Things are beginning to open back up in the United States and elsewhere. While we are not at a point with public health to fully reopen safely, plenty of states are plowing ahead to bring commerce back on line regardless of the health consequences.
Eventually, this year or next, we will be reopened for commerce, conferences, play parties and munches. Most of us have really missed these events. A year in relative isolation, Zoom events and classes, and lack of human touch will drive many of us back out and into kink events in record numbers.
However, a year in isolation, and a year filled with plenty of political and social changes, means we will not be going back to the exact same open world we left. Even for those of us looking forward to being back out and enjoying human contact again, we may have a bit of anxiety as well. Here are tips and tools to prepare yourself for the new open kink world.
Practice Consensual Touching
Consent goes beyond just having sex with people. Pre-COVID there were plenty of kinky folks who were not huggers. With COVID, many of us developed even more limits around who we want to embrace physically. If you are a hugger, it can be tempting to race up and hug old friends and acquaintances. STOP and ASK. Simply ask, “Can I give you a hug?” or other such words will give people a chance to give you the all-clear to hug them. You may not be aware of a who host of things that a person has gone through which may have changed their limits. Asking if you can hug a person is more important now than ever.
2. Respect Choices to Wear a Mask
Yes, people are getting vaccinated. Yes, some people have had COVID. You personally may not worry about raw-dogging the air but that does not mean other people want to take that risk. Even as mask mandates are lifted, people are allowed to set their own risk level. Don’t confront or mock people still wearing masks even if there is not a mandate in your area. Additionally if a space or event still requires a mask even if there is not a state mandate, keep yours on and don’t argue about it. You are in other people’s spaces so they get to make the rules.
3. Keep Up The Increased Hygiene
In the past year, we have all been made more aware of hand washing and sanitizing surfaces. There is no reason to stop this as the world reopens. COVID is not the only thing you can pick up with inadequate hand hygiene and sanitation. Everything from the common cold to Hepatitis A and E can be spread via contact with someone who failed to wash their hands.
As for sanitation, if you are in a public (or semi-private) play space, we don’t want to unknowingly share body fluids. Clean off the equipment you use. You may be out of practice wiping down equipment with gyms and dungeons closed for a year. Get in the habit of not leaving your DNA, sweat, jizz and other fluid behind.
4. Refresh You Play Space Etiquette
It’s been a year since many of us have been in a play space with people other an a partner or two. Before you venture out to your next play party, take a bit to refresh your play space etiquette. It can be helpful to check out this video from Kink Academy featuring Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams on Dungeon Behavior!
5. Get Your Gear Ready
If your corsets, leather vests and pants, boots, heels, and other kink-wear have been languishing in your closest for the past year, set some time aside to get it ready for public viewing! This can mean polishing your boots, getting it to the dry cleaners, mending anything which was torn or loose a year ago, and making sure it still fits. If you have leathers to polish and a good bootblack at your disposal, it can also be a fun excuse for a bit of pre-game kinky play.
6. Check Websites for New/Updated Requirements
Many play spaces and conferences are updating their health and safety requirements as I write. Even if you were a regular at a play space or have attended a conference every year for the last decade, there may be things you don’t anticipate about changes in policies. Before heading out, check their websites for updated information about any new health and safety requirements.
7. Prepare for Con- and Event- Drop
People who attend con’s and other kink events may not regularly expereince con/event drop. This is a type of let-down/disappointment that sets in after you have attended a great kink event. Much of it is driven by being in a situation with a ton of stimulation and energy and then returning to our workaday lives. Even if you have not regularly experienced con-drop in the past, you need to be prepared for it now.
Prior to the shutdown, many of us had a high level of sensory input on a weekly basis. Between leaving the house for work, errands, meals, and events, we were accustomed to managing sensory input and energy. For those of us who’s daily input levels have severely diminished in the past 12 months, returning to an event or con will probably feel a bit overwhelming. There is a greater probability you will expereince a drop after your first event back than there has been with other events you may have attended in the past.
To limit the impact of con/event drop make sure you have a day or so to ease back into your routine. To get home on a Sunday night and expect to be ready for work on Monday morning is probably too optimistic for most of us. A 24-hour buffer period after your first event is a good rule of thumb. Make sure to hydrate, eat a bit of protein, and sleep. Plan on having something to soothe aches and pains as well.
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