We sat in a friend's living room as they showed us their collection of floggers. Each one a little different from the last. Some with more weight in the handle, some with thin tails, and still others were fluffy. This is what my introduction to kinky toys looked like.

Floggers are a very common first stop (or somewhere near the beginning), but they do have a rich history of being used to help take people into trance states or to bring about a sense of release. At some parties, you may notice people proudly displaying their floggers on their belts or maybe you want to be on the St Andrew's Cross being flogged sometime in the future. As we are building our toy bags, we put a lot of care into selecting what works for us both in general and in the particular scene we are crafting. We put a lot of care and attention into our favourites and we reap the rewards when we do.

If you are just getting started with a flogger, you will want to take note of a few simple things:

Start by finding out what you and your Dominant want out of this experience. Do you want sensory play? Do you want to go into subspace? Were you hoping for intense play to let go of that stressful week you just had? The different floggers can help you achieve different end results. Once you are able to define what type of play would interest you, you can start to find out which floggers would be the best suited for the job.

1) What is it made of?

You will notice as you shop that the options seem endless. If it is a light and fluffy material, you have found a flogger that is perfect for light play (wonderful if you are new and just exploring this tool. Don't think of skipping ahead too fast and not trying it out because it makes for an amazing warm up flogger or one to bring you back down after some intense play. The floggers made of heavier material can certainly have a lot of sting or bite when you get the impact just right. Floggers made of thin ropes or cord can have a sting. If that is what gets you going, then that is a fit for you! Some are made of animal hide and can have heavy tails but soft when it is dragged across your skin. There are also a number of vegan floggers, so you can pick what feels right for you. But what if you aren't so sure what that material will feel like on your body?

2) Test it out on yourself

The first time you "meet" a new tool, test it out on yourself. Give your own hand a little whack and see what it feels like. Part of this lifestyle is consent and it helps when you know what it is you are playing with. You want to get to know the weight and feel for yourself in your own hands before it is used on you. Let it be a fun exploration with an open mind but think through things like risks of playing with this tool. For floggers we want to avoid some areas of the body like the kidneys, so we don't cause damage, but the squishy parts of ourselves, like the backside, those are usually ones where you can bring it on!

3) Communicate

Your Dominant needs to know what feels good and what doesn't - and the best way is to politely let them know. Don't just focus on the bad either. It can get frustrating to hear "Oh that spot really hurt!" without ever hearing "oooohhhhh....that was amazing! I can really relax into it here!" As they say, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar - so share a little extra of the good stuff. Helping your Dominant find those perfect spots is a gift to both of you! They can take you to those amazing places you want to go together and with practice, you can relax into it without feeling you have to analyze every move.

4) Be present

Use as many senses as possible to really be in the experience. I am very auditory by nature, so a nice steady rhythm is what I need to slip into my subspace. Of course, there can be many ways to touch using the flogger and not just hitting someone with it. In a workshop we attended, we moved the tails of the flogger around our partner's body and as we stood behind them, we put the flogger in front of their bodies with the handle in one hand and the tails in the other and pulled them in close to us. I remember my brain feeling like it had fireworks going off because I had never considered how many ways it could be used. Do your floggers have a particular smell to them? For me, it helps if I close my eyes for this one, but you can really get to know which floggers are being used after a while with your nose and a little practice. Maybe you are a visual person - you could see if being in front of a mirror would help you get deeper into the experience. What if you could see your Dominant concentrating on you as they wield this tool across your body? If there is no mirror available to you, setting up a lamp in the right spot so you could see a shadow may also work so you can see the movement and patterns your Dominant is making with the flogger. Engage your senses and be in the moment with your Dominant. Remember that this tool (like the others) is an extension of their body.

There you have it! Getting started with a flogger is about having fun and that is what I want it to bring you! Let your exploration be a delight to your senses and to you.

What made you want to add a flogger to your toy bag? What are you hoping for in adding flogging to your play?