Advertisement

‘BDSM for beginners’: Everything I learnt when I went to a bondage workshop

Fifty Shades of Grey has sparked an interest in BDSM across the globe – upon the first film’s release in 2015, there was a sharp and sudden increase in people searching for the term online, according to Google Trends.

However it turns out that the film is in fact not an accurate depiction of BDSM at all – it’s one of the first things I learn in my ‘BDSM for beginners’ workshop.

“It’s rape, it’s abuse, it’s not an accurate representation,” says professional dominant and leader of the workshop, Master Dominic.

It’s a Monday evening and I’m in a dimly-lit basement room in The Book Club in Shoreditch, East London. Sitting alongside me in rows of chairs are a mix of men and women – some are with their partners, others with mates, a few are alone.

Part of The Book Club’s ‘sex-ed for adults’ series, we’ve been promised an “introductory workshop in kink” – we have been assured, however, that there will be no audience participation.

I am usually the type of person to volunteer, but even I might draw the line at this one.

As someone who knows little more about BDSM than what one sees in Fifty Shadesand I’ve only seen the first film - it doesn’t take me long to realise I have a lot to learn.

Master Dominic is blunt but hilarious in an understated way. Most importantly, however, he is undeniably an expert in BDSM despite the fact that – as he points out – “there’s no qualification.”

He encourages us to ask questions whenever we feel like it, and away we go.

Before you try BDSM

“BDSM is not something you can just have a couple of beers and fumble your way through,” Dominic tells us. Which, I feel, is quite important considering that’s how most people lose their virginity.

I’d never actually considered how one would go about experimenting with BDSM, but when you think about it, how would you bring it up?

Dominic says you should just say it and then do as much research as you can.

It’s also important to discuss what language your partner likes and dislikes – Dominic recommends using verbs over nouns, so asking “How does that feel?”

The next key step in preparing to try BDSM is to work out what everything feels like on yourself first. “You need to try things out in a non-sexy way because bondage can induce panic,” he says.

Dominic tells us various stories illustrating just how important it is to do this – the woman who thought it would be a good idea to walk over her partner in stilettos, for example, or the man who decided to put kebab skewers through his nipples.

I alternate between nearly falling off my chair with laughter and wincing at the thought of the pain. Fifty Shades certainly doesn’t show how much can go wrong.

[[gallery-0]]

“You have to learn how to scare the living sh** out of someone but in a sexy way,” Dominic says. And I realise there’s a lot more to this than just blindfolding someone and giving them a little spank.

Dominic drops a bag of terrifying props on to the floor and I see things I’ve never seen in my sheltered 24 years on this earth.

How to get into a BDSM session

When you’re in a long-term relationship, you see each other in pyjamas so how do you suddenly put on a corset and switch into different personas?

Maybe my pink polka-dot PJs aren’t as sexy as I’d like to think.

So how do you start?

According to Dominic, the trick is for the dominant person to leave the room for five minutes – this gives the submissive the chance to get into what’s known as “sub space” and allows them to decompress, get ready and feel comfortable.

When the dom comes back, they need to be suddenly bold and in charge rather than polite: “Nothing says dominance like crippling anxiety,” Dominic deadpans. He has a point.

Impact play

According to Dominic, there are three most common interests when it comes to impact play: bondage, spanking and feet.

Feet? Seriously? My friend and I exchange puzzled looks because, well, we both think feet are gross.

It’s spanking, however, that is the entry-level area of BDSM.

[[gallery-1]]

Dominic’s first top tip surprises me: “Don’t hit them in the kidneys,” he says. And again, I am confused. Why would anyone want to hit someone in the kidneys? Perhaps I am too innocent for my own good. Am I missing something inherently sexy about the kidneys?

The main rule is not to hit anything that isn’t protected – it’s best to stick to the bottom, and particularly the fleshy area where the bum cheeks meet the top of the legs. This, he says, is “the sweet spot.”

Oh, and don’t bend over so your buttocks are stretched out – the more taut the skin, the more likely it is to bruise and split. Ouch.

Start off gently because you have to build up tolerance to impact play, apparently. And whatever you do, don’t use a cane, which Dominic says is a particularly British vice. I can’t decide whether this surprises me or not.

If you’re the spanker rather than the spankee (my terms, not his), you should cup your hand and hit 25 per cent less hard than you think your partner can stand.

Dominic rotates his hands in circles and his wrists click loudly and continuously – the result of years of spanking. You have been warned.

One of the other main forms of impact play is using a flogger – Dominic suggests you start with a small one made of leather or faux fur.

You should flog in a downwards motion and continue for three and a half to four minutes. This is, apparently, the optimum length of time for the sub to relax and enjoy it.

I imagine trying to do any of these things without knowing anything about how to do them properly and cringe – it must result in a lot of awkwardness and pain.

[[gallery-2]]

A question pops into my head and – having been encouraged to do so at the start – I decide to be bold, stick my hand up and ask: “Do you wash the sex toys?”

The room reacts in a mix of sniggers and chuckles. I decide never to ask a question ever again in my life.

Dominic, however, respects my question and explains that you should wash toys in hot, soapy water, spray them with Dettol and hang them up to dry. Once a month should be enough if you’re not using them loads.

“Insertables” however – his word not mine – need to be thoroughly cleaned after each use though.

I try not to giggle at the word.

Sensory deprivation

The most important thing to remember when trying sensory deprivation is to have a safe word – oh, and it’s not about pushing someone to their limit.

Some clever so-and-so in the audience with me asked how you have a safe word if someone is gagged, and Dominic said you need to have a hand signal.

He does not recommend gagging and binding someone at the same time, but if you switch between the two, you need to switch safe words too.

He explained the challenge of not breaking the sexy bubble whilst equally ensuring no one panics. Hmm. Quite the dilemma, I imagine.

As a dom, you need to trust that the sub will use your safe word – one of the ways you can avoid panic setting in, Dominic explains, is by ensuring the sub can set themselves free.

“Knowing you can get out of it yourself removes panic 95% of time,” he says.

As the session draws to a close, I notice the dog snoring in the row behind me which somewhat ruins the sexy vibe.

Before I went to the workshop, I imagined everyone would be sitting there cringing, but they weren’t. Although we laughed throughout, it was refreshing how, well, casually but seriously the whole topic was treated.

And by the end it was safe to say I understood how real BDSM isn’t anything like Fifty Shades at all. Who’d have thought it?