I want to get more involved at kink events, but I'm too anxious and self-conscious. What can I do to ease myself in?
It’s not clear from this question if today’s fuckbucketeer means involved, like, being on the senior prom committee or involved like getting their frequent flogger card stamped at the local dungeon, but both interpretations call for more or less the same approach, with a bit of fine-tuning.
If "involved" here means getting to play more, or feeling more comfortable about showing up at active kink events and getting some action, then we can turn to the last fuckbucket for the answer. That advice-seeker wanted to know how to find the fun events in the first place, and my main point was simple: it’s very difficult to find play on its own. You can't just insert yourself into a sex party without knowing people non-sexually first.
The more connections you have with people—real, person-to-person connections—the easier it is to be aware of play environments and be invited into them. Show up at the munches regularly, make a deal with yourself to talk to the people on either side of you at the pub table (give yourself a reward afterward, too!), participate thoughtfully in online discussions… these are just a few ways to get more involved in and connected with the kink community or communities where you live.
Once you have made the connections and gotten into the kink events, those awkward feelings will still come up. If you’re not used to public kink—and most of us aren’t, at first—you will not know where to look. This is okay. Many dungeons have orientation sessions, and some kink communities offer workshops, for new folks. General etiquette: don’t stare too much, don't touch without asking, and if you see a person whose look you like, just talk with them for a few minutes and then pop the question.
Now, if you’re talking about getting involved in the kink community in a more social sort of way, like wanting to get “into the club,” the same basic rules apply. You need to have people get to know you as a person. Show up and don’t worry about whether anyone is going to want to get with you.
Other things you can do:
Volunteer your ass off. Be of service. Pick an event that you are curious about, and check out volunteer opportunities. If they don’t have anything listed on the web site, just drop them an email. Offer for positions that you have skills in, or even in areas where you want to develop skills (sound equipment or dungeon safety or whatever). Bonus: this is also a great way to get into an event for a reduced rate or for free!
Skip that whole “fashionably late” game. The times when I’ve tried that, I just ended up feeling more lost, because everyone else had already met and were already getting their game on. Get there on time, and ask what you can do to help, because even experienced party hosts will have last-minute party crises.
Put down your phone. I know. It’s difficult. At kink events like play parties, probably phones aren’t allowed out beyond the cloak room anyway. But even at munches or other non-play events, if you are looking to make connections with people, you have to be present for them.
Find the other people by themselves. You will not be the only one feeling self-conscious. But if you make yourself a social director with an assignment—talk to other soloists for a few minutes a piece—it will a) feel like you’re being useful and b) take you out of your own misery for a little while. And part of what feels awkward for me about being at events is the idea that other people will see me off by my lonesome and they will think I’m a loser. (I know, sometimes we are still in high school.) But if you are out there talking to people you’re not alone.
NOTE TO THE REGULARS AT THESE EVENTS: See how people stress out about this shit? Make it easier on them: be welcoming, introduce people to other people, let new folks help. Even if your kink social awakening was effortless, be aware that not everyone’s is. Most people’s aren’t. Besides, socializing new folks well is one of the ways that we can help make kinky community safer and more awesome for everyone, ourselves included.
If even one anxious, self-conscious kinkster-to-be sees this post, I'll be happy. It's part of the work I do for the world. Wanna help me keep doing it? Become a patron of mine over on Patreon!