What's A Munch?????

This month, Domina wants to talk about typical D/s casual get togethers. NOT a play party.

In this age of on line services, most with sections dedicated to D/s related topics, there will come times when members who live near each other decide to get together, or when local, D/s related events will make a get together in real life desirable and convenient. These are usually known as MUNCHES and here is the description of a typical munch. Except for Feynman and Domina, names have been changed to protect the participants.

One evening in December, a group of members of the D/s section of a certain online service gathered in San Jose at Hamburger Mary's, a casual, comfy hangout specializing in burgers and beer. About 24 people showed up, some from as far as Columbus, Ohio and Washington, D. C. Most of these people had met before, and so it was more of a family reunion than many of these group things are. Before gathering at the restaurant, a small group visited LeatherMasters (This is a REAL leather store in San Jose. Domina shops here, as do many of her friends. This is only a plug because Domina LIKES this store. They won't give her a discount for this) hoping to run into Tod Almighty, the body alteration specialist, and invite him to the gathering. (This is a plug for Tod, Domina has all the openings in her body she intends to have, but if she WERE going to make new holes, Tod would be her choice. He's pierced a couple of her friends and is bright, articulate, and knowledgeable. He also takes his time. Not one of those in and out specialists. If nothing else, you should take a look at Tod himself as a piece of art. *I* admire the eyeballs tattooed on the back of his head.) Tod wasn't available, and after checking out the stock in the store looking for ideas, they took off for the restaurant.

The next three hours were filled with burgers, diet coke, and a lot of conviviality. Discussion ranged from Domina's potential web page, to gossip on who was currently involved with whom to sports. Even though a lot of the female subs were wearing collars, the D/s group was mostly middle aged, average looking people and we didn't stand out in the restaurant at all. Only one local member of the leather/fetish scene was actually in fetish wear. The rest of us were mostly pretty casually dressed-typically a sweater and jeans. The outstanding component of the restaurant was a group of TVs in evening dress. (I hate it that they have better shoes than I do, and they're usually much more feminine!) A collar or five was nothing. Contrary to popular belief, most of us look normal, act normal, and just have more fun than normal. One thing Feynman commented on about the typical person involved in D/s as a lifestyle is that they tend to be more educated, more liberal, more intelligent, and have good senses of humor. Usually they are professionals and many are affluent. (A lot of Lawyers are in to D/s. Think about that next time you are being charged $150 an hour. He probably has a great collection of whips, floggers, and other toys; and they're probably used ON him.)

After the party, some people who were staying at a local Bed and Bondage returned there to take advantage of the dungeon. Some went over to LeatherMasters and hopefully shopped the place out. Another group, mostly local, went over to Eleanor's house and chatted for awhile, then settled in and watched a movie while eating cookies and playing with Eleanor's dog. Then more chatting and good-byes. Finally, Feynman tenderly tucked Domina in the car and drove her home while she wrote this missive on her laptop. A good, though late, night was had by all.

Munches are GREAT places to meet people. AOL and CompuServe have active D/s sections where people meet each other in real life and often relationships start on line or at munches. Munches are good places to meet other D/s people because you are not alone; you have a lot more security in a group, and there is no pressure to play or to do anything you might not want to. Munches are NOT play parties. We'll describe a big, public, play party and a private play party in other notes. A munch is much like any meeting of normal people with a common interest. Fantasy aside, not everything has to be sex. The down side of munches as places to meet are that unless you are close to a major metropolitan area, it may be difficult to gather enough people together to make a good party. New York, Atlanta, LA, Seattle, Washington D. C., and the Bay Area are easy places to find an active group. Not every city has locally known players and groups. However, if you are willing to drive into your closest active area from time to time, you might even find other members from YOUR neighborhood.

Remember, we are not Dom(me)s and Subs primarily, we are just normal people who play and live a bit differently than other people.

(While Compuserve is gone, and AOL is not what it was, a Munch is still about the same thing.  Wearing fetish wear isn't considered really good manners for a munch.  You generally wear everyday clothing and certainly don't wave toys or cuffs around.  Upsetting the waitstaff is considered terribly rude.  Going to a munch is probably one of the safer places to meet someone new to you.)

What Happens at a Private Party

What happens at a private play party? What do people wear? What do they do? In your community, it may be different, but here is a typical play party in the Domina's D/s circle.

Firstly, remember that these parties are invitational only. The participants are going to be people who know and like each other, or they are going to be people who KNOW someone who is invited. Private parties are not going to be open to the public. You can only get into a private party by knowing someone personally who will vouch for your behavior.

The party I'm describing happened at a private house in the Bay Area. All the names except for Domina and Feynman have been changed to protect the participants.

Domina and Feynman arrived at about 9:00 PM. The party had been going on for about two hours by this time. About two dozen or maybe thirty people were scattered throughout the rather large house when they arrived. Most were gathered in the living room, or on the deck. This being California, the deck was set aside as the smoking area.

The owner of this house has a regular party here once a month. He is a dom, and his house has a dedicated room for D/s purposes with a sling, several removable and varied chain and horse set ups, and a gurney. There are several items of portable D/s furniture set up in other rooms that are typically living area, just for the party. A nice buffet is set up in one corner of the great room. Coffee and soft drinks are available. Alcohol and drugs are not allowed. This is typical of the D/s community (especially in the bay area). Drinking, drugs, and SM do not mix. Toy bags are in evidence: this party is for playing publicly, showing off how submissive your submissive is, and showing off your newest toys. Some people will play, some will watch, and some will just socialize. But the point is that you are meeting with others who share your lifestyle.

Once inside, Domina puts a collar, cuffs, and connecting chains on Feynman. And adds a couple of small, decorative floggers to her belt. At this party, (as is typical) the male dom/female sub couples are the majority. There is one other female dominant/male submissive couple, and a couple of male submissives on their own. you want details. Lets start with fashion. Domina has on a short silk tunic, silver spike heels, and black satin gloves (she's into dramatic looks.). Feynman is in black, with silver chains. The other female dominant is wearing a long, full, gypsy dress with a velvet vest. Her submissive is naked and chained. The male dominants are in everything from black leather to suits, to denim, and the female submissives range from naked to leather dresses, to lingerie. The singles are typically in casual dress. Fetish wear, usually leather, is big at parties, but not everyone wears it. Some dommes like their submissives to be naked and chained, some like them in lingerie, and some have them undress only when playing. It's an eclectic mix. It is NEVER, by the way, conclusive that people without collars are dom(me) and people with collars are subs. I admit that the rule tends to be that an owned submissive wears a collar on most occasions when it would not interfere with their public life, but this rule is not always followed. On the other hand, some dominants, (usually female), LIKE collars for their decorative aspect and wear them. And unowned subs may or may not have collars on. Confused? Well, this is a group of mostly middle aged individualists. The dom(me)s tend to wear what they feel comfortable or sexy in, and the collared subs wear what the dominants TELL them to wear. Unowned submissives wear whatever THEY want to wear.

Okay, so, what goes on.........well, here's a run down of what we did and saw. The party might be a bit different from someone else's perspective, but then again, it might not.

We started by peeking in the doorways at the scenes in progress. There were three rooms opened for scenes; the official dungeon, a room opening into the great room, and one bedroom. Nothing exceptionally unusual was happening in any of the rooms, and since I like to start by socializing, we circulated around the great room, chatting with the people we knew well, and sampling the buffet. I sent Feynman around to get me coffee and snacks and the rest of the time, he stayed right with me: Possibly because I keep him on a leash at functions like this. I was introduced to a male dominant that I hadn't previously met, and we were discussing toys. I sent Feynman to get my toy bag, since this gentleman had never used one or two items that I happened to have with me. We did some toy comparisons and then he borrowed a couple of my things and we moved to the room opening off the great room so he could try them out on his submissive. Feynman and I watched them play, and then we moved back into the main room, chatted and snacked a bit more, wandered through and watched a flogging scene in the bedroom, and then settled in and watched a scene in the dungeon. I had had Feynman bring my toy bag to the dungeon so that we could use it when the couple we were watching finished. (By the way, despite the nudity, most of the play is not what vanilla people would consider to be overtly sexual. Public play is usually done with paddles, floggers, canes, etc., and mostly is SM. Some sexual play does go on, but most serious sexual play is done behind closed doors. EROTIC play is something else entirely. A lot of couples mix kissing, stroking, and fondling with pain play and it can be very sensual. I like public play because I don't have a real dungeon of my own, and at a party, I can use equipment that I don't have, and I can also engage in bondage that I can't do at home because of one problem endemic to female dominant/male submissive couples-he's BIGGER than I am.  A LOT (he's 6'4") There are some forms of bondage that involve putting the submissive into positions and conditions that mean that you need help moving them. If you want to do that, and your submissive is larger than you, you are likely to have some problems. a party, you can get help to position your sub. I only do mummification at play parties because Feynman is a very tall man, even if he isn't fat. And I just can't maneuver someone his size around single handed.)

The couple we were watching finished their play, and we set up the room to suit us. I placed Feynman in standing bondage (with his help since I couldn't reach the placement points necessary without a step stool) and then we did our scene. (My particular interest is floggers.) As with all parties, the host checked into our scene once or twice to make sure that all activities were being done safely. This is typical of a proper play party. Public parties and larger private ones will have "dungeon masters" or "dungeon monitors" to rule on the safety of play and to make sure all safety rules are complied with.  Smaller parties, the host usually takes care of that chore.  Several people dropped by to watch portions of it, but we weren't doing anything that required exceptional skill, so our scene was rather a bland one. We didn't get that much attention.

While we are on the subject, I'd like to mention a few things about scene etiquette.

It is very rude to interrupt a scene in any way unless the submissive is using a safeword, and the dominant is ignoring this. (or unless you need to inform the participants that the house is on fire.) In that case, you should stop what is going on.   In ANY other case, no matter how dangerous you think the play is, how much the scene upsets you, or whatever, you NEVER interrupt the scene.  You go to the host or dungeon master and voice your complaints QUIETLY to HIM and let HIM handle it.  Very often, members of our community play in a way that may be unacceptable to other members.  This does not mean that it is wrong, evil, out of line, dangerous, or whatever, despite what you may personally think.   If the scene looks dangerous to you, and the dungeon master does not feel that it should be stopped, LEAVE THE AREA, quietly and go watch something else that won't upset you.  There are certain scenes that I think are dangerous and would not be involved in, but I have no right to make choices for others.   Neither do you.

Talking loudly near a scene space, or talking TO someone involved in a scene is totally out of line.   Don't make audible comments or interrupt people involved in a scene.   Don't borrow toys from someone while they are in a scene.   This is VERY rude.

Never join in a scene unless the top invites you into the scene.   And don't get too close to the activity.   People who start crowding me in scene space may get whacked with whatever I'm using on Feynman-and the rest of the onlookers will prevent that person from retaliating.   This is pretty standard in most venues.   If you want to watch, stay out of play range.   This applies to both public and private play spaces.

Never touch a submissive that doesn't belong to you unless you are unmistakably invited to do so.   This is a BIG no, no.   Submissives belong to ONE dominant, not everyone.   They are NOT community property.   Touching a submissive of either sex gratuitously will make you persona non grata, in all venues.   And trust me, most submissives, male or female, can take care of themselves.   (This also applies to dominants. Male submissives, contrary to public belief are not wimps. If you physically annoy a female dominant, chances are, the closest male submissives will rush to defend her and you'll get VERY hurt. People involved in D/s tend to be very chivalrous and protective of each other no matter the sex or orientation.)

Now, getting back to the party..........after we played, Feynman resumed his attire, and we straightened up the room for the next use.   This is very important.   Wherever you play, clean up after yourself.   I sprayed all the toys we used with disinfectant, and Feynman put them away.   Anything in my toy bag that gets used, gets cleaned after use.   I don't do play that breaks the skin, but I'm a firm believer in cleaning things.   (I usually help  Feynman clean up when we play publicly, because he's usually a bit spacey after a scene and I like to have him keep that feeling as long as possible.)  At home, clean up can wait till later, but in a party situation, usually people are waiting to use the room.   Some dominants insist that the submissive do all the clean up. This is a relationship question, IMHO. Whatever works for you.  I will tell you that I tried that once in a public play space and lost a set of very expensive cuffs because he was so spacey he forgot to take them down.  

We watched the start of the next scene, and then wandered back to the buffet and nibbled a bit. We joined in a conversation in the main room for awhile, then picked up our stuff and went home. This is a pretty typical private party.


Public Play Parties

What happens at a public play party? What is the playspace like? What do people wear? What do they do?

Here is the description of a play party held at a public space for the members of an on line service.

In the bay area, there is a Bed and Bondage that is often rented out for public play parties. One evening in November, a group of people descended on this household for a party. The dungeon is the entire basement of a two story house. Lots of nice equipment from chains to slings to hanging platforms, to spanking horses, to gurneys are in this room. San Francisco is reasonably tolerant of public D/s spaces, unlike some other cities. This particular space is unusual in that the dungeon is just one large room. Most public spaces have more than one area for play. This venue, however, is better lighted and just plain better designed than most of the other public play spaces in town.

We paid our admission, and then wandered around exploring since this was the first time we'd been to this playspace. There was a bondage demo (a lesson on how to safely do rope bondage) going on in the dungeon, and we watched that. It was extremely interesting, and the participants were very good at bringing out the dangers and proper techniques. There was a lingerie boutique, and Domina visited that and tried on quite a few things.....but fortunately for Feynman, didn't buy anything.

After spending some time chatting with various people and snacking in the kitchen, we again gravitated toward the dungeon. A local author of SM how to books was autographing books on the main floor. And there was also a boutique. After inspecting these items, we entered the dungeon which now was open for public play. Several scenes were going on, some of which demonstrated a lot of skill. We watched several of these. Once the crowd thinned out, we did a scene of our own. Unfortunately, we had to cross the bay bridge to get home, and that was going to be closing at midnight, so we had to leave early. However, we did meet some new people, and renewed ties with old friends.

Public parties are very similar to private parties except for the people being less likely to be close friends. The same sort of outfits are evident.......maybe more leather in a public party since people are a bit more into impressing than they would be among close friends. Public parties will have posted rules, and not all private parties will. Many cities do not have clubs where public parties can take place. Unfortunately, it will depend on the city, the local laws, the openness of the local alternative communities, etc. The Bay Area is rather tolerant of alternative sexual styles, while your city, might not be. So, there may not be places where you can play publicly. There are public play spaces in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta, to name a few. You may just have to look.

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