Some people were drawn to the kink/BDSM after watching Fifty Shades of Grey. Others may have stumbled into it after attending a sex conference. Then there are those who have absolutely no idea how or where to find kinky groups to join. The good news is that if you live in at least a medium-sized city, there is almost certainly an active local kink community. Unfortunately, finding it can be a challenge because of the stigma associated with kink and BDSM.
Regardless of how beyond reach it may seem, there are many ways to get started on finding your local kink community. Here’s how:
1. Make yourself a FetLife profile
Making a FetLife profile is arguably one of the most important steps in finding your local kink community. Founded in 2008, FetLife is referred to as “the Social Network for the BDSM, Fetish & Kinky Community. Like Facebook, but run by kinksters.”
Setting up a profile is simple. You create a username, password and include simple demographic information about yourself. When choosing a username (called a nickname on Fetlife), avoid using your real name for privacy reasons. Instead, create a name that shows other people who you are or what you’re interested in. Usernames on Fetlife commonly include words like mistress, dom, sub, slave, brat, etc. to easily communicate their interests to others who come across their profile.
When writing your bio, describe your vanilla side and kinky side. Give people a chance to know who you are at your core, while also giving them insight into what brings you to Fetlife and what your interests are within the world of kink and BDSM.
After setting up your Fetlife profile, feel free to join groups and search for events to attend. There are countless groups specific to your areas of interest within kink/BDSM. For example, there are TNG (The Next Generation) groups, which are for kinky people ages 18-35.
You can also browse through the events listed in your local city or search for gatherings in other cities, not only in America but around the world. There are three ways to do this:
- Click on “Places” at the top of the website and then search by city, state, or country.
- Use the search bar to type in the name of your city, state, or country.
- Click on “Events” at the top of the website and then choose the “near you” option right above the search bar (which is based on the location you’ve added to your profile).
Reminder: Try not to approach this social media platform as a dating website or else you’ll likely be disappointed. Fetlife is mostly a way to stay updated on the latest kinky events and ultimately meet other people with similar kink-centered interests. The possibility of eventually dating or hooking up with someone is just a bonus, but it’s not the main purpose of the platform itself.
2. Consistently attend munches and sloshes
A munch is a social event for kinky people. They’re typically held in laid-back locations such as a bar, pub, restaurant, coffee shop, or park. There are munches in most major cities and many smaller towns, too.
Munches are an ideal way to integrate yourself into the kink scene as a beginner, for a few reasons. For starters, they’re typically hosted in public, so this sets the atmosphere for a safer and more comfortable way to meet new, like-minded people. Also, BDSM play doesn’t happen at all at munches. Munches are solely for the purpose of social engagement and community bonding.
Similar to a munch, a slosh is a social event that doesn’t involve sexual activity. However, sloshes typically involve alcohol, whereas munches involve little to no alcohol. So, sloshes often take place at a bar or lounge. Regardless of whether munches or sloshes are your go-to, both types of events are created for the purpose of socializing and meeting other kinksters.
3. Learn about the lifestyle and explore your interests at kink/BDSM conferences
There are many public kink/BDSM expos and conferences that are hosted every year, and the best part about them is that they combine education and entertainment. These events can range from a couple hundred to a couple thousand people in attendance, so the possibilities to make new friends are endless!
Conferences and expos like these include, but are not limited to:
- EXXXOTICA (hosted in DC and other cities) – mainly an event where fans can meet the top stars in the adult film industry but includes an entertainment stage and Dungeon Experience to see live BDSM demonstrations
- Kinky College (hosted in Chicago, IL) – provides educational classes, live BDSM demonstrations, and a 150,000 sq ft dungeon space for nightly play parties
- Sex Down South (hosted in Atlanta, GA) – provides interdisciplinary workshops, a kinky show called “Big Bang” and a dungeon party
- Positive Sexuality Conference (hosted in Burbank, CA) – mainly a research conference, but has some overlap with kink/BDSM and hosts after-parties at nearby dungeons
- FetishCon (hosted in St. Petersburg, FL) – provides workshops, live BDSM demonstrations, an erotic art show, a trade show, and a private dungeon space
- KinkFest (hosted in Portland, OR) – an annual, 3-day event celebrating sexual diversity, BDSM, fetish, and leather communities.
4. Visit a sex dungeon
A sex dungeon is an ideal space to get acquainted with. Not only will you meet more people in the lifestyle of kink, but it’ll expand your horizons when engaging in sexual activity. Most sex dungeons will have the typical items of furniture you’d associate with BDSM, such as spanking benches, whipping posts, equipment for rope suspension, padded tables with straps, and at least one St. Andrew’s cross.
Reminder: Just because consent and safety are highly valued in the kink world doesn’t mean that predators don’t exist in this space. Make sure to keep your wits about you and vet the sex dungeon you’re visiting.
A good sign to look for is if a sex dungeon takes precautionary measures to ensure the safety of its attendees. Does the sex dungeon mandate short orientation sessions with group leaders and owners to review consent and other acceptable behavior before play parties? Does the sex dungeon enforce a rule that new guests can only attend with actual members of the dungeon first? Does it require people to have at least one reference from a current member of the dungeon before their membership status is accepted? If so, those are great signs of a responsible and safe dungeon.
5. Attend play parties
If you’re looking for a setting that’s a bit more casual than a sex dungeon, then play parties might be your thing. A play party is a social gathering where people are free — and encouraged — to engage in public sexual activity. The best way to find play parties is by checking the event listings on FetLife. Another approach is to visit your local sex toy shop and ask people who work there if they know about any events or play parties coming up. Also, the more you attend munches and sloshes, the more likely you’ll be personally invited to play parties by other kinksters.
Play parties are usually hosted in private venues, basements, houses, as well as dungeons. Right now you might be wondering if that automatically means there are massive orgies occurring throughout the night, and that’s okay to make that assumption. Truth be told, it can happen! However, on average, play parties are more about people tapping into the sexual energy of the atmosphere. It’s about holding space for kinksters, exhibitionists, voyeurs, and beginners in the world of BDSM to engage with one another in whatever way feels pleasurable and comfortable.
That being said, you can get freaky with your significant other or someone you attend the party with. You could show up by yourself with the hopes of partaking in group sex. You can mingle with new people and enjoy mentally stimulating conversations. You can also show up just to eat, drink and watch people have sex as if you were at a movie theatre. Either way, it’s entirely up to you.
Reminder: Before attending a play party, it’s imperative to read the description and dress code carefully! It’s not like the college days where once you’ve been to one party, you’ve basically been to them all. Some play parties have a theme, like a jungle party or fetish night. Other parties may not be strict on the dress code, but they may be more focused on the sex part of the party than the social aspect.
Regardless of what kind of play party it is, it’s a good idea to ask if there will be volunteers monitoring the event and keeping an eye on things to make sure everyone is safe and using enthusiastic consent. If not, then it’s up to you to use your discretion and either not attend at all or go with friends who can provide an extra level of security by checking in with you throughout the party.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of methods for finding kinky groups to meet with. On the other hand, it can be overwhelming to enter an ambiguous space that encourages you to express your desires in a way that you normally wouldn’t in larger public settings. It’s not as simple as doing a quick google search and then you’re in. You really have to do your research and use multiple approaches before you feel like a more experienced kinkster. Just remember that the best thing you can do is to consistently put yourself out there, be open-minded and engage with others. The more proactive you are about meeting sex-positive people, the better you’ll establish genuine connections and create a stronger sense of belonging among your kink community.