To outsiders, the underground world of BDSM seems like a scary place full of whips and chains where anything goes, but there are actually a lot of sex dungeon rules. The etiquette that’s expected of someone who visits a dungeon is ten times more strict than a normal bar or club because there’s so much fluid sexual energy in the air, a mixture of pleasure and pain that can make things confusing. Unless you really know what’s going on, it can be hard to tell who’s breaking the rules and who’s having a good time. The rules of a sex dungeon aren’t that dissimilar from that of the regular world, but the ramifications of disobeying them definitely take on a more drastic connotation. If you’re wondering, “What are sex dungeons like?” This should give you a pretty good idea.
Do you have to dress like a Cure video exploded all over you? How do you address the people you meet? These are all normal questions for anyone who’s new to the BDSM scene, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about asking them. Some more complex questions come into play when they concern consent, safe words, and the people working in the dungeon, some of whom may be physically intimidating. Hopefully, these etiquette tips for new players on the BDSM scene are able to provide the answers you need to shake off the heebie-jeebies and help you jump into the deep end of a dungeon.
Consent Isn’t a Transitive Property
This is so, so, so important that even though it should be understood in a sex-positive realm like the BDSM scene, it still has to be screamed from the rooftops. If you’re in a dungeon and you see someone getting bitten, licked, spanked, WHATEVER, it doesn’t give you permission to do the same thing. Even though that person has given consent to a particular person, that consent does not transfer to you. Always remember to get explicit consent before doing anything.
Stop Bogarting the Equipment
Not everyone in the BDSM scene has their own dungeon at home where they can spend all day tying up subs and experimenting with various speeds on their f*ck machine. Some folks have to wait all week to be paddled or do some paddling, so if you think you’ve been using a dungeon machine for a little too long, call an audible on your scene and acquiesce the dungeon’s equipment to your patient BDSM brethren.
Always Bring a Towel
It’s probably safe to say that when you visit a dungeon, the people you encounter are going to be in various states of undress. Which is great. That’s what you’re there for. And not to be crass, but there are a lot of bodily fluids floating around and soaking into the chairs, couches, you name it. Even if you’re not participating in a scene, you’ll probably want to set a towel down before you take a seat.
Don’t Pretend Like You Don’t Know the Safe Word
Not only is this kind of activity rude, it’s also incredibly dangerous. If you’re in the middle of a scene and someone throws out their safe word and you keep whapping them or whatever, it can cause severe emotional damage (aside from whatever physical scars you might give them). BDSM is built on a foundation of trust, and if you want to be invited back to your favorite dungeon, you’ll not only attend to your subs needs, you’ll begin to anticipate the moments when things might go over the line.
It’s Rude to Expect People to Call You Sir or Ma’am
If you’re a n00b to the scene, you probably expect everyone to walk around calling people “sir,” “madam,” “miss,” or “ma’am,” but the truth of the matter is that those names are usually only said in the middle of a scene, and they’re only said out of respect to people who have earned them. So don’t walk into a new dungeon with an attitude about how no one’s calling you by your preferred title. If you do, it’s likely you’ll earn a different type of nickname.
Don’t Go There if You’re Not Ready
If you’re in the middle of a scene and you start to feel like you’re not experienced enough for what’s happening, it’s okay to call it off. No one’s going to get mad at you for not wanting to get in over your head. Chances are, if you get into something that you’re not ready for and totally freak out, it’s going to ruin everyone’s night, and it’s going to be harder to gain the respect of those that are more in tune with the scene. Just remember that it’s okay to take a step back and just hang out.
Don’t Bail on a Sub After a Scene
If you’re new to BDSM scene, or you haven’t been an active dom for very long, you may not know that once you finish a scene with a sub they’re extremely emotionally raw and need you to stick around for support. Remember, they’ve been going through massive amounts of pain while maybe/probably having ALL the orgasms, and they need someone to help them get through the confusion brought on by the mixture of those sensations, along with the depression that comes on when so many endorphins flood your body. Think of it as the same thing that performers get when they get off stage.
No One Likes a Gossip
It doesn’t really matter what kind of scene you’re in – be it an underground BDSM crew or a book club, nobody likes it when you tell tales outside of school. Not only is it uncool to talk about people behind their backs, it can also affect their lives outside of the scene. Some doms and subs lead very buttoned-down lives and word of their sexual proclivities could cause real-life drama for them. So if you’re telling your friends about a crazy scene that you saw at the dungeon, leave everyone’s name out of it.
Sharing Is Not Caring
You know how annoyed you get when you’re having a small get-together with your friends and a bunch of randoms start showing up and drinking all your booze or eating all Trader Joe’s Camembert? Multiply that times ten and it’s how people in the BDSM scene feel when creeps that weren’t invited show up to an invite-only dungeon event. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to one of these, keep the event, location, time, and the guest list to yourself.
If You’re a DM, Be Cool
Dungeon Monitors have the unenviable task of policing a group of adults who have probably spent a lot of money to take part in something that’s supposed to be an uninhibited evening of sexual exploration. The best DMs know how to make their presence known without being creeps, but as Elaine Miller says, it’s easy for a DM to look like a cop or a creep to a player who’s in the middle of a good time. Both are a buzz kill. Take care to minimize your social impact. Yeah, I’m talking to you, big hairy man in a high-vis Dungeon Monitor vest standing 3 feet from those women who are f*cking.
Interrupting a Scene Is the Fastest Way to Be Labeled a Buzzkill
If you’re in a BDSM dungeon, you probably understand that the last thing you want to happen is someone busting up your fun. Especially if you’re a sub and you’re in the middle of a blissed-out beating, the last thing you want to hear is some rando talking about the mediocre sandwich that they had for lunch. Not only does chatting during a scene take everyone out of the moment, it’s also rude! Move your dumb conversation to the hangout area of the dungeon if you want to talk. It’s like being in the middle of a basketball game and asking Lebron if he wants to go get a drink right before he dunks on someone.
Touching Other Players’ Stuff Is Weird
This piece of etiquette applies to every part of life; you can use it when you’re visiting your friends, or even when you’re at the bank. When you visit a dungeon and you see that someone has brought out their super-cool sex toy set, don’t rush over to the sex toy case and start fondling the equipment like you’ve got the receipt in your fishnets. Remember to ask if you can touch the items before playing with them, and if they say no, then that’s that. Think how you would feel if you had a cool new samurai sword and everyone started swinging it around without asking. It’s a drag, isn’t it?
Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness
When you finish up at a dungeon, it’s always a show of respect to clean off the equipment. Maybe they have people that take care of that, but probably not. Think about how you feel when you go to the gym and no one’s cleaned off the rowing machine. Now think about how you’d feel if the person before you had been binding someone to the same rowing machine and clamping their nipples. Clean the machine. It’s also a good rule of thumb to wipe down the machine before you start using it because, you know, people are terrible.
Keep the Noise Level to a Minimum
In most public-ish dungeons, there are multiple scenes going on at once. That’s just the reality of the BDSM world. Each scene requires a level of detachment from the real world that can be easily broken if the sounds of another scene begin to interfere with what’s going on in your world. It’s not that you have to use your inside voice when you’re the middle of being bound or whatever it is you enjoy, but you should be mindful that other people are also trying to have the same escape from reality.