1. ‘I signed up for a rope bondage course to please my girlfriend’
“I’d describe myself as a hedonist rather than putting myself into any particular kinky category – I just like to try everything. I was interested in BDSM for a few years but didn’t do anything about it until about five years ago when I started dating a woman who wanted me to tie her up. I didn’t have a clue how to do it, so I signed up for a rope bondage course* in London. Sadly, the girlfriend dumped me a few weeks before the workshop took place, but I decided to go to the bondage course anyway. I met a few people there who I arranged to do rope practice with once the course was over, and one of them turned into my long-term partner, who I’m still with. We’re polyamorous so we have kinky play with lots of other people – we’re signed up on Fetlife, which is where we meet some people, and go to events like Kinkfest to meet others and learn new techniques.” Mark, 28, London
2. ‘Through kink events we learned to set aside shame about the things we liked’
“The first ever fantasies I had were kinky, but I wouldn’t have known that’s what they were. I used to think about pirates lashing wenches to the mast of a ship and whipping them for disobedience, then be surprised by the instant thrill of reaction from my body that said ‘this is interesting‘. But it wasn’t until later in life that I really ‘discovered’ kink and could start putting words (and actions!) to the fantasies that had previously lived in my head.
“A partner I had at university helped me explore this – by sending me links to kinky blogs like Bitchy Jones’s Diary and web forums. Through these, we learned what a munch was – a gathering of kinky people in a non-kinky setting (often a pub) where you can chat and get to know each other – and discovered fetish clubs that happened in our uni town. Attending these events helped us build our courage and ask for the kinds of kinky sex each of us wanted. We learned to set aside the shame we’d been taught to feel for the things that we liked, and together carve a path through the tangled mess of our desires, working out how to ask for them, and how to do them, in ways that made us both happy.” Girl On The Net, sex blogger, London. Read Girl On The Net’s blog here.
3. ‘The queer kink world opened my eyes to a whole spectrum of possibilities’
“I wanted to find out about BDSM, but clubs seemed a challenging place to get started with kink. I found someone who offered day-long workshops for newbies, and that was my way in. It was a beautiful gentle place to start, grounded in consent and negotiation. The atmosphere was of fun, pleasure and exploration, it felt spacious and accepting of newbies and more advanced players as well.
“Before that I’d only come across heteronormative kink, the dynamic of a cis man dominating a cis woman, which I was uncomfortable with. The queer kink world opened my eyes to a whole spectrum of other possibilities, including using kink and power dynamics to explore, subvert and heal injustices and oppression. There was also curiosity about how my body responded to different sensations, and where the line is between pain and pleasure. My early experiences with kink were all in workshop spaces or within a relationship, and I learned a lot there before I began going to clubs and parties. This was crucial for me to build skills around consent and negotiation before exploring more public and group situations.” Sam, 30, Chester
4. ‘I longed to be Catwoman for reasons I did not yet know’
“I grew up as the weird kid who always wanted Penelope Pitstop to be kidnapped. Long before I was old enough for any sexual feelings to kick in, I felt a little belly-flip of excitement at pseudo-kink scenarios in cartoons, TV and films. I longed to be Catwoman for reasons I did not yet know. When I hit puberty, I thought I was the only one with this sort of orientation – except perhaps Madonna, of course, but I wasn’t much of a fan. Longing to find others like me, I found goths, then vampire fetishists, and eventually my first club night with a dungeon.
“I got into pro-domming almost by accident. In the late 90s friends of friends who had heard of me would recommend me to people who were curious to try being dominated, and eventually I started charging. It was a word-of-mouth thing long before I had my presence online. Since then, I’ve seen hundreds of clients of all genders. And individuals and couples looking to learn about kink or experiment with someone experienced often come to me to take their first steps into the world of BDSM.” Juliet, pro-Domme, Hastings
5. ‘Yoga and Aikido made me want to try rope bondage’
“When I was 34 I went through a phase of trying new things – yoga and Aikido were on the list. In yoga I was using straps wrapped around my chest to correct my posture and as they tightened I found the sensation exhilarating. And in Aikido I learned about Hojojutsu, the Japanese art of tying defeated opponents with rope, which also sparked my interest. It made me want to include Shibari (Japanese rope bondage) into my spiritual practice. So I started looking for places that used rope bondage in a spiritual context. I found that at Quintasensual, a queer tantra spiritual festival. From there it has been a journey of exploration and I have found that contrary to popular belief the BDSM community is a very loving community.” Tom-Diana, 44, London
6. ‘Find a scene that understands the importance of consent culture’
“As a kid I already knew I enjoyed seeing people tied up and/or kidnapped in stories. Scuba gear also excited me. In my early teens, Madonna music videos and Catwoman made me realise my fantasies were fairly normal. The goth scene I was into also openly embraced kink, so my first BDSM experiences were with friends from that scene. I’ve always found playing with power and aesthetics to be a part of sex.
“By the time I was 20 there were message boards with honest discussions, and I quickly was able to find parties to my liking. It was great to have a network of people to talk about such personal exploration. It got even better around my 26th, when the Dutch scene started to incorporate more (feminist) inclusivity, and more consent awareness. By the time I was 30, I would say my BDSM practices started to have more spiritual inclinations. And the last five years, I’ve been teaching BDSM at events. For new people I’d say: find a kink scene near to you that hosts munches and understands the importance of consent culture.” Robert, 38 Utrecht. View Robert’s website here.
7. ‘My first kinky relationship wasn’t a healthy one’
“I think I was always kinky, but it wasn’t until I had my first relationship, with a person who had more experience than me, that I realised these things could be acted upon. Unfortunately, I didn’t have guidance, support or community and that relationship, with hindsight, wasn’t a healthy one. I didn’t know how to hold boundaries or ask for what I wanted, which led to some very damaging experiences. It was another decade and a lot of therapy before I would learn enough about consent, safety and my societal conditioning to be able to fully embrace and explore my kinkiness. This included going to munches and then beginning to go to sex positive clubs. I met lots of people who share my kinks and found safe spaces to be who I am. Today, I am proudly connected to all facets of my ‘self’ including my kinks and no longer go to events now that I’m in a loving, play-filled relationship.” Angie, 31, therapist, London
Get started with kink: Hot Octopuss’s recommended beginners’ resources (UK)
- Fetlife – The most widely used kinky social network, free to use and allows you to search for local events, munches and play pals.
- Fetish.com – Kink-positive BDSM community for fetish dating.
- The Summer House Weekend – festival held every summer in a secret country mansion location focused on ‘exploring intimacy, connection and creativity’ with kink workshops and play parties, among other offerings.
- Quintasensual Festival – summer festival in Glastonbury packed with workshops on exploring sex from a queer, kinky and spiritual perspective.
- Koinonia – London-based play party held a few times a year. ‘Weaving together magical ritual, safer sex protocol, and a skilled team of facilitators, Koinonia offers a safe and sacred space that is more than a sex party’.
- After Pandora – London-based private members community ‘for open-minded sexually adventurous people of all genders and orientations’. Runs social events and play parties.
- Girl On The Net – sex blogger with lots to say about kink
- Loving BDSM – podcast run by a kinky couple in a down-to-earth, honest style that’s great for beginners
- Kinkfest – Educational and fun conference held annually in West Bromwich.
- London Alternative Market – London’s first community-supporting market project held on the first Sunday of every month. A great place to find out about alternative lifestyles, to meet and socialise with those with similar interests.
- The New Bottoming Book and The New Topping Book by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy.
- Anatomie Studio – the UK’s first dedicated Shibari (rope bondage) studio
- *Private rope bondage classes in London are now available with Santi – he can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
How did you get started with kink, and what recommendations do you have for newbies? Let us know on Twitter and start the conversation!
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