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Tips for Newcomers
First and foremost you must remember that ultimately YOU are responsible for your own safety. Never forget this.
Try to educate yourself as much as possible before you venture out. Read books on the scene. Please, while fiction books might be 'hot' to read, remember they are erotica and fantasy. That is not the best way to learn. You need to read some of the drier things that actually educate. It is getting easier and easier to find good books since even Amazon.com carries quite a few.
The net has a lot of things out there if you do a simple search. But take much of what you read with a grain of salt. You will get a lot of good tips and some that aren't. Make some notes. You will probably be able to start to pick out good tips rather quickly. Remember, use your common sense. I can't stress this enough. Also, you might want to pretty much disregard people who tend to sound like they are the "Master or Mistress of the Universe" types. Usually they write what they think sounds hot or read in some erotica book with an BDSM theme. Also, look at their time in the scene. Someone who says they have been in the scene for 2 or 3 years, doesn't usually have the experience yet to be giving people a lot of advice. Also, make sure these people are real time. There are so many online role players sounding off like their real that it's just a real piss off. Again, common sense.
Understand that as far as online chat rooms, and sites like Fetlife and Collarme etc. go --- anyone can make up a Screen Name and be an instant anything. Profiles can be faked. If they have read a few leather erotica books they can even talk a good game. It is also wise to remember that these online sites have a lot of people living a fantasy. In some cases even if they get out into the real world, they still operate like they do in this fantasy (one of my major complaints about the scene currently). This is not to say a lot of leather isn't living out one's fantasies, but some people just haven't separated the two very well. But on these sites you may also meet some "real time" people with experience. Just pick and choose wisely.
Check out people to make sure they are who and what they say they are before you play or start negotiations for a relationship. This does not mean asking their mother! Ask for references. I advise people to ask to talk to someone, not just an email address. It is too easy for people to make up fake screen names and then vouch for themselves. I also ask to have the name of an ex partner. If someone is new to the scene, or says they are new this may be more difficult, but you can sometimes tell if they are truly new or have they reinvented themselves because of a bad (deserved) rep.
The first face to face meeting should be in a public place. In fact, I think the first couple should be if possible. To me this is very important for everyone, not just slaves, submissives and bottoms.
For the first few times you meet, make sure you have your own transportation. You are less likely to end up in a bad situation if you have the ability to get up and leave. And don't be afraid to get up and leave if the person is creepy, a nut job or just makes your skin crawl.
Use Safe calls. That is, make sure someone you know and trust knows where you are, who you are meeting, the person you are meeting's cell number or something. Some people set up code words that let the person know they are ok. IE 'what did the vet say about the dog?' might mean things are going well and you are okay. Something like 'god. Yesterday that happened to me' could mean you are in trouble and he/she is listening. It is suggested you use more than one safe call. One after about 15 minutes. Another maybe an hour or so later, etc. It is also wise to call your safe call person and let them know when you are away from the meeting and on your way home. Now, someone who has been around the scene a long time will know exactly what you are doing, but won't have a problem with it. It could also mean if you have met up with an abuser he/she will not do anything for fear of being easily caught.
If someone seems to good to be true, they probably are.
Listen to your intuition and use your common sense. Allow me to repeat that (and I will several more times until it becomes your mantra) USE YOUR COMMON SENSE.
TAKE YOUR TIME. Do not rush into or allow someone to rush you into anything. Remember your mom had it right, don't take candy from strangers.
If at anytime you become uncomfortable, leave. Do not allow someone to guilt you into staying someplace where it just doesn't feel right.
The first few times you play with someone it is not a wise idea to allow yourself to be restrained. Especially a bondage scene. Remember, once your are tied up your ass is theirs and most likely there is nothing you can do about it if they abuse this. You should also play in a public dungeon at first. See their style and also how others in the scene treat and react to them.
The following is one of those common sense rules. Do not give personal info out over the net to a stranger. Do not give out your address, real name, etc. If at all possible give a cell number for your first contact. It is much easier to change a cell number and even if you don't change it, it is very hard for someone to find out where you live etc. by your cell phone number. If you are the one to initiate the first call disable the caller ID on your cell phone or if at home use the feature that blocks your number from being displayed on caller ID.
Always be polite and expect the same from others.
If anyone says any of these things to you turn tail and RUN!
"I don't want you to talk to anyone else about me, ever." Now while you shouldn't go blabbing all over about your relationship. There are things you share with at least some of the people in the community.
"You have no right to ask others about me. I will tell you everything you need to know about me. You have to trust me." Trust is earned and this certainly isn't a good start.
"If you were a real sub you would do anything I asked you to do, no matter what." Remember when your Mom said, "I suppose if Mary jumped off a cliff you would too?" Same point.
"Real subs don't need safewords. I never use them. I like to push my subs to their limit. Or, I am so in tune with my subs that I always know what they are feeling." This is just not what you want to hear from someone with whom you are just starting to negotiate. While many long term couples get to the point where they really don't use their safewords because they know each other so well, it doesn't necessarily mean they don't have some cue that is in place when needed. Start with one, make sure it is honored. Then as you gain experience with a person, go from there.
"If I find out that you have talked to someone about me I will drop you and tell everyone I know you can't be trusted." I would drop them on the spot. Let them worry about their own rep, you can take care of yours.
"Everything everyone has said about me is a lie." Come on people! This should set your alarms off anytime you hear it from anyone, anywhere in your life.
"You should only trust me and never listen to what anyone else says." See above.
"I admit that a lot of what people have said about me is true. But I have changed since then." Now people do work on themselves and change. However, change is hard and few people can make big changes in themselves. If they could none of us would smoke, be fat, drink too much or spend too money. If someone tells you they have changed, you might want to step back and observe for a bit. Or find the last person they were involved with if it was recent. If you get the same info you have been hearing from others, guess what? They haven't changed a bit. If you find out they really have changed then go from there.
When you are first starting out you may not know a lot about formal protocol. As you learn you can usually get by on observing good old fashioned manners. Good manners and common sense will get you far in the beginning. As you learn more but are not sure exactly what to do in a particular situation the rule of thumb is to err on the side of formal protocol. The reason for this is again common sense --- it is easier to be granted more permission from someone than to find out you have just made a major transgression and you have to try and recover from that.
Here are some of the old basics. I am just starting on this area and it will continue to grow as things occur to me and as people remind me of things I may have forgotten to put in this thread.
DO NOT touch a submissive's/slave's collar. I have seen people who were well intended touch a sub's collar to admire it, only to be told to back off. To touch it without permission is a sign of disrespect to both the Dominant and her/his slave or submissive.
DO NOT touch a collared submissive without permission from their Dominant. I have seen people who know a sub walk up and hug them without thinking. I have seen the sub's Dominant either cringe or bitch someone out for touching what doesn't belong to them. I know it may sound like no big deal, you were only being friendly, but remember if it doesn't belong to you, don't touch it is the rule. This applies to sub's touching another sub too, although some Dominants may not mind that another sub touches their sub for a hug or something. But until you know go with the formal protocol. Most of us do grant permission to people we know and like to hug our subs in greeting. But remember it is something where permission must be granted.
DO NOT touch a Dominant or uncollared submissive unless you know them and have their permission. A lot of us hug our friends, but until you know how someone feels about a hug, offer your hand or ask if they would mind a quick hug.
DO NOT touch someone's toys. Even if you are admiring them do not touch them unless the Dominant invites you to. Most Dominants are eager to show off a new toy or a prized toy, but wait until they offer.
DO NOT touch a Master's cover (hat). I know it sounds like no big deal but if they were allowed to shoot you they might (ok maybe they wouldn't shoot you --- well, maybe). It is a sign of complete disrespect. Primarily it is a respect thing but part of this goes back to when we all wore covers with high shined brims. To touch the cover was to put finger prints on this carefully shined item. If you watch some of the old Tops who still wear this type of cover they tend to take them off from the back or sides, not touching the brim.
DO NOT walk through someone's scene at a party. Now again this is common sense but I see it all the time. I admit that some play spaces make this difficult because they are cramped and the station may be by the door so to watch you are back inside the room. To get out you almost have to walk through the scene. It is best to wait until it is over. Now, if you are observing a scene that could go on for hours (and I have seen these) and you have to get out of the room try to at least wait until the Top is changing the toy they are using or up against the sub so that you can sneak by. Even then you could get admonished.
DO NOT talk during someone's scene. This is another one that can be hard. You have a lot of play stations and a lot of people standing around on the sides watching. If you intend to have a conversation with someone take it out to the common (socializing) area. If you must say a word or two, talk very softly.
If you are a submissive and wish to approach a Dominant you don't know but would like to meet, approach respectfully as you would anyone to whom you wished to introduce yourself. Do not approach like you are ready to throw yourself at their feet. Most Dominants do not like this and you will usually be ignored. If the Dominant does like this approach I suggest you know all the situations on when to turn tail and run because most likely you aren't dealing with a Dominant worth their salt. Yeah, this is judgmental but the only ones who seem to like this approach, in my experience, are weak Dominants, wannabes and whack jobs. If you are a Dominant wishing to approach a submissive you don't know, approach respectfully. Swaggering over like something out of a bad SM novel will probably get you the brush off and may even get your name passed out to other subs as some kind of dimwitted wannabe. It's all about common courtesy and manners, folks.
Choosing a 'scene name'
Many people have names that they use for the scene. It is still not safe for everyone to use their real name. Most boys I know pick a scene name that is what they call their 'boy name', a name that they feel identifies their boy persona. Some of us use nick names, just our first names or names we have always liked but our moms didn't think to name us that. It becomes part of one's leather identity. If this works for you, think about a name you feel is you. If you are new and learning to be a Top, my advice is to stay away from names that have Master, Mistress, Daddy or any "Top" title in front of them. To choose such a name could get you flamed by an experienced Top or bottom who earned their title. And it would mark you as either a 'wannabe' or someone who just blew into the scene from a chat room or Fetlife.
Finding 'the scene' near you
Finding like minded people in your area has gotten a lot easier because of the net. Now, I still have to give my usual warning about don't assume everything on the net is good, right or what you're looking for. I have a link on my links page that will take you out to a website that will give you local things. Just look for your area. There are also discussion lists. I don't wholly endorse these because for the most part they are hit and miss with more misses than hits. But it could be a way for you to at least post and find out if there is anything going on in your general area. Be careful of one thing, these lists are also full of predators and wannabes. They linger around the edges looking for new meat. Be aware of anyone who after one or two notes offers to be your "protector", to give you a "training collar" or be your one true mentor and you should not go near or listen to others, etc (remember that common sense thing? Use it). Finding the lists is pretty easy now if you go out to yahoo and look at it's groups.
This page last updated on: 07/28/2014