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I have two rants... and they are actually connected. So, I'm gonna send up each one individually, and then make a summary post. A little organizational comment just in case any of you want to follow along.

Rant Number 1 - "It's never been done, so it must suck!!!"


This weekend, a very unique event will be taking place in NYC called KinkForAll. It's an ambitious project, and somewhat of an experiment, founded by two members of Conversio Virium. The concept is to provide a free space for people to share knowledge about alternative sexuality. Anyone can show up, but they have to get involved - either by teaching, volunteering, providing items that will be used by the attendees, etc. They have a central Wiki organizing all of the information, and anyone can get access to it and add their names to the list and what they are contributing.

What I find fascinating about this event is that the structure has been built entirely to prevent any power plays. There is so real centrally governing power involved, no true event staff. Anyone can contribute, and the presentations that will occur will be selected by those in attendance. It is such a unique structure that I am halfway attending just to see how it plays out.

Frankly, I'm not sure if I like the concept. I have a way of approaching events that I have found works, and my comfort zone is there. I am man enough to admit that. On the other hand, I love that someone is doing something new and unique in NYC, because I have to say, most of the stuff we've been doing isn't working.

Last night I was at a meeting that had members of several NYC organizations in attendance. At some point, the discussion turned to the KinkForAll event. The reps from all these other groups were actually making fun of it. Making fun of their lack of organization, making fun of its free-wheeling purpose, of the website, of that fact that there were no one they recognized involved in the formation of this event.

Frankly, they had quite the set of balls to do this. One of the most major organizations in NYC, one that has a history that could fill an entire wing of the Leather Archives and Museum, has been dying a slow death for the past 5 years. There is honest doubt on how long more it will last. Another group has seen it's meeting attendance and member's willingness to get involved shrink. The mood at the meetings and parties is subdued, much more so than in previous years. It's grown stale... and yet, the group marches on as if it is the holiest of holies in NYC.

Step outside NYC, and you'll hear one thing at every event. "The NYC scene is dead."

But it's really not. You want to know where the action is in NYC? Not in the old, but in the new.

NY boys of Leather.
Suspension parties.
Coversio Virium.

New people. Doing new things. Trying new ways. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't. But they try.

The old die. Those who evolve live. And the groups that made fun of this new kid on the block? They're the old.

To be continued.

Comments

( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
fischstick
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:26 pm (UTC)
BTW, these kind of events have been happening in the tech community for years, first with O'Reilly's Foo Camp (2003?) which spawned a bunch of similar BarCamp events.

With the right mix of people they can be really cool. It will be interesting to see how it works out in the kink community

But yeah, to your general point - I couldn't agree more
blk
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
Suspension party?!? Oooooooh.
boymeat
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:33 pm (UTC)
That's the name, though not necessarily the theme. MY read on it is that it is a fetish-style party, with dress code to boot, but with an emphasis on SM play. No genital nudity because it is held in a club with a liquor license, but I hear the action can be good.

I can't speak for it myself, because they happen on Sunday nights past my bedtime. Being a corporate America professional keeps me out of some of the fun.
blk
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
Oh. Foo. SM play on late Sunday nights doesn't bode well for me, either.
epinephric
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
I'll second the second-hand good reviews. I see a lot of FetLife pictures from that party.

nex0s
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Their timeslot has pretty much assured me that I'm unlikely to ever be able to go. :( SUCK.

N.
spikydave
Mar. 7th, 2009 06:56 am (UTC)
Some of the crew from Suspension are cool folks and I walked (err, crawled) in the DeMask fashion show at Gay Erotic Expo.

The Sunday night time slot is horrible and I've contended with that one working the door at com[mutiny] (the party that replaced Byte) but some interesting people call out sick to work once a month to go to these events.

Still, Suspension appears to be mainly straight and while I don't have a problem with that, it's yet another one of those events I know I'd end up scoping out the guys in rubber dancing together in front of me while they're scoping out the girls in the corner making out. Too much frustration for a jaded old queer like myself these days. *chuckle*
ne_penthe
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
It's a great party that I keep missing. They're starting at 9 PM now, and added a second Thursday night event as well..
kathryntact
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
It's a good rant. A random brain gel, those parties that Graydancer helps run called "GRUE" which seem to be gaining in popularity are along the same lines of KinkForAll. It might be an interesting comparison to have in your handbag of how the new can work and often succeed.

So tra la.
blk
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
The GRUE came to mind for me, too. I haven't been to one yet, but I'm hoping to in the next year. It's seemed to me, in theory, like an idea that is great for smaller numbers of people (like <500), but would fall apart for larger ones. I am very interested in seeing the good things that come out of this new stuff, though.
(Deleted comment)
boymeat
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
You hit the nail right on the ass'... ass.

In both groups that I refer to above, the damage was done largely by one person at a time. People who somehow get a strangle hold on the way things are done within their organization. People who have been their so long that they now personally identify with the organization, so that a critism of a group policy is actually a critism of the person, and vice versa.

It's disgusting and frustrating to watch, especially when organization policies prevent you from being able to do a damn thing about it.
jkuroda
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC)
Oooh, you hit one of my favorite rant topics.
I'll hold myself to less than a few thousand words though.

"Making fun of ... fact that there were no one they recognized involved in the formation of this event."

no one they recognized [was] involved in the formation of this event

Which says to me "they themselves are irrelevant," which then makes me think of a quote from Gandhi which may itself be totally irrelevant:

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

Lets rant more when you're in town for IMsL.
haptotrope
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
What, the old guard is still bitching?

good golly. people need to get laid more.
boymeat
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
It would be almost comedic if it was the Old Guard. But it isn't! It's the whole generation after that!

Don't worry. Old Guard and related topics comes up next.
haptotrope
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
Nouveau Guarde?

Well the OLD guard needed to be replaced at some point anyway. Or rather, they were going to negative vibe and bad juju themselves out of a posse of scene buddies.

freakin' scene republicans, longing for the days when they did things 100% right, all the time. Like Donna Fucking Reed in Goddamned boots.
kathryntact
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC)
It frightens me that my reaction to your comment was Phil's. But I want to go even further. It's not just the old guard, or just the generation after that. It's nearly every segmented faction, each convinced that their way is the better way, whether it's newer or older.

The idea of community seems to take a back seat when people scramble about trying to decide who should run it and why. Because, of course, we need a "LEADER".
adpfromga
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
don't we need a mission statement first?
pierceheart
Mar. 6th, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
No, first comes a vision statement, then a mission statement, but only after examining and establishing what your values and motivations are.

After you have vision, and mission, then you need SMART goals.
adpfromga
Mar. 6th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
then we get a coffee cup with the whole thing on it, right?
kathryntact
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
We like t-shirts better than coffee cups. We like to wear our missions, yo.
haptotrope
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:46 pm (UTC)
wear them?

tattoo them on your ass!

The bigger the font the more dedicated you are, and the more prone to bitching about the "good old days when you were getting some"
kathryntact
Mar. 7th, 2009 12:53 am (UTC)
But but ... I'm not a reaaaaal bottom/masochist/slave/submissive/switch.

Cause I'm not into needles. Can I get a fake tattoo? Henna perhaps?
haptotrope
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
This is not uncommon in organizational theory, and volunteer based groups.

There is a really interesting concept in organizing/ org theory// of the "coalition buster" -- which is the person (usually older/been around longer but not always) who has some ideas (how things should be done, the order of the parade, the way ticket are designed and taken - usually minimal things, that are kinda of "operations specific" (IMHE) that chooses to value "personal rightness" over "sustainability", "group cohesion" and "sticking to the mission." -- And the thing is, they see all of their steering interactions as positive, when really they are just banging nails into the coffin.

As for the "leader factor" --- they are harder to come by than one may think, and for volunteer orgs, voting isn't terribly useful, because membership is inherently transient - and no one ever knows the whole and continuous story. Usually, it takes some highly charismatic Jesus-y figure, who deftly controls the group without any 'actual power' -- But, it seems that "the scene" with all its power issues, seems (seemed) inclined to give people actual power (through voting and rigid Robert's rules of order) structures -- which demystifies the general guidance of said charismatical guide.

why, oh why oes org theory have to be my damned hobby!
see also:
48 laws of Power by Robert Greene
kathryntact
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
Admittedly, you have an interesting hobby. I have some experience with volunteer organizations as my mother is one of those "full time volunteer" sorts and dragged me to everything. That aside, I've always managed to stay out of the power shuffles within them because power mongering in the gentry is sad -- of course, it's sad amongst the leather-clad set as well. No one ever wins when they spend all of their time trying to be "THE ONE".

And I've always wanted to be Jesus-y.

Appreciate the link muchly.
haptotrope
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:45 pm (UTC)
Its not like we don't get off on power-games or anything.

And "the One" (the Keanu) isn't self chosen. They just are. It also is usually works better if you don't even want it. Those that do, simply demand consensus via organization. (or call a vote to crown one emperor)


(Its a great book -- there are others in the series, and 33 strategies of war and art of seduction )
haptotrope
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:47 pm (UTC)
oh, ps: about the books. They are about power and strategy --which sometimes isn't about 'being a nice person' -- just sayin'.
kathryntact
Mar. 7th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
I am not known for my niceness. (Isn't that a good thing? :-D)

As for the other books, I have been looking for reading material lately. I think I might check out the art of seduction. It looks fabulous. Thanks again for the link goodness.

Hi, I'm Kathryn. Nice to e-meet you.
dawne_vs_luna
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
KinkForAll reminded me of some of the events that Greydancer helps do. Basically an unorganized event.
They do pretty well.
A great opportunity to exchange ideas. A fresh look on things.
I think it sounds awesome and wish I was closer to take part.
becalyn
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
Actually a good rant and something that is seen down here in the DC scene as well. The old ways of doing things aren't working, the organizations are uncomfortable changing and as a result attendance and interest is waning.

Sometimes I'm not sure that the only solution isn't simply let them implode under their own weight and build anew.
(Deleted comment)
epinephric
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
I know a number of people involved in KFA, maybe even a majority. There are personalities there too, people who are set on doing things their way because their way is best. At the moment, that way is popular with the crowd they are pitching to. At least part of it is the cost! Most of the passion and energy belongs to people who can't afford to go to big events. People at college age are probably as smart and energetic as they are ever going to be, and they are starting from much farther along than their elders started, or than their elders ever got, in some cases. You give them the space and the time, and the tools they are comfortable with using, and amazing things can happen.
raucuspc
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC)
I love the kink for all concept. I just emailed them to inquire about doing one in DC. I think I can pull together a space and I've been a PBWiki user since its launch. Please post your thoughts after you attend on Sunday.

Cheers, Paul.
becalyn
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
I was thinking the same thing for the DC area. We're always looking for new types of events to host at the Crucible.

Would love to hear feedback from those who go.
raucuspc
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
Interesting suggestion, thanks. I'm tempted to jump on the Chinatown bus to check it out myself now.
epinephric
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC)

I'd submit The Floating World as another example of something that's working. I would also say that the reason these things are working is passionate buy-in from the people they would represent. The older groups are having trouble finding enough people to be passionate enough. Some of that is entrenched politics and grudges.

CV is required to turn over it's leaders every 4 years, simple because they graduate. I don't know about NYboL, though everyone I know in NYboL is pretty passionate about it - and under 30.

I think that's another problem that the older groups have - their members are older, sometimes much older. Which means they automatically get tagged as 'creepy'. Ageism sucks on either end of it.
petemosq
Mar. 6th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
The scene evolves and so do the people in it. The Suspension parties seem nice and I may be able to make one someday. KFA may be very well done or it may not be, but if the people doing it get something out of it who gives a shit? TES & other 'established' groups have their own cycles. The secret of longevity is that things go up and down. I sat on the board, did what I felt was the right thing, and when the right thing was to leave I left. I respect anyone who is willing to step up and fill those seats.
People are always attracted to what's 'new' and that's fine. Why does it mean that you have to discard the old. If you don't support the established scene venues, they will go away. Paddles is fighting to keep its doors open, and if it has to close people will complain that we don't have a public dungeon anymore. People will bitch and whine about TES, but would miss it if they didn't have someplace to come out every week.

You don't make a difference by NOT showing up. I'm glad that we have alternatives and choices. Let's make sure we continue to.
boymeat
Mar. 7th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC)
First off, bullshit to not making a difference due to appearance. Voting with your wallet and presence does say something. And I find it tough to go to a place that feels stale and not-fun.

And second off, bullshit to the old going in cycles. What goes down does NOT go up. Groups evolve, or die. One major organization is learning that right now the hard way, and another is being stifled by its current leadership/"president", in turn causing volunteers to leave the group in droves.

It's nice to have a sentimental connection to where you've been. I have it too. I can pine all I want about the Bond St. days of TES, but that will never bring it back. An organization evolves, or it dies. Simple as that.

Paddles is fighting to keep its doors open because it's not a good club. It's layout sucks for any scene other than spanking. It has a reputation for having touchy-feely clientele who are rude and obnoxious to single women, thus they don't go. I only go to Paddles if there is a TES party, and even then rarely.

I'm not discarding the old. I'm moving with the times. The times change. So needs to the old.
deafdyke
Mar. 7th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
I'm a little skeptical about how successful an "unorganized" event can be, but I DO think it'll be fun. Lots of experienced people have volunteered to help out. It's free. It's open to everyone.

I guess I'll have to check out a Suspension party.
thanos73
Mar. 7th, 2009 02:06 am (UTC)

Wow that attitude of the NYC board you mentioned reminded me a lot of BDS back in the day. To much infighting and lack of turn over in aspects of any org will eventually lead to its death. Gotta agree with you there 100% evolve with the times or die. Evolving doesn't mean getting rid of everything old either, some old stuff is really great.
terrorlynn
Mar. 7th, 2009 06:09 am (UTC)
I think you smell like cheese doodles.

I'm going to leave my comment at that for now, and maybe add more in the morning. But...in general...yes.
spikydave
Mar. 7th, 2009 07:08 am (UTC)
Another group has seen it's meeting attendance and member's willingness to get involved shrink. The mood at the meetings and parties is subdued, much more so than in previous years. It's grown stale...

For a second I thought you were making a reference there to NYboL. This whole KinkForAll thing does sound very interesting and I wish I could make it. Alas I'm getting the feeling that 2009 will be remembered as the year that the corporate machinery finally sucked me into the pits of it's fortified belly and spits my bones out when it's done digesting me.

At least at this rate by the time I start turning up regularly on nights out there will be lots of new faces who don't recognize me and my system of alienating them one by one can begin anew. *grin*
qookie
Mar. 10th, 2009 03:31 am (UTC)
Having moved from Buffalo to NYC, in part, because the scene back there had failed to evolve and died, I am more than a little saddened by your comments here. I am also more than a little concerned about getting involved with the groups out here. I start to wonder "is my participation in this or that going to be interpreted as aligning myself with someone? and, if so, is this someone that I want to align myself with?"
It's a little scary to try to establish yourself in a new organization when you don't know what the politics are or who is going to try to use you to advance their own subversive takeover.
Any advice would be most welcomed.
Q
boymeat
Mar. 10th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
I say don't worry about alignments - that's one of the key issues in the first place. Get involved in ways that will make you happy, that will satisfy you. Bring in new energy and new ideas.

When stepping into a new organization, I always recommend starting out by volunteering. A job here, a job there. Join a committee that interests you. Get a track record, while at the same time learning about the organization. See if you feel like you can make a contribution, that it is a place where you could work and be happy doing it. And through that, you allow other people get to know you, and build trust and respect.

The fact is, every organization has leadership issues, whether it is staleness, jadedness, megalomania, etc. It doesn't matter if it is a SM group or a knitting club, where ever there is leadership there is strife. Know that going in, and you won't be surprised when it happens.
( 44 comments — Leave a comment )