Leave it to Gray to go ranting about some shit.
The subject of the most recent Graydancer’s Ropecast included a rant (which isn’t all that ranty, so if you are hoping for spittle-flying desk-pounding histrionics, you’ll be sorely disappointed. I kinda was hoping for some heavy breathing and shouting, but noooooo…) about the difficulty of teaching suspension bondage in the environment of a broad-spectrum BDSM event.
(and if you want to hear the BEST ROPECAST EVAR!!1!! go here)
To paraphrase: the thrust of his rant seems to be that it is near to impossible to teach suspension well in the context of a short-form class. There are too many skills involved to really do the thing right. In a mid/advanced-level rope-specific setting, with several hours allocated, small classes and multiple instructors, he beleives a class on suspension would seem to be more feasible.
This is partially due to the fact that many, many people attending cons might be dabbling in playstyles with which they have little to no familiarity, and zero experience.
Gray pondered the core issue of someone who possessed no rope of their own and had never done any rope bondage deciding that they wanted to take a suspension class. The issue being, you know too little: why would you think you could do this at all? Seems kind of presumptuous to jump in to one of the most complex types of rope bondage there is on your first go, right?I think this is less presumptuousness on the part of those new to rope as it is ignorance combined with “making the difficult look easy.” No one can see your typical rope scene and know anything about the players. It is a fairly human reaction to say “Well, if they can do it, I can too.” And jump right in. Thing is, it takes experience to know how little experience you have. Conundrum. And so much of ropework is showy, and grabs attention, how can one chide a neophyte for wanting that too?
You can’t walk into a play space anywhere in the US without seeing people doing suspensions. Some of them make me wince and pray for the players, but as I’m not a DM, that isn’t my business. But familiarity breeds comfort, and the ubiquitousness of suspension leads players to believe it is something easily accessed.
I have had a rather fortunate career in rope. My first partner was a presenter, and subsequently I’ve been spoiled by access to top-level rope bastards riggers. Nowadays, I am extremely arrogant about my health and well-being, to the point where if I haven’t heard of you, it is unlikely you’ll be roping me off of my feet. I simply will not risk a break, concussion, nerve damage or sprain due to the attentions of a novice rigger. It is tough enough when you DO know what you are doing.
Rather than NOT offering any suspension level classes at broad-spectrum BDSM events (because if it isn’t Gray, SOMEONE will do it.)I’d like to see the “rope community” be more stringent about monitoring who is attending these classes, screening folks, giving disclaimers, making a suspension-geared classes that ARE about floorwork, thereby providing the grounding that is necessary.
Those unfamiliar with rope might have little idea that suspension is an extremely advanced bondage activity. It is so common, and so easily spotted and so showy, why would they assume it takes any particular skill UNTIL THEY SEE the behind the scenes?
So long as Conventions and organizations offer “Suspension Bondage for Beginner” type classes, this misconception will thrive.
Presuming that someone KNOWS and respects the complexity and level of rope bondage is…presumptuous.
Furthermore, I’d like to see coverage / discussion on how to be a good rope bottom, because little respect is paid to what it takes to be IN a rope suspension. First time I went up I thought I was going to be split into 3 big chunks of Mollena and wind up ruining a perfectly good set of hemp rope. But that wasn’t the case, and now I am competent to be suspended. This too takes time and practice, and the profligacy of public suspension scenes does little to bolster and underscore the risk and skill inherent in suspensions. Having presented, several times, on bottoming in rope and having been the bottom in many rope demonstrations, this side of the equation is only recently being acknowledged.
All this talk makes me wanna get roped up. Dammit…