The essential guide to your first play party

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You saw it in your friend’s eyes after she went to her first play party. The morning after, you two went to have brunch. Early afternoon sun filtered through the windows of the restaurant, bouncing off her curls and catching the steam from her coffee mug. You could almost feel the pleasure radiating off her body and see the lingering flush in her cheeks as she dished about the goodies from the night before. 

If you don’t have a friend who’s into that world, it’s even more elusive. Whether you’ve seen it on Instagram or a steamy episode of your favorite TV show, ever since a play party first crept across your awareness, you haven’t stopped thinking about it. Maybe you’ve been longing for a new way to explore your sexuality – or maybe you’re just finally ready to figure out what in the world people mean when they say “electroplay.”

If you’re curious, heading into your first play party is easier than you thought. And like any good time worth having, the best experience at a play party always starts with a little bit of homework..

Finding a play party

For most people, half the battle is figuring out where the heck kinksters are hosting these parties in the first place. The other half of the struggle is learning how to score a ticket. If you live in a sex-progressive city like Portland or Berlin, you won’t be losing any sleep about how to get there; just hit up your local sex club. For the rest of the globe, it may feel impossible to land the elusive invite you’ve been waiting for.

Thankfully, the internet has come to your rescue. FetLife is a massive social media platform that’s almost like a sexy Facebook for the kinky minded. There, you can create a profile outlining your explicit hopes and wishes, join meetup groups, and find upcoming events in your area. This site is so famous in the kink scene that some people even go by their FetLife name when they run in BDSM circles. will have no problem finding events within driving distance of your home.

Not eager to go through and create an entire social media profile, or intimidated by just how involved FetLife is? Try Feeld. This hookup app is a low pressure way to throw yourself out there. It’s whole goal: getting people together for threesomes, foursomes, and moresomes. The best way to get what you want is to find other like minded folks, and be authentic in what you’re seeking.

But because the app is so niche, smaller cities and towns have a limited or nonexistent dating pool to choose from. If that sounds like your town, you don’t have to resort to FetLife alone. Go the more mainstream route and create a tailored dating profile signaling exactly what you’re looking for. 

Try it out on Tinder or OKCupid, and be direct. Say you’re looking for play parties and an introduction to the kink scene. People appreciate this straightforward approach – and it yields results. If you’re bold in your desires, folks will be bold with you in return. Looking for both love and play parties? You could make a separate account, or you could go for the gold and say something like, “I’m looking for true love and truer play parties.” 

At the very least, people would remember your bio.

What to wear

The question of the millennium: what to wear, what to wear. Nowhere does this dilemma feel more true than a play party. If you’ve never gone to one, you might be expecting it to look a little like that club scene in The Matrix, everyone decked out in their best leather and latex.

While that’s a great aesthetic, and one that’s generally welcome at most play parties, you don’t have to go out and buy a new wardrobe for one night of passion.  

But before you plan your outfit in detail, read the invite carefully. Many play parties have some kind of theme. It might be seasonal, like a bacchanalian spring fest. Others can deal in textures or fabrics, like fur, lace, and leather. Some are even interpretive and playful, like jungle cats. Whatever it is, be sure you let yourself interpret it however creatively you’d like. 

The invite may also have a specific dress code, so read the fine print. Some play parties are more strict than others when it comes to full nudity, and you should follow whatever guidelines they offer.

At the same time, stay true to your aesthetic, and add your own flair. The plan isn’t to blend in with the crowd. Explore being your complete sexual self. If you’re not into the idea of latex or a bodysuit, don’t force yourself into one. In fact, the number one rule to follow when choosing an outfit for a play party is to go for the thing that makes you feel your absolute sexiest. Whatever makes each nerve and arm hair vibrate with pleasure, power, and your purest sexual energy – wear it.

That being said, if you’ve ever wanted to try something new, maybe even scandalous, then go for it. Play parties are supportive environments, making them a prime location to express yourself in new ways you may have never done before. Want to play with a new gender expression, or unleash your innermost piggie wiggie submissive? Whatever outfit you’ve fantasized about wearing, now’s the time to put it on.

Whatever look you go for, bring layers. While I’m all for a sheer teddy that lets your playmates see every soft detail, I also believe in being prepared. This is your first play party. You might feel awkward in moments, or cold in others. You may make a friend who smokes and need to step outside with them. Even if all you end up doing is slinging it over a chair all night, you’ll be glad to know you have it nearby. An extra jacket or button-down makes a perfect security blanket whenever you need it.

At the end of the day, there’s only one wrong way to show up to a play party: looking like you just came from the grocery store. While casual looks can be charming on a day-to-day basis, you’ll stick out like a weed if you head to the play party inappropriately dressed. Dress to the nines and let your freak flag fly.

What to bring

You may be so excited that you’re rubbing your hands together like an eager cartoon villain. But before you pack all your dildos in a bag and head out, wait. Check, then double-check, about what kind of party you’ll be heading into. 

Some parties allow the exchange of bodily fluids, while others don’t. If you’re heading to one that does, then go for it. Bring your favorite toys, plenty of lube, and your favorite condoms to use both with partners and on the toys themselves. 

Most play parties aren’t full-blown orgies, though. They could allow sexual contact and no penetration, or you may be walking into a taster featuring different BDSM scenes to participate in instead. If you’re allowed to, bring your favorite crop whip, paddle or ball gag to help steer the fun. The rules may be clear on your invite, but if you’re ever unsure, just check with your party host. They want the party to be a hit, and will be more than happy to clear up any of your confusing questions.

The star of every party: consent

Sometimes it can feel like every article about sex is just an article about consent – and that’s for good reason. I love reminding all you gentle readers about the importance of consent in every sexy interaction – and there’s nowhere I think it’s more important than when pain and pleasure collide.

When pain is on the menu, act with even more consideration than usual. Prepare to do more legwork than just accepting someone’s “no.” Before each interaction, wait for someone to offer up their “yes” on a golden, enthusiastic platter, and be sure you’re asking for permission more often than usual.

Start by asking if you can hug someone when you meet them. As you move past someone in the room, ask before putting your hand on their back, or just avoid touching them if possible. Some scenes can be intense, and everyone’s after care looks different. Contact with strangers may be overwhelming for party goers at any given moment. 

When you’re wandering, it may be tempting to hop in and watch scenes up close, but wait. Ask scene participants if they’re comfortable with your intimate appreciation – and be comfortable in the face of rejection.

With all these scenarios, never expect someone to say yes. Rejection is inevitable at a play party. Because consent reigns supreme, nobody feels obligated to agree to something they’re not interested in. This rejection isn’t malicious or personal, so don’t take it that way. When someone tells you “no” at a play party (and they almost certainly will), handle it with grace, give a smile, and move on.

Mind your booze

Consent and alcohol go hand in hand. When ropes, floggers, and electric wands abound, you need to be in peak form to have frank conversations about safety and your limits. In general, parties are meant to be fun, and they’re a great place to loosen up with a drink (or two). But at a play party, something different happens. People get vulnerable. They get intimate. Things get (deliciously) weird. 

Folks head into a play party to push their own boundaries and discover new limits. Because of that, every participant needs to be crystalline throughout the process. You never know when your limits will surprise you. When alcohol muddies your thinking, it’s hard to find the voice for your safe word, and you might end up using it long after a scene crossed your lines.

Many play parties offer booze, and that’s fine in general. But this is one party where you should monitor your drinking (and your friends’) to make sure everyone stays safe. Even if you aren’t concerned about your own boundaries being violated, staying sober(ish) helps you recognize other people's body cues. When you’re sober, it makes you a better play partner. You can recognize when someone else isn’t giving a genuine “yes.” 

When that happens, take the time to check in, give your play partner water, and maybe enjoy a breath of fresh air. If you’re actively concerned about someone, talk with a party facilitator – safety is their top priority, and they’ll be more than happy to help you.

What can I expect?

One thing I love about play parties is that each one offers up a little slice of something different. Call it regional flair. Regardless of what specifics are offered up, you can expect sexual energy crackling between attendees all night long. Flirting is encouraged. You might even kiss a new cutie. 

But one thing you can’t expect at a play party is fluid exchange. Penetration, oral, anal, or any other thing that puts yourself and others at risk of STD transmission are typically off the table. For all their sexuality, a play party is often an above-the-belt affair.

Before heading out, read the rules thoroughly. Then read them again. At the beginning, a host will lay out all the rules and boundaries for you again, and probably make you sign a contract and waiver to help keep everyone safe.

No penetration doesn’t mean the party won’t get wet and wild, though. Play parties are a celebration of kink, and there are a few common stars you can anticipate before walking through that door.


Ask any vanilla person or baby kinkster to describe BDSM, and they’ll tell you about bondage. Ropes, leather cuffs, and stocks. They’re not wrong. Bondage, in one of its many forms, is a cornerstone of every play party. You may come across shibari, a form of Japanese rope bondage that emphasizes beautiful shapes and surrender. 

Rope tops may tie you up in a harness and parade you around, or they may perform with experienced rope bottoms using complicated ties and suspension. Typically, it’s not something amateurs do together unsupervised, since bondage can be dangerous when done incorrectly. If you’re going to a taster event, you may just be a witness, or you might get lucky with a rope top who offers newbies their undivided attention.The diversity or rope play is boundless, and the tops at your party determine the flavor of your pleasure. If you get a chance to be topped, the delicious details hinge on the communion between you and your rope top.

Impact play

Also known as spanking, impact play is a staple of many a kinkster’s diet. Floggers, whips, canes, and more are common sites at play parties worldwide. Generally, you can expect a station or two with a Saint Andrew's Cross or a spanking bench where people who know how to make a (literal) impact are there to dole out a good whipping. 

Different kinds of toys elicit different kinds of pain. Two common ways the kink community describes pain sensations are “sting-y” and “thuddy,” and your top may help you discover which sensation you prefer. They’ll also employ safe words with you, so you can tell them when to keep going and just how much you can take.

As with any BDSM practice, anticipate a heavy dollop of communication, since they will be hitting you along that sweet booty or upper back, often enough to leave a mark. The people meting out spankings know what they’re doing, and you can trust them to hurt you good, but never do you harm.

Interested in being the one who gives the spankings? Ask a skilled spanker to show you how. With a willing bottom, you can learn how to use a flogger, cane, or paddle, so you can take those skills home to your bedroom.

Electro play

One of the most unique facets of a play party that doesn’t often make its way into movies and television is the wild world of electro play. Also known as electric play or erotic electrostimulation, this kink zaps and buzzes you all the way to paradise. Using electric pulses, you will get zapped at whatever level you can take. Different metal objects are brought into play to give you fresh textures and experiences. While most people play using a wand and complementary devices, you may wind up working with someone who has more intense toys like a laser knife.

Electrostimulation is more dangerous than bondage and impact play. If you’re playing with someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, the consequences can be serious. Electric play is fragile, intense work. It can be dangerous

It’s a kink that requires mastery, sobriety, and a cool head.  Because when it’s done right, electro play is exhilarating and fun. Inane objects made of metal are suddenly pleasure bringers in ways you never imagined. The diverse possibilities with a wand will have you never thinking of electricity in quite the same way again.The person operating the electro play station may use something like The Violet Wand, which delivers a jolt to your body. Holding a conductor lets the pleasure ripple through your body as the top runs different kinds of metals over your flesh. Things with sharp edges will feel different than blunted ones, and any metal jewelry you have may tingle too. Some people even marry this practice with bondage using special rope that’s conductive, zapping the bound participant along the rope and adding another level to that ultimate surrender.

Fire play

Arguably the most risky play at a kinky event, fire play is one that’s not for the drunk – and is therefore a controversial addition to most play parties. For safety reasons, fire play is always done by a skilled facilitator. Using one of several techniques, they play with fire along your bare skin, usually on your back. Because it is so risky, there is sometimes only one participant, and the fire play is a performance that attendees can watch, but not receive. 

Other times, curious party goers can get a taste of receiving the flames. There are a few different ways they can play. The first is called “bouncing.” With this technique, the practitioner bounces a lit wand along your bare back, giving you the heat and thrill of the flames without pain.

A more risky act is called “streaking.” The fire master draws a line line of fuel (usually rubbing alcohol) across your back and then lights it on fire. The fuel ignites across your back, and they wipe it away quickly before your skin is burned. Although it’s exhilarating, it’s easy to see why one person is generally in charge of all fire experiences.The third common form of fire play is cupping. Interestingly, this is originally an acupuncture and holistic health treatment. Cupping is thought to eliminate toxins and help you cleanse your body. In the BDSM world though, the focus is less on health and more on pleasure. Although it’s one of the more common forms of fire play, and arguably the least dangerous, it’s the only one that leaves a mark. The mark is worth it though; if you can combine BDSM and holistic health practices in one whirlwind night, why wouldn’t you?

Keep an open mind...

...and open loins. Play parties are a powerful way to expand your definition of pleasure, subvert your expectations, and build community with welcoming kinksters galore.  

Your first time doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you’re down for new experiences, diverse kinds of people, and can check your ego at the door, these kinky gatherings can induct you into a world that you’ll never want to leave.

So what’s stopping you? Hop online and start searching for a play party this month. From fire streaking to shibari, you’ll be hooked.