I am sitting here this morning, eyes blurry from four long and intense days at the Taboo Show. For those who are unfamiliar with it, the Taboo Show is a trades how that is all about sex, sexuality and sexual health. There were all sorts of sexy performances, from drag shows to fire poi, lectures by Dr. Jess in a large classroom area, and presentations on rope bondage, polyamory, swinging, hedonism, gay leather history and more.
The trade show also included booths of wares and services. From large scale vendors such as the “Love Shop” to local stores such as “Traveling Tickle Trunk” to home parties such as Edmonton’s own “Igniting Passions” Taboo is a place you can find all the naughty, sexy, kinky and sensual toys, books, lotions and potions.
As a nonprofit with a mission to promote sex positive values, we were honored when Taboo gave us the dungeon space to organize, set up and “run” for the four days of the show. We spend a couple of months planning and weeks collecting volunteers and setting up schedules.
The dungeon boasted of a variety of stations, from an amazing cross, spanking benches, rope suspension frames, massage tables to a set of bent over stocks. It looked amazing! (pictures will go up in a couple of days, stay tuned!). But what was more amazing, at least to us at ASPECC, is the volunteers.
There were over 50 volunteers that came out from the BDSM community, to share their knowledge with those that came to the show. They demonstrated their skills, from elaborate rope scenes to sensual wax play; spanking to single tail whips. They answered questions and generously gave their time to attendees who wanted to try some of the activities they were watching. Rope enthusiasts tied chest harnesses on those curious to try. Volunteers dripped wax on the bodies of the curious. Spankings, floggings, and even whippings were given to consenting attendees. A gentleman was there all weekend teaching people how to “trample” and encouraging them to explore their inner sadist.
These volunteers risk themselves at shows like this. Onlookers often photograph them without bothering to even ask if it is ok. Their bosses or coworkers might attend and see them. Some have been outed by journalists posting photos in the paper from the show. In a society where we still engage in a great deal of sex shaming, this risk is real, and often carries large consequences. Yet they all faced that risk. Their passion about their lifestyle, about consensual sexual freedom, is so great that they took those risks to educate those that are open to learning.
These volunteers made the play space the amazing space it was! So I hope that if you attend a show like this, and you try something, or you see someone patiently and tireless handing out spankings to a line of onlookers, or letting strangers touch their (often very expensive) BDSM toys-thank them. Acknowledge that what they are doing is valuable.
The show was a great success for us at ASPECC. We have to do inventory and tallies, but I am certain we raised some funds from sales of goods, donations and chocolate-but what is more important to me is the people we spoke to, the communities we watched put their all into sharing of themselves, and the willingness of people to ask questions and bravely experience new things. For those that did try new things, I thank you for trusting us to give you that experience!
I hear from Taboo staff that they were very pleased with us (Hurrah!), and media interviews from radio, TV and even a documentary with board members and volunteers occurred. Dozens of attendees, vendors and staff approached us to thank us for the wonderful job we did, which was heart warming. We received many compliments and a great deal of encouragement! While many said that they enjoyed the dungeon from previous years, the change to the way the play space was structured was welcomed and appreciated. Many commented that they loved the consensual space, and our posting of demo times was loved by media, organizers and attendees!
Stay sex positive!!