(GRUE, for those who are new to the idea, is an event I created called “Graydancer’s Ropetastic Unconference Extravaganza,” and it is modeled after the Open Spaces & Unconference models of self-organizing events. So far there have been five GRUEs, in Madison (WI), Western Michigan, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and the most recent, in Toronto.)
One of the difficulties of setting up a GRUE – really, the only one – is trying to describe to people exactly what it is. Hell, I’ve had very close friends in the rope community say to me “Oh, we don’t need a GRUE here in [insert well-known rope community], we’ve got so many rope events as it is…I don’t think people want another one.”
And therein lies the problem, because it’s exactly that kind of situation that the GRUE is designed to combat. When we’ve reached a point where it’s “…just another rope event…” where we know we’ll see the same classes and the same faces talking about (for the most part) the same things, that’s when it is necessary to step out of the pattern, to have an event where the participants are also the instructors, where we’re all “ho’s, pro’s, & schmoe’s” to paraphrase Laura Antoniou. To have an event where the classes aren’t the same things we’ve talked about before – they’re the things we’re passionate about right now. Every single GRUE – every single one – has had some veteran, jaded rope top or bottom that comes out of it renewed, inspired, invigorated.
I’ve been struggling with finding ways to tell people about this – not because I want there to be more GRUEs, exactly, but just because I think we’re in a danger of too many events that are too similar, and that leads to either apathy or burnout or both. One of the GRUE participants, however, said it incredibly well, and I’m going to quote him here from the GRUEp in Fetlife:
“I actually logged on to this site [Fetlife], which I knew nothing about, after the Toronto GRUE. What I thought I had been invited to by a beloved friend; in order to expand both of our technical interests, turned into so much more. GRUE is not a how to class. The Participant driven format presented me w/ choices I made away from the practical presentations. Instead I found myself in intimate, experienced (both new and wise), visceral discussions about gender identity, jargon limitations, dialogues on submissive mindsets, and a rather intense exploration of cultural, racial, and tabooist prejudices (in and out of the scene) and the ethos surrounding exploring those fantasizes. (pardon my German guilt, I’ll never be your storm trooper)
At the party, later that evening, I had the opportunity to reacquaint w/ participants on a more social level, and fuck- they were fun. One of my most memorable emotives was saying good night to a member that I hadn’t said a word to throughout the unconference, but had shared some time w/ my friend. Through casual observation and the searing light of her enthusiasm over the Saturday, I left the party only being able to thank her for what little I had enjoyed of her, not meeting her.
GRUE seemed to have that kind of “in way deeper than I signed up for” coupled w/ I wish everything was this rewarding sort of experience. I will attend any others in my area.
Sasha, we all admire you. Good fortune. Gray- I’m enjoying the book and thank you JP-great event, intense times, be well everyone- thank you for participating in my life. I am better for you.”
You can see some images of Sascha & I, both at the GRUE and at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche event with Lord Morpheous and others, at the gallery linked to the image above. Questions about the GRUE? Email Graydancer, or listen to the Ropecast – we took one of the sessions, Graydancer’s Fishbowl, and recorded it, and it will be up in its unedited glory soon.
Remember, when it gets very dark…you are likely to be eaten by a GRUE. So next time, bring rope.