Note: I may misquote you and in all likelihood, I probably will. I mean, crap, I’m still covering events that took place near the beginning of this month; therefore if memory serves, libations and festivities aside, perish the thought of my forgetting the bulk of events that took place.
Retreating back to my hotel, the hot shower helps give an extra boost prior to my arrival to the night portion of KinkFest’s event; so much, I wind up having one too many cigarettes in anticipation that the coughing that ensues pushes me further. It had been quite some time since I played with anyone following my departure from Vancouver, and frankly this was long overdue – I have needs, goddamnit. Being no stranger to the kink scene, I readily prepared my kit for the evening’s ‘festivities’ and inspected my tools of choice. Following that, quick maintenance and cleaning ensues, and promptly I make my way towards the pre-opening ceremony meetup at the hotel next door.
Walking down the street of Portland, the dusk spread across the horizon, and the slow descent was an indication of the changing of seasons. While grey clouds loomed overhead the weather had been clear for days. It became apparent then that spring would pave way into summer and with it the absence of rain and cold. This minor realization brought a smile to my face: The sun had hidden itself from everyone for far too long. Aside from the occasional glance – due to a formally dressed Asian man with a large duffelbag – the trek to the Red Lion hotel is unremarkable. It does not take very before I find myself in familiar company, notably the leather and latex clad folk that gathered at the lobby.
“You look like you’re preparing for some rooftop showdown,” one woman comments, giggling as I board the elevator. “Like one of those John Woo or Michael Bay movies, guns ablazing before your duffelbag goes off.”
A blinding beam of sunlight immediately hits me as I exit into the rooftop foyer and instantly I cringe from it. When my vision returns, amidst multiple stars floating in my eyes, the silhouette of the deviants are surreal; shapes and figures, caught in conversation, scattered both outside the deck and on the many tables all around; black latex, striped chaps, hard leather vests are prevalent throughout the gathering. While dinner is appropriated with a fee, I had declined the service prior and chose to be present for a good session of mingling.
“Portland,” a gentleman tells me, glancing over the dusk lit cityscape, “Is called the home of the strange. People here are used to seeing strange things, the most you’ll get out of the locals may be a raised eyebrow or an amused expression.” They don’t give you a hard time? I ask. The man shook his head, scoffing at the idea, “Never. Here in the city, not so much, but further beyond the brink – say, in Hillsboro – the areas of more rural folk mayn’t concern you as much.”
“The community here is sizable, but most of the numbers separating the people who play in public and the people who prefer private activities are far and few in between. What might strike you as a surprise is no more a fact in other communities as well; for the regulars who attend public events, Portland is a close knit society though you may find that, like any other scene, reputation is key here.”
“The most notable of communities, namely the same organization that runs this annual event, is the Portland Leather Alliance. You won’t see many of these folk from the leather community out at munches, but their numbers if you can’t tell,” He directs my attention to the many tables, each with people in leather with house emblems and ceremonial insignias. “They number in the hundreds, perhaps even a thousand.” The gentleman waves a hand dismissively. “I can’t tell you an accurate number but what I can tell you is that they’re decent folk.” Abruptly he jerks the finger at a leatherman, who returns the favor, laughing. “Except this motherfucker right here.”
He adds, smoking a cigar provided by some attendees, “While large in size, among the cliques that form are similar to packs, family units consisting of close friends and chosen relatives. People look out for one another and we’re proud of that.” He shakes my hand firmly, forming a smile behind his beard. “Welcome to Portland.” Thanks, do you have the time? The man checks his watch, looking up immediately, “Time to go apparently. See you there.”
The convention center wherein KinkFest is held features multiple conference rooms that allow morning and afternoon courses to take place as previously mentioned. At night, however, the closed off section of the actual exhibit is open to public following the opening ceremonies. Stepping onto the stage, the lovely presenter announces with zeal and flirtatious connotations, the open address to the crowd. I manage to snag a seat beside a young woman I met at the munches prior and alongside the scent of her perfume, a sea of convention goers flock close to three hundred or more by my estimate; deafening applause erupts amidst wolf calls and whistling, the presenter saunters away for the opening performances. Briefly I am reminded of Domlander back in Victoria.
For the first act, making his first appearance at a kink event, is an ‘authentic’ cowboy from the South. “Do you people like rope?” He asks loudly into the mic. Everyone cheers in approval. “Do you like cowboys?” A scattered applause. “Well then! Let’s have it!” With a gesture to the DJ, who stumbles with the songs periodically, the cowboy unleashes a series of fascinating feats such as dual bullwhip cracking, splitting roses and cans in half with them; whirling and jumping a rope lasso approximately 40 ft in perimeter, promptly doing the same trick on a unicycle; followed by a grand finale of hoop jumping, bullwhip cracking, unicycling mayhem. Sadly not many people favored his act, which while impressive did little to curb the enthusiasm for dungeon access.
The second act had some technical difficult. A man and a woman stride on stage, preparing a musical performance routine; the awkward silence resulted in wolf calls, which the performers teased at with the occasional unbuttoning of shirt buttons and dress lifting. When the song kicks in, the duet enact a strenuous yet jaw-dropping balancing act – amidst an initial strip tease set to Alexis Clare, the pair lift one another and perform acrobatic marvels A truly hair raising, edge of your seat experience and well deserved of the applause that follows.
Lastly the final act featured a trio of cirque style performers, their troupe leader walking on stage in stilts. Introducing her marionettes, audience members were treated to a spectacle of silk acrobatics, reaching as far as the rafters of the stage itself – nearly two stories in height – before suddenly dropping meters away from the floor. Reminiscent of the act prior, the marionettes literally took for new heights, captivating audiences all around before receiving a near-standing ovation.
These did not surpass the last part of the opening ceremony. Hardly.
In fact the entire opening performance was a distraction, for taking place behind a curtained off wall behind the audience, laid a surprise in wait. As the presenters and staff made way onto the stage for credits, their mock surprise at the missing hostess directed the entire audience to glance behind themselves. Hanging above a crane operated suspension rig were half a dozen bondagettes in a variation of positions, much to the widespread roar of jubilation and cheering. The dungeon was now open.
It pains me that photographs were prohibited from the dungeon, like any sensible fetish event at that. Without any further options, I will try my best to convey the dungeon space itself to the very best of my capabilities.
According to the staff members and volunteers, the convention space is a whopping 33,000 ft of an open dungeon environment. Dozens of various bondage equipment – ranging from traditional St. Andrew crosses and rectangular racks, suspension rigs and wrestling mats, piercing stands and fenced in singletail areas – are spread in even yet spacious areas across the entire span of this place. Red carpeting designate the walkways for spectators to watch people engaged in scenes. The lighting was spread enough to illuminate the area without ruining the dungeon atmosphere.
Due to the number of people that attended the party, numbered in the hundreds, it became apparent that safety and welfare remained a priority. To this regard, water coolers and safe sex dispensers are within easy access; couches and cuddle mattresses, seats and tables aligning the corners, provide for aftercare and seating for spectators. Dungeon Monitors patrol the red carpet and are easy to distinguish due to their safety vests; at the center by the equipment storage racks, a large table for first aid is set up. Nearby a large open buffet and food catering offers snacks free for the taking.
For a first time attendant, I can easily credit KinkFest for having the single largest open dungeon that I have ever set foot on in the six years of my being part of the lifestyle; awestruck would describe most of the people present including returning con goers. A second roar of applause took place and instantly the crowd dispersed across the playspace floor. To the backdrop of loud fast paced industrial, at times slower yet suitable ambient vibes, soon came the sound of familiar screams and cries from all across the dungeon – the night had began.
Time to dance.
Next Update: KinkFest by Night: Part One