Kink etiquette means a lot of different things for a lot of people. So, to narrow the subject, I’m not talking about BDSM role-play but how to behave in a public BDSM setting.
Although just being polite will get you a long way , be it as sub or(!) Dom; there are some unique considerations to be made when dealing with BDSM. I do feel I’m going to state the obvious but it seems some people need reminding.
Respect people’s kink. Being a French maid may seem ridiculous to you but at least refrain from ridiculing it. Your kink as a leather-clad biker stuck in the 70’ies might be as silly to them.
Respect other people’s privacy. When a couple or group is playing in public, do not join in physically or verbally unless you are invited. That includes wandering hands across asses and audible comments being made. Unless of course ‘Public Property’ or ‘use me’ is written across the ass.
Respect other people’s night out. If you play, don’t make it the kind of play nobody can get around. Don’t play in the hallway where people need to walk. Don’t be SO loud that you disrupt everybody else’s play. And if you inevitably get loud ( screams and mayhem), check as a dom if its bothering other people. And there’s an invention for that. It’s called a gag.
Respect other people’s space. Some activities, like whipping, require some space around the players. ( that includes BEHIND the dom) If you crowd them, they will stop and you’ll have nothing to watch anymore or you might get hit by a swing going wide ( it happens). Also don’t invade the personal space. I remember being chained to a bed and a couple decided they wanted to fuck on my shins.
Respect the venues rules. If the place you are playing doesn’t condone certain behavior, like no pictures or fucking, respect those rules. This includes dress code and obeying the Dungeon Master (if there is one).
Respect the venue. Basically, leave the place as you found it. Pick up your waste. Don’t leave puddles of sweat, blobs of cum, flakes of wax or stalactites of jiffy lube on the equipment. Also, don’t be an equipment-hog, if you’re not using it anymore or have been using it half the night, make it available for others.
Respect the event. what is unforgivable at one event, may be encouraged at another. So don’t offend by doing the unforgivable or get offended by things that are permitted. You can always ask the staff if that is really ok here.
Respect your body. Try not to pass out during/after play. It’s inconvenient. So at least eat something beforehand, or be hydrated enough for the activity you intend to engage in. Also if you have a condition, like drug addictions, bad circulation, allergies or epilepsy, make sure your play partner knows.
An error in judgment young Doms typically make, is that if a sub is submissive, he is submissive to ALL doms. That is NOT the case. (unless otherwise specified for the event) . I may be a sub, but I’m not YOUR sub, so you can keep your hands/opinions to yourself. This is especially true for subs with a lock on their chain/collar. Such a thing can signify that they are owned and may not be free to engage in anything without some sort of (preexisting) permission.
An amusing bit of etiquette is the matter of who approaches who initially. The subs will say the Dom should take the initiative since he’s the active partner and a sub should not intrude. The doms say subs should offer themselves since doms should be catered to. Result: nobody plays. I, as a sub in the play area, used to walk up to a dom, stood before him, hand behind my back for 4-5 seconds and then walked on. As a dom in the play-area , I used to begin with my hand flat on the sub’s chest after eye contact. Then I proceeded checking the non-sexual body parts. The dom-approach is pretty unassuming, the sub-approach gives a sub ample time to flee in fear. It also communicated that I wasn’t looking for sex but for play. You can also try talking of course (outside of the play-area).
Giving yourself a grand title is nice. Alas, for me a 21 yr old can be dominant but not a Master. Most people feel the title Master is earned more by acclaim then claimed by the dom. Fortunately we don’t have the straight’s tendency to call ourselves Lord of this, Lady that, or divine thingamajig. Let’s not start, ok? For me, ‘Sir’ is a nice generic term for Doms, Subs are ‘boy’ . I prefer being corrected that the boy is a slave than vice versa. But the whole terminology thing is a nest of vipers anyway. Best to take your lead from how other people address that person or ask his name.
If you feel this post is a bit bland and not specific for a BDSM setting, you are mostly right. The protocol in a BDSM space is so local and subjective/ organic that NO RULES can be distilled ( well, subs don’t beat up Doms…. Except when ….). Defining good manners in a BDSM setting is as futile as defining good manners in an eating establishment. Do you act the same way in a Saudi Michelin restaurant as you do in an Texan McDonald’s?
I personally do notice that the serious players are more considerate and polite.
Tips & tricks
I hope this post gave you some pause to reflect on your own behavior, since that’s the only behavior you can modify. 0:)
"Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."
—Emily Post (with Thanks to Sir Dart)