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Basic BDSM Dungeon Etiquette

dungeon4 Navigating a BDSM Dungeon can be daunting at the best of times, but even more so if you’re new to the scene. Here are some basic dos and don’ts aswell some handy tips to hopefully make the experience less frightening and a little more inviting…

 

General

  • Politeness will get you a long way in the scene (and in life in general). Treat other people as you’d like to be treated.
  • Honesty is highly valued in the lifestyle. Lying, whether about one’s experience level, marital status, risk factors, or anything else is frowned upon, and will usually be found out.
  • Touching (even casually) other people or their possessions (including collars, cuffs, and apparel) without permission is unacceptable. Most people enjoy playing show-and-tell, but always get their permission beforehand.
  • Following someone around (“puppy dogging”) is likely to creep him or her out, and make them want to avoid you instead of getting to know you.
  • No Dominant may demand anything of another person, unless the other person has consented to engage in play or a relationship. No submissive is under any obligation to serve or obey anyone whom they don’t choose to obey or serve.
  • There are usually Dungeon Monitors [DM’s], hosts, or people in charge at most organized BDSM settings. They are there to enforce the rules, but are not psychic; if you are victimized by someone, let those in authority know. They cannot do anything for you without knowing that something is wrong, and concerns reported after-the-fact become difficult to validate or enforce.
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    Basic Rules of Play

    • Do not distract or disturb the players.
    • Never walk between a Dominant and a submissive in a scene.
    • Do not disrupt the scene, or invade the player’s space.
    • You may watch if invited, or if the play is in an open area.
    • Always watch from a distance.
    • Never invite yourself to join the scene: If you are wanted, you will be asked.
    • Do not sit on play equipment while watching play – you may be preventing others from playing.

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    Subspace, Subdrop, and Aftercare

    • Subspace is the BDSM term for the altered state of consciousness that bottoms / submissives go into during a scene or play.

      A profound natural form of “high,” caused by the massive rush of endorphins and other naturally-occurring opiates released by the body in response to excitement or physical impact;

    • Attaining subspace is a large part of why subs desire to play in BDSM scenes. Being suddenly yanked from that mental state can be alarming/extremely frustrating, so be mindful not to disturb a scene.
    • Sub-Drop is the BDSM term for the feelings of lost-ness, depression, or loneliness, that can be experienced by many subs some time between 1 and 48 hours after a scene. It is analogous to the low which follows a drug-induced high.
    • Aftercare is the BDSM term for negotiated care by the Dom after the scene, in order to avoid sub-drop. Aftercare is very important, and it is an expected part of most play scenes. See The Importance of Aftercare.

       

      Asking Questions

      People in the BDSM world are generally quite friendly and approachable, and usually more than happy to talk about something that they were doing, a particular technique, or a toy they were playing with. So, generally speaking, if you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask it. However, there are times when a question is intrusive: One is during a scene, and the other is during aftercare. If you have a question about something they did during play, be respectful of the fact that they may have a responsibility to provide aftercare to the sub they just played with.
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      Confidentiality

    • Asking personal questions (one’s real name, where they live or work, etc.) is usually considered rude until you’ve established a personal relationship with an individual.
    • Confidentiality is very highly valued in the scene. Treat all personal information as confidential unless the individual in question tells you specifically otherwise. This includes email addresses, scene names, home location, etc. It is also rude to ask others to break confidentiality for your benefit (for example, by asking for a third party’s contact information).
    • Attempting to track down someone outside of the BDSM arena without their prior knowledge and consent is generally bad form. If you absolutely must reach someone, rather than “hunting them down”, have a mutual acquaintance pass a message along with your contact information.
    • Don’t take pictures or videos. EVER. In most dungeons, this will get your camera’s/phone’s memory card confiscated, and you ejected from the dungeon.

       
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      Expectations

    • An individual’s clothing or toy collection is not indicative of their BDSM interests or experience level. A casually-dressed person is not always a newbie, whereas the leather-clad goddess decked out in high-heeled boots and black PVC outfit might just be trying to make an impression on her first visit.
    • Expecting people who don’t know you to call you ‘Sir’, ‘Mistress’ or another respectful title will make you look pompous. Titles and respect are both earned– let your behavior show others that you are worthy of your desired title.
    • Submission/Dominance is not a competition. Pretentiously claiming to be the best submissive/Dominant, gloating over having the most or best toys, and other more subtle ranking tactics are unseemly.
    • If a Dominant requires that someone ask him/her before addressing His/Her submissive, it is His/Her responsibility to inform others of this rule. Strangers should be forgiven once (but not twice!)

       

      Friends vs Acquaintances

    • You may notice people who are close to each other committing what look like etiquette violations. More often than not these people are friends who don’t feel offended by their close friends’ jibes. Do not assume that because they can, you can.
    • Not all submissives– in fact, very few– are instructed to be submissive to all Dominants. Do not expect a submissive to be submissive to you simply because they are wearing a collar.
    • Playful threats towards a submissive you’re personal friends with may be considered cute and delightful. Playful threats towards a submissive you have just met will probably be considered an unsolicited advance or a general lack of etiquette.
    • Likewise, ‘tattling’ to a submissive’s Dominant about his/her misbehavior is usually considered cute and harmless among friends. Tattling to a submissive’s Dominant when you don’t know either of them could just make you appear whiny.
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