The kinky play party: Praised as the holy grail of kinky communities, a play party is a gathering of like-minded, kinky individuals who enjoy BDSM. At this formal or informal gathering, people pair off into groups and enjoy doing kinky things to one another while other kinky people watch. Usually done in a private area that's closed to the public, it might seem hard to find and gain entrance to a kinky play party. However, once you find yourself active in the local community, you're going to see the opportunities to enjoy this unique type of sexual experience everywhere you look.

Going to a play party for the first time can be scary, though. Not only is it a sexually-charged environment, but it's likely to be one where you have no idea what the standards or customs are. Play parties aren't that scary, and they actually can be a ton of fun. Find everything you need to know about going to a play party in the questions below.

How Do I Find a Play Party?

Finding a play party is step one to getting to attend one. The easiest way to find your local play parties are through your local kink groups. Get involved! While some people put on private play parties in their homes, most play parties are put on by kink groups in the area. The easiest way to find a play party is through networking and knowing what's going on in the local community.

Don't know anything about your local kink group? In the Internet age, it can be pretty simple to find out the closest BDSM groups to you. Try Fetlife, a kinkster social network, to find some of the groups that are nearest to you. If a social network doesn't appeal to you, a Google search for your location and "BDSM group" may lead to some results. However, with the nature of kink and people's desire for privacy, a Google search may not lead to as many results as you were hoping for (and you may want to use an incognito window to keep your search out of your browser history).

Depending on where you live, you may need to be prepared to make a bit of a drive in order to find a play party in the near future. While more kink-friendly areas like Los Angeles or New York may have regular play parties going on, if you're in a less progressive area, a two or three hour drive is relatively normal.

As you search for play parties, you'll find different "types." As you become more familiar with BDSM, you'll be able to pick them out at a glance. Large, group events will allow almost anyone to register as long as you pay the higher entrance fee. These events normally have educational courses alongside the play parties. They are designed to be more like a full-service conference than an evening's enjoyment. Smaller, more-private events may have other prerequisites before you can attend, but these types of events are designed for a single evening of fun.

What Are the Requirements to Attend a Play Party?

Every group has their own play party requirements. If you're looking at attending a kink event for a local group, it's important that you ask or read about the requirements before attempting to RSVP for a party. Some common requirements include attending multiple munches, being vetted by a current member, attending a new member orientation, or being an active member of another reputable kink group.

Most groups will require an RSVP to the party after you meet the other prerequisites. This RSVP usually requires the revealing of your full, legal name as well as your scene name so that they may match your ID at the door once you arrive. Never show up to a play party uninvited. Always submit your RSVP if you plan on attending or be prepared to be turned away at the door. This process is for all of the party goer's safety and privacy.

What Actually Happens at a Play Party?

Contrary to most people's beliefs, play parties usually aren't just giant sex orgies. In fact, some play parties don't even allow full nudity or sexual penetration of any kind. The activity at a play party is definitely focused on the kinky side of things, so expect to see a lot of sexy, fetish-fun things.

The type of play party set-up depends on whether you're attending a huge event, a smaller event, or a private play party, but you can expect to see kinky furniture (such as spanking benches or a St. Andrew's cross). Expect loud music and people scantily and sexily dressed in kinky outfits. You should also expect to see people enjoying kinky scenes throughout the party such as spankings, floggings, rope bondage, electro-sex, and more.

If you're new, you may be introduced to some of the people in charge when you arrive. In many cases, the head person in charge is called the "Dungeon Master/Moderator" ("DM" for short). This person is in charge of stepping in if things get out of hand, but in most cases, they usually are just there to gently remind people to quiet down their talking or to keep the music playlist going. There are rarely reasons for a DM to get involved as the safe word system keeps most play times well within what everyone would enjoy.

Don't be too worried about seeing anything too intense. At most play parties, any type of scene that is very graphic (such as things that include blood or bodily fluids) will probably be cordoned off in another area. If anything is especially triggering to you, notify the staff of the play party ahead of time. For involved scenes such as things that include blood or bodily fluids, staff normally has an idea ahead of time of what the couple plans to do, and they can help direct you away from that particular play area for the evening.

When Should I Show Up? Can I Be Fashionably Late?

This is a large, resounding NO. If you won't be able to make it within the "doors open" portion of the evening, you need to let the organizers know before registering. In order to prevent interruptions and accidental discovery of the party, many play parties will have the doors locked to any outside guests after a certain amount of time. Most party organizers will publicize this information with your RSVP, so make sure you can show up at the actual start time. This is one time where you'll miss out on the entire party if you're fashionably late.

What Should I Bring?

You don't need to travel with too much baggage, but carrying in a bag of toys and clothing is not unheard of by any means. If you're changing into your kinky clothing at the party, bring your make-up and clothing with you. If you plan on playing at the party, any types of toys or restraints should be in your bag. Don't forget to bring your photo ID in order to get into the party in the first place. An aftercare kit (such as candy bars or things to drink such as juice boxes) may not be a bad idea either. If you're wearing high heels, don't forget about bringing a pair of comfortable shoes in case your feet are feeling the strain.

Basically, bring basic kinky supplies as well as your ID and some cash. To be on the safe side, you may want to bring safer sex materials in case you meet someone at the party and want to have fun afterwards.

What Shouldn't I Bring?

Make sure to check the rules of the play party before attempting to bring in a cell phone. Never, EVER attempt to bring a camera unless it has been cleared by the party owners. Some play parties also prohibit alcohol (to ensure everyone is of sound mind to consent to all activities), so check your play party rules before packing any booze in your bags.

How Should I Dress?

The dress code for any given play party will vary by the rules of the party and the organization. As a rule of thumb, the default assumption is to always dress in plain, casual street clothes to get into the venue. Many places provide an indoor place to change into your kinky clothes. This way, the location doesn't attract any undue attention.

When it comes to your sexier attire, some play parties may have rules about what you must wear. Requiring sexier attire helps keep the play party feeling like the sensual fantasy-land that people will enjoy. Avoid wearing plain clothing like jeans and a t-shirt, and instead, get creative with what you wear. Know the rules of your party. Some parties may allow full nudity while some may require at least underwear to be worn.

Most play party invitations will have a clear list of any sort of dress requirements when you RSVP, but if you're at a loss for what to wear, in a pinch, regular lingerie or just a sexy pair of underwear can function as kinky wear. To add a bit more to your outfit, you could carry around a kinky implement such as a flogger; it makes a great conversation piece as well! Just don't go hitting random people at the party. That is not allowed. Wear something that makes you feel sexy, but remember, if you plan on playing, you may want to pack some shoes that allow you to easily stand and keep your balance. Your legs can get shaky when you're turned on, so plan for that in advance.

What Can I Do at a Play Party if I Want to Play?

Playing at a play party can be an exciting experience! If this is your first play party, I highly recommend you avoid playing this first evening and just enjoy the experience. Enjoy that general feeling of arousal as you hang around while all of other scenes take place.

If you're ready to play, though, you need to understand that before every scene, there are negotiations. You will need to discuss what you are (and aren't) OK with during your scene. If you have any medical issues, bring those up. Mentioning you're new to kink and play parties is a great idea as it helps your play partner ease you into some of the pleasure. If you're especially into a specific act or sensation, speak up! This is not the time to hope that your partner will guess what you want to do. You should lay it out ahead of time so you both are on the same page. I recommend learning more about good sexual negotiation.

Now that you understand what goes into negotiations, it's time to find someone to negotiate with. This is easiest to do online. With the invention of Fetlife and other kinky social networks, you can send a private message to people who are attending an upcoming play party. However, be aware that this may not be met with much success unless you've become a familiar face at play parties; while some people will be willing to play with new people, you'll have a much higher success rate if you've been an active member of the community.

It's also possible to arrange a scene with someone while at the play party. Wait until the person seems unengaged in a scene or with another person, and feel free to go up and ask if they'd be interested in doing a scene. The first thing out of most people's mouths is going to be "Well, what did you have in mind?" So, have a good idea of what you'd like to do. You don't have to be specific, but something like "I'd love to do a spanking scene," or "I watched you use the restraints on your last scene, and I'd love to experience that with you!" can go a long way toward helping your newfound partner understand what you want to do.

If the person you ask says no, don't take it personally. They may have come here with a monogamous partner or they may only play with people who have asked ahead of time. They may even have stage fright and may only be comfortable playing in public if they've had weeks to plan out their scene. No isn't personal. If your potential partner declines, thank them politely and move on. If they're interested, you should step into negotiations and enjoy a good time.

Can I Talk at a Play Party? Can I Join In?

Talking at a play party is definitely encouraged, and just for that reason, many play parties have a "social area" that's away from the scenes. However, avoid talking anywhere near a scene, and if you must talk, do it in quiet whispers. You can imagine how distracting it might be to listen to someone's recounting of their office fight while you're attempting to enjoy a sensual spanking, so speaking near scenes is frowned upon. Try to do all talking and negotiating in one of the social areas, or at least as far away from a scene as you can get.

While it might seem fun to join in, never join into any scene that's already in-progress unless you have explicit permission. You should never interrupt a scene to get that permission. Stick to watching the scenes unless you've negotiated joining in before the scene starts. That said, if you watch a super-hot scene between people and now would like to play with someone from the scene, wait until the scene is over, give them some time to wind down, and then approach and ask about the possibility of playing with that person. Remember to always be nice if the answer is no.

Can I Take Photos at a Play Party?

As a general rule, taking photos at a play party is usually not allowed. So, assume that's the default unless the rules state otherwise. Many people who attend play parties want to keep their identities secret. Many events will even ask you to leave your cell phone in the car because most modern phones are equipped with cameras. Make sure to respect the rules of the play party, and if you're unsure if it's allowed, always, always ask the party host first.

Should I Go to Another Play Party?

Of course, the answer to this question is a resounding YES. However, some people find themselves uncomfortable after their first play party. Please remember that every play party is going to have a different age group and personality. If you felt like you didn't fit in with that current group of kinksters, consider looking into other kinky groups in the area and find one that's perfect for you. Play parties can be a ton of fun, so don't give up after your first one. Now you even know what to expect at your next one!