What You Don't See

by Tamar Kay
Copyright © Tamar Kay.

When consenting adults get together to do kinky things, as they often do at dungeon parties, erotic imaginations manifest in all sorts of interesting ways, which we generally call "scenes." (As opposed to "the scene," which refers to the kinky community in general.) The variety of scenes you can see at a play party can be both inspiring and educational.

Or startling or disturbing, especially if you're watching intense scenes that you don't understand, or that look dangerous. The thing is, you can't always see what's going on just by watching. I'd like to take you on a stroll through an imaginary dungeon party and give you the inside scoop on a few imaginary scenes.

Scene 1

Picture yourself in a large room, with high ceilings, an assortment of racks, tables, and other interesting dungeon equipment. The first thing you notice is a small woman who snaps a single tail whip at a helplessly bound man. The single tail licks at him so fast that it's a blur, and the only way you can tell where it's landing is the little red marks it leaves on his backside. He yelps, cries out, and finally starts yelling "no" at the top of his lungs. He sounds quite sincere and you begin to worry whether or not he really wants to be there. What you don't see: the bottom in this scene has a safe word, but it isn't "no." If he needs the scene to stop or slow down, he has a way to make that happen. However uncomfortable he may look--or may truly be--he is in this scene by choice.

Scene 2

In the corner a man and a woman sit talking. You recognize them and start to walk over to say hello, but something about how intent they both are on each other makes you hesitate. It's not a scene, so there shouldn't be any problem, right?

What you don't see: This is indeed a scene, an intense, quiet, d/s scene. Not all scenes are obvious. Some are subtle and psychological. Because you can't always be sure, approach people respectfully, giving them a chance to notice you and welcome you, perhaps with eye contact or a greeting. The same sort of thing can happen at non-kinky gatherings, when two people are deeply involved and don't want to be disturbed. Just be sensitive.

Scene 3

You watch as over the course of an hour a woman ties another, naked woman into a tall wooden frame with rope. The tied woman is blindfolded and clearly unable to move. As a final touch, the top stuffs a wadded up handkerchief into the bottom's mouth and then sits herself down a few feet away to drink a cup of water. You know enough about knots to know these aren't quick releases, and you don't see scissors around anywhere, so you begin to worry that the scene might not be safe.

What you don't see: The tied woman can spit the gag out at any time. The top knows her knots very well and has a knife in her back pocket. She has, in fact, practiced cutting someone out of bondage like this before. If she has to, she can free her bottom in seconds.

Scene 4

As you walk to the water fountain you see two people sitting at a table. The man is someone you know, and the woman is new to the scene. She pulls out play-piercing needles and starts to do a scene with him. You know that needles can be dangerous and you worry about your friend doing a scene with this inexperienced stranger.

What you don't see: yes, the woman is new to the scene, but she's also a trained medical practitioner. She probably knows needles and health issues better than anyone else in the room.

Scene 5

You glance back at the couple in the corner who you know. The man stands, grabs the woman by the hair, pulls her head up, and slaps her loudly across the face three times. She starts to cry and he starts to hit her again. They aren't gentle slaps, and she appears to be truly upset. It disturbs you to see this, and you genuinely worry that the woman might be in trouble.

What you don't see: hair pulling and face slapping can be done quite safely. As for tears, strong emotions can be an important part of power-exchange scenes, especially between people who know each other well. Again, you have to trust that the people involved know what they're doing, that they choose to be there, doing it. Just because you're uncomfortable with a scene doesn't mean that it's wrong for others to do it. Try not to project your own uncertainty onto the scenes of others.

Remember that you're not merely an observer in dungeons like these--you're part of the environment and community that makes this party a safe place for people to do scenes in the first place. As such, your understandings and knowledge matter. Your support and wisdom makes a difference.

The above scenes are based on real-life incidents. They are safe as any scene can be, because of the knowledge and expertise of the people involved. That knowledge and expertise isn't always visible to a casual observer. But it's there.

There are times to be concerned. Some of the above scenes might not have been safe. There is a proper etiquette for dungeon parties in this case: if you're worried, go to the dungeon master or mistress. The dungeon master or mistress (also called the "DM") is someone who is trusted by the organizers of the event to monitor play and insure that it is safe. If you're worried, find the DM and tell them of your concerns.

But don't take it upon yourself to make things right. Don't interrupt the scene, with action or voice. Don't start rumors and don't gossip. Remember that there may be things you don't see. Go and talk to the DM.

If you are still concerned, talk to someone else you respect in the community. And finally, if your mind is not yet at ease, talk to the people involved--respectfully, and with an open mind--after the scene is over. They may be quite willing to explain their motivations if you approach them with a sincere desire to understand.

Remember, there are scenes that won't make sense to you just by watching.

Copyright © Tamar Kay.