Everything You Need to Know About Attending Your First Kink Conference
Kink conferences are like a kink-filled break from real life, full of fun, new friends, education and - if you're into it - sex.
Ready to upgrade your play party experience? How about an entire kinky weekend? That's what a kink conference can provide. A kink conference (or kink convention) is usually a three-day (or more!) event filled with kink-focused education, tons of social events, and multiple play parties! Much like a mini kink-filled break from real life, these conventions can be found all around the world and bring thousands of participants to each one!
But, let's be real: If you've never been to a kink event, the whole idea can be pretty ... intimidating. I'm here to help! Here's everything you need to know about going to your first kink convention. (Because - if you're into it - you should definitely go!)
What types of kink conferences are there?
Kink conferences, while they all are designed to give you an awesome weekend (or longer!) of kinky experiences, will vary a bit in how they provide that experience.
Some conferences, especially smaller ones or conferences that are just getting started, may take place in the conference area of a large hotel. This means that the rest of the hotel may contain non-kinky guests. At these events, you'll need to be discreet throughout the hotel; once you're in the gated conference area, you'll be free to be as kinky as you'd like while the security ensures that non-kinky people won't get a peek. Make sure to be especially discreet at these types of conventions. The regular guests don't know what's going on, and that's how hotels like to keep it.
Other conferences, especially as they get larger, turn into "hotel takeover" conferences. This means that the convention was large enough to ensure that all of the rooms of the hotel would be booked with conference attendees - so the entire hotel is kink-friendly! These types of conferences may allow nudity in most areas of the hotel including hallways and pools (usually the restaurant or lobby is off-limits for health code reasons) and will offer a lot more freedom. Many kinksters will walk straight from their rooms in full kink attire to the dungeon in the conference area. These are definitely a very unique, fully-immersive experience.
For those who prefer a less-pampered approach, there are a few campground-focused kink events. These are typically large campgrounds where the only people allowed into the campground are kink-friendly people. These conventions tend to be less-structured than their hotel counterparts, and they stress friendship, bonding and experiencing new things. If you like camping or love that "big family" vibe the community can have, these types of kink events may be the best fit for you.
Last but not least, there are specialized kink conventions. While most kink conventions focus on general BDSM as a whole (and all the kinks it contains), these specialized ones may focus on specific kinky identifications. There are conventions that focus on femdomme, ABDL, pet play, erotic hypnosis, rope bondage, and more. If you're into a particular kink, these can be a lot of fun.
How do I find a kink conference?
Kink conferences tend to be pretty big and, because of that, they don't happen in every city. They're designed to be weekend retreats, and many people will fly across the country to attend their favorites. Depending on where you live, you may have to drive three to five hours to find your nearest conference. (It's totally worth it, though!)
Your closest kink conferences will be easiest to discover through your local BDSM community. People tend to enjoy talking about them - and many will also carpool together. A quick question about conferences will most likely offer four or five different options for you.
However, not everyone has a local kink community. In that case, some Google searching may be in order. There are some websites that keep listings of upcoming conferences, and a quick look at the conference's website will let you know if that conference is still happening as well as the registration cost and the date.
What are the requirements to attend a kink conference?
Many kink conferences have more lenient requirements than local play parties! While local play parties will usually require you to have attended a couple of their non-play-focused meetings, kink conferences will usually just require upfront payment for your registration. Some conferences may require a link to an active Fetlife profile and may vet your registration (and refund your purchase, if denied). Conferences want everyone to have fun, but they also want to ensure that no one dangerous or harmful makes it into the event.
Anyone of any skill level can attend a conference! That being said, in order to get the most of your conference experience, it definitely helps if you're very open to learning, enjoy watching other people do kinky things together, and are open-minded. Whether you've only been interested in kink for a month or you've been whippin' those little subbies of yours for years, you will be welcome at kink conferences.
What actually happens at the conference?
The idea behind these BDSM conventions is to create an immersive, three-day experience filled with all types of adult, kinky fun. They aren't swinger's clubs and they aren't sex parties, but they are going to be filled with content that you certainly don't talk about with the neighborhood grocery cashier.
When you first arrive, take a moment to examine the schedule. Expect to find a listing of classes that will be running the entire weekend at specific times. Many conventions will run three or four dissimilar classes at the same time to fit in 20+ classes over the weekend. So expect to have to pick your favorite sometimes - and feel sad that you can't attend them all.
You'll also see a couple social events on most kink conventions' schedules. They may be specific (such as a "Dominant Discussion" or "Newbie Meet-up") or they might just be social hours to encourage people to talk to one another. Expect to also see some downtime between classes and various scheduled events - all of this time will unofficially turn into social time in the common areas.
Most conventions will also have a vendor area. This area will be open during set times, and it will features various vendors selling, well, various kinky things! You'll find smaller businesses with one person making all of their inventory, and you'll find larger businesses that offer some of the selections you might see at a sex toy store. Many of these vendors will take credit, but it's always worth carrying extra cash just to ensure you're prepared.
Each evening, you'll also see play parties scheduled. Most parties are scheduled to last between six and eight hours - usually until 2 or 3 a.m. Play party times are flexible, and unlike standard play parties where you must stay at the party or you won't be allowed back in, most kink convention play parties will allow you to come and go as you please. Watch some scenes, leave the area and chat with people, get a snack, come back and do a scene, etc. Just be courteous to everyone around you during your comings and goings.
Do NOT expect to be touched without your permission. This is not standard behavior for any conference. Even as a single woman, in all of the conferences I've attended, I've never had this happen to me. Most kink convention attendees are extremely friendly - to the point where people will leave their stuff in various spots and come back later to find it still sitting there. But they are also exceedingly respectful and careful about obtaining consent.
DO expect to see people in various states of dress. You'll most likely see a lot of nudity and kinky things throughout this weekend. Compliment outfits you like. Dress up in your own sexy attire. Whether you decide to play or not, you can definitely take part in the fun of it all.
Read: Everything You Need to Know About Your First BDSM Play Party
I'm not sure I want to go ...
Many kink conferences may not offer transferable or refundable registration. A lot of conferences also sell out a month or two before the conference itself. After all, there are only so many bodies a space can handle, and nobody likes an over-crowded event. If you can, try to register as soon as possible.
If the conference is a "hotel takeover" type of conference, hotel room registration preference is usually given to those who registered for the event first. In this circumstance, I'd always recommend registering ASAP to be in the host hotel. Try to figure out any scheduling conflicts and make your final choice before registration opens up. In many "hotel takeover" events, the event administration will announce the day ticket sales will go live ahead of time to make it easier to plan to register first.
What should I bring to a kink conference?
Packing your luggage already, hmm? I'm glad I could convince you! Now let's get down to what you need to bring.
First, you'll want to plan for at least two outfits a day - a daytime outfit and an evening outfit. Some kinksters love playing dress-up (and this is the time to do it!), so you'll see them in three to four outfits a day. If you're staying at the host hotel, this is as simple as just going up an elevator and changing, so why not? Pack what feels comfortable to you, but ensure you bring an extra set of clothes for both outfits, just in case. Make sure to pack public-appropriate outfits as well - especially if the event requests vanilla attire outside of the kink event. Even if it doesn't, you may want to venture out to local restaurants, so make sure those family-friendly clothes are in there too!
You'll need a photo ID. Many conferences will require this for your initial registration. You can leave it in the hotel for subsequent nights if you have privacy concerns. A credit card and lots of cash is also helpful.
If you plan on attending any of the classes, a pen and paper is a good idea as well. Yes, you have to go back to the '90s for note-taking at kink conventions - no laptops or cell phones will be allowed.
The most important thing to pack is your toys! You don't have to bring your entire toy bag, but if you have a particular scene in mind, you'll want to bring the toys that'll help you accomplish it. (Having a vague idea of what scene you'd like to do ahead of time makes it easier to pack light). Some people will literally drag rolling luggage bags into the play rooms filled with kinky toys, so feel comfortable packing what you need, but don't pack more than you can carry. If you're flying, make sure you know basic airplane sex toy travel rules for a smooth flight.
If you plan on having intercourse, make sure that you have all the safe sex supplies that you need. Most parties, if intercourse is allowed, will require safe sex supplies - regardless of your personal preference. This means having waterproof pads (dog training pads from the pet store work wonders!), condoms, lubricant, and gloves on hand if you intend on doing any more intimate playing.
What should I leave behind?
Don't bring your introversion or judgment to the conference! While I know many introverts that attend (myself included), you'll have a lot more fun if you just pretend to be an extrovert for the weekend. There are awesome people to meet, unique things to see, and fun activities to participate in. That said, nobody will bother you or be upset if you choose to be a wallflower. Every style tends to be accepted!