Our Culture

Each BDSM club has its own rules and expectations, but also its own character and flavor. People visiting or joining RKS after playing elsewhere sometimes find the way we do things a little strange—so herein we're going to cover what to expect. If you’re brand new to the scene, there is some good stuff in here for you too.

Protocol

RKS parties have a laid-back character to them. It’s not that we don’t appreciate high protocol, just that we don’t encounter it much. Our “default” assumption is that you’re like the rest of us—laid back, friendly, ready to chat and make friends with anyone new attending. If you’re used to places where high protocol is the norm, you may find it a little strange that people in jeans and a T-shirt tend to walk straight up and start talking to your sub without gaining your permission first.

This is part of our community culture here at RKS (and which reflects Rochester in general). If this happens, just let us know you’re high protocol (you may have to repeat yourself a few times on your first visit, as different people introduce themselves) and we’ll accommodate you. One way to mitigate this is to change into scene clothes soon after arriving and put your sub on a leash. This will help delineate that you’re more formal than the rest of us (but you may still have to advise a few of us about your status).

Ranking & Competition

In some groups’ cultures, people in the scene “compete” informally over who can do the coolest, the most intense, the most unique, or the widest range of scenes. Those who move up through this ranking process use it as justification to declare themselves as community leaders.

We avoid that at RKS. Following a schism in 2006, we lost many of the people who played that game. Afterward, we found a lot of people returning who had previously stayed away because they didn’t like competition or being treated as inferior; these new members, along with the loss of the competitive ones, laid the foundation for RKS’ current laid-back, inclusive culture.

Don’t get us wrong: we will respect your fantastic scenes, and you’ll no doubt have an intently focused audience when you’re doing something we’ve never seen before. Your needle-fire-wax-bullwhip all-in-one-scene may be talked about for years to come—but it’s not “better” than the simple thuddy flogging and sensual massage scene on the other end of the dungeon. More intense, sure; impressive, maybe; but these are objective—“better” is subjective. Some of our members aren't ready or aren't interested in playing on those levels, and nobody likes having their scenes declared inferior. What really matter is that everyone goes home happy at the end of the night, regardless of the levels we each play at. Please, don't ruin this by introducing ranking games.

Additionally, play counts for skill cred, but that’s not the same as group leadership cred. Sure, a few newbies will be impressed, but the traits that most exemplify community leadership are patience, honesty, fairness, reasonableness, tolerance, and honor. (More on this later.)

DM Intervention

The situations where DMs intervene in scenes is set by policy. But like a lot of things in life, policy is one thing and reality is another.

At RKS, we have a continual stream of newbies joining the group. While you may be an experienced Dom from playing elsewhere, you’ll be new to us—and that means you’re going to be watched more cautiously than you are accustomed to. You can alleviate this to a degree by talking to the DM beforehand to let him or her know about your prior scene experience. If you’ve brought your own sub(s) who you routinely play with, introducing yourselves to the DM together and mentioning your history would be even better.

This won’t buy you free reign, but as we get to know you and those you play with, you’ll be given more leeway. It’s part of growing into RKS and establishing a track record, because coming in, we don’t know if you really know what you say you do, or if you’re just some idiot mostly-cyberdom who thinks he knows what he’s doing and is claiming to be God’s greatest gift to BDSM (you’ve probably run into a few of those idiots yourself, so you understand, right?). Patience.

Group Dynamics

RKS is a large group with a long history. We get together to party twice a month, more often if you include munches, socials, game and movie nights, etc. Maintaining a sense of community in a group this size is very different from smaller groups. It’s also very different from periodic parties that happen quarterly, or the big annual shindigs: at the end of the day, we still need to get along with each other.

Part of the reason we all get along is that we try to be fair, and are willing to compromise with one another. Whether it’s our penetration policy, TNG vs. Kink Classic, or even our membership fees, issues have been debated, members listened to, and compromises made that allow us all to get along.

In the United States, we’ve come to see “compromise” as a bad thing. But in RKS, it’s compromise that keeps us together. Some would like our penetration policy to be relaxed for toys—but recognizing that it would upset and drive away some members, we accept the restrictions for the good of holding the community together. And instead of letting the TNG fracture our community, we added some Kink Classic events to balance things out. Do some people think it’s unnecessary, that we should all hold together as a single, unified community? Sure—but not so much as to use their opinion as a wedge. We each make a few sacrifices for the sake of holding the community together as a whole.

As you join our community, I hope you’ll see it as neither my group, nor your group—it’s our group. I invite you to participate with the same reasonableness, fairness, and willingness to compromise that has allowed us to grow into a well-respected, healthy group. Please take the time to get to know and understand the group and our ways before concluding that since things in RKS are different from elsewhere, that they are wrong. Give our way a chance. If after a few months you still think you've got a better way, tell us about it. And that leads into the next topic.

Change in RKS

The larger an animal, the slower its metabolism, the slower its heart beats. Change in RKS is like this—the larger the group gets, the slower it changes. It doesn’t mean we stop changing, although sometimes it can feel like we do.

In the last section, I talked about how 150 people get along through compromise, through balancing individual needs vs. the group, and being willing to forgo things we might personally want when it’s best for the group. But finding those compromises and creating understanding takes time. So when you want something to change, understand that the organization won’t turn on a dime, no matter how good the idea is.

Members need a chance to think about and discuss proposed changes. Sometimes, there are conflicts with existing rules or compromises, and these need to be raised and considered. Other times, some members disagree with a rule change, and having time allows people to discover and discuss alternatives or compromises. As a discussion moves into a formal proposal for the group, the RKS Board has to find a time to put the debate and a poll on the schedule (the Board typically avoids having multiple issues running concurrently, and likes to have a small break between each one to allow tensions to dissipate.)

The opportunity to participate in the debate and be heard creates a sense of ownership or membership in RKS. At the end of the matter, those that “lose” an argument can at least go forward knowing that their viewpoint was considered, and not dismissed out-of-hand. This maintains community cohesion, helping prevent people leaving out of anger and frustration.

Contrast this to what has happened when someone tries to “force” an issue through quickly: Argument changes from rational, calm discourse to personal attacks, ranting, and/or bickering; participants end up angry at each other. People that don’t like a proposal dig in their heels and resist change. The individuals most concerned about the proposal, whether for or against, lose perspective and the ability to seek potential compromises, not that they would accept them even if they were proposed. Those who don’t have a stake in the matter feel caught in the cross-fire, and the resulting frustration often damages their bond with the community. The community loses more than any one individual or side wins, the “losing” party may leave in frustration at not feeling heard or being misunderstood, and/or moderates leave to avoid “drama”—all of which hurts RKS fiscally.

It’s said we learn best from our mistakes—and many of us learned a lot in RKS’ early days. Help us in avoiding a repeat of those mistakes.

In closing

Patience, honesty, fairness, reasonableness, tolerance, honor—these are the things that keep RKS together as a whole. We don’t do things quite like other BDSM clubs—and that may not be entirely bad, given the churn of drama in our early history, and ongoing in many clubs.

Someone recently complimented the group on our handling of a bit of trouble that occurred:

I am still feeling out the RKS... I loved the collective "tough love" and compassion mix that the group showed with [the individual]... not all the members agreed with each other on the handling of her—but it was still cool to see the civil debating between members about it. Respect is far more important than agreement...

I quote her here (with permission, of course) because she captures the essence of getting it right

One of the things I’ve come to believe in is living up to our claims, and leading by example. If you want to demonstrate your worthiness, or claim status as a community leader, show us—the aforementioned criteria are the ones you should demonstrate proficiency with. Show us that you honor our group by taking the time to understand it. Show us your tolerance for all fetishes and kinks, and avoid ranking games. Exhibit fairness by tempering your own needs or wants with those of the group. Show wisdom as you contribute to the group’s development.

Play skills will get you a quick but shallow, temporary respect. The interpersonal skills listed here will establish a much stronger, longer-lasting respect. For the good of us all, please choose wisely.