To the uninitiated, say the word dungeon and images of dark, dank, cold misery immediately come to mind; I know this, because the word is heavy with historical connotation. I gave myself a stomach ache, I was so nervous before my first play party! Take a breath, I will do my best to shine a light on this infamous word and communicate my perception of “Woman Only Dungeon Space”. I will be speaking about this specific setting; the energy of mixed dungeon space and male only space offer their own unique environment. For obvious reasons, I have never been in a gay male dungeon and for the most part, I am not comfortable in a primarily heterosexual arena.

Mmmm, where do I begin? Hot. Sensual. Intense. Playful. Safe. Uplifting. These are the words that immediately jump into my mind. If you have never been to a “play party” or stepped inside a “dungeon”, your mind is frantically searching for a visual image of what you would see upon walking through the rusty and creaking metal doors. (Just kidding!)

Play parties take place in homes, in warehouse space, in old historic buildings or in conference rooms of amenable hotels. You may be stopped at the door to have your identification checked, it is there that you will get your first taste of what is to come, as you feel the music pulsing through the wall, or think to yourself, “Was that a scream?” The chosen soundtrack will depend on the energy that is planned for the particular event. It could be the pounding bass and screaming guitar of heavy metal, it could be the soothing sounds of new age songs or anything in between. The first surprise when you walk through the doors will be the brightness of the room. The space might be one large area with stations set well apart from one another, or it could be someone’s living room, with small groups gathered in corners here and there. The lighting, though not glaring, must be kept high enough so that everyone involved can see exactly what they are doing. Wielding a whip or flogger with force, sticking needles in your victim or simply spanking a girl or boi thrown over your knee requires light! The implement must land where intended and the bottom must be fully visible so that the Top is able to monitor the color of her skin or the expression on his face. You might see any combination of people gathered around a Saint Andrew’s cross, a massage table or any variety of equipment in use. A couple might be playing one on one, two or more Tops could be ganging up on one bottom, or a single Top might have two squirming, naked bodies tied together. There may be others quietly gathered within respectful distance around each scene; watching and being watched is one of the great pleasures of public play. Blended with the sound of the music you will hear soft murmuring, moans of pleasure, screams of pain and most surprising, I guarantee you will hear laughter.

This leads me to the description of the “energy” of the space you are entering. Without a doubt, women gather in a public dungeon to indulge their masochistic, sadistic, voyeuristic and exhibitionist tendencies. Just as importantly, they come together in community to “hold space” for one another. Holding space requires an open mind and an open heart; it demands a complete focus on the present moment. Holding space is the one of the most compassionate and gracious things humans can do for one another. It is a mindset required when attending a woman through childbirth or an elder through the passage of death; it is the way we hold our friend as s/he sobs in pain or grief; it is the way we pray for one another or encircle those we love with our protective thoughts. It is the critical skill in a loving couple’s toolbox; being there for each other, to listen without judgment while we strive to understand. From my perspective, women’s space is unique in its ability to radiate this level of sacred energy. Our brains and bodies are wired for connection, communication and nurturing. Inside a woman’s dungeon you will rarely find an ugly display of ego; false bravado isn’t welcome and won’t survive in this environment for long. Rather, you will be witness to an example of respectful lust, or even loving objectification; you might be lucky enough to see someone fall to their knees in surrender as they worship black leather boots or collapse beneath a forceful wave of orgasmic ecstasy, pain, or in the process of releasing pent up grief.

I cannot neglect to describe the delicious sights, smells and sounds of passion as a sweating top works their magic on the exposed flesh of a lovely woman. S/he may be bound or obediently standing in place while s/he screams and giggles beneath the lash of a whip, the thud of a paddle, slice of a blade, drip of hot wax or the bare hand of her partner as it encircles her neck, slaps his face or disappears inside the hot sweet place between their legs. As a leather dyke, I find a woman’s dungeon to be the antithesis of the torture chambers of old. For me, it is exquisite space, full of joy, laughter, howling agony and blissful peace.

Women of Drummer is working hard to provide this magical experience for anyone craving what they have felt before, or what they might have been secretly longing to see. I encourage each of you to support this endeavor; it takes a great deal of energy and time to create events such as this and is a true gift to the women’s community. This is a call to get out of your houses and come to the gatherings being hosted across the country throughout the summer of 2017. Come by yourself, grab the hand of a timid friend who has been wondering what the fuss is about, or come as a group; it doesn’t matter. When we gather as kinky women or leather dykes to beat on each other, hold space for one another, or delight in all manner of shenanigans, we are keeping a much needed movement alive. I hope to see you in June.

~Cara

Kansas City, MO