BDSM Groups & Community

One of the major reasons that BDSM groups exist is for more experienced members to educate others in our community, especially newcomers (or “newbies”) to the Scene.  With all that it entails, and the high requirement for safety and consent, BDSM erotic encounters are anything but “casual.”

Many BDSM groups have some form of protocol – rules of conduct, ritual and etiquette centered around respect for others, their property and space.  This is particularly true of the “Old Guard” movement of gay male Leather clubs, where the concept of protocol originated, and their “New Guard” and “Emerging Guard” offshoots; other sources come from BDSM erotic literature.  One common protocol on the Internet is the use of all lower-case for submissives and capitals for dominants (“my name is severin, i am the collared sub of Mistress Wanda, and i have been with Her for four years.”).  Another is to not engage in conversation with a submissive without the permission of their dominant partner.

A major concern is how people meet prospective partners, specifically being safe about it.  People are encouraged to arrange safe-calls as a form of protection.  The person tells a “safe-call buddy” where and with whom they will be, and arranges a time when she or he will call back; if the buddy does not receive the call at the appointed time, then he or she contacts the police or makes other arrangements.  Some local and regional groups even have safe-call networks, so that people can find safe-call buddies.  Other measures, such as obtaining references from prospective partners, are also encouraged.

Along with teaching new members about protocols and personal safety measures, BDSM groups often have workshops on meeting prospective partners and negotiating possible scenes.  Negotiation of scenes is common practice to assure both full consent and mutual compatibility, by discussing what each person expects and desires, and establishing limits as to what kind of play they will engage in later on.  Other workshops can explore a variety of topics ranging from physical techniques to psychological and spiritual insights.  There is also a strong tradition of mentoring within the Scene, not to mention a wide variety of print and web resources.  The goal is to give people the opportunity to expand their knowledge, to understand other perspectives in the kink community, and most importantly to emphasize the ethical ideal of safe, sane and consensual play.

BDSM groups also hold other events where people can get together in either formal or structured ways.  Some have support or discussion groups for specific interests.  Munches are informal social gatherings at restaurants or food courts where kinksters can meet in a relaxed setting.  Play parties, where people can meet and engage in BDSM play in a safe setting, are another common event.  BDSM groups also have events to raise funds for charities such as civil liberties organizations, domestic violence projects, and disaster relief.