January/February 2001
“I’m registered, now what?” Events and Etiquette
A Comfortable Q&A by Daddy Gray and his ed with Lord Wolf

Being in the area and having recently registered to attend their first leather gathering Daddy Greys ed requested  an interview to discuss what they were getting themselves into. Being that there are many people coming out in the leather world that have never gotten closer to a leather event than a particular HBO program, we felt we should let everyone listen in to the conversation.

Wolf: Welcome to Wolfshold

Ed: Thank you for your time sir.

DG: Shall we begin?

Wolf: Of course

DG: So, how do you find these events?

Wolf: These days it is easier than ever.  If online you can join internet newsgroups and bulletin boards, frequent chat rooms and IRC, to gain information about these events. These have been quite a boon to education in the Leather community, and many events are tuned to outreach and education for the novice. However, if you’re not computer savvy it is also possible to find such events by subscribing to BDSM and lifestyle publications. These days there are quite a few local publications like Minnesota Alternatives and of course “STROKES” (smile) There are also national publications like the San Mutopian Guardian, and Taboo. But the best way to keep informed of these events is to become active in your local community.

DG: How do you register?

Ed: and not wind up staying with the Quilting Bee?

Wolf: Either education groups, like Olympus, leather action groups (activists) or playgroups put on most events. These are usually closed events, members only, and they like to keep participants together. At weekend events most likely the group will book the entire hotel, or most of it.  If not, most events will have a block of rooms booked in the club or event name, such as Leatherquest in Chicago, Dreams to Reality in Omaha, etc.  When you call for room rates mention that you are with whatever group is sponsoring the event. Remember you may be booked in a very large hotel and not the only group there, so the event management may wish you to keep it “ Low Key”. You may also run into situations such as when I booked in for the Leatherquest event “Malicious Masquerade” and the counter girl, smiling, mentioned that she was told to stay off the third floor, the very floor our rooms were on. She grinned and giggled, saying she was told that’s  “where the perverts were”.  We had a ‘tete a tete’ as I suggested that she’d probably be safer with us on the third floor than with the state troopers on the fifth floor.

Ed: Well, they have handcuffs too…

Wolf: As is usually the case, the staff was told what would be happening that weekend. At most events planners have helped set up the rules, not only for the attendees, but for the hotel staff as well. At a well planned event you should feel quite at home and free to act and dress as you wish within the confines of some very lenient rules such as no bare buttocks in the lobby. Quite a few events I have attended have been filled with people in fetish dress for the entire weekend. In fact I remember pizza delivery to the dungeon at the Blackrose event just outside Washington DC

DG: Okay, I’m registered, what happens now?

Wolf: After you book your room, get comfortable.  You’ll most likely be going down to a registration desk where you will be asked to sign your life away (snicker). No, you will sign a waiver, releasing the club and event from liability should you be hurt, and attest that you will be tolerant towards that which you view, and that you will behave according to the events rules and behave in a safe, sane and consensual manner. You and your party will be given badges and event handouts, lists of seminars, demos, dinners, and hopefully the hours of the Dungeon (smile). It will also include the rules of the event and whatever etiquette is to be followed, usually presented in a clear and forthright manner.

Ed: What etiquette ?

Wolf: The rules of conduct as well as what can and cannot be done at a particular event. Basic rules are a dress code in the public areas of the hotel, no scene play in the public parts of the hotel, local concerns about nudity and public sex. Basic dungeon etiquette is usually followed, such as not interrupting peoples scenes, no loud talking in the dungeon, use of the color code, etc. But it can go as far as to cover limitation on the length of a whip to be used in the dungeon. They also, at times ,cover issues of harassment of other guests and other issues of personal conduct as well as a clear penalty for abusing the privilege of attending the event . This can go as far as revoking a badge and expulsion.

DG: How do I not make an ass of myself

Ed: and one’s boy…

Wolf: Be open, And don’t be overbearing about ritual, the best way to make friends is to be yourself and if respect is due it will be given. If you are feeling inquisitive ask. A novice to anything should never feel embarrassed to say “can you show me that?”. I have never been to one of these events where newcomers were not accepted for who they were and treated nicely by others. The only way to learn, which is what these events are for, is to interact. In Chicago, Leatherquest puts on a wonderful  seminar in which people could go to various “Sensation Stations”  and obtain stamps for trying singletails, floggers, bondage and the like . Of course the easiest way to make an ass of oneself is to say “That’s wrong!”,  “this way is right”, “my way is right.” Or to claim respect by right because you are a “Master”. Just because someone loves you enough to call you “Blank” does not mean the world sees you that way. Be yourself and respect will come. That is one commodity that cannot be demanded but must be earned.

DG: What types of seminars are typical?:

Wolf: Generally an event organizer will try to present as varied a fare as possible but some staples are; Hands on classes or demos involving  singletails, floggers, wax,, bondage, fire and the like. They can, however, get as involved as play or permanent piercing, cutting , branding, electricity, or CBT. (the latter usually a demonstration only.)  Also, there are usually discussion groups and panels which discuss various aspects of BDSM, such as dominant, switch or submissive roles. These panels usually consist of people who are actively involved in BDSM and discuss what it is they do, answer questions, and discuss new ideas and practices . The idea is the exchange of ideas and ideals in an open and accepting atmosphere. The topics vary  and the list is too long to try to reproduce here, but a few are, polyamory, humiliation play, interrogation scenes, equestrian, role play, all the way to making a 24/7 relationship work and gender and acceptance issues.

Now, not all events you attend will have every conceivable seminar but most offer enough of a choice that even the most experienced can find something new and interesting.

Ed: What if I see something I don’t like or that seems dangerous?

Wolf: Well if you see something you don’t like, think of it as their choice. We each ask acceptance of OUR personal “quirks” and to gain that for ourselves first we must practice tolerance in our dealings with others. There are a few choices in this lifestyle I chose not to make, but I cannot begrudge others their choices. If I view a safe scene that is just not my taste, I look or move away.   An example of this is a public humiliation scene. It may not be your cup of tea, but to the people “In” that particular scene it is pleasure, “What it is they do”. We, as tolerant people, must  try to accept that it is a negotiated scene for the pleasure of both partners.  They have the right to explore their world, just as you have the right to do what it is you do. If it’s not your taste, then don’t watch and accept that it is their scene.  Dangerous is another story.  Most events have a staff and once you’re in the dungeon they will have “Dungeon Monitors “ (The 21st  century name for dungeon masters). These are the people who have final say on what scenes are allowed and enforce the particular rules of that event. If you do see something you believe is dangerous you should approach one of these people and inform them of your concern. They will check it out, and if it is deemed dangerous, they will address it. But don’t abuse the privilege by complaining about scenes that “ I would never do”.  Remember, to each his own.

DG: I see someone I want to play with…how should  I go about asking?

Wolf: This is a bit of a question for me (smile), I don’t ask. Those I play with at events have done what humans have done for centuries. They say “Hi”, we speak, become friends. Others just want to… well experience something they have seen me do, and at times they have the nerve to ask. Some see public play as a way to see, feel, and experience new things. I have seen many a couple ask for a particular skill from a top that they both wish to learn. I have been approached by both sides of a relationship to experience, say, the singletail. I usually take the time. It is best to be open and honest. Express your wishes (smile) within the realm of politeness, and be sure of the dynamics of the relationship, other than that its almost like dating.

Ed: What do I wear?

DG: Not wear?

Wolf: The entire point of these events, to me, is acceptance. I believe people should wear what makes them comfortable, what makes them themselves. Most people define themselves with dress. I have seen everything from latex to street cloths, to leather, to a friend of mine who wears this adorable Mickey Mouse Baby Jumper. I have seen cats with tails and nuns in red corsets. Its a free for all. Enjoy.  As for suggestions, well, you cant go wrong with leather! Of course, keep in mind that the event will have some rules on public nudity. Be sure to check the rules and ask if they are not clear.

Ed: Ok, What if  ‘Master Lord High Pooh-Bah’ (not Daddy) tells me to “get me a drink, girl” what do I do?

Wolf:  Well, if your asking what I prefer (smile), the response would be: “You would have to ask my “Master”, “Daddy”,” Lord”. Of course, if they are rude about it, or if they are “overly  persistent” you might say “Excuse me, I did not give you the  right to order me about, did I?”. If they still persist, or become a complete jerk, the expletive of your choice may be in order. Now, these are my rules (smile). With your Top “mileage may vary”. I have found that there are few who would overstep such boundaries, and if they do, they soon learn not to make the same mistake again.

Ed: My relationship is “Different”. Will we be accepted?

Wolf: One of my favorite parts of these leather events is the tolerance. Most events are largely pansexual, with many varied and exotic couple combinations. I have found that at these events acceptance does not lie in what society may have you labeled, but on your own merits. 

DG: How do we make our relationship clear?.

Wolf: Well, you have the name tags to work with. Many have “Master”, “Mistress”, “Slave”, “Boy”, “sub” or “Switch”.  Many go so far as to claim ownership, such as ”Master Bobs Suzy”. Some may include a title, such as “WhipmasterBob”

DG: What about play?

Wolf: Most events will sponsor a Dungeon ,with the groups equipment or donated equipment. They will have Dungeon Monitors and strict rules. Besides that it is a free and open atmosphere. Most enjoy the camaraderie, but public play does not appeal to everyone. You have to be careful to know that your partner is comfortable as well as relaxed with the idea.

Ed: Oh God, a public dungeon, what will I see?

Wolf: In most cases, nudity and a great variety of scenes and skills. At times there will be featured demos or stage presentations. Many are OK, with people just watching as long as they don’t try to interfere with the scene in progress. Talking loudly while people are trying to get into a “ Space” is thought to be very rude. It is important to remember never to interrupt a scene!.

DG: I want to do a scene. Now what?

Wolf: Hopefully you have a partner. If a piece of equipment is free you can just start your scene. It is, of course, nice to mention to those in the area that your going to use the space. This way you can clear a “Safe Zone”.  If  the piece you wish to use is not free, it is usual to either wait for an opening and mention to the Top using it, when He/She is not busy, that you would like it next. At times I will set my toy bag close to the piece of equipment I’m interested in using,  and just catch the eyes of those people in the areas, asking if the piece is open and motioning that I would like to use it if it is available.  Of course be sure to clean up your area for the next player. There will usually be cleaning products for this purpose nearby.

Ed: Now he wants to beat ME in public. What do I do? (grin)

Wolf: That of course is up to you. How public will you want it? If you don’t want to draw a crowd find a nice spot in the back of the dungeon. If you want to put on a show (smile) there are usually centered pieces. But be sure of how you feel before the restraints go on. There is a particular feeling that comes from public play. You are surrounded by people, everyone doing what you yourself do. This makes for a particular comfort that, in all honesty, may encourage you to do things you may not believe the next day. Be careful its not going to become a regret and you will be fine.

DG: Ok I’m beating her, should I watch for cops?

Wolf: Actually at some events the cops are helping with security. What we do is no more illegal than swingers conventions that have been going on for years. Quite a few of the events I attend hire off duty police as security.

[Editors note: Laws vary from state to state. If you are unsure of local laws, inquire from a staff member, or refrain from activities which may place you in legal jeopardy]

Ed: I switch, so can I use him in public?

Wolf: Most events have strict rules about penetration and fluids in the public spaces. Usually no intercourse is allowed, though I have seen a fisting or two. I feel that at most event public fornication is frowned upon.

Ed: Ok, we’re done, Now what?

Wolf: Well Again its your choice. A chat in the cool down area perhaps, most dungeons have them. The better events have midnight snacks, sodas and the like. Or you can rush back to the room for …. sleep. By now you most likely need it.