Sunday, July 31, 2016

Thunder in the Mountains Report

We went to Thunder in the Mountains last weekend, a big pansexual BDSM conference and play party in Denver. As promised last week, here's our report from the event.

Note: First picture from the Thunder in the Mountains photo gallery at http://thunderinthemountains.com/.

Lizzie had been to Thunder a few years ago and was agog with the variety of things she saw and learned about at this huge conference and play party. Most of all, she had many tales of the massive dungeon they set up in the hotel's large convention space. It took at least four years for us to get the schedules to align for us to go together.

First of all, the hotel lobby featured a well-lured Pokémon stop that was accessible (most of the time) from our near-lobby hotel room. That's all I'm going to say about that.

After lunch, we registered for the conference and later went to a mixer/orientation where the conference organizers went over the rules (if you have a phone in the dungeon it will be taken and put in an aquarium) and introductions made to the fine roster of speakers. After dinner we went to the dungeon. Holy shit.

At 50,000 sq. ft. the place filled a convention hall. There was a huge dome-shaped "jungle gym" set up for suspension play, easily 25-feet in diameter. There were walls of St. Andrew's crosses, an entire room set up with scaffold for rope and suspension play. There was a pony track and a puppy play area, tables for medical play. It was a bit overwhelming, seeing so many play stations so full of people doing so many strange and fantastic things.

Lizzie had a headache (either from the altitude or dehydration or both) so we just observed Friday night, then went to bed to be rested and ready for the next day.

Lizzie's headache remained when we awoke, so I left her in bed and headed off to my first class of Thunder, Rough Body Play with Dunter, a funny and excellent presenter. As an ex-military and an ongoing martial arts expert he was the perfect person to learn more about how to push and punch innocent little girls around. I took copious notes and could hardly wait to try out these newfound techniques on my pain slut.
Several years ago, I attended Thunder with a couple friends I’d met in the spanking scene. That first time was a mind boggling experiences for me. I was still fairly new to the spanking scene, I’d never been to a dungeon before, and I’d never gone to any type of BDSM event.

I have vivid memories of fantastic costumes, classes that covered topics beyond my imagination, and scenes that I could not pull myself away from. While looking for anything I had written about the event, I found this picture of something I wore - here.

I had taken notes during some of the classes for Craig, all the time wishing he could be attending himself. Since then, we’ve been trying to make it work in our schedules to go back together.

But I have changed a great deal since that first trip. I’ve played regularly in a dungeon and been exposed to a much wider variety of play styles outside the spanking community. I’ve attended various leather and BDSM events, including phenomenal experiences at BOLD (which you can read about here and here).

So I knew my expectations had changed and I anticipated that my perception of the event might be very different this time. And I worried a bit that, after talking about this for so long, it might not stand up to Craig’s expectations. All said, I approached the weekend with a set of nerves that went well beyond having brought the right clothes for the event. But like so many things we worry about, there was no reason to worry about this.

The dungeon was everything I remembered, but maybe even larger. I *need* that jungle gym in my life. Not for suspension or even a scene, I just want it! My first time at Thunder, it was unoccupied when I first saw it, so I was able to clamber up it in my heels. This time, there was always a scene going on within, so I wasn’t able to play on it. But I dream about having one of those for myself.
By the time that session was over, Lizzie was up and feeling better. We headed off to the next session, The Enema of my Enema is my Friend (winner best session name ever!). It was a pretty basic enema play class, but we still managed to learn a few new things.

After lunch we went to The High Art of Protocol, which I thought would be about new ways for subs/slaves to interact with their tops/masters, but instead it was about putting on fancy, high-manners Downton Abbey-style dinners. Evidently I hadn't read the description, because this was more Martha Stewart than Marquis de Sade.

We skipped the second afternoon session to explore the extensive vendor fair, discovering some vendor friends from the spanking parties and meeting new sellers with curious and clever implements and gadgets. If you checked out our video last week then you know what kind of stuff we found. We also picked up some new corsets for Lizzie, which she looks amazing in, of course.

After dinner we headed back to the dungeon, this time ready to play. I dragged my toy bag with me and Lizzie was dressed in a skin-tight sexy fetish-y black leatherette and spandex dress, with no panties, as I had ordered.

We waited in a line that wrapped around hallways probably 300-feet or more before the organizers opened the doors and everyone went in. With so many people in line I was sure the dungeon would be filled to capacity by the time we got there, but the space was so enormous that it still looked relatively empty when we went through the threshold.

Rather than tour the dungeon again, we beelined it to a St. Andrew's cross, wanting to make sure we staked our spot for our scene before the place filled up. Lizzie set to cleaning while I got out my roster of implements and soon I was tying her up to the cross, naked.
Just walking around the dungeon space that first night was overwhelming. Of course, traveling in that day didn’t help - I’m always far more bothered by travel than Craig seems to be. We met a few people and checked out a few scenes. The energy in the space this year was one of movement. Few people stayed to watch an entire scene the way they do at our local dungeons. Instead they move through the space, taking in bits of everything as they go. For me, this was a bit too stimulating so we headed to bed early.

The next morning I stayed in bed with a headache. Altitude and pressure changes are big triggers for my migraines, so I think we were both worried I would spend the weekend hiding in our room. But it wasn’t a migraine! The headache passed with a bit of extra sleep.

We went together to “The Enema of my Enema is my Friend,” the topic of which should be fairly obvious. It was geared more for people who were just starting to explore this topic, but there are always things to learn.

We went next to a Protocol class, which wasn’t at all what we had been expecting. Nothing wrong with the class - it was a well prepared presentation with lots of information about the topic of hosting a fancy event. But for us, I think that falls more in the realm of our vanilla lives. It did make me curious about planning something a little more elaborate at home for our kinky friends. I could combine my love of hosting with my overwhelming love of costumes into something quite picturesque.

We skipped the second afternoon sessions in favor of returning to the vendor fair. We posted a video last week showing our initial finds there. But we wanted to take a closer look at a few things. I tried on several corsets, and Craig bought two of them for me! (Did I mention that I love costumes?)
Both Lizzie and I noted after our scene it was hard to focus with so many sounds and activity around us. People screamed! There were odd mechanical sounds. Chain winches chick, chick, chicked. People paraded past behind us.

We had a good, intense, and hard scene (as you can see). Lizzie noted that as we played the cross to our left had three changes of play partners and the one to our right had two. And as we wrapped up there was a "queue" of two other play partners waiting to use our cross.

Needless to say, I still managed a dragon's tail, spanking, strapping, belt, cane, multiple paddles and my new new dastardly implements before our hour-long scene was done.

We walked around the dungeon and saw many strange and interesting things before grabbing a nightcap and heading off to bed.

In the morning, Lizzie went to a class on Anticipatory Service while I caught up with work email. After that, she came back to the room and set about to packing up while I went to an absolutely fantastic class, Creative Mindfuckery with presenter Danarama. What a truly great course that filled my head with so many ideas for future scenes. And Danarama has got to be one of the most creative sadists in the scene.

We headed off for the airport after that, sorry to miss the afternoon sessions, but it was Sunday afternoon and we had to get back to our vanilla lives.

It was great seeing the spectacle of Thunder and discovering so many new people outside the MDHL community we call home. The classes were great, the attendance impressive and that dungeon!
We also had time for Craig to try out the moves he had learned in his first session about rough body play. We have wrestled before, but I grew up as very scrappy tom-boy in a rural area, frequently wrestling with people both bigger and stronger than me. Most of the things he had learned were really useful. His demonstration of what he had learned turned into a scene of it’s own in our hotel room.

After dinner, we had plans for a scene in the dungeon. We had gotten a feel for the space and energy the night before, so we knew we needed to go early to stake out a spot. But we got there so early we ended up standing in a long line of people waiting for the dungeon to open.

Craig, as always, gives a better description of our actual scene. It was a good, intense, and lengthy scene. But I wasn’t able to sink into it the way that I usually do. I found the energy in the dungeon a bit distracting.

The next morning, I packed up our things while Craig attended a class. Then he caught up on some work while I attended a class. The classes were my favorite part of Thunder the first time I attended and that still holds true.

There’s something incredible to me about going to a presentation on a kinky topic. Regardless of the topic, I find there’s always something new to learn. And there’s something magical about people taking the time to share what they’ve learned about their kinks with the community. It’s easy to focus on the scenes or the play, but it’s special to see the insights and strength people have gained.

I’m very glad we had the opportunity to go to Thunder this year. I’m more motivated now to find other new events to explore. So if you’ve got a favorite, leave it in the comments, send an email, or send a message on FetLife!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Thunder in the Mountains Preview

We are at Thunder in the Mountains in Denver this weekend, a convention with some great presenters and classes and an amazing 50,000 sq. ft. dungeon! 

We'll have more to say about Thunder next week, but we wanted to share this video we shot here for all of you to enjoy in the mean time.

video

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Weekend with Friends

We got to spend the weekend with two of our best friends—both in the lifestyle. They are a couple we have developed a really great friendship with. Almost a year in the planning, the weekend finally happened.

There's nothing titillating to report from our weekend with our friends—it wasn't that kind of weekend. Still, getting a chance to have long conversations, enjoy good food and drink and relax together was a real treat.

Most importantly, it further galvanizes something both Lizzie and I have felt and articulated to one another for some time: the people we are most comfortable with, the people we most identify with, and the people we really feel where we can be utterly unguarded is with those in the scene.

We have good—no, great!—vanilla friends ranging from work friends to family, school chums, and more. But with those people we are always holding back a little...not fully able to be 100% genuine.
You probably wouldn’t think that planning a weekend to spend with friends who live only 40 miles away could take so long. But with work, travel, and life - not to mention L.A. traffic - it took ages to get this weekend to work. And for all that planning, you might think we would have done something scandalous - but that wasn’t the goal for this weekend. (We’re saving that for next weekend; more about that in a bit.)

Instead, we filled the weekend with conversation and relaxation. We got a chance to eat at some of their favorite restaurants and explore a different area of southern California. But best of all, we were able to simply be ourselves with some great friends. The value in that cannot be overstated.
We talk about the future, about what we do when I retire someday. Do we want to move out of state? Closer to Lizzie's family? Closer to mine? As we contemplate all these options we get back to something fundamental: our true friends are here in Los Angeles—the people we bond with the most, associate with the most, and feel most at home and honest with.

And that's an amazing gift.

It took almost a year, but hanging out with our friends and talking about work and life and philosophical crap and having the time to go into those things in depth was really special.

My takeaway from all that: embrace those who share your ability to be honest and true. Keep them close. They fulfill you.
Next weekend, we’re going to Thunder in the Mountains. It’ll be my second adventure at this conference, but it’s Craig’s first time. We’re really looking forward to the weekend in Denver. I’m excited to venture out into another part of the kink community.

I’m very glad that we have such wonderful friends here at home. I have fond memories of the days when we were active in the spanking community and I cherish my friendships from that time. I don’t expect to feel “at home” quite the way I did at BOLD, but I do hope to meet new people and learn lots of new things.

I love that we are able to enjoy every day we have together, whether we are meeting old friends or making new ones.