Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shibaricon 2009

When I decided to go to Shibaricon this year, I was a little hesitant. I wasn’t sure about a lot of things, but I was willing to give it a chance. There were lots of good things, a few not so good, but all in all, it was a wonderful weekend.

First the good things I found in general.

The wonderful parts of the experience included meeting people I’ve long admired for their skills, seeing local friends with that “deer in the headlight look” (Roperider and Radiantinrope) and meeting new people with whom I’ve only had an online acquaintance (MadameButterfly) or flirtation (Buckykatt99).

Being able to talk to people about the different ways kink is celebrated in different parts of the country and the world is fascinating and watching others’ scenes at the parties was enthralling. I watched what was probably the best whip scene I’d ever seen in my life and the ropework alternated between really ridiculously awful and highly stylized and beautiful. I saw people dressed in fabulous rope dresses, fetishwear, and tons of really cool heels that made me seriously rethink my aversion to 8" heels and ballet boots.

The shopping wasn’t the best, but there was enough variety to keep me entertained, even if Joe the Shoe Guy brought the same stuff that I already own. I don’t know if that’s a statement on my addiction to high heels.....or just that we have the same taste in shoes.

But, the best part for me was spending time with someone without once feeling like I wanted to fly home early solely to prevent me from murder. It was a learning experience for me. Learning how to know when I needed fresh air and sunshine, learning when he needed quiet time, learning to moderate time together with wanting more of it. Learning the balance in a relationship. I took that home with me from Chicago.

But Shibaricon wasn’t all rope-fun and play.

Attending Shibaricon as a rope bottom is a double-edged sword. I’d looked at the classes available, and noticed that there was a definite deficiency of classes geared to bottoms when there weren’t competing classes at which a top would need their bottom for actual tying. There were some good ones that I would have to miss (that nice little inconvenience of having to actually be tied up-LOL), but there was a definite lack of things for bottoms to do when not attending classes with their tops when needed as a rope bunny.

I took the Claire Adams class Rope Bottom’s Boot Camp. Now, I’d read the description of the class and I erroneously thought that in a class called a “boot camp”, that we’d learn something about bottoming in rope- whether it be mindframe, overcoming obstacles, or just something relating to a bottom’s experience in rope. However, it was anything but. Claire spoke so softly (just because that’s what she wanted to do) that I had a hard time hearing anything. She sat for the class and talked mostly from the top’s point of view (she is a switch after all). She talked about her experience in rope as a model, but she was genuinely uninteresting and monotone. To be fair, she did mention some important things for bottoms to remember: mainly communication and being aware of your own body. But mostly, I felt as if I were watching a biography of Claire Adams rather than learning anything truly useful as a bottom. Ah well, one class down. Surely I could find something else a little more engaging.

I was going to take the Strength and Stretching class, but was talked into taking the Erotic Rope Energy one instead. It was interesting, seeing the instructors working together and I was having a decidedly deja vu experience. I now think I know where someone learned some of those neat little tricks he’s used on me. But, I did fall asleep in this one. I tried not to snore too loudly and when I woke up, I left early. Also to be fair, Mark and Lani had obviously gotten the erotic aspects of rope bondage down pretty well and they obviously taught it well enough that I could recognize the style in my own experiences.

Two classes down and I was beginning to wonder if I’d made a mistake in attending a rope convention as a bottom. Just what the hell was I thinking? Being around all that rope without it actually touching me was getting on my nerves pretty early on. I described it to someone as not having eaten in a month, attending a banquet, and being told you can only look and smell the food. Hardly a good way for a ropeslut to enjoy herself.

But, after the second class, when I started to get bratty, and trying to figure out which bore-fest I’d attend next, I was dragged kicking and screaming (ok, not really-I just want to whine a bit longer) to Mark Yu’s Manipulation of the Bound Class.

Mark Yu’s class exceeded my expectations (which, I’ll admit, were pretty low at that point anyway). Not only is he able to able to get the theory across, he (god-damn right!) actually geared the class for application of rope and more importantly “what to do with the person you’ve just tied up”. The end of day one’s classes was a 33% win. I had fun with Sir in that class and left feeling as if the whole day had been worth the early aggravation.

Day two’s classes were a little better. We’d overslept and missed the early 9:30 class. Onto the second slot of the day: Lochai’s Breast Bondage Class. I’d looked at the description of this class and we thought it would be a good way to start the day. You know, with some actual rope on me. I really did think that this one was going to be interesting. Now this was supposed to be a “hand’s on” class. I thought I’d finally get some rope on me, and although not a huge fan of breast bondage myself, I was kind of on vacation and thought I’d take the opportunity to expand my horizons a little bit.

This is one of the times that I felt that the instructors weren’t so much teaching as showing off.

Instead, we sat through an hour and a half of the instructor using rope, clamps, clothespins, rubber bands and chopsticks to bind breasts. I didn’t know if I was going to find any of it exactly what I’d wanted to be doing at 11:30 in the morning, but what the hell. I was irritated when the end of the class came and the “hands on” portion didn’t happen. Well, technically it did- but it was the instructor’s hands on the demo bunnies that happened. Miscommunication of intent. It was interesting, fun, and gave someone some ideas which he applied later, but all in all, I was again in a place where I was wondering what the fuck I was doing at a rope event like this.

After lunch, I don’t know if it was my sad pouty face or what, but I could feel someone getting a little irritated. I decided that I’d feel better with some sunshine and fresh air and went for the first of many walks around the hotel. When I returned, I felt better, and wasn’t so outwardly irritated. And, I got to spend time shopping so it wasn’t all bad.

We attended LadyGold’s Suspension Class. It was nice and basic, but I did get rope so I was feeling much better. It was a nice class to take together and because the rope bunnies had obviously decided that they had better things to do, there was another person who needed a bottom. So, we decided to help him out. I’m uncomfortable with other people tying me, but since we were in a class, and since Sir also teaches sometimes, I’m usually happy to be tied by another as long as he’s around. It was nice helping out someone else learn and while it wasn’t a completely fabulous experience, the class wasn’t all too bad. LadyGold is clear, articulate, and I think everyone was pretty able to do a basic suspension at the end of the class.

After that class, we attended another Mark Yu class: the Ebi class. Now, I like the Ebi tie and with the great experience we’d had at the previous Mark Yu class, I was excited to take this class. Again, he’s a great instructor and that class exceeded my expectations.

Day three’s classes started with back to back Suspension classes with Sir C. I can’t recommend that one highly enough for a beginning suspension class. Although the class was huge, there was enough hands on to keep me happy in rope for a bit. Sir C is a wonderful speaker, funny and informative without being pedantic. I had a great time in this class and even though I did nod off for a bit during the first part, an elbow to my arm brought me back quickly.

The next class was Mick and Dee Luvbright’s Rope Dresses and Karadas. I think Sir took this one to make me happy, although he’d been wanting to try a rope dress for a while. He tied, I was tied, and I was very happy to spend that time with nothing too strenuous. I paid attention and I think, if I’m so inclined, I may actually try knotting one of these dresses myself. I have to buy some rope first, but hey- the summer Flea is only a little while away.

At 4:30 we attended another Mark Yu class (can you tell how much we enjoyed his classes?). This one was Erotic Rope Domination with a side of pain. Again, he was a fabulous teacher, even if he didn’t believe Sir when he said that he shouldn’t have tickled my feet- LOL. All of Mark Yu’s information was put to use later on. If that’s not the best way to compliment a teacher, I don’t know what is. Taking what they’ve taught and using it. And the side of pain? Yeah, there was that alright. Another way to actually, like you know- use the person you’ve tied up after the rope goes on.

The last day on Monday, I’d only had time for one class. Sir said that I should go to Leon’s 2% class, but I really wanted to see Mollena Williams. Boy, am I glad I did.

The highlight of my Shibaricon experience was Mollena Williams’ class. I can’t tell you what that class was like within the bounds of a journal entry, but suffice to say that I thought that her class alone was worth the entire price of attendance. It’s a rare thing that one gets to watch a scene, ask questions during it, and have an ongoing dialogue with the participants. What is thought by both parties during the scene, the motivations, the dynamics behind what is happening. I found it a mesmerizing experience and one that I’m sure I’ll think back to many times. Mollena is a wonderful speaker, engaging and charismatic. She makes a point of saying hello to everyone who attends her class, is funny, charming, and engaging.

All in all Shibaricon was a good experience for me. There were good things and bad things, and I guess that the next time, I’ll be better informed and know what to expect. I won’t have my preconceived notions about classes and I’ll definitely remember to pace myself better. I enjoyed Shibaricon and look forward to next year.

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