Kinky Feature Creep

Recently I gave my Worst Class Ever.

Seriously, it’s documentably the poorest job I’ve ever done teaching. I appreciate class evaluations from events, even though (as almost any presenter will tell you) that one negative comment will keep me awake at night no matter how effusive the rest of them were. And frankly, usually the comments are overwhelmingly positive; I am good at what I do, and I usually can handle the one or two negative comments I get as simply rubbing a couple of people the wrong way while rubbing the vast majority the right way.

OK, maybe that’s not the best metaphor to use. But you get what I mean.

Bound in Boston was different. I got back the class evaluations for my Full Contact Dom presentation, and while the majority were still positive, there were many, many more negatives than I was used to. Some were just personality conflicts (“…he seems like a frustrated stand-up comic who just likes to hear himself talk…“) but others were pretty specific, and pretty accurate. The class description:

FULL CONTACT DOM: A combination of dance and martial arts, this class focuses on methods of maintaining and utilizing a physical connection between the top and the bottom. Whether you’re focusing on takedowns or sensual rope, using full-contact and focusing techniques can increase the enjoyment of any scene. Remember, if you’re not cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.

only mentioned “takedowns” and “martial arts” once, but I’d delivered a class full of demonstrations of rough body play. I never once picked up a rope. I never mentioned “focusing” or “sensuality” or “connection.” The room was far too full to allow people to practice what I was teaching, as well, so the “hands on” aspect went right out the window.

I failed to deliver what I’d promised. For which, to the attendees, I apologize.

Part of any apology, however, is figuring out how not to let it happen again. I realized that over the years of teaching Full Contact Dom I’d had more and more people ask me questions about the grappling techniques, less about the rope. Eventually, as I tried to cover the questions in the course material, it morphed into more of a rough-body play class than anything to do with using physical presence to improve connection. It was a kind of Feature Creep, where showing one more pressure point or one more safe way to punch took the place of breathing, presence, attention. It had been an insidiously gradual change, and it wasn’t that it was a bad class.

It just wasn’t the class I’d said I would teach.

So before the GRALE event last weekend, I took the time to examine my Military Style Bondage class description. I revamped the course outline, taking out some things that, while fun, weren’t necessary, and making sure that there was more solid documentation, more relevance to the particular topic. In short, I made sure that I was delivering what I said I would.

The results were a class with overwhelmingly positive reviews. I felt good about it, people felt they got even more than they’d expected, and a valuable lesson was learned.

Don’t be complacent.

The next time I do Full Contact Dom, it will be back to the original format. Connection. Sensuality. Body presence. Meanwhile, I have the material to add a Rough Body Play class to my curriculum.

But more to the point: I’m taking a look at all the places in my life where I have promised to deliver something, to fulfill some role, whether that’s to someone else or to myself.

Am I delivering what I promised?

Are you?

2 thoughts on “Kinky Feature Creep

  • I love this post. Thank you for asking me to examine what I have promised to deliver.

    Still want to try and get an SF GRUE on your radar for next year or late this year, that’s a promise to self to deliver 🙂

    Master Jackson sends his best.

  • If I’m going to a class as a student it’s because I’m interested in learning more on the topic as it’s been presented. Flashy names that are ill fitted to the class have often disappointed me, even if the class itself was worthwhile, part of me was missing out on what I was promised. Now I’m wondering how many of those classes initially did fit their titles and were slowly morphed into something else.

    I think it’s good to be constantly be vigilant about this. Every time I teach a class the audience affects the direction and exact content immensely. Being able to say, “That’s a great question/comment/concern, but I don’t want to get too far off topic/that could be a class all by itself/we can talk about that personally later.” has helped me mitigate that problem, but it’s also great to turn those questions and interest into motivation for another class you know people are curious about.

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