Monday, September 9, 2013

Local Scene Organization



“If you want to be universal start by painting your own village”
 Tolstoy









In the introductory post “Getting Your Feet Wet” four steps were described to help guide you through this first stage of exploration. Each step sets goals and actions before moving on to the next step. The purpose is to make your initial interaction with members of the local scene as smooth as possible.  It could be useful to complement that information by focusing on the local scene structure. Different cities organize in different ways however, there are patterns that many of them follow in a bigger or lesser extent. Identifying such patterns will make you feel more confident, more at home.


Local Scene


Lets start by addressing the concept of “Local Scene” or “Local Community”. By “local”, I mean a set of groups and people within a specific geographical location whose members have real-life interaction in a regular basis. In many cases a local scene is contained within a city but, in others, it could span a few nearby urban areas. For instance, Mexico City has it’s own local scene spanning the city itself. But, in central Texas, the local scene spans Austin, Round Rock, San Marcos and San Antonio. Members living in Austin will often be at many parties organized in San Marcos and San Antonio and residents of these cities often go, too, to Austin’s events.  It is the person-to-person interaction, and not the geography, what defines locality. If there is not much activity in your town or, if the groups are not exactly focused in the things you like, it might still be worth to socialize with the people nearby. It could be the case that your local scene is not only constrained to your city but, instead, your city would be part of a greater local community.


Planes of Interaction

Local kink communities have, at least, two planes of interaction: on-line and real-life. These two planes are strongly correlated. Many real-life groups have on-line presence which increases their visibility and eases the flow of information among members. This helps with the promotion of workshops, classes, parties, happy-hours and many other real-life interaction opportunities. There are, however, many other on-line resources which, while still local, do not directly correlate to real-life groups. For instance, on FetLife, groups such as the set of “Kink Information Centrals” of different cities, local bulletin boards, local classified ads, chat rooms or region-wide calendars are great examples of these kind of local on-line  only resources dissociated from real-life groups. Yet, these groups are still part of the local fabric because ease the real-time interaction of members and are targeted to a constraint area.


Scope

Groups, whether in real-life or on-line only, local or global have a scope. Some groups address general kink while others address specific interests. Both types of groups are important as they fill different needs in this exploration. General kink groups normally have the largest attendance, are more suitable for newcomers and require lower D/s protocol standards. They are great for socialization and exchange of information on several disciplines. For instance, in Austin, we have groups such as GWNN, TNG and Voyagers (among many others) whose scopes are general kink. This is: they do not focus their events to specific activities or fetishes. On the other hand, we have groups with more specific scopes such as Austin Rope, ARK and ClubFEM which are oriented to bondage, pet play and women dominating men respectively. While some of these groups are as open to newcomers as the general-kink groups, some may require a deeper knowledge of protocols or techniques, potentially making them less suitable for the less experienced. However, in some cases, this specificity could make it easier for the newcomer to feel comfortable about joining as those groups may, more than likely, be oriented to the topics of interests of the attendants without exposing them to other practices that may squeak a few. They would also reduce the fear and anxiety of being judged by people who do not share the same kinks. In any case, if there is a group you are interested in attending, talk to the leader and active members of the group. Almost always members are kind and approachable.


Scheduling

For most people kink is a leisure activity and, as any other recreation activities, events are are scheduled around weekends and holidays. However, the community is so tight-knit that groups tend to coordinate to avoid organizing events with conflicting dates and times. Several cities will keep a monthly period for parties and events; this is, the group A would organize their parties or events the first Saturday of every month, group B the second and so on. Some special, big events will also fall in specific weekends of a certain month or will be held in long weekends when  there is a holiday. For instance, Folsom Street Fair is normally held the last week of September, the GWNN bash the third weekend of July, Shibaricon on Memorial Day weekend and TES Fest during Independence Day.