Remember how it used to be?
Remember when her hands shook as you wrapped the rope, coil by coil, around her wrists, one at a time? Except it wasn’t rope, was it? It was a pair of pantyhose from her drawer. No, not her drawer, stolen from your mother’s drawer, the plastic egg container thrown aside at the bedside, cardboard wrapper half under the bed (and later in the night you would agonize as you realize that you’d forgotten about it, what if she found out?).
Remember that feeling giddy helplessness after you were tied spreadeagled, and she straddled your chest, and you could feel the heat from her cunt there between your breasts, right where your heart hammered, ka-thunk, ka-thunk, and you felt shivers run through your body, uncontrollable shivers because you were spread open, helplessly tied, for the first time in your life you couldn’t stop this person from doing anything she wanted, and she smiled that feral, predatory smile, her tongue-tip speculatively between her teeth the last thing you saw before the blindfold covered your vision, and you trembled…
Remember the moment you grabbed her chest harness and pulled her up off her knees and growled into her ear “I don’t give a shit for the rules in this club, I’m going to fuck you right here, right now!” and she wailed, knowing that it meant neither of you could ever come back, but still she pushed her ass against your steel-hard cock, grinding, moaning “Yes, sir, anything for you, sir.”
But I also remember walking through the dungeon – any dungeon, it doesn’t matter which one – recently and watching the scenes around me…and feeling unutterably depressed. The people were filling the “stations” – spanking benches, crosses, frames, whipping posts – and there was no shortage of activity. But that’s all it was – activity. Frenetic motions, repetitive actions, there was no joy to be seen.
I exaggerate. There was joy. There is always joy in a dungeon, somewhere, if you look for it. But that’s just it: we were all of us, myself included, looking for it, desperate to find it. We were trying to remember, to go back to that place where the simple act of taking or giving power made our souls thrum.
I’m sure it was somewhere in that dungeon. I just couldn’t find it. And I could see in the faces of tops, bottoms, slaves and masters, ponies and pups and trannies and sluts, that it was not being found by many others, either, who were just as desperately seeking it.
“…we put that forth as an explanation of how really, in the end, we’re not actually perverts, we’re just, y’know, creative types. Who like to dress up in shiny things sometimes, and play, like theatre, and isn’t that fun?” – Andrea Zanin
I think we’re killing it.
I’m to blame as much as anyone. I’m proud of my work as an educator, of bringing rope to many people through my podcast, this blog, through my classes and performances. Yet like my dear brother and lover Lee Harrington, I wonder “…when we analytically gaze at our dark desires do they loose the richness of their darkness?”
I get emails from listeners who thank me for my work. Who say things like “..you helped pull me out of my insecurities around rope…” and “…I wouldn’t be the rope artist I am today without some of the things you’ve dropped in the Ropecast…” They tell me I am doing the Great Work, and that means a lot to me. In fact, that means everything to me. “My goal is to unite my avocation with my vocation, as two eyes become one with sight,” as Sir Robert would put it.
But this same person looks at rope artists in the dungeon, and sees that, all too often “…there comes a point where the dance stops being about your partner and starts being about how much you can make the outsiders clap.” He says,
We use these things which were designed as a way to connect to each other on a one-to-one basis and use them to attempt connecting to each other on a one-to-many basis, and we use them as a way to distance ourselves, to pervert our natures (and not in that fun way), to keep ourselves safe…when it comes to the dance itself… it’s gotta come from the soul or it’s gonna look dead.
He’s right. And that’s what we miss when we focus more on the step-by-step tutorials of rope. By breaking it down, we also remove the mystery and the excitement. That’s not bad – there’s a reason to do that, many reasons – but the problem is we leave it there. Disassembled. In pieces.
When we shine the light on the shadow to know it better, we don’t learn a thing. We simply banish the shadow, and know nothing except the dimensions of the corner, the color of the walls, the shape of that stain on the floor. The shadow itself is gone.
We need to have fewer classes on bondage 101 and partial suspension, and more on Shadows 201 and Total Suspense. We need to teach how to turn off the dissection lamp for our partners and ourselves, and come back to that scary what if I’m caught oh god what if I’m sick Oh GOD what if I don’t like it oh FUCK what if I DO?
We need to find our way back to dangerous rope. Because without it, we are simply technicians of flesh and fiber, when we could be playing on the instruments of souls.
“Tonight, I want the shadow. Stop sterilizing everything, for a moment. Let my kink stay kinky, stay edgy. Stop making it palatable, acceptable, consumable for the masses. Just for a moment let my passions stay taboo, stay wrong. I want to be wrong, I want to be in shadow, I want to be damned, I want to be forbidden.” – Lee Harrington