I am not sure where the tradition of trip reports came from. I know it exists in several corners of the internet and predate the web (yes, Virginia, there were useful parts of the internet that predated the web). Generally, folks share their experiences on a given trip both for the benefit of those who were not able to go and to have a discussion with those who did.
Mrs. Duncan and I went to the 42nd Fetish Fair Fleamarket and, while it did not provide any answers to ultimate questions, we did have a wonderful time. A trip report seemed appropriate.
So what is this thing, besides a well numbered event, you might ask? The Fetish Fair Fleamarket (the Flea) is put on twice a year by NELA (The New England Leather Alliance). One is done in the winter (the larger of the two events) in the Rhode Island/south eastern Massachusetts area and one in the summer in New Hampshire. At least this has been the case for the past several years. With a number like 42, I am sure these events have changed over time and there is an official history someplace. From what I understand, it started as a way of bringing together vendors for the fetish communities (leather, rope, BDSM, etc). Some educational sessions were added along with events over time. The winter Flea is now a full weekend hotel takeover with many educational sessions, tons of vendors, Friday and Saturday evening events and group meetups. For full information on the program, see http://nelaonline.org .
Not enough can be said about the time and effort put in by the NELA folks. This is an all-volunteer organization that does a wonderful job with the Flea and many other things. I can only imagine what it takes to put on an event of this kind. Every time we have attended, it was a lot of fun, educational and a great resource.
This year’s Flea was at a new time and venue. Last year, it was held in February at a hotel in downtown Providence. This hotel was sold to an organization less than welcoming to the program and a new venue had to be found. The new location could not have been more welcoming to us. This was clearly not their first convention type event and they had all the processes nailed. Check in was a breeze. Food service hours were expanded and buffet options added so folks could quickly grab what they needed and get back to their activities. Session rooms were set up beautifully and kept clean. Shuttles were constantly run between the main hotel and the overflow one as well. Security was well done and signage pointing us to the right locations was great.
Probably the biggest surprise for me at the Flea this winter was my discovery of rope play. Now I knew about rope play and had even gone to a session or two with Mrs. Duncan. Those sessions, however, were not really enjoyable and we figured it just wasn’t our kink. They were on mechanics and techniques and basic how to’s. It felt far too much like working on Boy Scout merit badge requirements (and I already know how to build a mean tripod). My attitude about rope all changed at this flea with 3 great sessions led by fantastic facilitators.
The first session was called ’90 Minutes of Rope That Will Turn You On’, and it did. It was the first session Saturday morning and Mrs. Duncan could not make it, so I went with a close friend from the club. Her partner could not make that session either. I guess if you hang around chatting with someone while you are wearing just a kilt and she is wearing just a leather harness, you figure a hands on rope class it probably OK. We still did reality checks with our partners and with each other on comfort levels, etc. We had never played together before and wanted to make sure there were no issues on any front. I later realized that the communication around this flowed very naturally and without any real conscious effort. I guess we are starting to get this right.
Anyway, back to the session. It was led by a wonderful facilitator named RopeRider who also leads other events in the area. If you ever have a chance to go to something he is running, you should. Anyway, he started with stretching and mood music (so much so, that I asked him for his play list). We then went into exercises that helped us get in tune with our partner. This was followed by some basic chest harness tying and then more mindfulness exercises. By the end of the session, which came way too soon, the rope was really there as an extension of our intimacy and a tool to use to expand our play. The mechanics were secondary. After the session, I let Mrs. Duncan know how much fun it was and her interest was piqued. I was intrigued enough that I made a mental note to get a recommendation on a rope vendor from friends and visit them in the vendor area before our next rope session.
The second rope session was later Saturday afternoon and was called ‘Sexual Bondage and Intro to Ichinawa’ led by a gentleman named Dunter. This session was much lighter in nature and did have a bit more to do with mechanics and safety. It was really all about using rope in a constructive way during sex play. He kept it very light and funny with some great stories mixed in with practice time. Mrs. Duncan and I enjoyed ourselves and were already envisioning fun ways to put our new toys of ropey goodness (yep, I got to the vendor floor) to use.
The final rope session was ‘Hands on Rope Bondage’ Sunday mid day. It was here where I learned why Midori is a rock star. She started off getting the audience relaxed, went over some safety stuff and did the requisite plugs for her books and upcoming sessions. After that, she told us what she was going to do and then did it. She went through a complete scene from initial conversation, through play and then aftercare. The scene was real and you could hear a pin drop in this room of 125 people. It was one of the most poetic, tender, jarring, erotic things I had ever seen. A great soundtrack for the scene would have been Sugarland’s version of Come on Get Higher. Those ‘violent sweet perfect’ movements and emotions were just wonderful to see. Midori then took us through how the pre-scene conversation with her demo bottom led into what she did with the scene and through to aftercare. I really have to hand it to both of them, they really stood there raw and naked, while fully clothed, and shared this with us. Oh yea, and there was rope involved too. The rope, however, was just an extension of Midori and was not always used for tying, but often for caressing and leverage. She then let us know that the scene ran long and she consciously let it and sacrificed the planed practical exercises. She let us know where to go on YouTube and other sites for the specific ties and how to do them. She only went over a few things not commonly found in other sources.
More in the next entry…