a Barak & Sheba Article

Playspace Etiquette - General Play Party Etiquette & Guidelines
sometime in 2016-ish

Play party etiquette – or what happens at a play party – or what to expect at a play party… (Note - this is a work in progress - and if you have suggestions? put em out there!) Here's a link to the article page on FetLife if you would like to leave a message or a suggestion; PlaySpace Etiquette Posting

What now? You found an AIS or Space Play Party. You have the free time, and you want to come and have fun! Great! So do we! So let's take a minute to figure out how to go, have fun, and leave happy, healthy and having had an amazing time.

Here are some basic guidelines on how to make sure that happens. It doesn't matter if you are new, or have been in the kink scene since people listened to music on vinyl... here are some things to integrate into your behavior.

1. You aren't required to play with anyone.
Just because someone asks to play, doesn't mean that you have to say, "Yes!" or "yes." or even, "maybe later." The choice to share your body, mind, spirit, sexuality, or any part thereof, is completely and utterly yours! If you decide that the energy is happening between you and another (or more than one) and you are in the mood to play? Fabulous! Open your mouth and start a negotiation. See where it goes, and if at the end of a discussion, you feel like you are still ready? Consent to everything you want and nothing you don't!

But the end all be all is: You determine what you want to do, when you want to do it, and with who - as long as they consent also!

2. No one is required to play with you.
We could stop right there... as that is a stand-alone. But here are some words of advice. Just because you dress in your fetish finest (or jeans and a t-shirt for that matter), and come to a play party, doesn't mean that you will be assured that someone will play with you.

Many times people need a little more than, "Hi, my name is XYZ" to allow access to their vulnerability. Different people have different thresholds when it comes to opening up to play. While it could happen - if the energy is right on - Many times, people want more than a few moment flirt and banter.

On of the best ways we can recommend is to show up to stuff, meetings, gatherings, meet n greets. Give people a chance to know a little about you, and you them... at least enough to grasp a basic level of familiarity.

3. Be polite to people you haven't negotiated otherwise.
It's a "Golden Rule" type of thing. or maybe it's a "RoadHouse" thing... regardless, we are Human Beings First, then Gentlepersons, then finally we are our roles in the scene.. so unless you have negotiated it? The default treatment of anyone else should be one of civility and respect. Stick with polite human to human interaction!

4. If you are interested? Be nice and start a normal conversation.
Imagine you are at the supermarket, you don't just walk up to someone and say, "On your knees!" or “Do me now!” ... that is, if you want to stay inside the supermarket! It's the same at COPE or other AIS events.

Remember the rules you learned in kindergarten. Be nice. Treat others how they want to be treated. Start with "Hi! My name is..." Then see if the energy is flowing, see if they are into you also! If they are? See where the discussion goes! If not, move on down the hallway.

5. It's ok to say “YES!”
AIS Events provide a safe space to do the things you have fantasized about… and some you didn't even know existed! As you are walking around, take “The Cock & Pussy Test™” this is a test that we commonly talk about – it's really easy. It's kind of like Fruit Loops slogan – “Your nose always knows…” – just a different body part. If you hear, see, or read something that makes you Hot, Wet, Hard, or Horny? It passes the test. It's something that your body responds to – and might be something you want to eventually try.

Here's where the YES comes in. If someone you are into asks you to do something you want, and you really want to say yes? Give yourself the permission to say “YES,” and try it out!

6. It’s ok to say, “No.”
Your Body, Mind and Spirit is yours! One of the most wonderful things in life is your freewill / choice. Within AIS events and spaces it is our expectation that each and every interaction is consensual – and without pressure or coercion. With that being said, know that you are your own best advocate, and we sincerely hope that you will advocate directly for yourself. Please give yourself permission and autonomy to say, “No.” to anything you don't want before and/or during!

7. If you get a no? accept it and move on.
It's pretty simple, but if you want more clarification, check out this Barak & Sheba article - "I said, "NO.""

8. Safewords! What are they and how to use them… (AKA The ULTIMATE NO)
Sometimes you just want something to stop. Play, an interaction, a touch, etc… A Safeword is one of the best ways to make that happen. It doesn't matter if you are at a play party, a meeting, a Meet N Greet, or whatever! At ALL AIS events the Safewords used are “SAFEWORD” and “RED” It is the expectation of AIS that if one of those safewords is used – in any area or interaction – whatever is happening will immediately STOP. No ands, ifs, or buts. It will STOP. PERIOD.

If the person calling the Safeword wants to discuss it? In most scenarios, it's best to figure out where things went sideways, and how things can be corrected. However, discussion is their prerogative. If they don't? Also their prerogative.

AIS NOTE – If your Safeword isn't obeyed, say it louder, and report it to the AIS Staff.

9. Get explicit consent prior to acting, touching, playing, etc...
AIS Events are consent forward experiences. Which means that consent is required prior to anything and everything that happens outside of standard accepted civil / social exchanges. Example - if you want a hug? Ask. Want to do a scene that specifically involves sticking your finger up someone's nose? Negotiate that, and receive consent for it.

If you have an advanced form of consent? (i.e. blanket consent, or consensual non-consent) Both parties must agree to said condition and accept the responsibilities thereof.

10. If people are playing (a scene) don't interrupt.
Unless you have negotiated it beforehand, and/or are specifically invited, don't disturb people in the midst of a scene. This includes aftercare - the scene is not over until the aftercare is complete.

Watching from a respectful distance is great... but don't cheerlead, criticize, comment or wank!

11. Don't have conversations (other than negotiations) in the PlaySpace / Dungeon / Area where people are having scenes.
Just don't. Take it into the social area, out to the smoking area, into the parking lot, off to a restaurant... People's senses become very acute when they are playing, and any discordant conversations can kick 'em right out of their headspace. So, be kind and talk elsewhere - and if you absolutely have to say something? Whisper in the ear of the person you want to chat with.

12. Don't be that person.
What's "that person?" Easy. Someone who ignores all social cues, all forms of redirection from others, and just does anything and/or everything they want to do, much to the distraction and disruption of everyone else.

13. Solo play (bondage/suspension/etc. ) is still a scene.
Some people enjoy playing with themselves. It can be meditative, sensual, enjoyable, practice, or any number of other reasons… But they are just as entitled to the 45 or so minutes of private scene space as anyone else doing a scene. Almost everyone who is self scening doesn't need your help, your advice, or your comments. How do you know who does? You don't. So let them do their thing. Don't interrupt until they are finished cleaning up and move from their play area.

14. If it's not yours - either ask or leave it alone.
Some people have some really cool stuff. Sometimes it's a whip, a flogger, a paddle, or their S-Type. If you see that someone has a fabulous thing that you want to check out? Wait until they are not using it – I.e. out of a scene – and open up a conversation with them. Most kinksters are very proud of their stuff, and will happily talk with you about it.

AND – if there are generous enough to let you touch it – just touch it. Don't throw it, play with it, and especially hit another person with it – unless you specifically ask to do that (whatever) with it.

15. Don't wank.
See this Barak & Sheba article for more details - "Playspace Etiquette - Wanking, Masturbating, and Self-Pleasuring..."

16. If you don't like something? Walk away.
When you wander into a playspace, you are going to see all kinds of kinky things that people enjoy. You may have all kinds of responses to those things – from that's awesome, beautiful, weird, revolting, fascinating, sexy, disgusting, erotic, etc… And sometimes it might be all of the above. But the reality is that you probably won't appreciate everything. What to do about that?

Well, @Graydancer used to have this saying, “The Law of Two Feet.” Essentially it was, “If you are neither benefiting from nor contributing to a conversation/presentation, take your two feet and go somewhere you can.”

Throughout the event there will be all kinds of activities. And If you don't like the ones in front of you, turn and walk 20 feet – there will be something completely different! Keep going until you find something you prefer!

17. If you do like something? Feel free to respectfully watch.
If people didn't want to experience some energy of exhibitionism, they'd stay home and play. But there they are, right in the Playspace. Which means that it's just fine to Watch from a respectful distance. But that doesn't mean you are invited to join or participate. It doesn't mean you can cheerlead or criticize. And, it certainly doesn't mean you can wank (see number 10). All those things add you (or your energy) to their scene.

Now… when you choose to watch, don't get too close. What is too close? Ok. When you look at where the Top might stand when playing and walking around the bottom. Then imagine that Top standing straight up and extending their arm (with whatever toy they are using) toward you. From there, add about 4 feet from the tip of the toy. That's about the minimum distance, where you can just stand and observe.

18. Don't describe anyone or any specifics on any social media outlet.
AKA – What happens at an event, stays at the event! People come to AIS events to embrace their sexual exploration in a safe space. We strive to create a non-judgemental space, along with maintaining the discretion for people to step out of their comfort zone and discover/uncover/enact their desires.

In order for that to occur, there is the social contract that everyone is there for their own enjoyment – and will maintain confidential everything (and everyone) they see – but it's not ok to share any descriptive or identifying information.

19. Have fun!

Should we even comment on this one? With all the previous numbers, this should be a good guideline on what you can and can't do and how to do it. But most of all, enjoy yourself! AIS Events are made to create a safe environment to let your sexual explorer out to play! So give yourself the permission to enjoy – after all, it's called a play party for a reason!

©2016 Barak & Brat Sheba

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