by Ambrosio. This was first published on Ambrosio's site and has a free to distribute license. Abrosio dedicated this article to Beverly M. in Austin.

Three Types of Parties

Play parties -- or dungeon parties -- are parties where people in the Leather and BDSM scene can go to play, socialize, and watch. There are two types: private and public.

Private Parties - 

Play parties that are held in someone's home. They are invitation only. There is usually no charge or donation (but the host might appreciate a gift.) They can be potluck. Normally there is no dungeon monitor, the rules are looser & more intimate, and edgier play than in a public party is permitted because the host knows all the guests.

Public Parties - 

Play parties that are often in a rented space and sponsored by a BDSM organization or business (such as a private dungeon or a professional domina) for members of the BDSM community or for the membership of specific BDSM organizations. There is a charge for admittance or a donation is strongly encouraged. The rules are more stringent than in private parties and dungeon monitors are on duty to see that the rules are observed and that the scenes are safe. Since it's not really open to the general public, perhaps the term is a misnomer. In addition to play parties, a related event is the S&M -- or Erotic -- Ball.

S&M Balls - 

Huge BDSM themed events in large rented halls open to the general public as well as to people in the BDSM and Leather scenes. The emphasis is on seeing and being seen. People wear their best and most outlandish dresses, uniforms, and costumes. Performances, costume contests, and scenes take place on stages for the benefit of the audience. Cameras and other recording equipment might be allowed for those who want to "make it last longer." Unfortunately there is no ballroom dancing.A great example of an s&m ball is the yearly S&M Ball that takes place in Houston, Texas. Despite my concern over it being open to the general public, nearly everyone there has been into the spirit of the event and dressed appropriately whenever I attended.

Sample Party Rules

While there is no universal set of dungeon party rules, most organizations seem to have developed rules that are remarkably similar. Here's a sample set of rules that I've freely adapted from an existing group in Central Texas which in turn adopted many of its rules from exiting groups like TES in New York. (The official party rules for the South Texas group have since been revised.) Except for one or two innovations, they are representative of the rules at most parties.

  • Do not make assumptions. Negotiate all scenes. Do not assume that the presence of someone at this party means they are available for your pleasure. Do not involve yourself in a scene without an invitation.
  • Never touch anyone, their equipment, or belongings without permission.
  • Privacy and discretion are to be respected. All information about party activities, attendees, etc., is to be considered confidential. Do not bring cameras or other recording devices.
  • Treat everyone with equal respect -- doms, subs, tops, bottoms, switches, volunteers, and staff alike.
  • Play sober. Do not bring alcohol or recreational drugs to the party.
  • Smoking will be at the discretion of the Board of Perverts. Smoking will be allowed in established smoking areas only.
  • Please be prepared with something to cover your more daring clothing -- or lack thereof -- when you go outside the party space.
  • No genital or anal penetration, oral sex, or exchange of bodily fluids.
  • Solicitation forbidden.