How to Party Like a Kinkster

How to Party Like a (Good) Kinkster 

Thinking of going to your first (or second or hundredth) play party? Here’s a quick guide to how to make friends, feel more confident, and have a fabulous time.

Know the Rules 

Read up on the event that you want to attend. Do they have a dress code? Do the doors close at a certain time? Is it a couples-only event? Know that our definition of a couple usually isn’t heteronormative. A lot of parties have a “buddy” system where you’re required to arrive and leave with the same person. This is to help keep people accountable and reduce the number of problems at the event.

If there’s a dress code, make sure that you are dressed the part, but feel comfortable in what you choose. Often there’s an “all black” minimum (button-up shirt, slacks, and dress shoes for men, the same or a black dress for women). If you’re just getting your feet wet in the scene, I recommend comfortable (but classy) shoes as you’ll likely spend a lot of time on your feet throughout the evening. Often there’s a changing area on-site, but check each event to make sure.

Take note of payment and reservation options. Do you have to reserve in advance? Don’t wait until the last minute. Parties often sell out and you don’t want to miss your chance. Also, if you buy your ticket in advance, it is a big motivator if you’re getting cold feet at the last minute. If it’s a first come, first served event, make sure you have the proper payment method with you. Some parties only accept cash, others only accept credit cards. Be prepared.

Be aware of specific protocols that may be required, such as using formalities for tops (Madam, Mistress, Sir, etc.). Most parties don’t have requirements like this, but it’s a good thing to know in advance.

While BDSM is certainly sexual in nature, most parties don’t allow penetrative sex. Check the rules so that you can mentally prepare.

Many rules at a play party are the same as what you would expect at any party, some are more specific to BDSM. Here’s a short list of some common rules:

  • Ask once and only once. Don’t be creepy.
  • Make sure play is safe, sane, and consensual. Read my article on this if you don’t know what that means.
  • Don’t make assumptions. Gender, sexual orientation, and the people’s availability/desire to play are at the top of the list.
  • Don’t take photos or videos unless you know it’s ok, even selfies. There are likely people there who are not “out” and prefer to remain anonymous. There is often a designated photographer and the host will ask if you want to appear in pictures.
  • Clean up after yourself.
  • Don’t interrupt (verbally or physically) while people are playing together.
  • Look but don’t touch. Lots of us are exhibitionists and love wearing really sexy outfits. This is not an invitation to touch! This also includes other people’s toys.
  • Know the safe words (more on this later).
  • No hard drugs allowed.

Use common sense. If it feels like it might bother someone, either directly or indirectly, avoid doing it.

Preparing for the Big Night 

If you’re just starting out in the BDSM scene, you may not have a big bag of toys, but you can still prepare a few things just in case. I always recommend carrying condoms (internal and/or external), disposable gloves, some hand sanitizer, a toothbrush, and a change of shoes.

If you have some toys that you want to show off, I recommend bringing just a small bag. I should really listen to my own advice-I always bring too much stuff! But then again, I generally have a sub with me that carries all of it. Don’t forget your cleaning supplies if needed.


Most of us are really open to chatting with tops and bottoms alike. Feel free to go up to anyone and everyone to start a conversation. In fact, as I mentioned in my article about munches, I highly recommend that you chat with a variety of people: Dommes/Doms, submissives, masochists, pets, sissies, and everyone else. In general, we’re all pretty open and are there for the same reason you are: to chat and make new connections. Don’t limit yourself! We all have lots to learn from one another, and you may find that your new BFF is not the person that you had in mind when you arrived.

When you introduce yourself, you don’t necessarily have to say “Hi, I’m Steve and I’m a submissive,” and then throw yourself at the feet of the other person. In fact, that’s a big turn-off. “Hi, I’m Steve and this is my first time at this party” is much more natural and typically will get a big smile and a “welcome, Steve!”

Ask questions, especially open questions (ones that require a response that isn’t “yes” or “no”). Here are a few ideas for lead-in questions:

  • What initially drew you to BDSM/the scene?
  • What are some of the activities that you enjoy the most right now?
  • What’s your favorite BDSM-inspired movie scene/book?
  • I really like your outfit/shoes/whip/collar. Where did you get it? Is there a story behind it?

Generally speaking, we avoid “vanilla” subjects such as our job. A lot of people that attend BDSM events aren’t out of the closet and prefer to keep that sort of information private. Other topics to avoid are politics and religion, which is true at pretty much any event that isn’t organized to specifically talk about those things.

Loose lips sink ships. If you see someone that you know outside of the BDSM scene, don’t use their real name unless they say it’s ok. The same goes if you meet someone at a play party and run into them in the street at a later date. What happens at the party, stays at the party.

Most importantly: be yourself! We want to know the real you, not a facade of who you think we want to meet. We tend to be a little geeky (we’re passionate about BDSM!), so no need to feel awkward. People that have been in the scene a while also tend to have in-tune BS meters, so if you’re pretending to be something or someone that you’re not, we can smell it from a mile away. Being honest about what you want is the best way to find it.

party kink

Hosts and Dungeon Monitors 

Introduce yourself to the host when you arrive, but don’t dawdle too long. Remember that they have a lot of people to greet and likely are introducing people to one another. Say hello, thank them for organizing the event, and move on to chat with others around you.

Dungeon monitors are there to make sure that everyone is playing nice and to ensure that things are running as smoothly as possible. They often wear a badge or some other identifying mark. You can go to them if you have specific questions or if something doesn’t feel right to you. Is someone bothering you? Talk to a monitor. See something that you feel wasn’t safe, sane, and consensual? Talk to a monitor.

There is usually a universal safe word for the party. A safe word is what we use to immediately stop a scene. If you use it, your play partner is to immediately stop all play. The most common safe word at parties is RED, but check the rules.

Also, be nice to the people at the door. They are super busy and are doing their best. Be patient, say please and thank you, and tip if they’re kind. The same goes for the people behind the bar.

Drink Responsibly 

A drink or two can help you loosen up, but don’t let it inhibit your judgment. Don’t drink excessively, especially if you’re planning on playing later. If you do want to imbibe, start out the evening by playing, then drink afterwards.

Youre in a Shared Space 

If you’re planning on playing, there is often a designated play space with equipment. Sometimes the equipment you want to use is occupied and you’ll need to wait your turn. Be polite, be patient, and make chit-chat with the people around you while you’re waiting.

Clean up after yourself! When I start to use a piece of equipment, I assume it wasn’t cleaned up to my standards, so I give it a quick wipe-down. After using a piece of equipment, take a few minutes to clean, ESPECIALLY if there were bodily fluids involved. This goes for the bathroom, as well. If a couple of drops of urine get away from you, clean up after yourself. The dungeon monitors are busy making sure everyone is having a good time and are not there to tidy up your mess.

On this note, if you are using house toys (toys provided by the host or event), make sure you clean them properly after using them. If you don’t know how to properly clean the equipment you’ve used, ask a dungeon monitor.

Leave Your Expectations at Home 

Don’t assume that because you’re a bottom, someone is going to want to play with you. Same goes if you’re a top. If you arrive with a play partner, that’s great! But maybe once you’re on-site, one of you isn’t in the mood. Be respectful of that, both for yourself as well as for the other person. Playing in public is completely different than a scene that happens in private. We are all human and one day we may be super excited about the possibility of displaying our fantastic flogging skills, but once we arrive, we don’t feel the same way.

Nobody owes you anything. I don’t care if you’re the best Domme (or sub) on the planet. Again, don’t be creepy, don’t ask more than once, and no means no. Hassling others will quickly get you blacklisted from future events.


If you get really lucky and find someone to play with, make sure that you negotiate before the scene. If you’re into humiliation play, let the other person know and ask if there is anything that’s off-limits. If you’re into impact play, what objects are ok to use, and which ones are a no-go? When doing pick-up play at parties, I often use a 1-10 scale with my partners to check-in. Don’t forget that safe words aren’t just for pain and they can be used anytime that you’re not feeling 100% into what’s going on.

You are always allowed to change your mind, even mid-scene. Your safe words are there for that.

Also, if you’re someone that needs aftercare, even after a short scene, let your partner know. As a Domme, I really love spending a few minutes with my sub at my feet, chatting about whatever comes to mind. It’s a way to connect and slowly come back to reality. Offer the other person a glass of water (whether you’re a top or a bottom).

Subdrop and Domme drop are real. If you get a case of the blues after play, it’s totally normal. After all those hormones, the brain tends to crash. I’ve touched on the subject in another article and invite you to read that so that you can be better prepared.

Observe Others

One of the great pleasures of going to events is admiring the skills of those around you. Often there are performances or demonstrations at the beginning of the evening to heat things up. This can be a particularly good time to learn about a new practice or skill.

You’ll likely see a lot of different types of play that run the gamut of BDSM. Remember that BDSM is an acronym for 6 words: bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism.

While it’s great to watch others, try not to stare so long that it makes people uncomfortable. You will likely see things that are beautiful and strange, but avoid gawking with your mouth hanging open in surprise.

Dont Judge 

You may be shocked by some things that you see, but know that what we are doing is consensual for the parties involved. You may not like the idea of being dragged around on a leash and chasing after a ball, but people that are into pet play love it. Perhaps needle play seems really extreme for you. You have the right to look away. If seeing someone in a cage getting insulted messes with your sensibilities, go to another room where that’s not happening.

Part of what makes parties so wonderful is that there is a diversity of practices. It’s one of the only safe places where we can come together and have these types of experiences. Keep an open mind and don’t be rude or make sly comments. You never know, maybe a few months from now, what you see will actually be what you start fantasizing about! My favorite kinks (and limits) have certainly changed over the years, and that’s true for everyone that I know in the scene.

Youre Going to Make Mistakes

The goal is to learn from them. BDSM events, particularly high-protocol events, have a lot of rules and things that experienced players take for granted. If you goof up, take a breath and apologize if necessary. We were all in your place at one point or another. Use the situation as a learning experience and don’t beat yourself up about it.

Have Fun! 

Take a deep breath and have a blast! Events are a fabulous way to get to know people in the community and even find a long-term play partner if you’re really lucky. In any case, it’s a great opportunity to learn and grow.

Have fun, stay safe, and keep it kinky!

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Inanna Justice, Dominatrix in Paris

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