Dear fellow sukebe,

The GRUE was held this last weekend near Madison, WI, and was an experiment in running a kink event. The acronym stands for “Graydancer’s Ropetastic Unconference Extravaganza” (why, yes, I did actually come up with the acronym before the words, why do you ask?). The key word was “Unconference”: this is a model of group organization that has been used extensively and successfully in the tech & social media circles, and is also involved with something called “Open Space”. I would suggest, if you’re really interested, looking up both subjects on wikipedia.

In brief, the idea is to have a conference that is self-organizing. In our case, about 30 people converged on a house with a well-equipped dungeon at 10am on Saturday. Announcing the theme of “What do you get out of Rope?” I pointed to a blank wall and said “There’s our agenda.” I suggested that the participants come up and write down some subject they were both passionate about and willing to talk about, and about 1/2 hour later we had 11 classes scheduled for the three rooms to do over the next seven hours:

  1. Speedy Gonzales: fast rope tying tips
  2. Cock & Ball Ties (which led to one of the more fun quotes “CBT? Hey, wanna be my stunt cock?” “Sure!” (from across the room) “Yay! Penises!”)
  3. Takate-Kote
  4. Spirit/Energy/Psychology of rope play
  5. Useful stuff – practical tips, tricks, & knowledge
  6. Using Rope for Sensory Play
  7. Graydancer’s Fishbowl (a discussion roundtable taken from Open Space techniques, done by first Subs, then Doms. More on that later.I)
  8. “Not Taking This Stuff Too Seriously: Humor in Scene”
  9. The Art of Suspension
  10. The Defining Moment: getting what you want out of Play
  11. (ongoing throughout the day) Photo Shoot for with fetish model Kitty

We got through 10 of them by 5pm. Some lasted 1/2 hour; some lasted 2 hours. The atmosphere was easy-going, and the seminar ended with everyone going off to dinner and then returning for a long play party, and the next day I and another rigger made pancakes for everyone who wanted to come back and hang out and talk.

It was a very good event–and I’ll go into more detail later — possibly too good, as many of my friends who were invited suffered extreme Drop afterwards (hence my question to the Divamidori list). The main thing is, as an experiment, it was a great success, and I would suggest to anyone who says “gee, I wish we could have a con here…” take a look at the Unconference model. If you’d like to have an actual GRUE, well, I’m happy to facilitate, just give me a buzz at this email. The biggest surprise was the amount of connection the participants felt with each other, and I think it had to do with the fact that they made the conference themselves, based around who was there – an ephemeral formation and connection that was the more powerful because of it.

I’ll have some more about the event on an upcoming podcast, and will also be opening up the MadGRUE wiki for people to see more about what people did and said about the experience.

Oh, and the ROUS’? Well, of course, that stands for “Riggers of Unusual Size,” and I, for one, happen to know they exist…

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