BDSM Basics: 5 Things to Know About BDSM Dungeons and Play Parties

Not every kinky person will venture out of their bedroom to play in a BDSM dungeon or attend a private play party. But those who do often have a lot of questions, concerns, and fears about the process. It’s not unusual to wonder what the rules are, how you’re supposed to behave, and what you’re supposed to do while you’re there.

So let’s break it down into five things to keep in mind when you’re ready to visit a dungeon or go to a play party. (If you prefer to watch rather than read, scroll to the end for the video version of this post.)

Follow the rules

If you’re not immediately told what the rules are when you arrive at the dungeon or play party, ask what they are. And if there are no rules, be very, very careful. Whatever is laid out by the host or dungeon owner, follow them to the letter. They’re meant to keep everyone safe. Not following them can get you kicked out for the night or banned for life.

Every dungeon or party will have its own rules but a few seem to be most common:

  • Always get consent.
  • No penetration (alternatively, they may say “no body fluids” but the penetration is okay)
  • Clean up the equipment when you’re done
  • Time limits for using equipment
  • House safe words
  • Who to go to if there’s a problem

Never interrupt a scene

At a dungeon or party, you’re likely to see kinksters playing in ways you’ve never even considered before. Some will seem extreme. Others will be fascinating. You may have questions or even concerns. No matter what you see or how you feel about it, NEVER interrupt a scene. Doing so not only kills the moment for the people playing, but it can cause injury if the top misses their mark or loses focus.

If you want to know more, approach them when their scene and aftercare are over. If you’re concerned, look for the dungeon monitor or party host to share your concerns.

When in doubt, find a dungeon monitor

Can’t remember a rule? Ask a dungeon monitor (DM). Is someone coming on too strong and crossing boundaries with you? Find a DM. Freaked out by that really rough scene you just saw? Talk to a dungeon monitor to make sure it’s safe. (Pro tip: if you’re playing in a really rough or risky way, warn the host or DM before you start so they’re aware of what’s going on).

Sometimes there’s no official DM to talk to. You might be at a small club or a private party. Find the person in charge or, at the very least, the person you talked to when you arrived. And if you don’t know who to talk to, ask. If there’s no one acting as a DM (even in a small way) be very concerned about the space you’re in.

Playing isn’t required

Believe it or not, you’re not required to get kinky at a BDSM dungeon or play party. Others might encourage or cajole you, but only you get to decide if you’re comfortable scening in this space. Plenty of people attend events to watch — whether to learn or because they’re voyeurs. Others go to socialize instead.

Don’t let anyone try to convince you that it’s required or “good manners” to play. It’s completely your choice whether you will or won’t. And if you’re new and uncertain, it’s a good idea to spend your time at the dungeon or party getting comfortable, asking questions, and meeting people instead.

Yes, people are watching, but focus on your partner

Some people never play in public because they can’t ignore all the eyes on them. That’s probably the best way to handle it if you know you feel that way. Because when you get kinky in semi-public, you need to be able to focus on your partner. There are people who can play to the crowd and take care of their partner, but it’s a skill that has to be honed over the years — and few manage it.

For you, the relative newbie to scening at a BDSM dungeon, the only person who matters is the one you’re playing with at that moment. Do not turn around in mid-scene to answer a question. Ignore (as best you can) the conversations going on around you. Don’t worry about how many people are watching. Give your partner all of your time, attention, and energy. It’ll be a better scene when you do — and a safer one.

Resources to Help You Learn More:

How to Play in Dungeons
Visiting a Dungeon When You Travel
Dungeons and Play Parties, Oh My!

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