S is for SCENE

Tea Ceremony scene with me as Tea Table, featuring an Ikebana arrangement. I am also in spreader bars, though you can't really see them here.

A Matcha Tea Ceremony scene with me as Tea Table, featuring an Ikebana arrangement. I am attached to a spreader bar, though you can’t really see it here, but you can make out some of the ceremony instruments…

Since we’re firing this alphabet blog back up today and it shall be randomly journeyed (until the next organizational whirlwind my brain settles on), I figure why not start out with the letter that has a million kinks?  Today we look at S and what a SCENE is.

So, what is a scene?  “Having a kink scene” with someone refers to the act of doing something kinky with that person.  There is generally a beginning, a middle, and an end – concepts I’ll break down a bit more clearly below.  You can “scene” with one or more people.  The setting matters only in that it is appropriate to your needs, so it can happen in a public play space, privately, or even out in public (where the folks around you might not even know you’re scening).  In general though, if the people involved in the activity agree that it was a scene, it can be called a scene.  Scenes can go well or not so well.  Scenes can be successful and unsuccessful.  A scene can endure for any length of time – 30 seconds to hours long in the playtime.  Scenes are generally not the same as skill practices, nor are they often used to describe teaching demonstrations.  Kinda like sex, how you feel about how a scene went matters when evaluating whether or not to scene with that person again or continue to have interest in the activities you participated in.  Some scenes involve sexual activity, some do not.  There is no one activity that defines whether a scene has just occurred, it is more centered on the feeling that what you’ve set out to accomplish was in some way explored or completed.  Scenes can end early or suddenly because of the use of a safe word, or because the players feel it isn’t going well and would prefer to wrap up their activities.  Scenes often evolve organically, even when they have been negotiated clearly and there is an expectation of what activities are to happen.  Scenes can be a great way of exploring physical sensations, D/s dynamics, s/m, and a plethora of other kinky interests.  Aside from talking about “a scene”, “the scene” is also used to refer to the community of people in any given area who practice BDSM as well.

The anatomy of a scene:  Negotiation.  Play.  Aftercare.  These three elements are what a scene is generally comprised of, and most successful scenes can be dissected into these elements.

Negotiation:  Negotiation is what happens before the scene plays out.  The people who are interested in playing with one another find some way to set up expectations and boundaries for the scene they’d like to have.  How one negotiates depends greatly on how experienced one is, how familiar they are with the partner they’re negotiating with, whether one is planning on topping, bottoming or switching through the scene, how advanced the scene being negotiated is and whether the people negotiating are experienced in that type of play, whether there are health issues to take into consideration, etc…  Basically negotiation is the time before you hit the dungeon where you clear up all the things you need know so that everyone involved feels like they are safe, on the same page, and can show up to the scene prepared mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and toting the correct costumes/props/set pieces/whathaveyou.  It is generally considered bad practice to renegotiate anything you’ve pre-negotiated mid-play/mid-scene because during play people’s inhibitions/expectations/headspace/intellectual or emotional groundedness may be altered.  Consent.  Understanding your partner’s boundaries and wishes.  Making sure you understand one another well enough to be respectful.  If you think of good sex as algebra, kink play is like calculous.  Do your research, know the formulas, be educated in what you are doing as well as who you are doing it with.  It is not cool to leave someone after a scene feeling as though they were taken advantage of, violated, or harmed in any way.  This is the primary reason for good negotiation of a scene.

Play/Scening:  This is the portion of a scene where the action is.  After you’ve negotiated all the things and everyone shows up at the appropriate time and place wielding the appropriate attitude and practicals, it’s time to get down to business…  Need I really say more?  Well, I’ll talk a little about things that should/usually happen during good scenes.  Connecting with your partners is pretty paramount to everyone feeling fulfilled at play’s end, so do that and try to keep it up the entire time.  Checking in is a really important aspect of play.  It might be needed more frequently when you are new to an activity or playing with a new partner, but even people who have been doing the same activity for years with one another can find importance in making sure the bondage isn’t too tight, the submissive can breathe well enough, no one’s shoulder is getting irreparably fucked up, no one is triggered or becoming too anxious, and so forth.  Checking in, when done frequently enough, can be a Top’s best friend for info gathering and inspiration and the bottom’s path to remaining feeling safe and relaxed enough to keep playing.  In a scene you’ll want to warm up and cool down before and after the hard hitting (so to say) portion of play.  Warm up is  meant to help connect the players as well as get the bottom’s mind and body ready for what’s to come.  Think stretching before a marathon or foreplay before a hard fuck.  Cooling down can be equally important, as the mind and body may want to slowly come back to normal after stressful activity or sitting out in subspace for awhile…  Think walking around after a marathon or wriggling around holding one another directly after that good hard fuck.  Having fun is important too!  I know we’re all meanies dressed in leather and spikes, wielding knives and fist sized dildos, but remember that no matter how seriously you are taking yourself, there is always room for a giggle at the moment, a reminder that people fart when they’re wearing lingerie, and sometimes you’re going to react strangely to the activities you are engaged in.  There is room for all the emotions that come up in a dungeon – in fact, many people play this hard for exactly that reason.

Aftercare:  So, you’ve met up with your scene beau, played together and cooled down, now what?  Well, aftercare! Aftercare is the bit of time (usually just after a scene’s play portion ends) when the people who have been involved deconstruct the evening a little bit and have a chance to care for themselves and their partners enough to start a new grounding process.  Everyone has different needs during aftercare, so it’s a great thing to add onto your negotiation list.  All the people who were present in the scene need aftercare to some degree.  Regardless of whether you were the one beating or the one being beaten, ask what your partner needs when it’s time to become regular post-scene people again.  Sometimes your partner will want a massage or cuddling, some people need food and water, some people want to be served, some people find it important to have time alone and come back to talking about what they’ve experienced at a later time or date, some people need sleep, blankets, kissing, silence for a time, mindless chatter, not to be coddled at all…  knowing ahead of time is likely to help all parties get what they need in the end.  The second part of aftercare is also checkins.  Depending on how brutal a scene was physically, emotionally, or psychologically, you may want to make sure you check in with the bottom hours after a scene, the next day, or even every few days for a few weeks.  Again, everyone is different, but due to the advanced math nature of kink, sometimes a person will feel just fine directly after the scene, but after sleeping on it realize they are feeling guilty or sad or messed up or triggered by something that happened.  If you’re going to play, you need to be responsible to your partners through the end.

My most recent brush with a scene:  My most recent scene was the one the picture above was taken during.  The picture itself captures the peace, beauty, deliberation, loving, knowledge, and skill that went into the scene, but I’ve gotta say starting out it was a rocky road to sheer happiness.  My partner and I had negotiated a scene involving the spreader bars he recently made.  I was looking forward to using them as I haven’t used them much in play and I’ve always really liked the idea of them.  When we got further into our negotiations my partner was having a hard time talking about what he wanted from our scene, and I was having a hard time trusting what was going to happen would be pleasing for both of us.  He mentioned a bunch of activities that not only does he not have much practice in, but that we have not explored on their own together yet: rough body play, clothespin zippers, kicking, and temperature play.  The thought of rough body play at the hand of someone who’s inexperienced while I am immobile and unable to physically protect myself due to being strung up on spreader bars made it really hard for us to negotiate a scene that felt safe to me.  I did not feel safe or taken care of in the consideration of the play options put forth.  He was having a hard time feeling confident as a Dominant and so was being a bit careless with his thinking through of the situation.  I had a hard time feeling like I was being a good submissive as I had a pretty clear critique of what he was suggesting…  the conversation was a hard one.

Then we got around to agreeing that if the focus of the scene was centered on what we could do with spreader bars, that he could start there, think of me in them, and connect with a fantasy about what that scene might unfold to become.  He shared a fantasy about me being a table for Matcha Tea Ceremony.  There would be temperature play as the tea water washed over me (and he would test water temperatures ahead of time to ensure I would not get burned), Matcha Tea Ceremony is something we’ve shared before (without me being the table), and it’s something he’s confident in performing in general, and we both enjoy sharing it.  He would arrange Ikebana on me, make himself and me a bowl of Matcha, be able to connect deeply with me throughout, and still get to try out spreader bars and temperature play, and collaring…  this scenario worked for us both really well and we were able to talk it out clearly with one another.

But then there was the time before play.  He was preparing for the scene and again had a bout of low confidence about the entire situation.  He started feeling bad about how the negotiation had started out, and feared he wouldn’t be able to connect with me when the scene started.  He was very afraid of messing the scene up and doing a bad job.  He called me and we decided to put the evening on pause.  We met up and made dinner and talked longer about our feelings and concerns.  We both had emotional baggage in play.  I was afraid he wanted to do something and not have to connect with me, just use me.  He was afraid of getting everything wrong and needing to end the scene early because I’d be annoyed at our lack of connection.  I was afraid, he was afraid, you see a pattern here?  But we each still wanted it.  So we kept talking.  We got better at breathing with one another.  We got better at listening to the other person’s fears and at soothing the other.  By the time dinner was over we found we were both ready and desperately wanted to connect, to play, to experience one another in the way we had both been fantasizing.

And it was wonderful.  And it was the first time we scened without sex.  We were both deeply satisfied afterward.  The connection, the inspiration, and our communication in-scene was beautifully on.  We became more and more relaxed as we explored what was possible in the moment.  Due to that we were able to find action, fun, deep trust, and pleasure.  Next time we play I hope it is rough body play or something we haven’t tried out before.  Trust and a feeling for the pace of exploration is developing well between us, mindfulness is becoming easier and more apparent.

More scene tips and trade secrets:  As always I highly recommend checking out the Kink Academy website.  They have awesome videos and blog articles, just open an account and search “scene”.  You’ll find a bunch of different points of view and an array of ideas about how to scene, how to communicate in scene, how to negotiate, connect, set it all up…  the list goes on.  If you do open an account I appreciate you using one of my links as I’ll earn a commission for the introduction, but regardless of any of that, I really do sing their praises personally.  Kink books abound, and I always recommend anything Greenery Press puts out, Fetlife groups are a great place to glean information from, and don’t be too shy to take a class locally or make it out to a munch!  Going into public is one of the best ways to observe people and relationships as everyone works them out in real time.  Make friends with people who share your interests, free yourself to talk about your fears, hangups, and questions with the people around you who hold some experience.  We all mess up as we learn (and, indeed, as we live and grow), but messing up is one of the best ways to get better at what you do.  Remember your due diligence, you can make almost anything right if you’re willing to examine where it went wrong, take responsibility, and move forward with grace.  Good luck and I hope you learn, laugh, and have fun opening up to all of what’s possible.

To Breath and Being,
~ Karin

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~Thank you.


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