Thursday, February 28, 2013

BOLD 2013

This past weekend we attended BOLD 2013, an MDHL conference. It was an amazing weekend in which we both had some amazing discoveries. Here are our observations from the event. We not only attended, we were volunteers at the conference, working as much if not more than we experienced the event, which was rewarding in and of itself.

MDHL Focus
First off, MDHL is Male Dominant Heterosexual Leather. It's more than a scene, it's indicative of a lifestyle and a movement. Getting a chance to bond at an event with couples that were like-minded M/s and D/s pairs was amazing. Sharing experiences of our journeys, of our progression and what we've experienced and learned was truly awe-inspiring.

Two full days of talks presented in three tracks: male/dom, couples and female/sub. Each track focused on the overall theme of this year's event, "Strong Men, Strong Women, Strong Relationships." The talks focused on that relationship aspect of D/s and M/s, encouraging better communication, stronger ties (not in terms of restraint, you pervs) and better, loving respect within the boundaries of a BDSM-based, D/s and M/s relationship. Just to hear people talk in terms of their own experiences and how much they paralleled our own was extraordinarily therapeutic and meaningful.

It was refreshing to hear other people's screw-ups, their fears, their successes and their dreams in terms of their dynamic with their subs / slaves / girlfriends / partners / wives. Strong couples spoke of their relationships, of the mutual respect they shared and the consensual aspects of their personal M/s dynamics.
To spend a weekend surrounded primarily by other who have, want, and need an MDHL relationship was incredibly affirming. I am, largely, comfortable with who I am, what I want and need, and the relationship I have with Craig. While the vanilla world (including family) no longer directly challenges us, our society does not support us either.

As Craig said, we volunteered at BOLD. Like many of the girls, I worked registration, the information desk, and as a room host. Despite the forbidding presence of so many men in leather (or perhaps in part because of it), I was approached several times by attendees of other conferences asking about our event. Most were unsatisfied with “BOLD” as a description, so I would add, “it’s a relationship conference.” This was enough to chase the vanilla men away, but it was also true.

BOLD was a weekend to focus on our relationship, to think about the aspects that work and the areas that could be improved. It wasn’t one remarkable speaker (there were many) or one defining moment (there were many of those as well). For me, BOLD was a reminder to focus on our D/s relationship every single day. We have a house full of family and chaos and real life, but in every glance and every touch, we have a wonderful, power-shifted relationship.
My Remarkable Moment A Defining Weekend
For me, it was the communing and bonding with men whom I respect and who have strong relationships with their subs / slaves / partners that was most remarkable for me. To learn that these "infallible" men had gone through transformative journeys not dissimilar to my own was the greatest revelation of the weekend. To learn of their trials and errors, their mistakes, their learning experiences.

All of which, when reading back over the post thusfar, seems very esoteric and New Age-y. I don't mean to sound like that. It's just so...hard to explain. Each of you, my Fellow Kinksters, have gone through your own journeys to come to where you are today in the lifestyle. More likely than not, you have navigated those waters more or less alone through trial and error, coming to where you are today. So imagine how refreshing it is when you meet people with like interests who've gone through what you've gone through and come out better on the other end. That's what I experienced, and it was so refreshing and eye-opening.
I’ve said BOLD was not one particular speaker or one significant discovery – it was an experience. I left BOLD knowing that I needed to focus on the D/s relationship I have and enjoy.

It’s easy for me to daydream about the future – when the kids go to college and start their own lives, when we finish this chaotic move, when Craig and I can focus on one another and engage in all the play we want. But I realized this weekend that the play, however much I love it, isn’t the most important part of our relationship. The power-shifted dynamic is what I want and need.

Regardless of the children, grandchild, moving stress, and anything else taking our attention, our dynamic is strong and important. It’s there when I run to meet him at the door and it’s there when I kiss him goodbye in the morning. It’s there when I answer “of course” to his requests. It’s there when he takes my hand, orders my meal at a restaurant, and when he captures my wrist. I need only focus on what we have, instead of the practical limitations that real life presents.
Something to Ponder BOLD 2014
Afterwards, I didn't want to leave. I had truly communed with people that felt like "my people," getting to know some of the people I knew as acquaintances quite a bit more. Both Lizzie and I shared similar experiences and feelings.

The Keynote speaker, Professor Bert Cutler, spoke of the dynamic of M/s relationships and even wrote his PhD thesis on the subject. You can find text of his speech here.

On the drive home, Lizzie and I talked about our progression and our journeys in the lifestyle and how our own dynamic went from play partners to a Dominant/submissive partnership to the Master/slave relationship we experience today. We talked about all we learned from the conference and how eye-opening it had been. To have been a part of it in some small way as volunteers only contributed to our valuing the experience.
I’m very excited about BOLD next year. I look forward to being immersed in that experience again, surrounded by those who understand the strength of MDHL. And I look forward to all the things I will see and learn. I even look forward to volunteering again, despite my shyness.

Craig and I used BOLD as an intensive “checking-in” on our relationship. I know from the discussions and stories I heard from others, that many other couples did the same. It’s a chance to reassess the relationship, what you want from it, what is working well, and what can be changed. But one of the most poignant moments for me last weekend came from an unpartnered, young woman. She realized over the weekend that she needed to work on herself first, to deal with as many issues and hangups as she could before finding that special partner. It was a powerful reminder that even within this dynamic, we must be responsible for ourselves as well as responsive to our partners.
A Bonus
On Saturday night I decided Lizzie needed a good strapping (what? as opposed to a bad one?). I pulled off my belt (she loves that--just the sound alone makes her transfixed), had her take off her clothes (not a difficult task) and had her place her hands on the bed, bent over. I doubled over my belt, took a few, slow practice moves to measure the distance, and set to strapping. After a few strokes I realized I was "in the zone." It was perfection. The angle. The strokes. The strike. The force. It all was happening. I even mumbled something, as I hit topspace, about being in the zone. Lizzie muttered agreement between exclamations of pain.

What I didn't mention to her was that, even though the geometry, telemetry and ergonomics were all there to make the perfect strapping happen, what was also happening was that, for some reason, as I swung through (thanks to the tutorial I got from Brit Paul Allen at last year's ShadowLane party!), I also was managing to have my belt flip around and whack me in the arm. I figured a little collateral damage was worth the price of a perfect strapping. (After all, I'd managed to beat myself up in various ways over the years, particularly when I was teaching myself how to use a 10-foot bullwhip and nearly tearing my own ear off!) The strapping done, Lizzie satisfied, we went to bed. Two days later, this is what showed up:

...a lovely bruise on my forearm. Well, if that's what I had to endure for Lizzie's bliss, so be it. It was worth it. A perfect weekend and a perfect strapping. What more could a partner/lover/dom/top/master ask for?
Reading my description of BOLD, you might think this was an idyllic weekend. Unfortunately, that was not the case. On Friday night, back-to-back shifts at the information desk and registration, without dinner, (and on top of the absolute chaos at home) had me a sobbing mess. Craig ensured that I ate on Saturday and I was able to deal with the outgoing nature of my volunteer positions much better. But even with that care, I wasn’t up for going to the Lair Saturday night. Instead, Craig gave me a much needed strapping.

Craig’s belt can stop me in my tracks, even when he has no intention of using it on me. Living together, we’ve had several entertaining moments because he didn’t realize how powerful this was. I’ll stop in the midst of doing my hair if he unbuckles his belt to use the toilet – I’ll just turn slightly and stare at him, which he finds (inexplicably) disturbing. I mean, doesn’t every guy want to be stared at while they pull out their junk and use the…oh, right, probably not. But it’s those simple things – the rattle of the buckle, the whisper of leather across fabric, or the rasp of leather against denim. It’s like an electric shock delivered from across the room.

I probably need not even say that the reason for my fixation on his belt is the fact that I adore strapping. A good strapping takes me to subspace more quickly than anything else. And Craig delivered an amazing strapping Saturday night. I cannot begin to describe it because I was so quickly lost.

As Craig says, it was a perfect weekend and a perfect strapping. Even my Friday night meltdown and my Sunday migraine don’t take away from the incredible weekend we had. Or the profoundly simple takeaway from the weekend:

I want and need to appreciate our power-shifted dynamic, each and every day. We have a lovely future living alone together, that I can look forward to with great joy. But for now, we live in a house with the family I’ve chosen and come to love. I’ll not begrudge their presence or mourn the activities Craig and I cannot engage in with their company. Instead I’ll engage fully in the simple things we can do – the looks, the touches, the short silent scenes in our closet, the acquiescence that goes unnoticed, the submission that simply is.


  1. "the submission that simply is" perfect words Lizzie. I know how it is to live this lifestyle with family and kids around...not easy...those looks, those touches, those things count a huge amount in what we do.
    this weekend sounded awesome...a support group - i find it amazing that these sorts of things exists....not where i am from they dont. Its such a shame...we can learn so much from other people...even just an acknowledgement that the struggles we go through, other people have and so we are not alone, nevermind the successes that we achieve.
    this is teh first time ive heard of wonder my sir gets so frustrated with me when i jump about so much during a session....he wants to get in the zone and im not letting it happen for him...something for me to work on.....
    great post guys..thanks for sharing....if nothing else, ive learned something new and perhaps somethng about not the best submissive in the world....and that is something i have to work on..thanks guys :)

    1. These things are not normal here, either. Such a conglomeration of people of like-minds is very rare indeed. That there were 150 in one place was extraordinary.

  2. This was really interesting to read about. Not a conference I've heard of before but I'm not in that type of relationship either. Thanks for sharing your experience. I can't believe the bruises on your arm!

    1. There really aren't any conferences out there like BOLD, period. To focus on relationships in such a way and to be so specific to a particular area of the lifestyle is really great.

      And the bruise isn't that bad. As I said, it was worth it.