It’s possible to make wonderful, meaningful connections at a BDSM play party. After all, you’re sure that everyone is kinky, or at least open-minded. You know you’ll find people with compatible tastes in kinky activities. But you’re not sure how to get around to actually approaching anyone there, or how to get someone to go home with you tonight… especially with all the protocols and etiquette surrounding play parties.
Here are some tips to increase your success in hooking up at a play party without getting kicked out… or disappointed the following morning.
1. Be a good guest: Know the house rules
Every party has its own rules. Before you head over to the event, club, or private party, you should make sure that you’ve looked over what’s expected of guests and players.
Usually, party websites and event pages will have their rules posted or linked. But in the case they aren’t, you can always send a message to the organizers and ask for the rules.
Although following the rules won’t directly help in getting you to hook up with someone, it’ll certainly ensure that you are seen as a trustworthy and respectable guest and player. And, often, breaking rules means being banned from future events. So if you want to come back, following the rules is essential.
2. Be respectful of protocols
Depending on the level of formality of the particular party you’re attending, you might have to use certain protocols when approaching people. Many parties do not have these protocols, but some do. These protocols are usually included or explained in the house rules.
For example, do not approach a collared submissive unless you know it’s okay to talk to them. If in doubt, you can ask an organizer or the Dominant of that submissive.
If you are thinking of approaching a Dominant, following proper protocols may also apply, especially if you’re a submissive.
Following protocols, if they are present, is a good way to show that you understand the community and the people in it. It will endear you to the regulars and help you connect with the people you like.
The best policy is to ask organizers or people you know at the party – they’ll be able to tell you if and when protocols are de rigueur.
3. Don’t drink and kink
It might seem like a good idea to lubricate your social skills with a little alcohol, but it’s best to stay away from heavy drinking when looking to hook up.
Obviously, when people drink a lot, they tend to make lousy decisions. The difference between bringing home a safe player and bringing home someone you’ll regret in the morning might be in that extra glass of wine you downed.
Conversely, don’t hook up with someone who’s drunk. Someone who is impaired by drugs or alcohol is not able to give full consent, and hooking up with them would be unethical, if not borderline illegal. See #6 on consent.
The general rule is keeping it to at most two drinks for the evening. Some play parties are dry, so you may not have to worry about that at all. The general rule: keep your wits about you.
4. Come with a plan
If your plan is hooking up, at least have an idea of what kind of person you want to hook up with. Are you looking for someone dominant? Submissive? Switchy? Just a top or bottom to play casually with?
Although you can never plan for connections that happen at parties, going in looking for “anything” will quickly make you look desperate. If you want to connect to the person on the play floor before you bring them home, it’s better to know ahead of time what role you’re looking to play for the night.
5. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate
The essence of a satisfying encounter in and out of play parties is negotiation. Pick up play can be fun, but you need to know how to approach and negotiate with a potential play partner.
Negotiating involves listening, expressing your own needs, asking the right questions, and coming to an agreement. Tops are often burdened with most of the negotiating tasks, but bottoms should also know how to do it.
I have a helpful negotiation checklist on my website that will remove all the guesswork from this task. Whether you’re a top or a bottom, this list will help you cover the majority of the points when negotiating a scene. Touch of Flavor also has a free video called The Kinksters Guide to Negotiating a BDSM Scene that you might want to check out.
Negotiating is a directed way of getting to know someone. If you’re interested in pursuing your relationship with this person beyond the play floor and into your bedroom, this is a good time to ask them questions about themselves as you prepare for your scene.
6. Always respect consent. Always.
When you’re hooking up in kinky spaces, you need to understand that everything kinky people do is framed by consent.
Consent: permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.
The best way to get yourself kicked out of a BDSM party is to violate another person’s consent.
Do not touch a person without asking for permission first. Do not do something to a person on the play floor that they haven’t consented to beforehand. And if it’s a gray zone (i.e. “yes to impact play” but “no I don’t want that kind of impact play” during a scene), always respect the “no” out of safety.
If you’re a bottom, you’re allowed to change your mind. Always. You should feel no shame in calling the party’s or your own personal safeword (negotiated beforehand) if something doesn’t feel right to you.
Pick up play is not the time to test a person’s limits – your bottom’s or your own.
Respecting consent, like respecting rules and protocols, will show that you are a safe and trustworthy play and sex partner, and endear you to the community.
7. Look for real connections
A lot of people mistake “that person is hot” for “I have a good connection with that person”. And nothing’s worse than hooking up with someone only to find that you have absolutely nothing to talk about when you’re not making out.
Don’t get me wrong: one-night stands are fine if that’s what both of you are looking for. But sex is so much more meaningful and satisfying when there’s another level of connection going on. Especially if you’re a man looking for a woman to hook up with, connecting on an emotional level will (generally) give you a much better chance of bringing that girl home with you.
So don’t just focus on that one hot girl you saw when you walked in. Walk around. Meet different people. See if you can find one person you’re genuinely happy to get to know.
8. Don’t push
See #6 above: no is no. But more than that: only yes is yes.
“Maybe” is not yes. Giggling is not yes.
Nothing will burn your bridges quicker with the community than the reputation of being a “pusher” or consent violator.
People who push are people who consistently ignore “no”, while finding different reasons each time to ignore said “no”.
Pushing is a big no-no in kinky communities, and if you want to hook up, you’ll heave to learn how to take rejection.
9. Be yourself
It seems like silly advice, but in the end, being yourself is the best thing you can do to make real and interesting connections at a kink party.
Kinky people are very good at detecting bullshit. Being honest about your intentions and your interests will influence people to trust you and give you a chance.
If you want to bring someone home with you tonight, being honest about that really helps. You’ll probably get rebuffed by a few, but there ought to be someone out there looking for the same. Being open about your intentions will make things easier, not harder.