn’t make you any less valid of a kinky person. Some people will meet a special person and will discover everything they need to know together, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s also possible that the fantasy of all of this or just playing in individual scenes is exactly what you’re looking for. That’s okay too.
But, if you’re the type of person who feels this deep inside and knows in their heart that there must be more out there… more knowledge, more connection, more passion, then there is an answer for you. Find a local BDSM group, or an event, and take the plunge.
There are so many things that a local group or a BDSM event are going to do for you.
One of the great things about BDSM play parties is getting the opportunity to watch couples conduct their scenes. Everyone has their own dynamic and their own style. You’re going to get a smorgasbord of unique scenes, different players, various toys, and more importantly, you’re going to see how this looks in reality.
The first time I went to play party it was at an upscale home filled with all sorts of kinky people. Even if I didn’t play that first night (I did) it opened my eyes to the vast difference between what you see in porn videos and in movies, versus what happens in a real kinky scene. Every room was like a different channel with a different show playing.
It was a crash course in kinky play. And worth far more than all the books, magazines, and videos I had consumed previously.
There’s another obvious bonus to experiencing real-life play and that’s the opportunity to participate yourself. I played on that first night and it was exhilarating. Some of the things I learned that night I still use to this day. It’s a valuable experience.
At a BDSM event, you can follow up on what you’ve just seen by asking the participants questions.
Always be incredibly respectful of people in a scene or who are practicing aftercare. Don’t disturb them while they are interacting with each other.
But when things have cooled down, or maybe while they’re putting away toys, if you approach people and ask questions in a respectful manner, most people will be happy to pass on their wisdom.
Often when I’m asking questions about toys or technique or how people feel they will do much more than just tell me. People will frequently allow me to inspect a whip or toy they used. Some will go as far as teaching me how to use an item or demonstrate it on me.
Much of the deeper learning that I have is directly related to speaking to people who have just played and are doing something that interests me.
It frequently leads to friendships, connections, and sometimes mentors, which leads to my next section.
Friendships, Connections, and Mentors
Most people imagine that BDSM events are like Eyes Wide Shut. Sure, there are some events that are like that, but most are a lot more like a science fiction convention.
People go throughout their entire life with this secret interest. It’s likely they don’t share this secret with their friends, family, or coworkers. In fact, they’re probably fighting as hard as they can to keep it away from those exact people.
At a BDSM event, you’re finally surrounded by people who understand what you’re going through. They all have a similar story. And this is their chance to speak openly about what they’re into. It’s liberating. But it’s also a very powerful opportunity for you to meet like-minded people.
That’s one of the reasons why people are so willing to speak to you about their tools and methods. Submissives can be particularly forthcoming about their feelings in a scene. If you’re respectful and inquisitive you can learn so much just by asking a few questions.
Your interactions could easily lead to new friendships, important connections, and maybe even a mentor if that something that you’re interested in.
Those relationships are incredibly valuable to you because they may give you the only outlet you have to talk about this kinky stuff.
Meet A Romantic Partner
While I don’t think making a romantic connection should be your first priority at a BDSM group, there are some distinct advantages to meeting someone in this setting.
You’re going to get a chance to talk with them at length about what they’re into. You can tell if there’s real chemistry between the two of you. You might even get a chance to see them play or play with them in a safe environment.
Also, you’re surrounded by people who may know more about the person you’re interested in. You can get some firsthand knowledge about who this person is, what their history is, and whether they can be trusted or not.
In fact, you could use a BDSM group as a place to meet someone that you’ve met online. Again, you’re going to be surrounded by people who know what they’re doing and are going to be looking out for you better than if you met one-on-one in a private location.
Most BDSM groups offer classes or seminars on just about every aspect of BDSM that you can imagine.
I don’t care how many YouTube videos that you watch, it’s not the same as seeing it and experiencing it in real life.
You’re going to be right there. You can ask questions, get a better view, or play along with whatever is happening.
It’s going to be better than any class you took in high school!
The best reason of all to go to a BDSM group or event is that it’s simply fun. There’s so much that goes on at these things that you can never imagine. Each group and each event is going to be totally different. Once you go, you’re going to be hooked!
It’s possible that you find a group that’s not a good fit for you. Try again with another group. They all have their unique pros and cons.
If you’re interested in a deeper knowledge or a more passionate understanding of BDSM nothing beats real-life experience.
Even if you’re antisocial, you have to travel a bit, or you’re a little nervous, I can promise you that it is worth getting outside of your comfort zone and making the extra effort to connect with the community.
About the Author
Dirk Hooper is an award-winning fetish photographer, professional writer, audiobook narrator, podcasting producer and host, journalist for the fetish community, BDSM mentor, and adult personal branding and marketing consultant for Sexy Networking.
Dirk Hooper won Best Fetish Photographer at the 2017 Fetish Awards in St. Petersburg Florida. As a fine-art fetish photographer, Hooper’s work has been exhibited in England, the Netherlands, Belgium, China and all over the United States. His work is part of the permanent collections of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago, Illinois. Dirk Hooper’s work has been published in magazines like Skin Two, Von Gutenberg, Fet Erotica and Sinical Magazine. His work was published in the German hardcover art book “Fetish Fantasies: The Best of International Fetish Photography.” He has done professional photography for bands, books, posters and the adult film industry. Hooper co-founded the alternative modeling site Toxic Goddess. He offers his photography services for portraits and commercial projects.
Hooper’s articles have recently been published at Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, HuffPost, Slate Magazine, The Sporting News, MSN Sport, and Quartz. He has won the Quora Top Writer award for the past two years. He has also been published as a comic writer, a poet, and performed numerous copywriting assignments for professional and private clients. He is currently working on an erotic novel and a non-fiction book about social networking.
Dirk Hooper is the Host and Executive Producer of “The Fetish Show.” He has also recently launched a new podcast about success and inspiration titled, “The Dirk Side.” Hooper has been podcasting since 2005 and has produced hundreds of hours of shows over several networks. His first audiobook narration was for the Suzanne Steele novel “Glazov.”
Dirk Hooper does journalism for the BDSM and fetish community through The Fetish Show News, FETISHWEEK articles, the Daily Fetish Chronicle and freelance writing. Hooper’s award-winning website, http://www.DirkHooper.com features a gallery of his work, informational articles and is the home of “FETISHWEEK.”
Hooper’s inspiration for his work is an extension of his interests and experience in the BDSM and fetish community. He is a BDSM mentor and has helped guide or train both dominants and submissives.
Hooper works as a consultant on personal branding, social networking, SEO, copywriting, design and marketing through his Sexy Networking business at http://SexyNetworking.com.