“Dear GOTN, despite the fact that you’re a grumpy arse for most of the year, I’d like to invite you to my birthday party…
Ooh! A party! How fun!
“It will be held on Saturday at 8pm…”
Yay! I’m free on Saturday! I can go!
“At this address…
I’ll find it on Gmaps. Oooh, I’m so excited!
“The fancy dress theme will be…”
Shit it, I’m not going.
Sometimes I feel hornier in jeans than I do in a corset. There: I said it. While there’s a certain thrill in dressing up, I also like to be spanked in soft cotton pyjamas, and whacked with a belt through thick denim or corduroy to warm me up before a bare-arsed thrashing.
And as with fancy dress parties, so too with fetish clubs.
A confession: I’ve never been to Torture Garden. I know, I know. As a Londoner who is interested in everything hot and spanky, admitting that I’ve never visited Torture Garden is like Nigella Lawson claiming she doesn’t own any spoons. When I was younger, and a regular attendee of fetish clubs and parties, people I knew would talk in hushed and excited whispers about the annual Torture Garden ball: what they were going to wear, how amazing it was going to be, etc, and instead of buying a ticket and hopping on board the sexy bus, I’d grumble in the corner about not fitting in with the beautiful people.
Thing is, I have no idea whether Torture Garden is filled primarily with people dressed head-to-toe in expensive costumes, and in fact their website explicitly states that lots of people make their own outfits. It sounds utterly gorgeous, and I can thoroughly understand why people want to go. But here’s why I don’t:
Please always remember that if your outfit wouldn’t turn heads in the street – don’t bother to wear it to Torture Garden.
Argh. This – the code as well as the way it’s worded – sends me into a complete tailspin panic.
I went to my first fetish event sometime during university, with a guy I was seeing at the time. We popped along to the pre-club market in our jeans and sweatshirts, but for the evening party we were told to slip into something a little less comfortable. He could get away with smart trousers and a shirt – I had to go a bit further. Having very little in the way of ‘kink clothes’, I only managed to go at all because he generously bought me a corset that my own meagre student loan would never have extended to. I wore it with a long skirt that I had in my wardrobe, and spent most of the evening feeling hideously overdressed. Should have stripped down to pants, probably, but I was nervous as all hell.
I understand why some people want to dress up. Dressing up can be intensely horny in and of itself, and I’d never want to deprive people of the ability to dress up to the nines and look fucking fabulous at any club night. Nor do I want to hang around in the corner of your otherwise fun night looking like a goth in a badly-fitting hoodie and jeans combo, and kill your buzz because you think I’m a stranger who’s got pissed and wandered into the wrong place.
Problem is, though, ultimately a goth in a badly-fitting hoodie is exactly what I am, and I’m more likely to turn up to an event if I can wear clothes that I’m comfortable in. Clothes that haven’t cost me a fortune, that I haven’t had to spend ages weeping over, and that I can easily get into or out of in order to play.
I wouldn’t normally mention this – I don’t go to clubs much any more (partly because of the dress codes, if I’m honest), and I thought I was the only one who hated these rules. But when I mentioned this on Twitter a whole bunch of people agreed with me, and expressed similar reservations. As the primary purpose of this blog is to show what a weird/pervy/incompetent person I am in the hope that someone equally weird/pervy/incompetent won’t feel like they’re on their own, I thought I’d write it up.
Here are some of the reasons people expressed for disliking dress codes:
- They’re often expensive. This is a biggie, because it also means they make the club exclusive to those who have a fair whack of money. While someone on low wages might be able to save for a big night out every few months, having to purchase a corset/latex suit/costume means the evening will be out of reach for many.
- They can exclude people with different body types. Yeah, it’s awesome if we can all get semi-naked and strut around loving each other’s bodies – that’s probably ultimately what a fet night should strive for. But many people don’t feel comfortable with that. If you’ve spent years being told by society that you’re unattractive, then I can understand why you don’t want the added pressure of having to wear a jock-strap when you’re exploring your kink. Moreover, some intensely hot fetish costumes seem to only be on sale to people who are size 16 or under, and don’t get me started on the shoes. I have huge feet, and I own two pretty sexy pairs of fetish heels – both of them are too small for me, and very tight, and I bought them only because to buy some that actually fit would require finding a specialist shop, and at the time I had no idea how I might go about that.
- They give a very narrow definition of fetish. A couple of people pointed out that they have (or know people who have) denim fetishes. And yet a lot of clubs specify ‘no jeans.’ Mainstream media tends to advertise any article to do with ‘fetish’ with a guy in a latex gimp mask, but do we really need to make the same assumptions? What if you have a corduroy fetish? Or you feel sexiest in cotton PJs? Or – a topic which may well get it’s own blog post at some point because it’s so hot it brings me out in an actual sweat – what about yoga pants? Sometimes a fetish is a fetish because, while it might not “turn heads in the street”, it turns an individual’s mind in just the right way.
- Some people just don’t feel horny in latex.
A couple of people even mentioned actively feeling horrible – being judged by door staff or told that they can’t come in because they’re just not trying hard enough. I don’t need to tell you that, if you’ve spent half a day agonising over what to wear and buying clothes you wouldn’t normally wear, you’re probably already feeling a bit anxious so being told at the door that you’re not good enough is absolutely crushing.
Reasons for fetish club dress codes
A couple of people also pointed out that there are often good reasons for dress codes, namely:
- It’s really fun to dress up, and people like the excuse. Skirt Club – an underground community for bisexual and bicurious girls – told me that for the first year they ran events, they had no dress code. But members told them they liked having a theme, so they started giving each event dress codes, from ‘touch of pink’ for Valentine’s Day (which you could nail just by wearing a pink hairband) to corset couture (the theme of their latest event).
- It stops randoms wandering in and killing the buzz. One of the last things you want when you’re being beaten over a spanking bench is for a group of curious, judgmental non-kinksters to turn up for the purposes of having a giggle. I have no idea how much of a widespread problem this is, but to be honest I think that issue can be solved just as well with guest lists, membership cards and suchlike as it can with dress codes.
So yeah, I can see why most clubs have dress codes, and I’m certainly not going to wade in and demand that any club flings the door open for a casual-looking girl in a hoodie and jeans just because she’s had a rant about it on her blog. And I’m certainly not demanding that all clubs drop their dress codes just because some of us prefer playing in corduroy. What I am saying, though, is that it’d be amazing if there were more events that had a ‘come in whatever makes you happy’ policy – whether that’s latex, rubber, one of these amazingly hot bodystockings that a lady wore to the F-club once and that made me nearly drop my drink, or jeans, cords, PJs, and other less traditionally fetishy clothes.
Basically, it’d be nice if those who love PVC and rubber and leather and fet could be a bit more understanding of those who don’t, or can’t, or really want to but fail to meet the often excessively high standards. And it’d be doubly nice if those who do have more relaxed dress codes could shout about it from the rooftops: you’re unique and special, and judging by the reaction to my tweet the other day, there’ll be plenty of people popping on their comfiest outfit and heading straight to your club.
There ends the blog post, but I thought it’d be good to give a shoutout to those clubs which do have a more casual dress code, as well as a couple of recommendations for cheaper outfits that should get you in to a ‘dress up’ fetish club if budget is your main issue. If you have any more suggestions, especially for non-London events, please do add them in the comments. Links get held for moderation, but I’ll do my best to approve them as quickly as possible.
Casual dress code clubs
The London Alternative Market afterparty.
For the women at Club Pedestal (which is a Femdom event, so there are strict rules for the guys)
After Pandora – apparently each party is themed but you can take this as little or as far as you like.
Cheap/easy fetish outfits (these don’t solve all the problems, but do get past the ‘holy shit I can’t afford a £100 corset’ issue)
These are all from my sponsor’s site, and are the result of a (fairly rushed) attempt to come up with some possibilities. Again, please add ideas in the comments if you have any! Basically any bodystocking, although I think ones with wide fishnets are the absolute sexiest, because of the aforementioned lady I once saw in the F-club who rocked hers so hard I swooned. And you can wear with underwear beneath if the full-nakedness makes you nervous. Although I’ve never seen a guy wear one, that would work STUNNINGLY WELL, in my opinion. You can also pick up PVC dresses for less than £30. In the past I’ve seen submissive guys get into clubs by going topless with the addition of a couple of accessories, like collars and leads or masks. Not sure this’d work for every ‘dress up’ club, though. Someone on Twitter also suggested body paint as a cheap/easy way to ‘dress’ up. Not sure I’m brave enough (or good enough at art) but might work for some of you!