Yes, time passes faster as you get older; the years fly by and all that. It’s still a little startling to realise that the UK fetish scene, as most of us involved with it would understand such a thing, has been going for 40 years as of last month. (I am not quite a full 40 year veteran; my first steps into the world of kink were taken in 1989 – and I have noted plenty of changes, some of which I wrote about in Black Heart.)
On January 22nd I went along to a talk hosted by the Institute for SM Studies on the early days of the Skin 2 organisation, which was fascinating stuff – ISMS is a group well worth checking out if you are remotely interested in subcultures, social history and sexual diversity. Tony Mitchell, Bev Glick and Daniel James set up the original club in a small West End venue called Stallions.
Stallions itself is no more, having disappeared into the foundations of the Elizabeth Line or something like that, but the ISMS gang and the Firm found possibly the most appropriate place possible, in the form of a party venue so deliciously wicked and old-school that I am not going to give you any clues as to its identity or whereabouts, to hold a celebration of the Scene’s ruby anniversary last week. There was music, but no dancefloor, there was a fair bit of fond reminiscing – and some shrieks of glee as people re-encountered friends they hadn’t seen in a decade or so… and there was plenty of arse-whacking and other BDSM-ish behaviour.
So I’m raising a glass to those who made the Scene what it is, for all the ups and downs over the years, including media nonsense, police raids and bouts of in-fighting. There has always been a sense of community among kinksters, and a feeling for many, many people who were previously isolated and anxious that here is a sense of home. Here are other people who are unconforming, maybe a bit odd, but usually willing to keep an open mind. For me – and I am not alone in this – kink taught me that a lot of what the mainstream world tells you about other people is nonsense, and that you don’t have to do everything you’re told. I’m not sure my 25-year-old self would have believed I would still be involved in all this stuff now I’m pushing 60, but I’m glad to be still hanging in there.