BDSM clubs tend to be quite a bit different from the swing clubs we wrote about in Eyes Wide Open: What Swing Clubs are Really Like. Many of the BDSM clubs do not allow sex of any sort. Some do, but you will need to check out their rules in advance. The more private the club, the greater the likelihood that they will allow sex. Even clubs that do not allow sex or penetration do usually allow a certain amount of nudity.
For the safety of all involved, BDSM clubs tend to have some very specific rules about safe play and conduct, and they typically have dungeon masters who monitor the activities to make sure that everyone is playing safe. Since a participant may be bound, rules for negotiation and how you will deal with sex become very important.
Most clubs encourage voyeurism, so you’ll probably see some pretty hot stuff even if you don’t participate. The last time we went, a woman was tied with her hands above her head and spanked by her husband while another woman gave her head, an activity that seemed to draw a crowd. In general, you see a lot more oral sex than actual penetration.
At most clubs, dressing in fetish attire is encouraged, and it is a great opportunity to see some great erotic outfits. These will be quite different from what you’d see at a swing club- the lacy lingerie being replaced by leather collars and harnesses. Part of the fun is dressing up.
BDSM play is a lot more involved than almost any other form of erotic play. You should be especially aware of basic safety issues. We strongly suggest that you learn a little more about it before jumping in. The absolute best resource for books on BDSM is a company called Greenery Press. They consistently turn out quality titles with very specific information of interest to the kink community. The company was founded by writer and sex educator Janet Hardy, author of eleven books including the highly respected The Ethical Slut.
Also involved in the founding of the company was Jay Wiseman, whom my wife has had the pleasure of being tied up by. He is the author of some eleven books as well, but is most known for his excellent SM 101, which is now available on Kindle. You can read our review here. We also really like his Erotic Bondage handbook.
We have quite a few of their books in the physical EU library. Besides books by both Janet and Jay, other current Greenery Press books we like from our library include Flogging by Joseph W. Bean, The Kinky Girl’s Guide to Dating by Luna Grey, and Partners in Power: Living in Kinky Relationships by Jack Rinella.
Our suggestion would be to start with Jay’s SM 101, and go on from there. There are also lots of other useful books on BDSM, as the community is filled with excellent teachers. There has long been an emphasis on education, and most BDSM clubs offer classes teaching a wide range of skills and techniques, as well as general information on things like negotiation. This classes are very useful in gaining a better understanding of what BDSM is all about, and they usually have classes just for beginners as well.
One of the ways that BDSM clubs differ from swing clubs is that they are more open to single men. However, as with the swing clubs and single guys, just showing up at a club does not make it likely that you are going to find a play partner for that evening. Even more so than at a swing club, it takes time to develop the relationships and trust for this type of play.
I always bring play partners with me. I remember one evening where I was with three women, and a number of single guys engaged us in conversation, seemingly under the delusion that somehow I had extra women that I was not using. The truth was, they had no interest in meeting anyone. We were just there to use the available furniture.
Unlike at a swing club where people are there to meet new people and potential playmates, that is not as much the case at a BDSM club (except in the minds of the single guys). A bigger incentive is the ability for a couple to get to play in a dungeon and use the furniture. By that I mean things like a whipping bench, a spanking horse, a bondage bed, a Saint Andrew’s Cross, and other large pieces of equipment.
The smaller more personal items you are expected to bring yourself. These can include whips, paddles, flails, nipple clamps, ball gags, rope, wrist restraints, etc.
You can certainly show up and not play at all. It can be very instructive watching others play, and many of them are there because they want an audience.
There are usually social areas where you can sit and engage in conversation. This is where you get the chance to meet new people. You do not want to engage in a lot of conversation in the play areas, though, as this can be distracting to the people playing.
As with swing clubs, you are expected to know and obey the rules. Disobey the rules and you will find yourself escorted out the door, never to be allowed to return. They take the rules to keep everyone safe, including safe from any form of unwanted verbal harassment, very very seriously.