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The culture of GRÄNSLANDET // SALONGEN or how to invite others (2021)

You can listen to this musing here, or read it below.

I’m attempting over and over again to create my dream play party. Great people, live music, fantastic venue, these are obvious. But what comes next? I first encountered play parties at Schwelle7 in Berlin a decade ago. Then, it was called the aristocracy (noble court) of desire. The experience was dream-like for me. There was a culture of behaving shared by the old to the new. Expressing this culture in rules kills it. It’s like my Japanese Ikebana teacher says, almost always. Or my tea teacher says that serving tea is like smiling, and you can’t teach it by the facial expression. It is symbolic and ever-evolving, even inside a play party.

A good wedding is the perfect example of this. It starts in severe preparation and a rigorous ritual. But then, after the dinner and the first dance, it dissolves into decadence and hedonism in the best cases. Or maybe just dancing and drinking. But there is a surrender and letting go. That is the key. How do I bring this to my play party? That is what I keep asking myself. Seniority helps. People that know what we are doing. And who dear to take up space and show it. But I want to do more; I want to empower them to nudge the party in the right direction softly.

So we create a hierarchy in wearing the colour white. Not because of racial politics, but because it contrasts nicely with the dull black, red and purple aesthetics of BDSM. And say that people who were appointed to wear white have the mandate to shape the party more than others, again gently. Ultimately, they can practice both destruction and creation by;

  • hushing people who converse outside play
  • directing more serious play to a stage
  • and more social interactions to the sides
  • playing themselves
  • and inviting others into their atmosphere
  • or by sharing little unexcepted experience

And doing this without breaking the dream. That I believe is art. Something that always is practised but never perfected.

Last time, I remember a disappointed participant that said something like; AND THOSE PEOPLE IN WHITE, THAT WAS THERE TO SERVE AND SUPPORT ME, THEY ONLY PLAYED. TAKING UP THE MOST SPACE. LIKE THE BULLYING COOL KIDS AT SCHOOL. And that’s the backside of the coin. Some people will experience this hierarchy like that. In a way, what they (the old) do is dedicate themselves more to the room and the bigger symbolic picture and less to their private play. So those others (the new) can let go and surrender to the experience because the culture will be taught to them, rather than the rules being enforced.

Of course, there is a baseline of non-negotiable rules; stop words, gestures to play, and the overall choreography of the event. But other than that, I believe that culture plays a much more critical role at my parties. I’m wondering if I should try to write up the five significant customs that people in white should uphold. But I think it’s a mistake because it is about culture rather than rules. And maybe you have picked up this culture by attending my events, being at Schwelle7 in Berlin, or getting the vibe somehow. And then I think you are ready to wear white.

After all, GRÄNSLANDET // SALONGEN is a BDSM event, and we are playing with power and control… never forget that.