What is a Play Party? What is it? WHAT IS IT? This question is continuously asked. Here video interview in Danish with my beautiful and brave friend Lea Love. She is doing the organization and amazing food for the Play Parties in southern Sweden.
Her answer to the question “What is a Play Party” was the following (translated to English).
It’s a space.
That we create together.
That is built on trust.
Where you are free.
To explore your own sexuality.
Alone, together with others, or in whatever constellation that feels right.
Exploring sexuality can be an inner journey without any physical contact.
It’s a space where we are free to be as we are.
Sitting there in the sub-saharan night with crickets singing and stars filling the sky a thought was born – why do I organize and celebrate the breaking of structure and loose of control.
“Basically most of us will get turned on at night by the very same things that we will demonstrate against during the day.”
–Esther Perel, the secret to desire in a long-term relationship
Bondage, discipline, submission, sadism, and masochism are the pillars of BDSM. They are conscious taboos in our everyday life, but they are equally strong in our subconscious, governing both our sexuality and creativity. We are often tempted to explore them unconsciously in destructive relationships, lasting a night to a life-time. Or trivialising them to an embarrassing 50 Shades of Gray clique (or Harlequin novel if you were born before 1980). Instead, in this retreat, we will explore BDSM through rituals, that act as frames that we can consciously relate to and reflect upon. This enables, on one hand, a safer space and clearer communication, and on the other hand a deeper experience, as we follow a known path that works together.
Another writing early writing on playfullness and play parties from the early days, written in Swedish.
“Let’s try a metaphor. Imagine a human being as an artichoke. The artichoke’s tough, spiny leaves are the innumerable shields we put up to defend that which is must tender and sought after – the heart. We can tear tan artichoke’s leaves off to get at its heart, just as we can attack a person; but there is a much easier and more effective way. If we steam the artichoke, it surrenders its leaves, exposing and sharing its heart with us. In the same way, play does not attack a person’s defences. Play creates an environment in which we drop our shields and share our tender human heart, which is what we all want in the first place. But if our shields are ripped off from the outside, we try to build even stronger ones. In play we interact heart to heart, without any of our cultural separations.”
“What motivates some people to forego security and explore outside the cultural limits? We must believe that faith, that life is more than we are told, that it goes beyond the ordinary cultural means to give. The power of play lives in its timeless pattern of sharing. It does not seek to obliterate or transform differences. It allows for interaction because it operates on a deeper level where there are no differences that make a differences.”
“We must somehow trust that there will be something to hold us if we let go of the sociocultural norms within which we are enmeshed. Constantly confronted as we are with the uncertainty and mystery of life, we may know that total security is illusory. But illusion or not, we think and act as if our culture is a security blanket. To conceive of coming out from under it requires fearlessness.”
We Are Play was one of my early projects to explore BDSM and sexuality in a playful way. I did together with my friend Denice. This was our manifesto written in Swedish.
Another of my early play parties on theme a decadent dinner, and what happens when hosts, guests, servants, and entertainers meet. The description is written in Swedish.
One of my first play parties with the theme POWER, and our relationship to it. What will you do with the power, and what does the power do with you. The description in written in Swedish.
GRÄNSLANDET (the in-between space in Swedish) was a public play party that I organized twice during 2o15. My ambition was to explore the exhibtionism and voyeurism in erototism. The space offered around 20 miniatur stage defined by stage lighting in a dark space. To focus on the present experience, all talk was banned outside the stages. This create an audience witnessing the play. The first party had 100 visitors, and the second one 300. I wanted to use live musicians that could adapt to the room, and artist drawing what was happening as an form of documentation. I decided to not repeat the experience until I had something to – to go deeper.
This was an eight week long course that I made to teach the, for me, most important skills to have a interaction in a play space. It was ran three times during 2016 and 2017.
A play party is then a party where (in this case) adults come together to play. But how do we come together to play together? Answering this question for ourselves is what this retreat is all about. In this workshop, we will use techniques from theater, dance, BDSM, tantra, and ritual play to come together as a group to form two play parties of our collective, playful desire.
Traveling around teaching this summer I’ve been trying to answer this question in an clear way, and I still struggle. It has to do with deconstruction of ideas about desire, sexuality, gender, attraction, kinks, characters, and archetypes. To temporarily create a space to try something new without being judged. Innocence is an important ingredient. It’s about getting a group together. Physically in one place for a weekend. Sleeping, eating, and sauning together. And emotionally for playing together. So it’s up to us to find the right people and hold space for that process. And the result is often magical.
This is a reflection upon how to relate to trauma and personal growth in the workshop space – written in Swedish.