For those who don’t know, Eroticon is the annual gathering of sex/BDSM/smut bloggers in London. It must be a harbinger of spring, because I can definitely feel the sap rising. Here, in no particular order, are my reflections on a fabulous Weekend.
1. The BDSM community is famously friendly to new faces: join your local beekeeping society or allotment association, and it may take you a while to break in to the cliques that have formed over many years. You may even be regarded with hostility for the first few decades of your membership! I’ve been to a number of BDSM play parties, fetish markets and so on, so I’m already used to the idea that BDSM folk are welcoming, inclusive and excepting of difference. It sort of goes with the territory, if you don’t accept difference you’ve definitely signed up for the wrong event. But even with that caveat, Eroticon was especially friendly, incredibly warm and über welcoming. Yes, this was our first year and it certainly won’t be the last.
2. The amazing diversity that exists within our community was there for everyone to see. Hairstyles, outfits, gender-neutral toilet facilities including an accessible one, (don’t forget to bring your RADAR key).
3. Why do we all come together under one umbrella – largely because sections of society apply adjectives like ‘sick‘, ‘perverted‘ and ‘freaky‘ to our chosen lifestyle. And these are not the urban dictionary definitions: no, this is tabloid journalism at its most destructive and most bigoted. Sure, there is safety in numbers, but there is also reassurance – even though your kink may not be my kink – in being among people who you know are not going to judge. One of my friends, the redoubtable Kayla Lords, tweeted that it was lovely to be able to open your phone and not have to worry who is looking over your shoulder!
4. BDSM bloggers make brilliant drinking chums: there was certainly ample time and space (thanks to the Camden Holiday Inn), for people to unwind, get to know each other and share tips tricks and ideas. We had been warned though – it was not a play party and there was CCTV everywhere. We like the hotel so we had to be sensible.
5. Michael and Molly, the powerhouse behind Eroticon, had managed to pull in some fabulous sponsors, and those sponsors had fabulous merch they wanted us all to try and buy. A huge thank you to them all, and as I write, our ElectraStim is charging – later on could get very interesting!
6. Eroticon doesn’t seem to come with ‘conference fatigue’: as a veteran attendee and some time organiser of numerous conferences and events, by the final hours of the final day, I’m normally looking forward to getting home and returning to some sort of normality. With Eroticon, the opposite was the case: I could have done several more days. Always leave them wanting more – that way they’ll be back next year…
7. Don’t be an idiot – like me – and assume that just because you live in the London area, you don’t need to stay in the hotel. You do! Travelling backwards and forwards added needless hours to each day – hours that could’ve been spent chatting, networking, playing, blogging.
8. Eroticon is hungry and thirsty work: fortunately, the wonderful Arlington Conference Centre kept us stocked up with tea, coffee, biscuits and water as well as sandwiches and fruit for lunch. What’s more, Camden is a bit of a foodie paradise: we discovered the wonderful Jamón Jamón which does scrummy tapas – great for sharing.
9. For someone with prosopagnosia, as well as severely impaired vision, meeting so many new people all at once can be a bit daunting: prosopagnosia is face blindness, which means that even familiar people will be unfamiliar until you’ve set them in context or can remember their voice. Eroticon has the added complication that people are known by a name (it may not be their real name) a Twitter handle and perhaps a separate blogger name. So, by the time you’ve got your head around those three identities, met six more people and had a gin and tonic, you’ve probably forgotten who the lovely person with a cute kitten years was. Actually, It was Amy, @CoffeeAndKink. See? At least I remembered one person who was new to me! It probably was those kitten ears 🐱.
10. Be careful who you snap with your smartphone: given the aforementioned bigotry and underlying hostility towards folk in the BDSM world, some people are very understandably protective of their identity. No problem, those who didn’t mind being photographed wore a black lanyard and those who absolutely didn’t want to appear on social media in person wore a red one. It’s very important – depending on your profession. – that your true identity is concealed. Some people have even been ‘outed‘ by trolls with nothing better to do with their time. If for example you’re a primary school teacher who also enjoys being put into bondage and spanked in your spare time, it’s not something that overprotective parents should get to know about because they would draw all of the wrong conclusions. And for anybody reading who isn’t already familiar, ‘safe, sane and consensual’ are our bywords: BDSM has absolutely nothing to do with paedophilia.
And finally, a huge shout out to the sponsors and organisers who made Eroticon such a fabulous place to be: step forward
If I’ve forgotten you, or you think I should include your link, and just put it in the comments below and I would be more than happy to do so.