So you read Chingy’s guide on How to rock your first BDSM play party — you went, you saw, maybe you played. You have a sweet little kinky community now, and while the public play spaces have been a great social outing for you, maybe you aren’t feeling as inclined to play in these spaces. Or maybe you want to host a specific theme party. Or you just LOVE the idea of having a bunch of hot kinky queers playing in the comfort of your living room. I hear you!
Plan Hard, Play Hard
One of the very first thing you want to focus on when starting your party planning process is the rules and guidelines for your party. As a general rule of thumb, I think it is good to have your own party manifesto, one you can use for many parties to come. You’ll see this for any play party, and they generally follow a similar script. Some questions you will want to answer straight away and include are:
Who’s providing supplies?
Will you be supplying the safe sex supplies? If so, make sure you have nitrile options as well, for those who might have a latex allergy. Do you want folks to bring their own supplies? Say so! What about cleaning supplies? List what you will have; ask folks for suggestions or to bring along supplies to share if you don’t have the means to provide everything.
Is barrier-free sex going to be allowed at the party?
Generally, it’s encouraged that all sex and play be done using barriers — but if you decide to give the okay for folks to not use barriers, will there be testing check-ins at the start? Will you ask that the people who do not use barriers communicate with each person they engage with after engaging in barrier-less sex so they know they are coming in contact with other people’s fluids?
Will there be alcohol/substance use allowed?
Is your party a sober space? While it is often encouraged to keep play spaces sober or mostly-sober, there’s also often alcohol offered as a social lubricant at plenty of play spaces. If you will have alcohol available, communicate if you’ll be monitoring folks and their intake. Play spaces are not the place to get wasted, and folks should communicate to others if they aren’t sober enough to be consenting. It’s good to let folks know if there will be alcohol present, and that they should check in with the people they play with on their consumption. If someone is too inebriated, what is your plan of action for safely removing them from the space? Do you want to communicate it ahead of time so everyone’s on the same page?
What’s your guest list and vetting process?
Are you only inviting folks you know and are comfortable with, or are you open to people bringing along guests if they’re vouched for? What would ‘vouched for’ mean to you? I would encourage folks to not just bring someone along with them without it being previously discussed unless the invitation makes it explicitly clear that’s okay, as that could put you and your attendees in an uncomfortable position. Be clear about what your vetting process looks like and that no exceptions will be made for last minute tagalongs. OR, if you’re cool with people bringing last minute guests, say so in your invite — that way folks who don’t feel comfortable with showing up not knowing who might be there can decide to opt out.
Will there be private play spaces?
These could be rooms devoted to certain types of play (i.e. a room for folks who might want to engage in blood play or needles, a room for fire or wax play) so folks who might feel triggered by certain things can know to avoid those rooms. It could also mean private closed-door rooms for folks who want some privacy.
What are the hard nos for your space?
Are you cool with rope but don’t have the hard points for suspension? Is needle play chill, but not scarification? Be VERY CLEAR on what are immediate no’s for your space, and encourage people to check in with you about certain things that might require more elaborate set ups before they assume that it’s ok because it wasn’t on your list. Think about what you’ll say and how you’ll navigate the conversation if someone tries to push back on any of the activities you aren’t comfortable with.
What does the schedule for the night look like?
I definitely encourage having some sort of schedule set up, and to consider having a door-lock time. Having people show up halfway through a play party is complicated — everyone’s already done their introductions and stated what they want and don’t want, people have already negotiated their scenes. Having a brand new person show up late with no idea of what anyone is up for can be a lot of work to have to navigate. Setting up a schedule is also good for ensuring that people are out of your space in the timeline you want them out while still allowing time for aftercare.
What does your zero-tolerance list look like?
This one feels the easiest of them. “We have a 0 tolerance policy for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, fatphobia, or discrimination of any kind. Any indication of the above being present in this space will result in the immediate removal of the perpetrator.” Be incredibly clear with your actions on this.
It might seem like a lot to consider, but listen! You are trying to create the ultimate safe and comfortable space. You want your invite to cover all the bases, so folks know EXACTLY what kind of space they are being invited to. Personally, I put it directly at the top of my invites.
Who’s on the List?
Just to be immediately direct: get the point across, let folks know exactly what they’re getting into. Say “this is a play party!” Vague is not the route to go! Once you’ve got your invite made, you start your invite process – it is good to go in with an idea of what number you want to cap the party at. I find for a house party, 30 is probably the highest you want to go, but you do you! When choosing who you invite, it is very very important that you feel comfortable vouching for every single person. Keep the invite a closed invite, and if people ask to invite an additional person, make sure they’re vouched for before you add them. This is incredibly important for the safety of the party.
With a Little Help from Your Friends
If you’ve never hosted or planned a play party before, I highly HIGHLY recommend finding an experienced party host to help you out or co-host with you. Regardless of your experience as a party thrower, it’s wise to find one to three other people to help out. Throwing an event of this scope can be a lot of work and overwhelming. It’s good to have a team of folks to help you make decisions and to give folks multiple points of communication. Often as the party host, you’re acting as “dungeon monitor” or “play monitor” unless you delegate that role out to another trusted person. Your role is to ensure that folks are playing safely, and to be available to attendees who might need assistance or need you to remove a person or break a scene up. Having one solid monitor through the event is good, but what if everyone wants a chance to play? Consider splitting the role out into shifts, so that everyone gets a chance to play AND your party remains safely monitored.
So! Your invite is made, you’ve got a team of rad people helping you plan. The party is just around the corner — you’ve got to start thinking about your setup! Make a list of everything you want and need for your party — it’s more than just snacks and beverages. A simple list of things you might want to consider providing (or ensuring you ask others to provide if you don’t plan to or do not have the means to provide):
+ Safer sex supplies: condoms, gloves & dental dams, with non-latex options also available, as well as lube (I would recommend Sliquid H2O as a basic water based lube, and uberlube if you decide to provide silicone lube as well — just make sure you don’t use silicone lube with silicone toys).
+ Cleaning supplies: puppy pads, towels, alcohol, cavicide — the more cleaning supplies the better!
+ Bedding and cozy supplies: Its chill if you don’t want to provide all your personal bedding to a play space – but figuring out some cozy bedding and mat configurations is something to consider while stocking up on supplies. Outside of puppy pads, you might also want to think about waterproof bedding options for the sake of varying fluids and the squirters in your midst — things like the Liberator Throe or waterproof sheet protectors are great options and make for easy clean up.
+ Snacks, beverages, and water accessible throughout the party: Staying hydrated is very! Important! Make it easy for your attendees by making sure there are easy options for them to access water. Snacks are also important, certain play can definitely take it out of you, the people need sustenance!
+ Shareable sex toys: This one isn’t required, but encouraged if possible. Just ensure that all the shareable toys are made of body safe materials, and that folks are using barriers.
You also want to consider the flow of the space — are there rooms that are off limits, rooms only used for certain play? I’m a big fan of including one or two rooms that are not play spaces — often this ends up being a bedroom for folks to go into for some space away from play, to chill out and hang out quietly. And then maybe the kitchen to serve as a space solely for mingling and snacking and some light snuggling and smooching, but no play. This makes it so it doesn’t feel like there has to be KINKY SEX STUFF EVERYWHERE. If you won’t have any play-free rooms, I would recommend saying so on your invite.
You’ve done your prep work, you know your flow and who’ll be there, your snacks and gloves are in place, twinkly lights and blankets are abundant, you’ve got a cute outfit on (perhaps inspired by Carolyn’s advice on what to wear to a kink party) and now guests are arriving!! Everyone is there, mingling is happening — you’ve really done it! This thing you put together is real! How exciting!
Every play party is going to ebb and flow differently, but one truth remains — you can’t just MAKE everyone jump straight from mingling to playing without any transition or introduction. For some folks that can definitely work! But more often than not, folks need some warm up time. There are a lot of routes that could be taken here, and ultimately you’ll know best what will work for the group of people you’ve brought together. But there are some common play party kickstarters you might want to consider including while you put together your schedule.
An introduction circle
This feels commonplace at most any intimate play space. Once you have your guests all present, invite everyone into one room for introductions. Public speaking can be intimidating, so giving people a script to go off of is key. Also keep in mind that you don’t want to spend all your time on introductions; you’ve got a party to get to! At the start, you might want to ask folks to keep their intros under a couple of minutes. Preferred name, pronouns, things you might be or not be interested in participating in that night, and any other details you wish to share all could be things you can prompt folks with sharing, but you do you!
How fun and chill and inviting, right? My personal party go-to is a rousing game of spin the lube bottle — similar to spin the bottle, you spin the lube bottle and it lands on who it lands on. The difference with spin the lube bottle is instead of just opting for a kiss, once the lube lands on the person, the person who spun can propose what they’d like to do — kissing, spanking, receiving a massage, being fed a snack, dry humping, scratching — and the person spun on can choose to either accept this proposal, or they can counteroffer. It’s nice practice for negotiation, discussing consent, and is fun and hot! There are also PLENTY of other games that could be played for warm up — if you are into the idea of something queer and structured(ish), Sweatgasm by Archie Bongiovanni is a great one to check out. There are so many cards, y’all!
These are just a couple avenues to get the ball rolling! Try variations, try them all, try something different! But having some set way of getting things moving is wise and encouraged, it can help facilitate a natural progression into play.
From here, the ball is in your court my friend! You made the thing happen and now its playing out! It’s okay if things don’t go exactly as planned; you can’t predict the energy of a space and how things might flow. No one’s perfect, this is not an easy thing to put together and sometimes things go amiss; just be available and receptive to feedback and know it’s ok! Keep to your schedule as best as you can, reiterate your party rules as many times as you can, make sure everyone knows who your play monitor is at any given time, and have some fucking fun!
Some final advice: try to clean up sooner than later. Just trust me on this one.
You’ve got this! Go get ’em, tiger.