Category Archives: events

Descending into the dungeon

In my own local scene the dungeons are either on the ground level or UP a set of stairs, so descending into them is purely metaphorical, and ‘Ascending into the Dungeon’ just sounds weird.

I get a lot of questions in email from my readers.  More than I get comments on my posts – I’m not sure why that is, but in the few years that I’ve been keeping this blog, it seems to be the trend.

One of the questions that I get with some frequency is, “What is it like to go into a dungeon?”

It’s a difficult question to answer because each individual venue is different.  I’ve been to several, but I can still count the number of public dungeons which I have attended on my fingers, so I’m hardly an expert in the field.  Some of these are labeled as dungeons but are really sex clubs, and at least one that I go to with some regularity is actually just an event at a bar with an area set aside at the back for suspensions and spankings – sex is not permitted there at all.

Generally though – that is one of the things that can be most jarring for people who are coming into this new – you will see and hear people having sex right in front of you.  There will be people walking around nude, and for people who aren’t used to seeing it, it might be shocking to see a bunch of erect penises just wandering about.

This is not to say that the majority, or even a significant fraction of people in the dungeon will be naked or having sex at any given time.  Most of the people will be largely clothed (though partial nudity is common) and not engaged in coitus at any given time.  Most of the scenes will not involve penetration, but most will involve at least some amount of nudity and sexual contact of some variety.

Most dungeon spaces have a regular dungeon floor and also some sort of social area apart from the dungeon floor itself.  There are often also crash couches – areas that are intended to be used for immediate after-scene care, but often these are co-opted by people for social reasons instead.  This is usually considered to be poor dungeon etiquette, but it is so common that people for the most part just accept it.

Surfaces of couches and beds (if there are any) are usually covered with sheets to minimize exposure to bodily fluids of others, and usually there are clean sheets available for you to change out if you so desire.  Often people don’t know that this is an option though, so the same sheets often adorn the furniture all night long.   Some dungeon spaces don’t offer either beds or crash couches though, so you can’t really depend on anything that you see at one dungeon space being present at another.

Usually there are stations on the dungeon floor or near to it where you can find safer sex options as well as cleaning supplies.  Dungeon etiquette requires that you clean any equipment that you use after you use it, but given that etiquette is not universal, it is usually advisable to clean anything you intend to use prior to using it as well as after you’re done.  The dungeon will usually provide spray bottles with cleaning solution and paper towels towards this purpose, as well as the safe sex options of condoms (usually both lubricated (for cocks) and non-lubricated (for toys)), nitrile or latex gloves, and often female condoms or dental dams.  Use these things – they are there to protect you and everyone else – but don’t grab a handful of condoms to take home with you.  I’ve seen that happen more than once, and I have mixed feelings about it… if you’re going to have sex, you should have safer sex, but stealing condoms from the dungeon for home use is kind of crass.  If you can’t afford condoms, most Planned Parenthood facilities will give them to you for free and the ones provided by the dungeon you are going to have costs that the dungeon must pay.  There are too few available dungeon venues to drive them out of business by increasing their operating costs.

As for what you can expect to see on the dungeon floor itself… the equipment can be quite varied.  Some dungeons have separate theme rooms and each room will have equipment that matches that theme, and some will have one large open space with all of the different types of equipment mixed together.

You can usually expect to see a cage of some kind.  Sometimes this will be large enough for a human to stand in, but often they will be too short to stand in and more like you might see for an animal.  People who are put into these cages will have to be lying down or on their hands and knees.

Often you can expect to see a medical scene display of some variety.  These are often kept separate from the rest of the dungeon equipment where possible because medical scenes often involve blood and other bodily fluids that may not be part of other types of scenes and sometimes people have a pretty strong reaction to the site of blood.  This will often be an examination table, usually with stirrups.  Sometimes there will be a dental chair or something similar as well.

Often you will also see pagoda-like structures that people can be tied to or suspended from.   Sometimes this may take the form of a simple arch instead.  But even where such things are not present, there is almost always a cross beam or hard point defined for doing rope suspensions from.  Occasionally you will also find pulley systems or rails that can be used for hook suspensions (where people actually hang from metal hooks that pierce their skin) but because hook suspensions almost always involve some amount of blood, these are also usually kept segregated from the rest of the dungeon equipment as well.

Often you will also see sex swings and beds.  The purpose of these things is pretty straightforward.  Don’t forget that there are probably clean sheets available for you to use on these things!  If you can’t see them, try asking a dungeon monitor.  I’m not a super clean freak, but I always get a little skeeved out when I see people fuck on a bed and then get up and leave it as it was and then see new people jump down on that same bed, with the same sheets and go to town.

Usually you will see a massage table or three as well.  These are pretty self-explanatory.  They’re about hip-height for me, usually padded, and often these are also amended from the ‘normal’ massage tables to include hooks or eyes for binding people to, though not always.  These are used for massage, but also often used for things like wax play (where it is allowed.. not every dungeon allows use of electrical elements or heat/fire) and other sorts of activities where you would have one person lying fully prone and the other doing things to or for them.

You will also almost always see spanking benches.  These look something like a padded saddle horse, often with rails near the bottom to rest your shins on and hooks or eyes to which to tie or attach restraints.  The idea here is that you put someone on the bench in a semi-prone position and then their ass is well positioned for you to smack with your hands, paddles, floggers, whips, whatever you desire.

The last remaining piece of furniture that you are likely to encounter (unless I’m forgetting something, which is certainly possible) is a cross or ten.  Usually these are St. Andrews crosses, which means that they look like a giant X standing on the floor rather than Roman crosses (which would be the T variety) and they’re almost always designed in such a way as to bind someone to them, either facing towards the cross (for flogging a person’s back, for example) or out away from the cross (for fingering or use of a magic wand, for example).  They often have binding hooks/eyes at a couple of different points on the top end of the cross (to accommodate people of different heights) as well as near the bottom of the cross (for binding ankles to).

It can get quite hot in the dungeon, and usually there is some sort of music played over the sounds of slapping, spanking, moaning, shrieking, and cursing.

Most stations are usually set apart from each other by a bit of floor space so that you don’t accidentally whip someone on your back stroke but this also serves to provide some small amount of space within which to work and that you can usually assume that people will stay clear of unless they are merely passing through to get to something else.  It’s worth discreetly  trying to get the attention of the people you might be trying to pass if you do this, both so that you don’t get hit, and also so that you don’t startle them and interrupt their scene.

Watching other people’s scenes is expected, but you should always remain quiet when doing so.  Offering advice or commentary is never a good thing to do while the scene is going on, but if you liked what you saw, letting them know after they are done with the scene is generally considered good form and might even begin a conversation.

I know that was a bit of a whirlwind tour of some of the things you might see and expect in a dungeon, but I also hope that it was helpful.

I am, as always, happy to answer any questions that you may have either in the comments or through email.

  • Rant

backlash and progress

Combatting misogyny could be my full time job, but I am glad that it is not.

The United States are currently going through a bit of a re-shuffle with regards to national identity, which is pretty obvious to everyone on the world stage.  We’re kind of like your neighbors who are constantly fighting with each other and you’re never quite sure whether or not to call the cops and report potential domestic abuse.

Just to be clear – if you hear something that you think might be domestic abuse, you should call it in.

I kind of wish someone could call the cops to get us out of our current set of problems.

Anyway – the issue that I want to talk about is the spate of recent revelations in the media about men in positions of power acting badly towards women.

The list of influential men being accused of sexual misconduct seems to grow every day, and my suspicion is that it will continue to do so for some time – at least until the backlash comes.

It seems like every politicized event in US current events eventually results in a backlash.  We’re already seeing some of it with these sexual misconduct allegations – a lot of powerful men who fear reprisals of their own are being silent for the moment, but I predict that they’ll gather around whoever has the audacity to stand up and make the claim that this is reverse discrimination or something else just as silly.

Firstly – this is not an example of reverse discrimination.  Women are not forming mobs and lynching men.  In fact, they’re not even really calling for the lynching of the men who are actually responsible for acting like perverts, which would be mob justice, but still not discrimination.  In most cases, they’re merely coming forward to tell their stories and not calling for any action at all.

Now, I do think that actions should be taken in most of these cases.  However, we’re losing sight of the most important part of what is happening.

In case you missed it – my opinion is that the most important part of this is that women are beginning to come forward and tell their stories.

This is important, because until recently they haven’t felt safe enough to do so, and that represents a huge failure on our part as men who care for women and as a society in general.  We must capitalize on the opportunity that this is affording us.  We must do what we can to prevent the backlash and keep this forward progress.  We must empower every person to tell their story so that we can all learn and grow – together.

Some of these stories are horrible to listen to.  Some of them are just plain weird, and as a self-proclaimed pervert of the highest order, for me to say that is … something.  But no matter whether they are hard to hear or weird or even just ordinary (I’ll leave that word there for a moment…) the fact is that women are finally feeling like the social narrative will permit them to come forward and speak about the things that they have had to endure.  It is long past time that we take such things seriously.

Do I think that every man who has had allegations of sexual misconduct come out is guilty of those things?  No, I do not.  I think that a small percentage of the stories that are coming out are falsified, but I think that is a rare exception rather than the rule as many of these men would like you to believe and as men have insisted is the case since society began to view women as people.

Despite a more receptive climate than in the past, I think it would be a massive stretch of the truth to say that society is open to such things yet.  There is still a strong stigma associated with coming forward with allegations of this type, and the women who do so are courageous and in many cases, desperate.

Part of the blacklash story is that these things happened decades ago and it is not fair to the accused to have to defend their actions from such a long time ago.  There is some small amount of merit to that argument – but only because human memory is fallible.  It is very likely that the facts of an event that happened years or decades ago will become distorted in the memory of those who were involved over time.  This is a proven concept in modern psychology practice – human perception is fallible, and it changes over time.  This is one of the reasons why crimes often have statutes of limitations.

That being said, I think every single case should be investigated – even those that happened 40 years ago.  I think where there is sufficient proof of misconduct that there need to be serious consequences for those involved.  This is how progress is made.  These consequences may only be a loss of social capital in some cases, but in some cases, that may be sufficient.  If you take a man who abuses his power and remove that power from him, he may not be able to continue his abusive practices, or he may learn that his actions – while tolerated in the time when he committed them – were never really acceptable and will be tolerated no longer.

Ignorance of the law is not seen as an excuse for committing a crime, and while I look at the things that some of these men are accused of and wonder how it is possible that they ever felt justified in some of these things, I can kind of see the argument that opinions on what is acceptable have changed over time.  I can maybe see where posing for a photo with your hands someplace they ought not be without consent could be mistaken for humor – because much of the purpose of humor is to make the unbearable, bearable – but I don’t know how anyone ever felt like nonconsensually locking a woman in your office while you jack off is anything but creepy and sad.

Empathy is the thing that would have prevented all of these problems.

Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are interacting with.  Try to understand her motives and fears and then think about what you are about to do.  Just because you might think it would be awesome for a woman to lock you in her office and masturbate while you sit there trapped does not mean that she will feel the same way.   You have to not only put yourself in her place, but you have to put yourself in her mind.

The fact that she is on the other side of the desk means that the right thing for you to do is to go out of your way to be respectful, honest, and engaged.  You have all of the power – don’t abuse it.

Master Rant’s 10 Day Intensive

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been host to a friend who I met through this site.  She lives quite far away, but we’ve been in contact off and on through email and other online means for well over a year at this point.  I never thought we would actually meet in person, but she decided that she wanted to take a trip to San Francisco and experience what it is like to live the D/s lifestyle for a short period under my thumb.

This is the account of some of what transpired in those ten days.

I don’t think the experience was what either of us had anticipated, but it was certainly valuable for many reasons and I am thankful for the opportunities that it afforded me to grow as well.

Let us call my friend (and I do hope that she is still a friend after all of this) Nicole.  That is not her name, but my name isn’t really Rant either, so this should not be terribly surprising to any of you.

Nicole had no experience with D/s before meeting me – but she had had some experience with kink and there were several things that she wanted to try while with me.  We got to many, but not all of them.  There were also several aspects of what I consider to be important to D/s that she had no experience with and found surprising.   Those are the sorts of things that I am going to focus on for this entry.

Foremost, and although I have tried to cover this in the past, was the assumption on her part that D/s requires sex.  This is most assuredly not the case.  I know of several D/s relationships where sex does not play into things at all, and while I would not call that sort of complete lack of sexual focus normal, there is also nothing abnormal about a relationship with deep D/s elements that contains no sex at all.

We did have sex while she was here, but I’m certain that it was not entirely what she was expecting, because sex is not the focus of D/s for me.

D/s is about power exchange.  It is about the transfer of personal power from one individual to another.  It is about choices and decisions and actions and who controls them.  Sometimes these choices and actions and decisions have to do with things of a sexual nature, but quite often they are much more mundane.

Nicole is from Europe and many of our conflicts probably would have been a bit smoother or not have occurred at all were it not for cultural differences as well as the very new nature of things D/s for her when she found herself in my space and under my control.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that she felt that I was simultaneously not controlling enough in some areas and far too controlling in others.

Everyone does D/s a little differently and places emphasis on different parts of the equation.   I was brought up under a different paradigm than is the current norm, and the key facets of D/s for me are Respect, Devotion, and Service.

Respect is the cornerstone of D/s in my world.   It is something that I expect to be in place always and transgressions are dealt with swiftly and decisively.  I am not physically violent without a tremendous amount of forecasting, but I can and often do change my body language and verbal tone to be quite severe when I feel like I am personally being disrespected, or my submissive trainee is being disrespectful to my property or friends.  Showing me proper Respect is Rule Zero.  It is something that I expect to not have to talk about, and if I do, there is a high likelihood that I will be lecturing you, not just mentioning it out of hand.

Devotion is where I get my kicks.   It is my single biggest fetish.  It is the reason why I do D/s.   I may have a big ego, but I like being worshiped just a little bit – and for more than my body or skills.  I like being thought of as competent and trustworthy, and being Devoted to me is the best way to show me that.

And last, but not least, is Service.  I expect a certain amount of Service to be rendered unto me.  This does not always have to take the typical forms, and sexual service is only one manner of service, and not nearly the most important to me.   I can be rather particular in the ways that I expect Service to be rendered, and that can also be an area of conflict from time to time.

Pain management is a constant struggle for me, and even in a short term visit like the one that Nicole and I planned and executed I can be sidelined by my physical pain issues.  There was one evening in particular while she was here with me where the pain was extreme enough that even conversation was difficult for me.  That isn’t necessarily normal, but it’s not abnormal either.  I would say that I have at least one day a month where things are that bad.

Nicole is a lovely woman, but I think I disappointed her a bit when I showed her some of the non-sexual aspects of D/s and placed those of higher importance than the sexual ones.

She asked me to be true to my older self and not to soften the edges on my High Protocol nature, so I didn’t.

It caused conflict.

Conflict in any relationship is normal, but most people are so enamored of each other and deep into the throes of NRE that they don’t register conflict right away – and Nicole and I had our first conflict within 24 hours of her arrival.  It was jarring for us both, but more so for her, I think.

I also practice ethical non-monogamy, which made for more conflict, as I had to manage the feelings of my current submissive partner as well as Nicole’s own feelings while hosting Nicole for her visit.  The three-way conflict was very minimal, but present.

All told, Nicole was able to check off some of her bucket-list items while she was here and I learned a few important things about myself:

Most surprising to me: Sex is nowhere near as important to me as it once was – even just a year or two ago.

D/s is much more in line with my lifestyle and the way I want to live my life than I’ve admitted in the past.  It has always informed my choices, but now it is much more of a lifestyle choice that I cannot turn away from.

In particular, Discipline is very important to me where it has not always been.

I’m a very physical person – and while this manifests itself sexually, it also manifests itself in other areas, Discipline being chief among them.

I really enjoy public play.  This has not always been the case.  I’ve taken part in various forms of it over the past couple of decades, but I have historically had a strong preference for private play.   I no longer feel that way.  They are balanced for me now.

I still don’t enjoy meting out punishment.  I do it, because Discipline is important to me, but I can spank pretty hard – especially when using a paddle – and I surprised myself with the ferocity of my flogger strikes this time as well.

I know that Nicole learned a great deal about herself too while she was here – but those thoughts are for her and I would do her a disservice to relay them here without her implicit approval.

I doubt very much that she and I will meet again in person – the distance and cost are just too high to make that tenable – this was more of a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing, and while I know that things did not go exactly the way that she had planned, I do hope that she feels the experience was worth it.

I certainly do.

If ever I found myself with a similar situation in the offering, I would change a few things, but keep most things the same – so I suppose that is as good a measure of the success of things as any other.  I learned and grew and I’m certain that she did too.

I am changing and I continue to change those around me, but I remain Rant.

  • Rant

Circling the wagons

I am going to abuse my soapbox once more.  Though really, abuse is the wrong term here – I’m merely using this vehicle to raise awareness around something that deserves to be made more visible.

Kinky people need to stick together.  We are a community, and unfortunately there is a bit of us vs. them that happens whenever people of like mind gather.  We try to minimize this and be inclusive, but sometimes when one of our own is hurting, we have to circle the wagons and provide help to that person.  Most often this is emotional support, and my own people have circled around me and given me as much as they possibly can in that vein.  They have literally bled for me in recent days.

Right now one of our own is hurting and in need.  This man is an icon in the local community, and he doesn’t particularly like me, but he is a good man.  He gives more than he takes, he provides a solid backdrop to even more, and he is an ever present force for what is good and right to our people.  He is an amazing example to new folks and the old guard alike.  He is one for whom respect is a meaningful term.

And he is hurting, right now, in such a way that prevents him from realizing his own massive potential.

We may have the ability to fix that for him.

Here is a gofundme page with more information and details.  Please visit it, even if you have nothing to give, but even better – please give something.  Even $5 would be meaningful.  Let’s show him that he is important, that he is loved, and that we will support our own.

Just in case that link was too subtle, here is again: https://www.gofundme.com/mndmmdj7

If gofundme pages are not your thing, there is also going to be a fundraiser event this weekend at the Cat Club on Folsom St in San Francisco this Sunday from 7:00pm until close.   I will be there.  If you would like to meet me, this is a good opportunity to do so.   If you just want something fun to do, this is also a good opportunity for that.

Please make this man feel loved – he deserves it.

 

  • Rant

I’m not selling out. I’m buying in.

My life right now does not suck.

I’m still healing.  Physically, emotionally, psychologically… I’m not quite yet where I need to be.  Maybe I never shall be.

But right now, my life does not suck.

The energy in my life has taken a complete turn.  Where there was uncertainty, anxiety, mistrust, and pain now I have tolerance, Devotion, affection, and love.

My life is full of music and love.

Trust is at the core of my ability to be happy.

Fear has been driving my life for longer than I’d like to admit.

I made things worse by finding more and more sources of fear to add to the mix and when I didn’t have enough, I invented things to fear.

My proclivity is strongly to turtle when things hurt me.  I pull in, armor up, and tell the world to fuck off while I rally the troops for a sortie.

Love is so much more powerful than fear though.

I have amazing friends.  In some cases these are friends that have been hanging back in the shadows, waiting to serve me when I needed them – my own personal Batman corps.   In some cases these are new friends, people I’ve just met, but still want to help me heal.  In some cases, they’re friendships that have been with me all along, but now take on new significance and import.

The problem with love is that it requires trust.  When I open myself up to love, I’m opening the very heart of me, and the pain that I felt in the past weeks is more intense than anything I’ve gone through before, and I’ve gone through some seriously fucked up shit.

The very idea of making myself vulnerable like that, so soon, so wholly, is terrifying.  But it is also exactly what I need.

So I have begun again to love freely, trust freely, and have no expectations.

I am setting myself up to be crushed again, but now I know that I have my friends who will always be there to help me get back up again.

I am giving my trust and love to everyone right now, and it’s scary as hell, but so unbelievably rewarding that I literally do not have the words.

This past week I was at Bondage a Go Go and we all found out together that Chris Cornell had passed away.  It was a powerful moment for a lot of people.  I stood outside waiting for my car and saw a young woman crying but didn’t put two and two together just yet.  I asked her why she was upset and she evaded, saying that it was not a good reason to be standing on the street and crying, but I told her that I knew exactly what she was feeling and asked if I could give her a hug.   She agreed and so I did.  She wept and I held her for only a fleeting moment.  My car had arrived and I looked down on her and said, “my car is here, are you going to be okay?”  She looked me directly in the eyes and said, “I will be now, thank you.  Go.”  So I did.

It was an anonymous moment with a stranger in the streets of San Francisco, but it was powerful.  It was a moment where fear and pain turned into hope and love.

I don’t even know her name.

In the past, this soon after a tragedy like I’ve recently undergone, I would turtle.  I’d close up and close out the world and drink in the sweet poison of misery.  I’d sell out and join the world of the hopeless and haunted.  But I am fortunate and that is not my path this time.

This time, I’m doubling down on faith and love.

This time, I’m buying in and raising the stakes.

It will either liberate or destroy me.

  • Rant