Fear is innate to the kink experience. The is the fun and sexy fear of not knowing what is going to happen to you during a scene. There is also the not sexy or fun fear of entering the kinky world.
When you explore kink, you are faced with a lot of first times: first munch (coffee with kinky folks), first dungeon, first support group, first time naked in public. While many kinky groups try to make themselves welcoming to the new comer, many people still are afraid of entering some of these spaces.
To be honest, even though I have been kinky for a long time, I still remember the fear of walking into my first play space, the fear I had going to my first munch, and the fear I had of walking into a leather store. It’s not unreasonable to be afraid of these things. You are putting yourself out there in a way you probably have never done before.
Additionally, in some cases you may no know what to expect. How will people dress and act? Are there rules you need to know? How will you even find the group?
So, you want to try a new kinky group. Here are some tips and tools to help you conquer your fears.
Take the Risk. Yes, it can be risky to enter a new group. For those of us who are shy or introverts, the anxiety of going to a new group and meeting a bunch of new people can be excruciating. Add to the that the anxiety of it being a kinky group when you haven’t been part of one and it can feel too overwhelming.
The thing to keep in mind about going to kink groups is that in exchange for dealing with your fear and anxiety you will get to meet a whole bunch of folks excited to help you along in your kinky journey. While not every group will be the right fit for you, there are plenty which will be. In exchange of moving through your fear to go to a group will be connections to people who accept you for who you are.
Do Some Pre-Gaming. Most munches or groups have information about themselves up on the website where you found out about the group. One of the easiest ways to reduce the stress of going to a group is to message the organizer. Let them know that you are new to the group and will be coming to their munch/group/space for the first time. Many group and space leaders/owners will take the time to seek out new folks, say hi, and give them the lay of the land.
Some groups or spaces have specific rules or requirements. If these are listed in the group/meeting post or website make sure you read them. Check for things like dress codes, costs, if you have to be vetted prior to attending, or if there are rules for behaviors. Groups organizers post the rules and requirements for a reason. If you show up and are inappropriately attired you may not be let into the space. If you do no know there is a fee to participate, you may not come prepared to pay to enter. Knowing these things before you go to a space is very useful!
Map It Out. Things are so much easier in the age of GPS. The first time I had to find a public dungeon I wandered around the NYC meat packing district (well before it was gentrified), walking past sides of beef being slid on racks into warehouses and with some very sketchy people walking around looking for a vaguely marked door. Today when I go to a new dungeon, I plug the address into my phone for step-by-step directions. LOL
Knowing where to go makes things less stressful. When the location is easy to find (like the IHOP restaurant where one of my groups meets) I don’t worry much. However, a lot of play spaces are in poorly marked locations (for good reason). Having an idea before you go to the location helps reduce stress.
While every space has rules of behavior (sometimes written, sometimes not) there are a few basic rules shared widely by kink events.
If the location is public, come in streetware. Often munches and brunches for kinksters are held at restaurants, coffee shops, or other public locations. These groups share space with the general public. There is no need to come in full leather or your collar, chest harness and glittery undies. If the space is public (even if you are using a back patio at a coffee house) wear what you would if you were entering that space alone.
If you are at a business, buy something. Often, businesses open their doors to groups to meet in exchange for the people who come patronizing their business. Be a good guest and do so. Buy a cup of coffee or a piece of cake or a sex toy depending on your location. And if the business is one that relies on tipping, tip your servers.
Unless Otherwise Specified, No Sex or Play. Many of our kink events happen at public locations or in hotels. The rules for public nudity and public sex (and yes, it is public sex even if it happens in a closed bathroom). In most cases you can properly assume that sex and nudity in public is illegal, so don’t do it.
I have seen too many munch and group hosts have to post after the fact when some kinksters were caught having sex in a public location. Just because the bathroom at a restaurant is single occupancy, you still can’t have it off in there! This behavior causes a lot of problems for your host and establishment. Be polite and save the bone session for a private space.
Be Resepctful. This extends to your hosts, other guests, people at the location, and all kinky folks there. This include things like:
Ask before you hug or touch. Just because we are into different types of sex does not mean we are open for random touching. Ask before you hug or touch someone.
If someone clarifies their protocol, respect it. In kink spaces many power exchange couples will often implement protocols. Some of these can include needing to request permission from a dominant to speak to their submissive, hugging only one of the people in a couple, or using someone’s scene name even if you know their given name. When someone clarifies their protocol in the space to you, respect and honor that.
Additionally, being a dick is not part of being a dominant. I know we see people who like to walk in, be loud, and make a scene and consider that dominance. It is not. It is being a jerk. You can be plenty dominant without making the rest of the group uncomfortable with your antics.
You Do Not Have to Connect with Everyone There. Sometimes being the new person means you will generate a ton of interest by the group members. You are under no obligation to give out contact information, connect on social media, or agree to meet up again with anyone in the group. You are going to this group for you. If you want to date or go for a coffee, great! Exchange info. If you don’t want to follow up with a person, reject them (but do it kindly).
The Group Leaders/Dungeon Monitors Are There for Your Safety. It can be very intimidating to go to a kink event. You may have spent weeks, months or years working up the courage to go. Don’t let someone spoil your night by making your feel unsafe.
We make sure we have people who monitor the group and are there to keep you safe. If you feel unsafe for any reason feel free to find the munch organizer or the dungeon monitor and let them know. Trust your gut. If something feels wrong, have the organizer or DM intercede on your behalf. We are often trained in how to do this firmly and subtly. You have the right to be safe at our events and in our spaces. We want to make sure we are there to make this happen.
The benefits of connecting with folks who will support you in being exactly who you want to be well outweigh the fears of going to a new group. It can be daunting to overcome your fear. The benefit for doing so is a connection with some amazing folks who will love you for who you are.