The Loving BDSM Podcast

How to Play in Public and Private BDSM Dungeons

BDSM Dungeon. Those words cause many a kinkster to shiver, some out of excitement and some out of fear. If you have never been to a dungeon, it can seem intimidating. You are probably picturing a place full of sin, wantonness, wickedness and more. You could have a flogging scene happening in one corner and someone screaming in pleasure in another corner. Someone could be walking around, leading their partner who is on a leash and collar.  While all of those things may be happening, you will also see people just standing around catching up with friends.

How should you act?  The answers may very well depend on if you are at a public dungeon or a private dungeon. There are definite etiquette rules that you should follow at any type of dungeon, but there are also subtle differences between public and private play spaces that you should be prepared to navigate.


Consent is the cornerstone of BDSM. It’s given before you touch, whether it’s a person or their toys. In a public play space, people are very careful about getting consent for everything. Imagine you are surrounded by strangers, you do not want them touching you or your things without your permission.

In a private dungeon, consent is still an important part of the BDSM lifestyle but it’s a lot more subtle. The parties I throw in my dungeon average 45 people, most of whom know each other well. They are friends and many have scened together. So you will see a lot of touching, even hitting, where no consent seems to have been given. You will see tops picking up toys belonging to other tops without asking permission. What you won’t see is anyone getting upset or angry, because these friends have blanket permission to touch.

Keep in mind that if you are new to the group, that the permission does not extend to you.

Talking During Scenes

In a public dungeon, etiquette demands that you watch scenes from a distance and do not talk to those involved in the scene. If you want to socialize there are areas in every club meant just for that. If you’re watching a scene but want to say something to your friend next to you – get in their ear and whisper. Keep the conversation to a minimum. In a private dungeon, you may still have couples participating in scenes who prefer to not chat, but you are just as likely to find a lot of discussion between scene participants and onlookers.

In a private dungeon, you are more likely to see interactions during scenes. The guests are all usually good friends and may banter with each other as scenes are going. The important thing to remember is that the bantering is happening because of the relationships that are already established. If you are new to the group or the private dungeon, this is not an invitation for you to automatically participate. Watch the interactions, see if the people in the scene are speaking to only a select few or are inviting other audience members to speak, then use your best judgment.

Dungeon Monitors 

A Dungeon Monitor (sometimes referred to as a DM) is a person charged with supervising a playspace (or “dungeon”). The primary responsibility of a Dungeon Monitor is to ensure the physical safety of all participants engaging in BDSM play.  These people may be of any sex and can identify as any role (dominant, submissive, or switch), but while on duty their authority is absolute. If a Dungeon Monitor orders a play scene to stop, it must be stopped immediately. They often wear a special uniform, hat or armband, so they are more easily identifiable.

In a private dungeon, more often than not, the host is the dungeon monitor though they may also assign a close friend to serve in that capacity. The responsibility of a dungeon monitor is the same whether in a public or private dungeon. However, because participants in a private dungeon know each other well, the DM’s may appear more lenient. The familiarity allows the DM’s to better understand participants skill levels and boundaries.

Entrance Fees

At a public dungeon, there is usually a fee for entry into an event. In addition, many dungeons require you to be a member before attending any events. Private dungeons may or may not charge an entrance fee. They may also ask that you bring food or beverages to share with other party guests.

And while membership of some type is typically not required at private playspaces, guests may need to go through a vetting process before they are allowed to attend an event.


Public dungeons usually have a wide variety of equipment and multiple items of the same piece while private dungeons to be more limited in options. Therefore, being considerate of your fellow guests is essential. Be aware of the amount of time you are spending on a particular piece of equipment because there are likely others who are waiting for their turn.

Also because private dungeons are typically smaller than public spaces, you may want to limit the amount of toys you bring to play with. Don’t plan on bringing your entire arsenal. Instead, plan out your scene in advance so that you bring only the implements you believe you will use that night.

Ultimately whether you are at a public or private dungeon, you need to be respectful of house and playspace rules, especially in a private dungeon which is often someone’s home. If you have questions as to what those rules are, don’t hesitate to ask the host. This way everyone will have a fun and enjoyable time.

About Rara

Rara is a kink party and event planner in the Washington, DC area. She has her own personal dungeon where she holds BDSM play parties.  She also hosts munches, facilitates a discussion group on Poly and Power Exchange Relationships and organizes educational classes. Rara is an active member of her local BDSM community enjoying life as a poly masochistic bottom. Her kinks include impact, rope suspension, needles and more.

Want to learn more about Rara?

Follow her on FetLife or Twitter or Tumblr.

If you liked this post by Rara, check out her post: The Do’s and Don’ts of Going to a Munch or When a Kinky Scene Goes Bad.

Feel free to share your thoughts or questions about private and public BDSM dungeons in the comments below or talk to us on Twitter!

Why Dominants Need to Be Consistent LB151

In episode 151, we talk about a topic near and dear to John Brownstone’s heart — if you want to lead the relationship (as a Dominant), you need to be consistent.

In this episode:

  • If you want to give a kinky fuckery gift this upcoming holiday season, check out our Kinky Fuckery Shop!
  • This week’s blog post talks about what happens when you’re consistent in your D/s relationship.
  • Why does consistency matter?
  • How can Dominants be more consistent?
  • What can submissives do if they’re not getting the consistency they need?
  • Why submissives also need to be consistent.
  • Consistency does not mean perfection. Life will get in the way. But it’s something to strive for.

Links from the show:

6 Reasons Why Being Consistent Matters in Your D/s Relationship (blog post)

Kinky Fuckery Shop

Become a patron on Patreon

Support the show

Postcard Project

Subscribe on YouTube

Follow us on Instagram

Follow us Twitter

Message or friend us on Fetlife

Contact us!

Sign up for our newsletter

Listen to the show:


Google Play


Your favorite podcast app!

6 Reasons Why Being Consistent Matters in Your D/s Relationship

If you’ve listened to a few podcast episodes, you’ve heard John Brownstone mention one word a few times — consistency. It’s one of his core beliefs as a Dominant and an indicator of how well your D/s relationship is going. (It’s not the only thing, but it’s an important one.)

So why the focus on consistency, especially as a Dominant? Because whether you are or aren’t, it has a direct impact on your submissive and your D/s relationship.

Creates Stability

When both of you know what to expect, it’s easier to stay in your D/s headspace and have an idea of what to expect. Inconsistently giving consequences or praise can make your submissive feel off-balance. They may not know where they stand with you or what to expect. Some Dominants might think this is a good thing, but we disagree. If one of your goals as a Dominant is to help your submissive succeed and be the best submissive they can be, they need to have an idea of what to expect and feel like the ground is solid and stable under their feet.

Sets Expectations

If you want your submissive to succeed and feel good about their submission, they need to know what to expect. When you’re consistent in your expectations and what happens when those expectations are met or not, your submissive can rise to meet the challenge. But if you’re constantly changing things up or randomly deciding something no longer matters, your submissive can’t meet your expectations because they don’t know what they are.

Reduces Problems, Hurt Feelings, and Angst

If you never know whether you’re doing something right or not or if your partner will be there when you need them, how would you feel? Pretty crappy, right? Well, to the inconsistent Dominant, that’s what you (potentially) create for your submissive when you inconsistently speak to them, follow the rules or routines of your D/s relationship, or do whatever your Domly thing might be. Many submissives will internalize the inconsistency and think it’s their fault. Others will just be pissed off at you. Either way, it’s a storm of negative emotions and unhappiness in your D/s relationship.

Builds Trust

One of the most important things about establishing trust as a Dominant (beyond communication and consent) is following through and doing what you say you’ll do. If you’re inconsistent, your submissive may learn very quickly they can’t trust you. You won’t call when you say you will, be Dominant when it’s been agreed to, or be reliable in the relationship. And remember, consistency is important throughout a relationship — not just in the early stages of building trust.

Helps a Relationship Grow

When you’re inconsistent in your D/s relationship, it’s almost impossible for the relationship to grow and become more than it is at the beginning. You get stuck in a cycle. Trust doesn’t develop. Communication falters. Feelings get hurt. Moving onto new and better stages of your relationship are almost impossible in these circumstances. But when you follow through, follow up, and show up for your D/s relationship — consistently — you’re both able to build something together. Why? Because you’ve earned your submissive’s trust, and they know they can depend on you.

Shows Your Commitment to the Relationship

We focus on the things that matter to us. We make them a priority. And when we can’t, we’re upset and work to make it right. Being consistent as a Dominant shows that you’re committed to your submissive and the D/s relationship you’re building together. It might not always be perfect, and you might fuck up from time to time (hey, it happens). But showing up makes a big difference. You don’t have to get it right all the time, but you do need to be committed enough to your submissive to do what you say you’ll do.

It probably seems like we’re picking on Dominants here. Maybe so, but it’s because you shoulder a lot of responsibility in your D/s relationship. Yes, your submissive has to do their part, but this is what being the leader and in control is about. If you can do what you say you’ll do, be there for your submissive, and follow through on your D/s agreement (whatever it may be), you help your relationship succeed. Which is, hopefully, the entire point.

Got thoughts and opinions on consistency from Dominants in D/s relationships? Share with us in the comments below or talk to us on Twitter!

Feeling Confident as a Dominant LB150

Thanks to a listener suggestion, we’re talking about confidence for Dominants — how normal it is to not be fully confident and how to become more confident. And also, ranting about why we need to stop expecting immediate confidence from Doms at all times and in all situations.

In this episode:

  • If you want to give a kinky fuckery gift this upcoming holiday season, check out our Kinky Fuckery Shop!
  • This episode was suggested by Chintz Curtain on Twitter — thank you for the idea!
  • The blog post that goes with this episode is about things that new Dominants need to know — and one of those things revolves around confidence — getting it, maintaining it, and dealing with the lack of.
  • It’s normal not to feel confident — new or experienced.
  • Times when John Brownstone doesn’t feel confident.
  • How he overcomes it.
  • Time and experience helps anyone build confidence.
  • It’s okay to admit when you’re nervous.

Links from the show:

13 Things New Dominants Need to Know (blog post)

Kinky Fuckery Shop

Become a patron on Patreon

Support the show

Postcard Project

Subscribe on YouTube

Follow us on Instagram

Follow us Twitter

Message or friend us on Fetlife

Contact us!

Sign up for our newsletter

Listen to the show:


Google Play


Your favorite podcast app!

13 Things New Dominants Need to Know

If we tried to write a totally comprehensive list of everything a new Dominant needs to know, we’d be here for a while. So consider this a “top 13” kind of list. Getting these things right will set you up for success in your D/s relationships. The rest can be learned as you go.

The biggest thing a new Dominant really needs to know, remember, and believe is that your D/s relationship is about you and your submissive. You’re in this together (for as long as you want to be), and what one of you does or doesn’t do impacts both of you.

Communication is Everything

There are only two real “rules” in BDSM or D/s, and one of them is communication. Not only do you need to listen to your submissive, you also need to talk to them, too. No, they should never be expected to “just know” anything. Your submissive won’t know what you don’t tell them — including your expectations, your rules, and your feelings.

You might not be comfortable with communication at first, but this is a learning opportunity. It’s okay that you don’t always know the right words to say. Being willing to sit down, listen to your submissive, and then speak from the heart does more good than saying what you think you’re supposed to say. Be real. Be honest. And speak up.

Always Get Consent

The second “rule” of BDSM is consent. It’s something you should actively seek throughout your relationship. Consent doesn’t stop once your partner agrees to be your submissive. It’s an ongoing, living, breathing, moving thing, and you need to get used to it. Sometimes you’ll hear about “seducing consent” from your submissive. That’s a fun way to do it, for sure. But sometimes you simply have to speak plainly and ask for what you want.

When you do something new, talk about it with your submissive first (remember, communication is everything). If you’re trying a new kinky thing, let your submissive know what to expect — so they can give informed consent. Unless it’s been negotiated earlier, do not “surprise” your partner with something they don’t know about.

Trust Must Be Earned…and Kept

Trust is a funny thing…difficult to earn (for some of us) and easy to lose. The quickest way to lose trust is to lie, disregard consent, and treat your partner like a non-entity. The best way to earn trust is to be honest, communicate openly, and be consistent. You’re asking for control over another human being. Make sure you’re worthy of the trust they’ll be placing in you.

On the other side, you need to be able to trust your submissive, too. This goes beyond not lying to you. You need to know you can rely on them to tell you when things are good and bad. (They should also feel safe to do so, and if they don’t feel safe, it’s important to find out why.)

Check In Regularly

While checking in with your submissive can (and should!) be an everyday thing, I’m specifically thinking about any kinky play. Never rely solely on a safeword or safe gesture (when they’re unable to speak). Yes, have those in place, but don’t wait for them to be used. Especially if either of you are new to each other or the kink you’re trying.

Checking in doesn’t ruin the mood or make you look inadequate or even nervous. It shows that you care about your submissive’s well-being and needs — and that you know the importance of continued consent. You can ask for a color: red means stop, green means keep going, and yellow means slow down. Or you can say, “Is this okay?” or “Should I keep going?”

It’s Okay if You Don’t Feel Confident

As a new Dominant, you aren’t expected to know everything about BDSM or being a Dominant. (No one knows everything about it. We’re all still learning.) Some of the things you’re being asked to do — like take charge of another human being — will be new to you. Feeling unsure of yourself or worrying that you might hurt your partner are normal feelings. They’re actually a great indication that you care about your submissive’s well-being.

Time and experience will grow your confidence more than anything else.

  • Start small and slow in your D/s relationship.
  • Don’t implement too many rules all at once or you’ll overwhelm yourself and your submissive.
  • Ease into new kinky fuckery. Practice first!
  • Talk to your submissive about how you’re feeling.

Don’t Hide Your Emotions

There’s this awful stereotype that Dominants are supposed to be the strong, silent type who never get nervous, scared, or anxious. They never feel any emotion other than confident and in control. Blech. I hate this stereotype.

You’re human. Of course you have emotions! And they don’t have to be hidden from your submissive. In fact, if you’re trying to build trust, get better at communication, and deepen your D/s relationship, they shouldn’t be hidden. So open up. Admit the things that are on your mind. You never know how your submissive may be able to help…or simply be supportive.

You Don’t Have to Wear All Black

(Or leather, latex, or anything you don’t want to wear.)

If you want to wear head-to-toe black when you’re in your Dom gear, go for it. But you don’t have to. If you prefer to wear jeans and a t-shirt, you’re still Dominant. John Brownstone has spanked my ass and helped me remember who I belong to, while wearing his pajamas.

The clothes don’t make the Dom. It’s about what you do and what you say — and how you make your submissive feel, that matters most.

But if leather, latex, or all black help you get into the Dom headspace, go for it. The point is that there are no rules to this, no matter what porn, Tumblr, and others want you to believe.

Remember Your Submissive’s Needs

If your first thought about being a Dominant is that it’s all about you, you’re in for a rude awakening and a lot of broken D/s relationships. Yes, of course, as individuals we want our needs met. But this isn’t all about you. Your D/s relationship is also about your submissive.

It takes both of you to make a D/s relationship work. When you focus on each other’s needs, you have a better chance of success. And yes, it’s sexy for some submissives to focus only on our Dominant’s needs. But that only works long-term if we know our needs are being taken care of too.

Your Title is Earned, Not Demanded

An immediate red flag of a fake “Dominant” is the demand to be addressed by a title. If you’re telling a submissive you just met to call you “Master” or “Sir” or “Mistress” or whatever…you’re doing it wrong. So. Fucking. Wrong.

And, in reality, when you do find a submissive you want to be with, you might decide together to use a different title. Why? Because who you think you are as a Dominant may be completely different as you get to know a submissive. You may find other facets of your kinky personality you didn’t know existed. You also might not care what your submissive calls you…as long as they call you.

Educate Yourself

All kinksters have more success with D/s and BDSM when they educate themselves. Learning together with a partner is fun, but the learning doesn’t stop when you’re single, either. In fact, that’s when you should ramp things up and learn as much as you can — about yourself, about things you want to try, and about the kinky community.

A better informed kinkster is a safer and (sometimes) happier kinkster.

If you’re a new Dominant in a D/s relationship, and your submissive offers resources to you, don’t immediately ignore them. A lot will be learned through doing, but there’s also a lot to learn before, during, and after, too. If you’re a reader, look for books and blogs. For the listeners, there are plenty of podcasts (ahem) out there. And if you prefer to watch, there are YouTube channels devoted to BDSM.  Check out our list of resources to get you started.

Reach Out to the Kink Community

The lone wolf thing we think about some Dominants might seem sexy in erotica, but it can be downright lonely and isolating in real life. If you have access to a local kink community, find an event to attend. Fetlife is great for this with most local groups putting their munches and other events online. This lets you meet other kinksters and realize you’re not alone. It’s also a great way to talk to other new and experienced Doms and educate yourself.

But if all you can do is talk to people online, do that. Avoid those who speak in cliche and stereotype about D/s, though. The people who are most likely living it and may offer real insight don’t do that. They’ll tell you how they do it but that there’s no one right way to be a Dominant or submissive. Most importantly, they feel like real people. And that’s who and what we are…not caricatures in a story, but real people who navigate D/s in our own way.

Remember Your Submissive is Your Partner

As a Dominant, you might have the power and be in control, but your D/s relationship is a partnership. How much so depends on the type of relationship you have. When you’re together, work together. Talk about what’s on your mind. Admit when you’re unsure. Seek their feedback.

Whatever you do as a Dominant and in your D/s relationship is supposed to be good for both of you. But you’re not a mindreader and you shouldn’t make assumptions about what your submissive wants or needs. Yes, you need to get very good at listening and paying attention. You can learn a lot about your submissive that way. But the success of your kinky relationship depends on both of you, so treat your submissive like the partner they are.

Don’t Forget Aftercare

Aftercare is most associated with big BDSM scenes involving lots of heavy play (like impact play). But it’s useful after seriously kinky sexy or a mindfuck scene that involved no nudity or even touching. When you play, always check in with your submissive afterwards. Providing aftercare is unique to the person. Some people want cuddles, hugs, and food. Others want to be left alone with their thoughts. But always talk about it and check in.

Aftercare isn’t just for submissives, either. Don’t be surprised if you feel a little overwhelmed after a scene or good sex. Depending on your play, you may have just physically exerted yourself in new ways. You’ve definitely given your mind a workout. When your submissive checks in and wants to help you later, don’t immediately discount the request. Getting reassurance and other feel good moments may help you remember that you’ve done a good thing that your submissive really wanted.

To the experienced kinksters, what else would you add to this list and why? For new Dominants, are there questions or concerns you have that we didn’t address in this post? Share in the comments below or talk to us on Twitter!

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