10 Things to Know Before Going to a BDSM Convention

If you’ve never been to a BDSM convention, they can seem intimidating. A few hundred people in a hotel doing kinky shit for three days can be overwhelming.

I’ve been to a good number of them over the years so here are some things I’ve learned.

  1. Everyone else is nervous too. I’ve gone to at least a dozen cons over the last decade and still get nervous about going. Going back to familiar cons sometimes helps but many times I’m a bundle of nerves on the drive or flight there. Whether it’s your first one or fiftieth one, it’s okay to be nervous!
  2. You’re not the only new person or solo person Many cons have special events for con virgins so keep an eye out for that! You’re never the only first-time con-goer and you’ll find that many people are delighted to meet you because you’re new. It’s exciting to see the community grow. And you’re also never the only solo person if you go alone or unpartnered. There are plenty of socials just for solo folks if you’re so inclined.
  3. It’s easier to make friends than you’d think While some people at cons can be very busy (volunteers and contestants for one), most attendees are there to hang out and socialize. Give a compliment on someone’s corset or ask them what kind of cigar they’re smoking. Be willing to say hello to people and you’ll quickly find yourself chatting with a whole crew.
  4. There is always something interesting going on Conventions are often jam-packed with activities from morning to well after midnight. Take a break if you need to but don’t ever be worried you’ll never find something to do.
  5. It’s okay to not like a class and quietly leave I’ve gone to a few classes over the years where I thought it would be interesting but it didn’t grab me or I felt the description wasn’t quite what was being taught. It’s okay to leave a class. Sit in the back for this kind of class if you can and be respectful about leaving. Don’t interrupt the teacher or other students!
  6. Pickup play is normal and common If you’re not used to it, pickup play can seem risky or odd. It’s not common in all smaller communities but is pretty frequent at cons. I’ve seen pickup play boards where people post index cards about what they’re looking for. I’ve seen con app chats with seeking play partner ads. If it’s not for you, don’t worry about it, but the option is there.
  7. Staying at the host hotel is ideal I’ve done both – stayed at a host hotel and stayed offsite. Let me tell you, staying at the main hotel is so much easier. You’re able to stay up a little later, get to classes easier, and take breaks in your own private room without having to drive somewhere. It’s not always possible (or affordable) but I think it’s always worth a shot. Especially for your first convention!
  8. Look for scholarship and volunteer opportunities Every convention I’ve been to has both of these things. Scholarships can range from paying for part of your ticket to the whole admission fee. Volunteers typically get discounted rates also. Every convention is different about what they give and expects from scholarship recipients and volunteers so read carefully. It’s also a great way to meet people!
  9. Have a budget for the vendor’s hall It’s so easy to go to the vendor hall for the first time and get caught up in all the shiny and new. I’ve done it plenty of times myself. For your own sake, set a budget – perhaps only use cash – before you head in there. Conventions typically release a vendor list beforehand which gives you an opportunity to see what kinds of things you might want to pick up and plan a little beforehand.
  10. You’re there to have fun I’ve spent several cons making myself exhausted and miserable trying to get to every single class I could, attend all of the socials, and squeeze in anything else I can. Don’t do this. Attend classes, sure, but don’t feel obligated to go to one at every single time slot. Go to a couple of social events but don’t feel obligated to stay the whole time. You should be having a fun time at a convention, not a stressful one.

These are just some basic things to know about BDSM conventions before you get there. I hope it helps you feel a little more prepared! Drop any questions in the comments or, if you’re an avid con attendee, some of your favorite tips and tricks for a happy and stress-free con.

Every Damn Day in June

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