|The Berkeley, photo by D_Lion|
The event was sold out months before the start date. The Art Deco-style Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel in Asbury Park, NJ, was totally ours all weekend. To preclude any “vanillas” wandering in, you couldn’t even enter the front door without showing your numbered registration ticket. All weekend long, volunteers monitored the comings and goings of people to assure the group’s complete privacy.
Before even checking in at the hotel desk, you waited in line to sign the requisite legal documents, show your driver license or other I.D. and get a white, glow-in-the-dark Brimstone IV wristband and your badge. If you didn’t want to be included in photographs (after all, BDSM is still frowned on in some circles and folks don’t wish to be “outed”), you had an additional wristband (a red one) as well as a no-photo icon to stick on your badge. BTW, only staff photos were allowed. Anyone caught with a cell phone or camera got it confiscated. Those who depended on their iPhone for the time had to do without, sorry.
Nearly eighty workshops were offered. Many of those I wanted to attend conflicted with others. Tough choices to make. Here’s what I went with:
Two events especially for first-timers were “New N Nervous” and “Dungeonology 101”, both on Friday evening. I attended both, hoping to meet other newbie singles, but both seemed mostly peopled by couples taking the plunge together. I hope next year they have a mixer specifically for those who come alone and unpartnered. Still, I met some interesting people to spend time with, both there and in subsequent encounters, and I appreciate their generosity in sharing their knowledge.
Safer Sex Made Safely. I had never seen dental dams or female condoms, but the hostess instructed the group in no-nonsense terms, including demonstrations of all sorts of objects on her adorable “boy/kitten,” who wore the first (very flexible) strap-on I’d ever seen outside of the internet.
|Futomomo tie, photo by Brennin|
Ropes. I had three experiences as a rope bottom: in the Futomomo class (binding a bent leg to itself); practice time in the Bondage Lounge after hours (for both, I was on a floor mat); and a partial suspension class, which had me rigged to a massive structure with only one foot on the floor and my other limbs tied to various parts of the bars. In all cases it was a little unnerving but kind of cool to feel so helpless. BTW, this photo illustration was NOT taken at Brimstone.
Head, Neck, and Shoulder Massage Intensive. While a number of couples were present, enough singles attended to allow each of us to engage a partner and we had time to both give and receive newly learned techniques of massaging various muscles. This was a shirts-off workshop that should be four hours long (grin).
And speaking of massages, after my play scene in the dungeon on Sunday night, I availed myself of the free massage, thirty minutes of delicious relaxation in the Melting Pot Spa, courtesy of volunteers. And yes, I gladly added to the Tip Jar!
Oh, I mentioned the dungeon, didn't I? I was chained to a St. Andrew’s Cross via thick leather cuffs with palm rests and felt the delights of an expert Florentine flogger who also introduced me to the single-tail whip, a cane, and some other implements I couldn’t identify – my eyes were closed and I was in my own sensual world. There’s something… liberating… about being part of a kinky crowd in a dark dungeon with impacts matching the rhythms of the throbbing music, hearing cries of ecstasy all around you… adding your own cries…
Violet Wand Exploritorium …. Ahhhh. If you’ve been following my blog, you know my affinity for the Violet Wand. Alas, the demonstrations were primarily on the instructor’s partner, but we did get in a few zaps to ourselves and each other. One of the subs did get zapped by a diabolical device of metal pincers which first pinched then zapped her nipple to ear-shattering screams. But she stayed around for more. As to the glass attachments, our expert assured us they were unbreakable. When he attended a demonstration by the maker of said glass, he confided, she threw them across the room and none of them broke!
Hot Wax Play. Same thing. I wanted to be experimented on, but our demonstrator brought his own partner/slave and dripped a fascinating series of designs on her breasts and belly. I was captivated by the way she kept giggling and wiggling during the treatment. Then he used a humongous knife to scrape every bit off. It was wondrous to behold, especially the trust between the partners.
Kinky Karaoke. Sunday night’s event was cool. One couple wrote their own lyrics to well-known songs, such as Cher’s “I Got You, Slave” and several others I don’t remember because I was too fascinated (I know, I'm using that word a lot) to write them down. I can just hear next year’s entry, maybe one to the tune of Jingle Bells: “Single-tails, single-tails, whipping all the way…” It was laugh-a-minute time.
|BrimstoneIV booklet, photo by Cris Anson|
Food. This was tricky. Saturday and Sunday a PJ coffee breakfast social enabled us to scarf up bagels with cream cheese and other noshes. To those who arrived Thanksgiving Day evening, a side event at McLoone’s Restaurant offered a lush buffet. An egg cream social with tidbits on Friday night and a midnight pizza buffet on Saturday chased away some hungers. From 5 to 7 p.m. each day no events were scheduled so folks could go elsewhere for dinner (no way could the restaurant accommodate even half the attendees). Classes were held from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. with no lunch break so it was smart to pack one’s pockets with snacks or protein bars. I saw experienced Brimstone-goers hauling their own microwaves and fridges with their luggage. The dungeon and other play lounges stayed open until 2 a.m.
Heaven’s Gate Sex Suite. This was on the top floor, a suite of rooms dedicated to those who wanted to engage in group sex. I had inquired about being a “lube girl”, a volunteer who distributed condoms and lubes and whatever else the participants needed. After all, I had learned all about “Safer Sex” early on. But (I’m ashamed to admit) I chickened out at the last minute. I actually exited the elevator on that floor, took a deep breath … and went back downstairs. I can only attribute that momentary lapse to the fact that it was midnight and I had been fighting a bug all weekend and was feeling tired and achy and… hell, I was probably just too prudish to follow up. I know, there are those who don’t believe me.
The Freecycle. An exchange of unneeded kinky items. I had dropped off a half-dozen erotic romance anthologies to the table and, to my delight, discovered a pair of Velcro bondage cuffs which I’m hoping to put to good use in the future. There was also a drop-off table for “I love it in the Can” for distribution to a food bank.
One of the most fascinating things, for me, was to talk to “others”. Those who were gender-flexible or trans-gender or in some way different from the way they were born. Though rigid types might label them freaks, to hear their struggles for identity tugged at the heart and one can only hope that people will be more welcoming to all forms of self-identification. I saw six-foot males in dresses and makeup and looking stunning; “butch” women in masculine attire and attitude; “littles” who hugged their stuffed animals and rode around the promenade on adult-sized tricycles; folks in diapers and baby bonnets; people prancing around like ponies and hauling carriages behind them. Brimstone welcomed all of them, embraced them, made them feel comfortable and human. If only the real world were so kind!
Oh, the “Ice” part of this blog’s title? The hotel is old and venerable, meaning if you get anywhere near the windows, it’s c-c-c-cold! Even with the room temperature set at 75 degrees, it was chilly.
But anywhere else? Yeah, baby. It was Brimstone HOT!
~~ Cris Anson