“Do you think they wash the ropes? I mean, I realise that they must have absorbed sweat, other bodily fluids and samples of random people’s DNA. And now they’re just lying on the floor, which is probably dirty as well…”
This is what a female friend asked me. We were part of the audience at an exclusive Shibari event at my local fetish club on a Sunday afternoon. We were sitting in the front row and waiting for the show to begin. It was an intimate gathering of around a dozen people. My friend was a newbie in the fetish world but she had a particular bondage fantasy that she wanted to explore. So, she had asked me to go along with her. As you might imagine, I was only too happy to oblige. I also began to wonder whether the ropes got washed regularly.
“Probably not”, I answered her. “But try not to think about it. ”
She didn’t look particularly convinced. Anyway, it was too late to get squeamish because she was next in line to be tied up. Ahead of her was a woman in her thirties. I recognised her because I had seen her in the bar only a few minutes earlier. She had been alone then. Now, however, she was completely naked and displaying herself in front of a room full of complete strangers.
“Is it your first time?” The shibari master asked her. She nodded nervously and made her way towards him. He was in his fifties, I guessed, an intellectual type with long hair and a beard, a cross between Zeus and Santa Claus.
As I looked on, I thought about all those people who had started their Sunday with a very different type of worship in mind; the kind that takes place in a church. After receiving a catholic upbringing, I couldn’t help but think about the similarities, and differences, between the two types of ceremonial behaviour. In a church, for example, the cross is a physical warning against committing sin, as well as being a reminder of sacrifice. At the fetish club. people queued up to get tied to a cross, purely for pleasure. They didn’t need a statue of Jesus occupying the place already set aside for a willing, and compliant, sub. That breed of submissive doesn’t want to save the world. They just need to save themselves.
At the club, the area set aside for the shibari demonstration seemed very much like an altar to me. Its ceiling-mounted hook and sturdy suspension rope waited for the next bound worshipper. The man in charge of tying had a priestly look about him. The woman receiving the sacrament of shibari and suspension had the eager expression of someone taking communion. Her nakedness was celebrated, not frowned upon. Strange, and hypnotic music re-enforced the earnest atmosphere. I noticed that we were all dressed in a kind of fetishistic Sunday best: all tight, all black, all shiny. At the club, refusal to adhere to that dress code denied you access. In church, they are more tolerant. The pure ritualised nature of the club reminded me of Mass. Instead of having to get up early for that, at the club, it was Sunday afternoon The BDSM community has, at least, some consideration for your much deserved Sunday lie-in.
Being tied up and then suspended from the ceiling isn’t really my thing if I’m being honest. But, I’m still a greedy voyeur and I do appreciate shibari as an art form. In particular, I admire its beautiful knots and the skill required to maintain consistency, and symmetry, in the rope-work. But now, as I watched, I began to notice a great deal more; the energy that exists between the one doing the tying and the one being tied is blissful to behold. It was like being a mute witness to someone else’s intimate erotic moment. That felt like a supreme privilege. The trust and the tenderness, I spied on, was mesmerising. I observed how she closed her eyes and got lost in her own private fantasy world. She surrendered to the shibari master. I also noted the intensity with which he stared at her: protective, desiring, his nose lingering around her nape, taking in her scent.
Then, the first knots were tied and her arms were fixed behind her back. Her arousal was evident. She had an engorged labia, there was a telltale glisten in between the tops of her thighs and her breasts, tipped with hard nipples, rose and fell. Her breath quickened. The knot that marked the beginning of her suspension, and weightlessness, was finally tied. Now, she was truly at his mercy.
When there were no more ropes to secure, she was suspended and it felt like a kind of climax. He gave her a little spin so that he could admire the completion of another temporary masterpiece. It was a fleeting moment of fulfilment because there were other people waiting to enjoy their own experience. Then, all of a sudden I was suddenly aware of my own, throbbing, clitoris.
The untying procedure began. I decided that nothing could better what I’d just witnessed. So, I decided to make my excuses and leave. At the club, the Sunday worshippers are free to depart whenever they want. I told my friend, but she wanted to stay and have her turn. She didn’t seem concerned about how hygienic the ropes were anymore.
I went outside. It was still bright, sunny and a world away from the environment I had just left.
After taking a few moments to adjust, I made my way home to masturbate. After all that excitement, I decided that it was time to worship myself.