I know, the title is a tad silly. Rope events vary hugely and “running” any event involves many facets working together. A follower sent me a message on Instagram this week asking about how to get started. He and his wife love rope but can’t find anything near them in India. So, I thought with my experience I may have a few pointers to help.
1. Get Support
I started running my own events after an online friend in America reached out to me to join the People of Color Global Leadership Alliance (PGLA). Timezones were an issue but personal circumstances allowed me to be able to join and meet other people like me, people of colour with a passion for the kink lifestyle and running events. People who have a whole wealth of experience and wisdom when it comes to running events. Under their kind support, I started running events.
So, I strongly recommend finding a support network to help guide you. The first few events can be very nerve wracking, so don’t be alone doing that. If only for some moral support. They can also be a source for you to learn from mistakes and to take accountability for them.
There is a lot of work to do, so seek volunteers to help you. Vet those volunteers. (I have a vetting writing in this blog that you can apply to this somewhat).
2. Serve Your Community
If you are going to run an event, make sure there is a demand and need for it. The best events are ones that grow from a need, not our personal ego of wanting to look good.
If there isn’t anything advertised in your area, then start small. Perhaps a munch to meet people in a public space, not typically for play. Munches are less formal and easy going chit-chat events. Usually, not to hook up or flirt, but friendly socialising.
If there are events going on, go to them and see if there’s a need for something different. Play events require a lot more thought and consideration, as I will explore further below.
Only teach what you know and know well. Do not claim to have expertise in something you don’t, and ask other people in your community if you are unsure. Your friends telling you how awesome you are (which I’m sure is true) doesn’t count!
You may want to support people from marginalised groups, like queer, disabled and/or people of colour within your event, that is otherwise uncatered for or underrepresented. Think carefully on how best to support marginalised groups, and make yourself aware of best practice.
3. Health and Safety
- You need to make sure any equipment you use is safe to use, and provide instructions on how to use anything especially dangerous.
- You need to make sure you carry out a full risk assessment of any venue you use or equipment, which must include what you plan to do in the event of an accident.
- You need to know where fire exit are and fire extinguishers/blankets and which ones to use when.
- You need to make sure you have first aid kit. You should be first aid trained or have a first aider on site, especially if your event is play based in nature.
- You need to be aware of whether there is a phone or Internet signal to be able to call for emergency assistance, should the need arise.
4. Ground Rules and Security
You need to set clear rules for attendees. These rules are to protect individuals, their privacy and property. You must be willing to enforce these rules with clearly communicated consequences if they are not followed. I am a strong believer in the principle that an event is only as safe as the rules, their robustness and willingness to enforcement them.
The rules will vary according to the event. In general they need to cover:
- What behaviour is expected – who is allowed to go where and what for, and the etiquette that is expected. This is particularly important if play is going on, to not disturb scenes or private conversations.
- Rules of respect and against any form of bigotry and how that sort of behaviour will be tolerated.
- Clear rules to not touch people or their property without explicit prior consent.
- Whether flirting and hook ups are allowed.
- Whether alcohol or any mind altering drugs are permitted or not. If it is, stipulate limits and how this will be enforced by security or a bar tender.
- Whether phones are allowed.
- Whether photography or any form of recording is allowed.
You need to know what to do in the case of a security risk. You may wish to consider when it will be appropriate to call the police and how you will protect the privacy of all attendees should you do so. My advice would be to give attendees warning of the arrival of the police.
Depending on your local laws, I would strongly recommend getting personal or professional indemnity insurance to cover yourself in the case of legal proceedings being made against you.
If you are using any expensive equipment or using transportation, make sure you are covered for loss, theft or damage, or be willing to pay put all costs (can be millions of pounds) in the case of an accident.
6. Local Laws
Depending on where you live, you will be subject to local decency and licencing laws. You need to be aware of the limitations you have. Your event needs to follow the law.
If local laws are very conservative and make any form of sexual expression or individual freedom limited, then consider using private spaces. You will need to think carefully of who you invite and how you vet people – not only to know if they will report you to authorities, but also will respect the nature of the event and how to behave respectfully of others.
7. Cultural and Religious Influences
Our rope and kink communities often operates within a wider context that shames and even vilified who we are and what we enjoy. People have their right to believe what they want. Unfortunately, some people are violent and controlling with their beliefs and values, and this places a huge risk to us and those that attend out events.
I therefore recommend becoming very familiar with your local customs, religions and cultures that exists in your area. You need to respect their wishes and hold your space privately from their view. I say that with a heavy heart, because the vast majority of rope people and kinksters are decent, regular people, not to be feel scared of. But prejudice happens, so we need to navigate that and any impact our behaviour can have on others.
It is also worth remembering that events may be happening in your area but because of local culture, it is not safe to advertise. As mentioned above, these events tend to be held in home or private spaces.
Wherever you are in the world, if you are hiring a private or public space, you must tell the venue the nature of your event. Even though munches are not play orientated, the venue still needs to be aware. Not doing so puts you at risk and gives the rest of the rope and kink community a bad name.
8. Making the Event Inclusive
As mentioned above, you may explicitly want to create events that are inclusive to a particular demographic. I have written previously, for example on why POC only spaces are needed in the context of a white supremacist cultural context. Or you may want to promote a group, like I have with Bristol Rope Space (POC friendly), where it’s in the title!
I have written also about making all events inclusive to POC and also differently bodied people (particularly those that are disabled). Please see my other writings on this in my blog.
9. Managing Disputes
It will invariably happen that 2 people or groups of people that attend your event will have a dispute with each other. You need to decide on how to handle these disputes.
My personal preference is to not try to arbitrate disputes. Typically, 99% of the time you would not have been there to decide on who was “right” or “wrong”, so avoid making any judgements. Perhaps ask them to resolve their problems with the help of a trained mediator.
Other dynamics can be at play too. Sometimes abusive people use a third party to try to manipulate a situation in their favour. Equally a survivor might be seeking to be rescued. It is very unsafe for us to become caught up in this triangle. All we can do is provide resources for attendees to seek help from trained professionals when they are ready to do so.
If there is an accusation of a consent violation at your event, then you need to believe the account and support the survivor to get the help they need. In my experience, by the time someone is brave enough to come forward with a complaint, many others would have suffered in silence before them.
When to ban someone accused is a very difficult decision to make. A criminal conviction is indisputable, but very few survivors go to the police for a whole host of reasons. I prefer to ban anyone argumentative to my rules (a huge red flag) or if they have a history of bans. Banning someone is a serious step to make. It can be wise to remind yourself of what your event is for and why you have the rules you do. You must enforce your rules!
10. Get Organised
Use a separate Google drive and email to run your event and store all your documentation. You’ll need documents to track cash flow, attendees, health and safety information, feedback and any other documents you need. In the long run, it will pay off.
It is a really good idea to store handouts and keep a resource list to help attendees that come to you for advice on something you might not know about or have time/energy to explore with them.
11. Ask For Feedback
At the any time you should be available to hear feedback for your event. Some people can be more critical than others. Welcome feedback. You don’t have to adopt all or any of their ideas and recommendations, but it does allow you to see things you might have missed. It is good practice to regularly reflect t on the effectiveness of your event.
I provide an online feedback for that I anonymise in settings. This will encourage the more reserved to come forward or those that could not find the right moment to approach us.
12. Make A Profit.
You don’t have to suffer financially. It can be really expensive, particularly at the start with start up costs. Keep track of your finances and budget wisely. Price your event as reasonably as you can. Remember, all the effort and time deserves compensation.
I use PayPal and CashApp for one transactions, which are more or less free to use. Venmo is another option. Be careful and adjust in your settings which personal information that is available in those accounts.
13. Look After Yourself
Really. It’s such hard work. All the planning, promotion, finding volunteers to help you, financial considerations, developing teaching resources, supporting attendees, as well as running the event itself. Take breaks when you need to. Ask for help when you need it; people are very kind.
It is an absolute honour and privilege to run events, but you are the engine to your event and you need to make sure you are in a healthy place to provide support to others.
I hope these tips help anyone running or thinking of running an event. These are solely from my experience. Seek advice from other people to see how they operate and manage the many challenges you will face.
Pssst I accept donations to PayPal firstname.lastname@example.org and CashApp £DeaNexaShibari ….. see what I did there?!!!