Posted at 13:08 on 7 Oct 2010 by Pandora / Blake
A couple of people have asked me for recommendations of fetish clubs lately. I'm also looking for a new club that suits all my requirements, and have just spent an hour or so looking through listings of active clubs to see what might fit.
I didn't think my requirements were that picky, but I can't seem to find anywhere that ticks all the boxes. I'm looking for a club which:
- Has a strict fetish dresscode. I don't mean that spending lots of money is mandatory, but I go to fetish clubs as a voyeur/exhibitionist as well as a player, and I like to feel that the other attendees are as keen to express themselves creatively in their outfit as I am. If everyone has put lots of effort and imagination into looking interesting and sexy, it makes for a better atmosphere and a more exhilirating, otherworldly experience.
- Permits sex. Kink and sex are almost indistinguishable for me. I very very rarely play with people I'm not interested in fucking (roleplay and performing in films/photoshoots are the exception here) and the type of play I enjoy at clubs is intrinsically sexual. Moreover, a lot of my D/s experience is explicitly sexual, and I like being able to explore and enjoy that when I'm at a club rather than having to suppress half my kinky sexuality; it feels artificial and kind of prudish.
Other boxes it would be good to tick include: stylish, glossy venue; culture of good etiquette; no "wanky men"; good dance music (by which I don't mean electro or funky house - I like to dance to hard house, happy hardcore, trance and psytrance, drum and bass).
So what are the options if you're going out in London? I'll start with listing the clubs I've actually been to:
The biggest, glossiest, most expensive fetish club in the UK. I've been to this more than any other. It's not a play club so much as a voyeur's club. People go to look and be looked at, and the outfits are amazing. But they always overfill venues and sell too many tickets; it's overcrowded, takes ages to move between rooms, and is full of people who are there to stare and aren't scene kinksters who understand the etiquette. I've never gone to a TG and not been groped by a stranger, normally in the press of bodies as you're trying to move between rooms. The overcrowding also makes it almost impossible to play - there isn't space in the dungeon to swing an implement, even if you can manage to get to a piece of furniture, and there are usually a frustrating number of people sitting on fetish furniture rather than using it. I've had some fantastic sex in various rooms of the club, but the couples room is often overcrowded. Still, the performances are worth watching, and it was my club of choice while it still played decent dance music. Unfortunately the music policy changing to favour dirty electro has tipped the balance, and these days I have less patience for the crowds, the wanky men, the pushy drunks, and the people who have no concept of scene etiquette.
I'm very fond of Subversion even though it doesn't permit sex. Mostly this is because of the atmosphere: it's extremely relaxed and friendly. Everyone there is a real person, there to play and participate, and I've always found it a great place to make new kinky friends. It's well-equipped and the standard of play is high, people dress up and I very rarely have any trouble with people breaching etiquette. I've never danced there, but it's more of a social experience for me anyway. I do get frustrated by not being able to conclude sexy scenes in the way that feels most natural, though. I don't intend to stop going to Subversion, but I want to find a more pro-sex club to complement it.
Antichrist is a good laugh - it's half goth/industrial dance club, and half fetish club. As such, it can be a bit weird if you've spent time on the London goth scene bumping into acquaintances you aren't used to seeing (and may not want to see) in a kinky context. The dresscode is pretty broad - goth jeans and trainers are permitted - but most people make an effort. Sex is permitted, but most people don't. The play area is quite small, and the feeling that half the people are there for the music rather than the play can make you feel a bit self-conscious.
This morning, D and I have been looking through clubs we haven't been to in search of one that appeals. Here's what we've made of the choices so far:
Festival of Sins
This is hosting an event this Saturday, which is what put it into mind. It looks interesting, but we were put off by the small play area and description of the dungeon:
"Rather than a traditional dungeon, we have the Tales of Sin. In the middle of the Tales of Sins room, there is a sinful play area equipped with luscious dungeon equipment. This is surrounded by intimate booths themed around each of the deadly sins. You can explore these delightfully ever-changing corners of fantasy to create your own tale of sin."
I don't know about you, but I imagine those booths as full throughout the night with drinkers, and nowhere left to play. They don't permit sex, either, and the music policy seems to be similar to TG's.
Penny went to this recently, which was what put it in mind; she spoke highly of the erotic shows and performances. It has a couples room and dresscode. There isn't much info about the music (although it does seem to lean towards funky electro), but it might be worth a try at some point.
People describe Hades as a serious play club. The emphasis is on play and more play, with a very free dress code and less in the way of decor and dancefloor than other clubs. Etiquette is strictly enforced, including silence if you're watching scenes in the edge play room. This is a club I would go to with Tom, I think, or someone who would be interested in going out just to play rather than as part of a bigger clubbing experience. They don't permit sex, though, so maybe not.
Club Rub initially looks very promising - the Lightbox is an extremely shiny venue, the dresscode seems similarly glossy, and I've heard good things about it. Unfortunately, it disappoints on music ("sexy house", which has never ever described anything I could actually enjoy dancing to) and on prudishness (their NO SEX rule is very strongly worded). It might be worth a visit at some point, especially if they do something similar to last month's British Empire and CP theme in the future, but it looks unlikely to suit D and me.
Hard to tell whether this could suit us or not, as the website is hopelessly out of date. The old venue included a spa and sauna, but there's no information on the site about their new venue or future events, and I don't know if it's still active.
This is heavily focussed on female domination, and as such isn't quite the right scene for me and a male dom. I might go with Penny sometime, but I'd be concerned about both of us being overwhelmed by pushy male subs.
This has a very goodlooking venue and dress code, but no information about whether sex is permitted. The website is remarkably thin on information, in fact, including about future events. I'd appreciate any info from anyone who's been to this.
The F Club
This was recommended to me by Amy Hunter and Leia Ann Woods, who have both enjoyed it. It's a membership only club which runs fetish and swingers nights. There's no clear guidance on the music policy, or whether sex is permitted at the fetish nights (although it seems likely in context). The membership fees are somewhat high - although less if you're buying as a couple, and they seem to be reduced for Fetlife/LFS/IC members, so this might be worth investigating at some point.
As recommended by Filament Magazine. This looks damn near perfect: overtly queer and trans-friendly (most fetish clubs are, but I tend like the atmosphere of the ones that make a point of it), focussed on artistic expression and creativity, fun, a bit different, with safe sex explicitly permitted and a sensible code of conduct. I don't know how much spanking or BDSM play there'd be, but it seems like it would be fun to find out. You need to introduce yourself before you can buy a ticket, and unfortunately D's last attempt to begin this process met with no reply. It seems worth pursuing, though, so I'll chase them and let you know how I get on.
This post is intended as an information resource (albeit limited!) to interested people, as well as a call for help finding something that suits me. So if you have any recommendations to make, fire away - but it would be awesome if you could also comment with your experiences of any of these clubs you've been to, to help others make an informed choice.
Anyone interested in fetish clubbing in London but who doesn't know where to start looking should sign up to the London Fetish Scene website (if you can get past the prohibitively difficult captcha!) and spent some time on the forums there. It's also a good round-up of current fetish clubs and forthcoming events.