People attending their first Leather event... and especially people who are also new to the Leather/BDSM scene... have a lot of questions about what will happen, what they will see, how they should behave, and what in general they should expect.
I've been to a number of Leather events around the country, and while each one has its own flavor, here, no particular order, are some things that you may expect to experience at Kinky Kollege or SINSations in Leather!
1) Lots of friendly perverts from around the country and around the world. Leather events such as Kinky Kollege and SINSations in Leather offer a great way to meet people, to visit and learn, and to obtain many new ideas.
2) Seminars given by great presenters on a variety of topics. It seems that all the best seminars are usually scheduled at the same time. So attendees should be prepared for "seminar selection stress" ... LOL!
3) A great vendor area with lot of toys and affordable shopping! Bring credit cards and money! If you see something you like and are unable to purchase it immediately, be sure to ask the vendor how many they have in stock. If you decide to come back later to get it, it may not be there.
4) Membership-only play parties. The energy level at events is usually pretty high, and you get to see how different people play. (Maybe even with you!) People tend to "dress up" for the parties, and although a dress code is not enforced, it is recommended that everyone attempt to maintain a Leather/BSDM "style". Dark clothes, leather clothes, and black shoes or boots are usually safe.
If you show up in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and white tennis shoes or sandals, people will probably think you don't have much of a clue about the lifestyle.
5) Not much sleep. Up early for breakfast before the seminars and back to bed late after the parties. Bring vitamins!
6) Tired feet and sore backs. Dress comfortably during the day as you will be sitting in seminars and cruising the vendor area. (The chairs in the seminar rooms aren't always extremely comfortable.) You will also be walking a lot and maybe standing . Bring some foot lotion. Even if you don't have a slave to massage your feet, it will make them feel better. Most hotels have hot tubs, workout rooms, massage services or spas. Use them!
7) Be prepared for an incredible high during the event, and culture shock when you get back to the "real world" after the event.
8) Come with a *very* open mind. You will see lots of different kinds of people, hear lots of different viewpoints and opinions, see lots of different kinds of relationships and different kinds of play. People tend to"pull out the stops" at these events, and some of the action can be very unusual. It's all good, and it's all a learning experience. (Even just thinking about *why* you reacted in a certain way to something can be a valuable learning process.)
9) Be respectful, courteous, and tolerant of others. If you're new to the lifestyle, watch a lot and try to pick up the dynamics of relationships or protocols. If you don't know how to address someone, and you make a mistake, or find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, please tell the other person that you're new to the scene and you're not quite sure what's going on. They will very likely understand and explain things to you. We were all new at one time, and we remember what it was like.
10) READ THE RULES for the event and the play parties! Don't just browse them quickly and sign them at the registration desk. The rules are important, and the event staff enforces them very strictly for the protection of the event, the attendees, and the hotel. Look for the rules on the event website, study them, read them again at registration, and make sure you understand them. At Leather events, as in the legal system, ignorance of the law is no defense!
11) Expect to be amazed, surprised, delighted, shocked, startled, amused, and expect to experience a whole range of intense emotions. Sensory overload and unexpected emotional reactions are a common side effect of Leather events. If it gets to be a bit too much, find a quiet corner to sit in and just watch for a while, or find someone to talk to about how you're feeling. You can also go back to your room to relax for a bit or watch mindless drivel on TV for a while. Then go back to the event and jump back into the pool!
12) If your schedule and finances permit, check into the hotel the day before the event (Thursday) and check out the morning after (Monday). This has a number of benefits.
* You can get in, get settled in the hotel, have dinner, and chill out before the event starts. Or you can also catch the "pre-event" activities like the “Meet & Greet” gathering where all presenters are introduced.
* The day of the event you can get up, have breakfast, sit in the lobby watching people check in, and look for your friends.
* You can register early, check out the schedule, and hit the vendor area. (Get those neat shiny toys before anyone else has a chance!!)
* The last day of the event, you don't have to worry about checking out on time and figuring out what to do with your luggage before getting to those last seminars later on Sunday afternoon.
* After the event closes, you can go back to the room and relax instead of rushing off to the airport. You can "decompress" before returning to reality.
* You can avoid the challenge of trying to find a luggage cart and waiting for an empty elevator when checking in and out! It's a lot easier than when hundreds of perverts with lots of leather and toys are looking for carts and filling the elevators at the same time.
13) Food. Food is important. Food is part of a balanced diet, and provides the energy necessary to socialize, play, and shop. Nine out of ten Dominants surveyed recommend Food. (The tenth was too busy eating to respond.)
Food service at Leather events can be an adventure. Imagine... the last seminar of the day is over, and everyone goes to their room to drop things off and freshen up... and then a few hundred starving perverts hit the hotel restaurant at the same time!
Hotels can get overwhelmed, delays can be long, people can get grouchy.
Some possible solutions:
* Eat early if you can, and avoid the rush. (Of course, if *everyone* does that, the rush will just be earlier.)
* Keep some snacks in the room. Many hotels have a mini-fridge in the room these days. Munch on something after the seminars and eat later after the rush.
14) If you're new to the lifestyle, it's important to know that you do not have to play at Leather events... at the parties or anywhere else! Everything that happens at these events is consensual. You are free to just watch, and you are free to play if you want to. If someone asks you to play and you're not quite ready, just say something like, "No, thanks, I'm new to the scene and I'm just watching and learning." If you are interested, don't be afraid to ask for references, and be sure to negotiate the limits of the play session. (If you don't know how to do that, ask one of the event volunteers, they'll be able to find someone to help!)
15) Bring enough cash! Some vendors don't take credit cards (but most do). It is always good to have cash in case you want that one piece of equipment from a vendor who accepts only cash. Hotel ATMs have been known to run out of money during these events (although that is rare as well). And since the event occurs over the weekend, they don't get re-stocked until the event is over. So make sure you have enough to get that special toy, tip the hotel staff, etc.
16) Have lots and lots of fun!!!