Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How to Bore a Rope Bottom

I’ve made no secret of that fact that I’ve been having an on again/off again love affair with rope. Sometimes I love it, and others I’d love nothing better than to burn it from both ends.

Daddy and I have had a few discussions of rope. One of them is a leftover from the Grue we attended a few weeks ago in Connecticut.

One of the things I like to do is talk to people. Every once in a while, I find a group of people with nothing on their agendas but a few minutes to chat. At the Grue, I was lucky enough to find several of these groups over the course of the day. I thought that since it was a pretty much a rope centric day, I’d ask the question that I’d had in the back of my head for a while.

And that question was: am I the only one who gets annoyed by rope?

The group of women I was speaking with consisted of mostly bottoms. The few tops that were there had a lot to say about this as well. And what I found was interesting enough that I really want to figure out a way to explore this aspect of rope more. I’m just not sure how to do it yet.

From the bottoms’ point of view, one of the things that I kept hearing over and over again was that rope very often was boring. Many complained of their tops spending more time getting the look “just right” than they did relating to their bottoms. Most also said that only the rarest few could maintain a full takatekote for the length of time that many novice suspension riggers took to complete the tie and get their bottoms into the suspension. All of them said that at least at one time, they were disappointed that a rope scene needed to be halted because of an unsafe tie, muscle cramps, or pain. And all of those said that they sometimes stayed in rope too long because they were afraid of disappointing their top. Overall, the feeling I got was that for many bottoms, they felt like they were an extraneous piece of the “coolest, latest, must-have” skill that their tops were just having to try this week. And for many, the disappointment with rope colors their outlook completely. It has become a drag, a bore, and something that they’d just rather skip altogether.

To be fair, there were a few bottoms who loved rope so much, were flexible and young enough that they weren’t quite always cognizant of long term damage that badly done rope could do, and just really wanted to fly and get the photographs taken. They just wanted to be suspended and look good while doing it.

I think that for many rope bottoms, there’s a combination of both of those extremes. We’d like to play with it more, but rope is a building process. To get a body ready for rope takes time and effort. At least as much as it takes for tops to finish a length of hemp properly and whip the ends. Taking a long time to get the rope looking perfectly, to get every knot even, every length placed “just right” defeats the imagination of even the most creative ropebottoms. Boredom creates tension (and not in a good way), and removes the focus of the bottom from actively participating in the scene. It’s really hard to make yummy noises while yawning.

When I’d told Daddy what I’d heard, we talked about rope for a bit, and he made a joke about “maybe ropebottoms just expect too much”. He said it with a wink so I know he was joking. But I also don’t think we do. We expect to be engaged, part of the process and not just rope on a girl, and we expect that ropetops who want to do intricate ties, suspensions and other really cool rope tricks be as skilled in their craft before asking us to “play” with rope as we’d expect a person who picked up a whip or flogger. Skills classes and lessons are the times to learn. Bottoms understand that, and as a general group, are more than willing to be the uncomfortable and secondary part of a learning experience. We’re not so willing to let that same experimentation work when a really cool guy we’d love to play with asks us “if we want to fly”.

Daddy also said that maybe the answer was two-fold. Either learn to tie fast, or tie “interestingly”. I told you he was smart. Those are exactly what needs to happen to keep bottoms from having a full on rebellion against ropetops that just don’t see anything except the pretty rope on a girl.

Tying fast is self-explanatory. Sometimes the best rope scenes in the world are done with nothing except double or single column ties and a chest harness. Twisted Monk called it dynamic rope...being able to change the rope when it gets uncomfortable for the bottom extends play time. It doesn’t need to be fancy, have a lot of intricate knots, or even be truly inescapable (for the record, unless it’s an unsafe by definition tie, it IS escapable). What it has to be is fast, movable, and remembering that the rope is NOT the goal (unless of course, it is). The goal is what you’re going to do to your bottom once they’re tied up.

Tying interestingly is not so self-explanatory. Interesting does not necessarily mean complicated. It means using the rope AS the scene. Wraping, pulling, feeling each other through the rope. The hottest rope scenes I’ve seen in the past six months involved never leaving the ground! Lee Harrington’s rope scene at the Bound in Boston was so hot I could barely breathe and Amy never left the floor. It was fast, dynamic, and interesting.

No, I don’t expect too much from my rope tops. I only expect them to be honest about their skills, not try to make me into a 19 year old gumby flexible rope model, and understand that the best part of the rope IS the connection. And not to bore me. Because if you do...you’d better be one heck of a rigger....otherwise you’ll find yourself all alone in a room with your rope wondering where the girl went to. (FYI: I’ll be shoe shopping)

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