By Kristina Marlen- participant at Ropework.org 2017.
Before I went to Paris for Ropework.org, the first network meeting for bondage event organizers and presenters in Europe, I was feeling very uncertain: Another weekend on the road dedicated solely to rope? And this time not even with rope, but just talking and reflecting about rope? Isn’t this a bit crazy? Like a dance festival without movement?
Upon arriving I began to question what I’m doing there. At the moment I am neither an organizer nor do I teach regularly in Berlin. I’m just travelling around the world, spreading seeds of spirit here and there. My life consists of a lot of factors and of course, rope is one of them. Wait, no dammit, rope is more than that. Rope somehow holds all of the factors together, creates the connections. It’s the core and the periphery. It structures the unpredictable creation that I call my work-life and serves to connect that creation to my own personal interests and passions. My work is entangled in rope, or maybe rope is entangled in my work, but is that enough? Can I even consider myself a (rope) teacher at the moment?
Just to be able to dig deeper into these questions was enough to show me that I was in the right place. And also, of course, getting the opportunity to meet up with so many friends and loved ones in a new and exciting place. Place des Cordes, c’est extraordinaire, it’s created with love and mindfulness and carried by a beautiful spirit. Thank you for hosting Ropework!
Now, looking back, I know why my intuition was a clear “yes” for going and I’m very glad I did.
This was not an “organizers” event. This event was about building a community. It’s about communication, about creating an understanding and a responsibility about a common mentality, about ethics, about seeing and appreciating one another, about honouring variety, about welcoming growth of the individual and the collective, about the sharing of knowledge. It’s a clear manifesto against individualistic, neoliberalist, and patriarchally organized efforts within our community.
Thank you so much, dear organizers! Thank you for making this dream a reality!
Thank you for creating this space! A space where it’s not about the survival of the fittest and the voice of the loudest. As diverse the topics were, as different the qualities and interests of the people involved, it seemed we all had the same agenda: broadening our knowledge and working within a loving and inclusive community.
We went over topics such as: “queer rope,” the questioning of models attempting to self-optimize, how to deal with politics in the scene, and how to work with differently abled bodies. We had controversial topics such as if the so-called “yoga-wellness-hippie” bondage is affecting the BDSM spirit and eroticism. We had practical discussions, such as how to safely set suspension points, as well as psychological ones, such as “rope and BDSM burnout.”
It seems to me that this event laid the groundwork for a sustainable and open “culture.”
It’s the opportunity to spread the understanding that “rope bondage” is first and foremost a broad range: To surrender to the fact that bondage in Europe nowadays cannot be narrowly defined, but rather is a practice that is constantly EVOLVING.
There’s no way around that and no way to stop that. The rope scene in Europe has exploded in the last 4 years and it will continue to keep on growing.
I would like to take this opportunity now to personally thank Felix Ruckert , who I see as the pioneer of creating this culture. With creating “Eurix,” I believe he opened the door for that flash that we are experiencing right now. I would like to thank him for bigger thinking and inspiration (some of Felix’s core qualities in my opinion), for friendships and collaborations. There are many approaches, practices, motivations, aesthetics, and performative acts. All of them are valid and legitimate. If you as an individual have preferences towards one style or the other, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is welcome.
As my background is dance, I am always using the opportunity to compare bondage with dance.
If I tell someone that there’s dance in my life, generally the person will ask: Which kind of dance? Do you dance hip hop? Ballroom dance? Ballet? Contemporary? Improvisation? Do you do it professionally or just for fun? Are you on stage performing or is it more for self-exploration?
All these questions you could easily ask someone who does rope bondage. Or you could ask yourself. Why are you doing Rope bondage? Do you find it arousing? Do you like the physical challenge? Do you perform? Do you like the community? Would you consider it as art? Do you enjoy sex and bondage strictly with your partner in the bedroom? Do you find it therapeutical or healing? Do you like the nerdiness of it?
The more we ask, the more we talk, the more we become aware, and the more we get differentiated in our way of being, our changes, our desires, our own involvement.
That is exactly why we need to talk!
It’s a bit similar as it is with sex. Verbal communication can be annoying. It can seem like the rational mind takes you away from something which is carried by passion and lust. But ultimately it leads to a deeper understanding of your own experience and opens the universe of active choices.
Acknowledging how different we are is at the core of acceptance. I don’t think a dancer working at the opera, dedicating their life to professional training and art, would judge someone who does fusion belly dance once a week as a hobby. Dance is dance. It’s wandering around this world, it wants to be embodied, and it doesn’t care about the rules of right or wrong, better or worse. Literally, every BODY can dance. In my experience, judgmental attitudes only serve to kill creativity.
If I look around at a Bondagejam, I’m happy to see all of these different kinds of dance: highly aesthetic and technically pleasing scenes in the air; sadistic pleasure; sensual work on the floor; improvized or fusion rope; contemplative, passionate, energetic, erotic rhythms; bodies of many shapes, tones, and sounds expressing themselves in surrender and pleasure.
I’m dancing around with my eyes and compassion and I am happy if this community is one which welcomes its own diversity.
Let’s keep on moving.