I’ve been a kink and sex positive community organiser since I was in my very early 20s. And look, I love event organising. I don’t know if it’s the service submissive in me (or, sometimes, the masochist…) but I love nothing more than standing back and watching people enjoying an event I’ve poured my heart and soul into creating.
But I’m here to give you the reality check of your life if you’re thinking of organising something for your kinky or alternative sexuality community.
The Expectation: how hard can it be!?
The Reality: Very Fucking Hard
There will be a million things to consider you hadn’t thought of, and the bigger the event the more things you’ll have to juggle. At absolute minimum, you need a suitable venue and effective publicity to get the word out. And that’s before you start thinking about what you’re going to feed your guests if it’s an event of more than a few hours, and where they’re going to sleep if it runs for more than one day, and how you’re going to transport the ten tonnes of gear you will inevitably need, and how you’re going to pay for the damn thing. Which brings me to…
The Expectation: I can make money, or at least break even.
The Reality: Maybe. If you’re lucky. And probably not for a few years.
I’m going to be absolutely frank: my current kinku event project took 3 years before there was anything at all in the pot at the end. The first two years LOST money. Guess who picks up the tab for the difference? The organisers. Luckily it didn’t lose a lot of money, which is why we decided to keep it going, but we had to make some changes to make it financially viable. Unless you’re independently wealthy, you need to really think through the financial side before you embark upon something like this. And don’t lay out any personal money you can’t get back until you’re absolutely sure.
Crowdfunding (we recommend IndieGoGo) is a great way to check out the viability of your event and get people to put their money where their mouth is and buy tickets, with the option to refund everyone in full and not go ahead if you don’t hit your goal.
And if you’re going into kink events hoping to make a living out of it, all I will say is don’t give up your day job just yet. For the vast majority of organisers, it’s a labour of love and they make nothing.
The Expectation: I’ll get to go to cool events if I make them happen!
The Reality: Well, yes… but it’s not like being a guest at someone else’s thing.
You will be stressed. You will be exhausted. You will be in ON mode all the time for four hours or a day or three days or however long your event runs.
I get to enjoy a good chunk of events I organise – I variously go to workshops, I sit in on discussions, I socialise with friends. But unless I’m literally mid-scene I will have a radio earpiece in or my ‘Staff’ badge on, and that gives anyone who needs something permission to come and approach me about it.
And that’s the way it should be. I helped put this thing together and I’m responsible for the smooth running of it as well as partially responsible for the safety and comfort of everyone there.
It’s brilliant. But it’s not like walking into someone else’s event, where you can switch your mind off and just relax into your kinky fun.
The Expectation: Everyone will love me for putting on this great thing!
The Reality: A lot of people will be very grateful for your work, and a lot of people will yell at you.
Look, some people will never be satisfied. There will always be complaints – the venue was too warm, the food wasn’t up to par, you didn’t run a workshop on my specific kink, you had too many workshops on this kink I’m not into, you won’t give a platform to this abusive or problematic person I really like… and sometimes, those complaints will get really out of hand and people will stop communicating their feedback reasonably, and start calling you names, calling for boycotts, slamming you on FetLife and generally being dicks.
There’s a place in organising for constructive feedback and it’s vital in helping an event grow to the best it can be. But you have to remember the truism that you cannot please all of the people all of the time, and trying will drive you mad.
You have to grow a thick skin. You have to look at all feedback and decide which bits are useful, which bits you can reasonably implement, and discard the rest. And sometimes you have to just look at all the people who are tremendously grateful for the hard work you do in putting on a community event, and let their appreciation hold you up until the storm passes.
The Expectation: I’ll get loads of play partners if I’m an organiser!
The Reality: Eh. Don’t hold your breath.
I won’t lie: being known on the scene does open up your options as far as play partners go, because a lot of people will (entirely reasonably) only play with someone with recommendations and a solid reputation. And organising is one way to become known on the scene. But if you’re doing it solely or primarily for the pussy (I’m generalising, but this phenomenon is most common amongst straight men,) then firstly, you’re doing this for all the wrong reasons and you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Secondly, it’ll be really really obvious.
People who lead with their “credentials” as a selling point to potential partners generally come across as doing so because (at best) they don’t have anything else to offer, or (at worst) they’re trying to hide something. You still need to be polite, interesting, engaging to talk to, and a safe and respectful player. Organising doesn’t, by itself, make you any of these things. I can easily name, off the top of my head, at least five well-known organisers in my community who are also known consent violators. If I’m thinking of playing with you, the fact that you’ve run Club KinkTastic (not a real club) every Friday night for the last ten years tells me nothing about you. Seeing you play, interacting with you, and hearing what others in the community – especially former partners – say about you is what will give me the information I need.
Organise because you love your community and want to give back. Do it because the kind of event you want doesn’t exist, so you’re determined to create it. Do it because you love the process and seeing the final result gives you a buzz. But don’t, for the love of all that is kinky, organise because you think it’s a fast-track to having everyone gagging to play with you. It’s not.
…and even if it were, by the time you’ve waved the last guest off and cleaned up, you’ll be too bloody tired to play anyway.
In conclusion, I’m not trying to put anyone off organising. Goddess knows we need more people willing to do it! But I believe in informed consent in all things, and I want you to know that organising is wonderful, rewarding, huge fun, and the buzz from seeing your event coming off perfectly is like nothing else in the world… but it’s also exhausting, time-consuming, potentially expensive, and a lot of responsibility. And sometimes, people will yell at you.