Event review: Kinkfest UK 2014

Earlier this year, I was asked to take part and teach workshops at the UK’s largest and newest BDSM educational conference and event, Kinkfest UK. To say it was an honour to have been able to take part is an understatement and over the course of its 2 day debut, it quickly became my favorite event of 2014 and one of my favourite BDSM events of this past decade.

Concentrating more on the safety and knowledge aspects of BDSM during the day by hosting a large and very diverse assortment of workshops and classes, while during the evenings having a large environment to practice in and have fun with new-found skills, as well as having live performances of fire play and Japanese rope bondage, Kinkfest UK has it all. In fact, I think the only thing it lacked was a market.

Held in the same venue as they hold the Midland peer rope evenings at the Xtasia club in Birmingham, I ran several flogging workshops over the course of the event and I also managed to get in some very fun rope (photos below). They have expressed wishes to continue Kinkfest UK as a yearly event and I for one really hope they do. This event was simply awesome and given the chance, I would gleefully attend again.

The First flogging workshop on the 26th July:

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My playtime while attending the peer rope workshop on the 26th July:

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The last flogging workshop on the 27th July:

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My rope model and workshop partner for the event: Jitsuka.
Photos courtesy of Kinkfest UK.
Photography by Red Fox Photography.
All images are copyright © KinkfestUK 2014.

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Flogging, dragon tail and impact play workshops for 2014

Every year I tend to get many requests to do workshops where I teach people safety and techniques on various styles of BDSM play.

I do not charge anyone for doing a workshop. All I ask is that my fuel/travel expenses are covered and that I am allowed a Kabunza trade stand at the event in question.

Having a trade stand at a workshop/event allows me to earn the money for my time separately as well as allowing me to share safe knowledge as freely as possible. Essentially minimising what an event needs to charge people for having the good sense to actually do the research and learning in their BDSM interests.

My events page has been updated to include all events that I will definitely be attending in 2014.

This year seems to be filling up unusually fast and I still have several requests to consider, so I thought it might be best to publish a blog post reminding people to get their requests for workshops in as quickly as possible.

My contact details can be found: Here.

Don’t delay if you want me for a specific date or event. Once I place an event on my blog page, it is pretty much set in stone unless the event itself is cancelled.

Dr Phil’s London Shibari Workshop

Benjamin and I have been on many Shibari and Kinbaku training courses over the past 9 months. We have had private tuition, attended workshops, demonstrations, performances and events or have even simply met and managed to discuss rope one-on-one with Riggers and Rope Models who have dedicated their lives to it and are simply amazing at what they do. Names like Bruce Esinem, Nina Russ, Gorgone, Kasami Ranki, Vinciens, Kirigami and Peter Slemrian to name but a few. However, I always seem to avoid going into depth about our experiences with them as it is often simply training or technical discussion; which can sometimes come across as tedious for those not interested in that particular subject or too much of a single type of study (Which is not always the best thing to fill up a blog as diverse as mine with; I prefer to mix in as many different aspects of my BDSM practices that I can).

I hope to change things and add a little more to my blog in the way of personal and lifestyle experiences. It has been suggested that I should write more; Ergo, I shall!

Dr Phil’s London Shibari Workshop:

Dr Phil is a French Rigger who has had a passion for bondage since the age of 24. Benjamin seemed eager to attend the rare opportunity of a rope workshop in London hosted by him at Chez Esinem, and we jumped at the chance when a couple of our friends announced that they would want to go along with us.

The class was quite small, consisting of only 5 Riggers and 4 Models (not including Dr Phil and his Model), so it allowed for discussion and getting to know people, which is always a bonus, and primarily concentrated on styles that we were already relatively familiar with (it is great when you understand the basics to begin with, it helps in noticing each Riggers individual and often subtle variations) but also included a little of the aesthetic and non suspension ties. The only harness that we remembered to take a photo of was a very pretty (non-suspension) version of Hojōjutsu.

untitled-1-3The latticework between the shoulders makes a great ‘handle’ for controlling your play partner.

Also joining us at the workshop was well known artist and frequent addition to BOUND: Isobel Williams, Who sat on the sidelines during the ‘throwing of string’ and sketched, inked or painted away. You can see some of her rendition of the day on her blog at: http://boulevardisme.blogspot.co.uk

It turned out to be both a fun and informative day. One I would gladly repeat.

Flogging workshop and first-time Kabunza trade stand at the BBB

Whenever I am asked to host a workshop, give tuition or give a demonstration, I always leap at the chance. It is incredibly rewarding and I truly believe that one of the best things anyone with a well practiced skill can do for the BDSM community is to pass on their knowledge to willing students safely. There are a lot of people out there who are reckless (even dangerous) but teach their activities anyway, (often simply to stroke their own egos) despite how unsafe it may be. It can sometimes be very confusing or even scary enough to put people off trying or learning new things. My recommendation to anyone taking advice from anyone on any BDSM activity is to do a little research into the competence of the person(s) giving out their information and also briefly on the subject matter in question (be it flogging, whips, shibari or any BDSM skill) using that magical tool: The internet. Trust me, for the safety of both yourself and those you play with, it never hurts to do a little research and anyone with real knowledge or skill will be apparent from the tat.

I tend to be very hands-on and interactive in my workshops; I like people to ask questions, I like people to talk to me about their own experiences so that I can explain or perhaps even learn something new myself (nobody ever stops learning) and I always try to get people out of their seats to physically practice anything I am trying to teach. Actual practice of any skill makes perfect and I think being able to actively talk people through and demonstrate safely as they are attempting new skills tends to alleviate a very large portion of simple first-time learning hiccups.

Having said that; I am happy to say that the flogging workshop at the Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar received some wonderful feedback and comments. It seemed as though everyone had a wonderful time and I cannot express how rewarding it is to watch people putting their new-found teachings into practice over the course of an event (having a room full of flying florantining floggers can be an incredibly fun thing to watch).

Even the lovely Mistress Victoria from Uberkinky (who was a pleasure to finally meet face to face) wrote a sparkling review of the experience, which you can read on her website blog: Here.

In response to the many people who have asked me to do some Youtube videos and tutorials: I do hope to get some made eventually, but it is finding someone who would be willing to film me and has decent enough equipment and software to do so. It will be done, it is just a question of time and expense (anyone wishing to participate in this kind of project, please feel free to contact me).

And to answer the question that so many people directed at me about my collection of floggers at the workshop: The straight handled floggers were from Jack’s Floggers, The ball handled floggers were from Jack’s floggers and Edgeplay and the majority of the floggers that you saw that evening (the poi floggers) were from our very own Kabunza Craftwerks (we do accept custom orders if you would like a personalised set made).

As well as the workshop, it was also Kabunza‘s first ever trade stand at the BBB. We received some wonderful feedback on our products and many people walked home with shiny new Kabunza collars, jewellery and floggers. We are gleefully looking forward to any possibilities of trading there again. The atmosphere and people at this event are simply awesome.

To sum up this post, I would just like to send out a few thankyou’s :

  • To the BBB market and after party organizers for offering us the opportunity to have our Kabunza trade stand represented at their event, for the ample support they gave us, for allowing me the honour of hosting a workshop for them and for their very encouraging and complimentary words throughout.
  • To everyone who made a purchase at the Kabunza trade stand. We know from all your lovely comments and appreciation photos that our hard work is going to good homes. We hope you get as much joy from them through their use and wear as we have had in creating them.
  • To everyone who attended the workshop. I hope everyone had fun (I know many did from the comments that I have received on Facebook and Fetlife but I never tire from hearing your thoughts and I am sure the readers of my blog would love to hear your comments if anyone would like to post any below).
  • To my ever diligent partner for pouring her blood, sweat and tears (three of my favourite things to squeeze out of her) into customising and altering almost every purchased Kabunza item at the event. She really worked hard.
  • To my Benjamin. Who, without him, none of the above would of happened and who embraced everything that I inflicted upon him at the workshop (and afterwards) with a delicious smile. As I have always said; “It takes two to play”, and in that respect I am always greatly appreciative of him and feel incredibly lucky to have him as my own.

Event review: BOUND Rope jam

Many of the events that Benjamin and I go to are organised by friends of ours and many people have been asking as of late what these events are like and if they are fun to attend.

I try my hardest to avoid events which I think I may dislike or which I have attended in the past and found wanting, and many of the events we do go to are usually because we have been invited or because we have a Kabunza trade stand. But to make things easier and to help those who wish to know, I have decided to write up a few reviews of some of the events which we tend to frequent regularly simply because it is a damn good night out.

I am going to start with Benjamin’s favorite: BOUND Rope jam at The Flying Dutchman in London.

This is a fantastic night out created by Esinem, Nina Russ & Gorgone in collaboration with The Flying Dutchman in Camberwell, London.

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A heady mix of Shibari demonstrations, tutorials, shows and socializing. If you enjoy rope bondage then it is simply a must to see.

Set in a small venue of a local historic London pub, whose mission is to promote difference, diversity, and the arts. Not only will you see live stage performances of full suspension rope bondage by some of the most world-wide recognized rope artists and models, but there is also ample space for those who attend to have a little bit of rope time themselves.

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From the minute you walk through the door, you are surrounded by people who know what they are doing when it comes to rope bondage; from the traditional Japanese styles to our own western adapted forms.

Even if you are simply curious about rope bondage or attempting to learn yourself, it is a great place for inspiration and the people who attend are open and friendly.

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The stage performances are of such a high caliber that I believe it is highly unlikely that you would get to see live rope art like this on a monthly basis anywhere else in the UK.

The event is held on the last Friday of every month, the night starts at 7pm and performances go on throughout the evening until 1am. Ticket prices range from: Early bird tickets: £5 (limited availability), Advance tickets: £15, On the door entrance: £20.

Some of the performers travel from as far as Tokyo to perform their talents, so as night-out’s go, BOUND is exceptional value for money.

This is not a large profit event and is run by local rope enthusiasts who put a lot of hard work and heart into making an evening which is entertaining and can be enjoyed by anyone of a like-minded interest, which is just one more thing that makes this event special.

Benjamin and I would highly recommend attending to anyone who has the inclination. It is simply a marvelous night out.

Photography used with the permission of http://bounduk.net/

Something beginning with ‘K’

Recently it has been quite a busy time for me and mine. We have attended about 6 events in the past two weeks, hence why there has been such a delay in blog posts.

One form of our play that has lately been taking a large portion of our attention is Kinbaku.

In this post I am going to explain a little about what we go through before, during and after play of this kind. I must stress that these opinions are based solely from our own perspective and experiences.

“Kinbaku, for me, is the only style of rope that is really close to my heart because it is not simply about tying pretty patterns. It is about awakening emotions, senses and arousal. With any other type of rope play; you can tie someone, but with Kinbaku, you must put your heart and soul into it. It’s emotion, it’s connection, it’s control, it’s sensual.” – Benjamin.

Stage 1: Preparation

Before any play can take place, a little preparation is required.

If suspension is going to be played with (which should by no means be done without experience and correct tuition); This equipment needs to be set up, ropes need to be neat and within accessible reach of the playspace (messy ropes can mean play is interrupted with entanglements) and EMT shears (safety scissors) need to be equally accessible.

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“Anybody can tie someone in rope, but the biggest responsibility is being able to tie safely. The ability to read your partners body and signals is paramount. Benjamin can read me so well because of our incredibly close bond, which is reinforced through our other forms of play, but when tying someone for the first time; communication is key.” – Aemilia Hawk.

An aesthetic setting or props (even something as simple as a blanket or mat on the floor) can help set the mood.

Stage 2: Stretching

Stretching is important. It loosens the muscles of the model and lessens the possibility of discomfort or fatigue while in bondage. While the model is stretching, the artist is often going through his/her mind what effects are desired or what is intended to be accomplished during the course of play.

“A healthy diet, a nimble body and a kinky mind is beneficial. A sliver of masochism helps substantially.” – Aemilia Hawk.

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Stage 3: Floor work

The floor work is essentially the start of actual play. Some people prefer a standing start, others prefer seated (of course, each can be utilised for specific or desired effect). The aim of floor work is basically to set the tone and flow of play. It can be violent and rough or soft and sensual depending on the moods and preferences of the play partners (choice of music, if any is used, tends to influence and effect play). This stage is often when all the bondage is applied and readied for suspension, however, sometimes the duration of play can be nothing but floor work and have no suspension at all.

“To me, the floor work is is very important, it is about the closeness, the touch, awakening my partners senses and the choice of how I am going to go about controlling the flow of play. It is building the foundations of the play ahead and even though I am in control, I am sensitive to and guided by Aemilia‘s reactions. It is not about the rope, but how I choose to use the rope. This part of play is what has truly made me fall in love with Kinbaku.” – Benjamin.

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“Personally, I like it rough.” – Aemilia Hawk.

Stage 4: Partial/Full suspension (optional)

If suspension is a desired effect, the rigging is then applied.

WARNING: Partial or full rope suspension should not be attempted without training or tuition and even with such things, it can still be dangerous. Possible injuries can include permanent nerve damage.

“As safety is a prime concern, please be aware that, like so many good things in life, there is always possibility of accidental injury. Rope suspension is undoubtedly edge play and should only be undertaken by those who are physically and mentally up to the challenge. Suspension is safe but not without risk, regardless of proficiency or experience, so is definitely RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) rather than entirely SSC (Safe Sane and Consensual). The more extreme suspensions require a high degree of fitness and often a reasonable pain threshold, so don’t imagine everyone can do what professional models make look easy!” – Bruce Esinem.

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Stage 5: Suspension transitioning (optional)

Some positions are more uncomfortable than others, every model is different and what some will find easy, others will find incredibly difficult. But regardless of the person, It is a good idea to keep the model moving and a bad idea to keep them suspended for lengthy periods of time. This may be as simple as spinning or gently swinging the model while in suspension or even changing (in part or in whole) the suspension itself.

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Stage 6: Back down to earth

If suspended, it is very important to bring the model back to the floor safely (untying the correct lines in sequence to ensure balance is maintained). Even when the main line is removed and there is no attachments to the suspension point, it is the artists responsibility to keep hold of the model until safely on the ground (light-headedness, euphoric emotions or sensory overload can cause the model to collapse easily).

The untying is just as important as the rest of the play. This is where the artist may decide to change the flow of play to opposite of what has been earlier.

“In my case, this point of play is often when I enjoy the more sensual and soft touch. For me, it is an unveiling of the skin beneath the ropes and I often add small touches to our play; like using the ends of the rope to caress or running the rope over sensitive erogenous zones while untying.” – Benjamin.

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Stage 7: Aftercare

Aftercare is important in any form of BDSM play. Rope bondage is painful (especially suspension), despite how easy a model can sometimes make it look. Aftercare can range from a soft and sensual embrace, applying skin creams to marked areas, gentle kisses and all kinds of affections shown. The list of possible aftercare is limitless and is often unique and personal between the play partners themselves. Aftercare should be just as significant as the play itself.

“I know Aemilia goes through a lot, emotionally and physically, during our rope play. The aftercare is an important way of showing my affection towards her. It is my way of saying thankyou.” – Benjamin.

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“I am not naturally a submissive person, but when the play is ending and I am recovering from the exertion and pain; and he warmly embraces me with a stubbly kiss on the neck, I just melt. I have no idea why. It is a unique sensation.” – Aemilia Hawk.

Or maybe, after all I have written here, it may just be a case of Benjamin having ‘Dirty old man’ syndrome and wanting to fondle me when I am lacking the ability to bite back.

He is nodding, so it must be true.

Photography by Raven Imaging.
All images are Copyright © 2012 AemiliaHawk. All Rights Reserved.

Fire poi practice 17/11/12

After an event filled and incredibly fun weekend, I have returned to my Bristol dungeon feeling emotionally replenished.

No doubt I will be writing up a short story or two about some of the antics that my Benjamin and I got up to, but for the moment I simply wanted to highlight the only media footage that we managed to procure during the course of the two days.

As some will know from reading my previous post, ‘Great balls of fire‘, I have always had desires to learn some of the heavier and performance forms of fire play. I have always had a fascination with flame.

When I received a set of basic fire poi for my birthday a few weeks ago, I was eager to start practicing.

So, in the big warehouse at Exodus UK in the latter of a Saturday afternoon, under the watchful gaze of the venues owner (who regularly plays with fire whips), doused in freezing cold water (so the clothing would be significantly less likely to catch aflame), the chill of winter creeping in, my sexy play partner on standby holding a huge water doused towel (ready to be thrown over anything, including me, should the worst happen) and fire extinguishers at the ready; I began my first attempt at the artform of fire poi.

Thankfully, you use them exactly like you would use a set of dual floggers. However my form still looks quite rigid due to the fact that I was “freezing my arse off”.

Here are the videos, part one and part two of the same practice session, taken using my iPhone (hence the limited resolution) by another watchful friend.

Enjoy.