Reminder: The opinions stated by the individuals both named and anonymous do not represent the overall facet of each individual community. The response and correspondence of the people involved are strictly based upon my own general conclusion of their answers. That’s right, this is a personal journal/blog after all.
Addendum: No, I’m not able to quote word for word, which means if I misquote someone I sincerely apologize. Please don’t sue me for making a human error, provided that my memory tends to be fuzzy between the people I interact with.
A few hours after I shower and polish up, scatter around my possessions and stuff a handful of kink gear into a bag, I set off for one of the many hotels stretched out in Downtown Victoria. The nightlife, as I am informed is rather numerous if not divided into separate groups along the city. On the exterior of its quiet avenues and stylish coffee shops lies an underbelly of excitement in a seemingly tired looking tourist attraction.
Fortunately the notoriously cloudy and rainy skies of Rain City are missing during my initial stay here in the Garden City. At the time of writing this article, outside my hotel room, is a seemingly relentless drizzle – the kind that categorizes neither as light nor heavy downpour. A cleanliness stalls in the air of Victoria by night, obscuring the otherwise robust venues that are scattered throughout the decade old clubs and bars. Ten minutes later, I work my way through a small network of worn out hotel corridors and downstairs into a banquet room. The arrow signs directing to BENT point the way.
It is early at the time of my arrival into the BENT play party, only a small number of people are gathered in the modest setup of the event; circular tables draped in white covers, cushioned chairs, all placed evenly in the basement of the hotel they’re based in. Nevertheless one can immediately tell that this is the right place to be despite the semi-formal black attire of its attendants. Only a small number of people are dressed in appropriate attire which provides an almost casual atmosphere to a fetish event.
It becomes quite apparent that as an outsider I’m standing out from the crowd. Most of the people I notice make small talk with one another, addressing by actual names rather than monikers; overall the sentiments towards each other are friendly, most I find talk amongst old friends. Here in Victoria, while small in its population of deviants, the kinksters are known to one another. In Vancouver, teeming with increasing numbers of unfamiliar faces, the attitude is dramatically different.
“We try our best to create a functional community,” said one person I spoke to that evening. “It wasn’t always like this but of course there’s other groups out there that vary in terms of running separate events. Fortunately, so far at least, they’ve managed to schedule different nights from one another.”
In regards to the history of the fetish-LGBT community here in Victoria, throughout the years it is apparent that multiple organizations have both been created and dismantled from time to time. The most famous (again, don’t sue me for my conclusive opinion) and widely known in the greater mainland is Sagacity. Following the end of its monthly events, other groups such as Indigeo had been created in its wake. The BENT event, at the time of my attendance, happens to be the fourth one so far. In comparison, the other monthly parties here vary in terms of age and regularity.
I inquire about the number of events in the Garden City and the answers are surprisingly refreshing. “There’s a few private events here and there, almost every evening. This month we have events going almost every week. There’s a munch here, another one there, but the weekends are teeming with public events especially this month. In fact, the various groups have specific events as well – whipping workshops, rope workshops, everything.”
The question then is the number of attendees at each event and, given that Victoria is comparably small in number of its kinky residents, the stability of running these parties per month. The answers I get are varied. “That’s the issue, you see,” said another party goer. “There’s too many events all the time that people can’t afford to make it to every single one. Its easy access, mind you, but the cost of attendance is difficult for people to be there all at once.”
“Everybody here knows one another because of the small demographic and size of the crowd. Some people make it, some don’t.” We pause momentarily as the sounds of paddling and cries of agony begin, joined to the tempo of Enigma and Skrillex. “These are non-profit events and don’t let the small crowd fool you, there’s a fair size of kinksters out there still, enough to cover the cost of renting out venues. Some people are from out of town yet still prefer to come all the way out here.”
We watch for a few minutes at the ongoings at the dungeon floor. The same works, rope and impact play, suspension and spankings, nothing extraordinarily edgy. On the other hand, the equipment is reasonably limited, perhaps due to the remote location of the island itself. Like any SSC-abiding (Safe, Sane and Consensual) crowd, a DM monitors the activities on the dungeon floor, occasionally passing greetings to new arrivals.
“You can understand why that is though, yes? Vancouver’s population is growing all the time but out here, there’s enough room for people to establish a close network, allowing people to organize and maintain some degree of balance.” No surprise there, according to Fetlife the register users in Vancouver alone numbers to over 1o,000 whereas here in Victoria, less than half that number. “It’s a bit incestuous actually.”
Upon asking about the scene politics, I get the same response most people give, that is a tired look and tone. People here, like back on the mainland, are wary of these things. “Out here I’ve noticed that most people try their best to keep their issues private, amongst themselves, but from time to time we still get that.” Another person interjects, “The regulars tend to frown on these kinds of things. We try to look out for one another and mediate sometimes to keep these issues from getting out of control. Its frowned upon.”
“Everywhere you go especially whenever there’s more new people coming into the scene, it becomes way more important to raise awareness and deter bad behavior. Whenever some new guy comes along, say in Vancouver, the sheer size of the larger crowd allows them to easily get away without getting caught.” I glance occasionally at the dungeon floor, still listening. “Not so much here. People take note of these things, step in, and frankly there’s no room for it. That still doesn’t mean a person can disregard their own safety. By the end of the day, everyone is still responsible for their own conduct.”
“The problem is that in bigger cities, the fetish crowd is becoming too mainstream, and it becomes a risk whenever people enter it without any prior knowledge of its rules and protocols.” said another person that evening. “Mostly they’re just in it for the thrill. There’s more to the kink lifestyle than that.”
Already I’m impressed by the answers I’m getting but while similar in context they are mixed at best. Part of myself is baffled at the hospitality of these fellow deviants, the candidness of their response to an outsider; the other part is humbled to be in their presence, more accurately described as a circle of friends and family. The dedication that these people have for one another, let alone the community as a whole, is astounding to say the least. However, I remain curious as to their mentality behind such devotion.
“What’s kink for me? Definitely like a religion.” answered another attendee. “I could wearing track pants and sweating like crazy but my partner would still be willing to lick my feet.” She flashes a graceful smile, briefly greeting another person.”My partners and I are connected first and foremost. The trust dynamic is unlike any other.”
Another person adds, “I live and breathe it. There’s a connectivity to what I do with my partners. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being able to do what pleases you or them. Vanilla (slang for the normal straight crowd) couples tend to hide these things, marriages fall apart whenever someone thinks to try something new without first discussing it with their partner. Others wind up trying to deny it when faced with rejection, resorting to having bottled up fantasies instead.”
“What’s kink to me?” One of the party goers replies, smirking. “I do bad things to people who crave and love every second of it.”
“Kink is more than just a lifestyle. It provides a clarity to relationships but more directly is an intense sensory experience on the physical level. On the other hand, it also gives situational insight towards people, their needs and emotions, and being able to have that is more important to me than a brief rush. How often can you pick up on a person’s feeling based on their voice and gait alone?” The person smiles politely, sipping a drink. They turn their attention elsewhere to another new arrival. “Excuse me for a minute will you? I’ve got a person who asked me to do a scene with.”
“After that fucking Fifty Shades pandemic,” the person stops momentarily to gesture a gagging motion. “There’s a huge misconception about what the culture has become. Most of the values of the old movement are replaced by enthusiastic thrillseekers. It is refreshing whenever someone shows up, who is genuinely interested in the lifestyle itself.”
If my journey so far has led to any inspiring events as of yet, this may be the last pinnacle before I set foot into the United States, namely Washington. This small community has had its fair share of groups but the overall homeliness to it provides solitude away from the larger cities and crowds. It is impressive for everyone to overlook their issues and band together as a whole.
One kinkster in particular chipped in, “What you’re doing, Yellow, is something phenomenal. Going to various communities and taking the time to ask people these questions. You’ll get varied answers though but you’ve got it going.” We shook hands. “It’s my pleasure really.”
Another one added, “It’ll be dangerous though especially down in the Southern United States.” I mention that I’ve already had 27 death threats regarding my demise during the trip, in which the person promptly adds, “Make that 28 death threats. You’re always welcome here in Victoria. Good luck out there. Just be safe.”
Can’t say what it was that kept me awake running on two hours of sleep but if the modesty of the people I’ve encountered in this quiet island city doesn’t prove refreshing, I honestly don’t know what will.
“Don’t get me wrong. We still bicker and fight, a few times we gossip, but that isn’t going to get in the way of everyone getting together and having a really fucking kinky old time.” My phone dies and for a moment, I ask about how I can call a cab. Another kinkster steps forward, adding politely, “I’ll call one for you. It’s fine. Hang on.”
That evening I find more difficulty containing the urge to write about my experience. I chainsmoke enough menthols to star in a cigarette commercial then hit the sack, clinging onto the admiration I’ve found for the kinksters of Victoria, BC.
Next Update: Wherein yours truly meets the scum of the earth, befriends none other than Captain Louie of Arcadia; Paul the man with the broken G-string, the friendliest gay concierge and the Christ Blessed Vagrant.