Direct from London
Hello, everybody. I'd like to say how pleased I am to be helping KabukiJoe in this new endeavour. Knowing what I do of this dirty old (gentle)man's writings, I can see this being the place to keep your finger on the pulse of what's hot on the scene.
Firstly, let me introduce myself. I'm a bondage artist and teacher from London, a well-known figure on the scene...or maybe just notorious, since I think I am considered to be something of a "rigger in the woodpile" due to my outspoken and often mischievous posts on certain forums. I met KJ through Osada Steve on one of my trips to Japan to take kinbaku lessons and we have kept in touch since. I won't bore you with my full biography, but if you want to find out more, it's all on my site.
So what's the SM scene like in the UK? In a word: Great! I really haven't found anything bigger or better anywhere yet. It seems to be organised very differently from Japan. In the UK, the club circuit is far more developed and, in London, we are spoilt for a choice of events every weekend.
Take a look at LondonFetishScene for a calendar and pictures from all the fetish nights and you'll see what I mean.
If you are thinking of coming to check it out, there's never been a better time as the yen hasn't been worth this much for ages. However, when I visited Torture Garden in Tokyo a year ago, it seemed like a little piece of home. From what I hear, Tokyo Kink Society and Tokyo Decadance are doing a great job of replicating the UK scene, too.
Here, clubs vary from small informal play parties, with or without a dance floor, to the "never knowingly under-dressed" extravaganzas, with many themed rooms, DJs and shows, like the Rubber Ball and main TG events attracting 1,500 or so.
Whilst we have strip clubs and hostess and table dancing venues, there is nothing like the SM mistress bars of Japan; although there are plenty of professional dommes who will cater for every kink for £150-£200 per hour in their fully equipped private dungeons and sometimes run small parties. In addition, we have a number of bondage gatherings such as JustRope and various peer workshops around the country, where enthusiasts swap tips and socialise.
Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of interest in Japanese style bondage, although it's fair to say we are well behind in the skill stakes and very few have grasped the subtleties of true kinbaku. Westernised approximations of kinbaku, and once in a while the "real deal", can regularly be seen in the clubs but it is also beginning to appear in the more avant-garde arts venues and feature in more mainstream media.
For example, I have recently worked on a variety of projects outside the scene including a launch party for purveyors of exotic lingerie, Agent Provocateur, a shoot for .Cent, a high end arts mag, a music video and an installation due to be exhibited in Zurich (photo below shows tailor's dummies bound for incorporation in "The Stalker's Dining Room"). Bondage is in danger of becoming respectable!
So, who do we have in the UK who is producing nice Japanese style work? Some notables spring to mind: Jon Blake, aka Nawashi Murakawa, and Ellie the Nomad, aka Dama Yoni. A couple of up-and-coming youngsters to watch are Indelible Marker and Nawa Koneko. I wish I had been at their stage of rigging at their age! Although not in the UK, Zamil of Berlin deserves a mention as he is undoubtedly the most oustanding in Europe, if not beyond.
Next weekend I'll be running an all-day course and then I'll be off to the TG Valentine's Day Ball for a spot of mischief.
That's all for now but I will be back soon with more of my ramblings and to bring you the latest on the London scene.
Esinem blogs and binds from his home base in the UK. He is a regular contributor to SM Detective.