review theory

sex party

I went to my first bdsm sex party.  I went there to learn, and I did learn–more than I expected, about myself and others.  While I was there and for a day or so afterward, I felt very positive about the experience.  I was elated.  As the days pass, I feel less positive and less like the sex party was right for me.

consent workshop

I love consent.  I’m working toward a world of respect, where everyone’s needs and boundaries matter.  It’s personally important to me because I’ve survived trauma of my boundaries being violated when I was a kid, teenager, and young adult.  The sexual violence and other violence I’ve endured harms my life.

This sex party was being kicked off with a consent workshop, so I decided to go for the workshop and stay for the beginning of the party.  That was a good plan, and I’m glad the workshop helped me show up.

My spouse and I arrived about 15 minutes late, filled out a release form, paid our ten dollars each, and got red wristbands.  The space was a large insulated barn.  The location was a farm in a nearby rural area.


I was surprised that there were many people attending the workshop.  For some reason, I’d expected the consent workshop part would be under-attended–four people on folding chairs, looking bored.  There were around 30 people at the workshop, and everyone was on couches. My spouse and I found a place to sit on a bench.

The presenter was very smart, and I appreciated what I heard at the workshop.  She has a lot of experience.  I liked noticing how she organized the material, the amount of detail she went into, and what she emphasized.  But it was more of a lecture–it could have used more visuals and interaction.

The presenter was a top, and when she talked about sub experience, she kept saying “I’m not a sub, so I don’t really know how it feels to be a sub, but…”  I wished she would have co-presented the workshop with a sub, or else owned her expertise as someone who had worked with countless subs.


There was a fire in the middle of the huge barn, and toward the end of the consent workshop, burly dude-looking people lit the heaters.  It was cold in there.  They were the kind of outdoor heaters I usually see on the patio of a restaurant.  I don’t know what they use as fuel, but the smell of the fuel bothered me throughout our time there, and I worried about health consequeces, that the fuel wasn’t appropriate for an indoor space.

As a huge barn, the space seemed semi-outdoors.  But it was insulated, and the slidey door was kept closed.  So it really was indoors.  My spouse and I spent about an hour on the balcony, and I’m afraid we breathed more than our fair share of heater fuel fumes.

sex party

The sex party began, and it was a chill start.  More and more people showed up.  I realized that compared to the party, the workshop was under-attended.  Hundreds of people arrived to the barn, and I did math, considering how much money was being made by the people putting on the party.

There was an area with food, but of course I could not eat that food.  My spouse ate two large molasses cookies.  There were plastic party cups and cambros of water.  I used the bathroom, which I appreciated.  There were also two portapotties outside.

Kinky people greeted friends, and no one was wearing a covid mask except me and my spouse.  I saw literally no other masked persons there.


There were two people at the party I knew as acquaintances.  I said hi to one of them, a slightly awkward white guy in his late 30s maybe who likes hitting people.

While I was saying hi to him and introducing my spouse, a smiling curvy fat lady in a gorgeous black dress walked up and interrupted us.  She knew the slightly awkward white guy much better than I did.

Later as we were driving home, my spouse told me that the curvy lady looked at my spouse in a way that alarmed him.  Like she was interested in my spouse as a potential person to play with.  That sparked a whole conversation about the wristbands.


“The wristbands are really important,” my spouse told me in the car.

He wasn’t there to play with strangers–he was there to bodyguard me and help me have a good experience.  We both chose red as a way of being non-inviting.  But it was cold and we were wearing long sleeves, so our wristbands were not always exposed.

“Was your wristband showing, when she was looking at you like that?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” my spouse said.

“Well, looking at someone in a certain way–I think that’s fine.  If she had actually propositioned you, that would be another thing,” I said.  “People show up horny.  Of course people are looking at each other.”

harm reduction

I was going to the sex party as an anthropologist doing research, not a reveler.  My spouse and I had sex before the party.  We both came, which felt like harm reduction.  I wanted to be clear-headed and make good choices.  Showing up not too horny was a good idea.

I’ve always been that way.  I remember when I was a young teenager and used masturbation as harm reduction, before I went out in the evenings.  Never did I want to need a clueless schoolboy for my orgasms.  If I had freshly come, I was in a position to make choices more aligned with my values than based on hormonal urge.

I still got screwed over and did risky things, but I had more of a chance.  Grateful I thought of that–smart kid.  If decent sex ed had existed, I might not have needed to think of that myself, and all the things I needed to think of myself.


There were two St Andrew’s crosses right in plain view of where my spouse and I sat on the balcony.  The curvy smiling lady took off her black dress, and the awkward white guy restrained her on the nearest cross.  Then he used a variety of whips and other implements I don’t know the names of to give her sensations.

She was fat and very pretty.  I liked learning that a variety of body types are valued in that scene.  Yes, fat people like me were possibly the norm, at this sex party.  Lots of white, middle aged fat people especially.


My acquaintance would put his hand on the lady’s back from time to time in a comforting way, and they would speak quietly.  I liked how he was checking in with her.  He seemed respectful.

But it reminded me of how the housemate I had conflict with would touch me as they hurt me, during the pain play massages months ago.  The long hand placed vertically on her back, gently there for her–that’s how my cherished housemate touched me also, to comfort me as they pushed on my adhesions.

Seeing other people do this exact thing, I felt played.  I felt angry that my housemate had taken no responsibility for doing accidental kink with me in the south living room, without direct communication about needs and aftercare.  My anger flared up, that the world is full of people who do activities in the moment, but won’t talk about them in a responsible way.

Their needs are fine–my needs are too much and inappropriate.  Fuck that, and fuck all people who participate in that.

I noticed how my acquaintance was wearing all of his clothes, while the lady he hit was stripped down to her pretty underwear.  The power differential was clear.  Power differential is something to get off on, potentially.  Or it’s a sad manifestation of mainstream dysfunctional culture.  Who knows how it felt to those two.  Hopefully it felt good.

other cross

At the other cross was a very different scene.  I didn’t like that one.  It was loud, and the gray haired man beating the young woman seemed cruel and twisted.  I suspected he was a locally famous top I’d been warned about as a violator.

The lady being beaten was having an intense experience.  She would yell, howl, and shudder.  She seemed tortured.  I trusted the situation was consensual–it seemed almost cartoonish.  What I didn’t like was the attitude of the gray haired white man.  I also didn’t like the noise.

Something going on across the barn was also loud–some naked white guy was yelling a lot.  The spanking area was sometimes loud in a startling way.  Someone would suddenly strike with a flogging implement, and I would jump.  We couldn’t see that part, from where we were sitting.


The noise started to get to me.  The smell of the heater fuel was already wearing me down.  Some weird lights were difficult too.  The lights cycled through some pretty colors and had a strobey part.

I’d brought headphones, but I didn’t put them on.  My spouse and I started talking about leaving.  Hearing people yell is a cptsd trigger for me.  I wish I could have gotten around that, but we needed to get home anyway.  I didn’t want to throw off my sleep schedule too badly.  I’m an early bird.

I knew that going downstairs from the balcony was going to feel vulnerable because I step down from stairs funny.  I would be displaying one of my disabilities for the whole barn to see, if they cared to.  The event was large and busy enough that I didn’t have the fresh meat feeling, and probably not many people saw my awkward descent.  But that was one of the hardest things I experienced at the sex party.

We made our way past the crosses, past another station, past water cambro area, past the entrance, and out the door.  There was a bonfire outside, and someone was drumming.  I danced for about five minutes in the cool night air, listening to frogs.

The dancing felt great–healing with freedom, after all the tension of the sex party.  When the drummer stopped drumming, I quietly thanked him, and my spouse and I found our car in the lot.  Like usual, we seemed the first to leave.

what surprised me

The thing that most surprised me about the sex party is how it didn’t seem like a big deal.  I was afraid I would freak out when clothes came off and people were having sex in front of me.  Being on the balcony gave me a certain amount of detachment, which must have helped.

Another thing that surprised me was wanting to participate.  As we sat on the balcony, I asked my spouse if he would enjoy hitting me in the spanking area.  I proposed we try out some of the tools there.  Maybe I could keep wearing my clothes, bend over a structure, and my spouse could hit me on the ass five times gently.  Then five times harder, and five times harder, to find my limit.

It would be a way of trying something new.  I’ve never been hit by those kinds of implements.  And I’ve never been hit in a way that others could see.

Also I considered having sex with my spouse in one of the semi-private rooms under the balcony.  I thought this would be great because I could come as loudly as I wanted to.  Quiet orgasms are difficult for me sometimes, a challenge of living in community.  I was happy to experience a space with different rules.

feeling less good

“These are my people,” I told my spouse on the balcony.  I was feeling positive and grateful.  The novelty was stimulating.

Afterward it was hard for me to sleep.  It took hours for me to wind down, and I realized that I’d done something that affected me greatly.

Two days later I was still recovering.  I realized I’d taken on too much energy of other people.  Parties are hard for me any time.  This sex party was even more energy than a usual party.

Being social in groups is extremely difficult for me.  Is it worth it?  My mission is to figure that out.


I decided maybe I don’t want to return to that barn and be exposed to all that weird energy of sexual strangers any time soon.  I love sex and how I do sexuality with my spouse.  This blog makes me happy.  Sex is not dirty or problematic in and of itself.

What’s dirty is how that gray haired white guy was sneering as he beat the young woman who writhed and howled like she was being punished in a sexual way.  His sneer was dirty.  If people want that, no problem.  Consenting adults can do what they will.  I just don’t want to be around it.

Seemed cold, the lady was going through something, and the barn was full of people mostly ignoring that.  I’m not saying she needed help.  It’s just that I want a world of compassion.  I don’t want to ignore suffering or help make that world.

spirituality conclusion

If we go again, I need to do some serious shielding beforehand, and winding down ritual afterward.  I’d like to be more quick to use my headphones.  Maybe it will be warm, and those nasty heaters won’t bathe me in yuck.

It’s important to attend a sex party with a clear goal in mind.  I was there to learn, and that I did.  My spouse was there to help me get what I needed.

Some people were there to get laid, some to hit people, some to socialize with friends.  The top who gave the consent workshop might have been there to help the world, and maybe to drum up business.

It reminded me of the pagan rituals that I’ve attended, and I come to a similar conclusion: The way I do spirituality is different from others’ ways, and I can’t get my spiritual needs met in any group.  I didn’t get what I needed at the sex party.  What I need can’t be found at any party.

This deep place I go to make contact with the divine isn’t possible to visit in a group.  It’s personal, quiet, and private.

Yes, I can enjoy prayer in a group, and the rituals I facilitate are nice.  But what I really need from the divine is secret.

By Nest

Curious, disabled Earth Goddess, telling the truth.

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