Play space – what is it and why do we want it?
Unlike sex, which is a known quantity, which we know about from very early age, which the western culture is preoccupied with, which we practice often, play is new to many of us. Even experienced players have played much less than say a few hundred times in their lives.
Play is also something that is very difficult to define. Again if we compare it to sex, sex is something that involves stimulation of the sexual organs and hopefully culminates in orgasm of all participants. Play can involve none of the sexual organs, and very rarely culminates in orgasm.
Play can even be without touching altogether. A few examples: boot blacking, boot worship, service, remotely controlled behaviors, toilet control, and many many more. So what is it, and how can we define it?
I would say that play is anything that transports the participants from normal day to day reality into an alternative one. There are many means of achieving this; play is definitely not the only one. Meditation would be what most people would try. Some people even resort to drugs, alcohol, etc. Some people experience this briefly and unintentionally. They glimpse it and dream about getting there again.
We, as kinksters, control the journey into play space, to some extent. We decide when, with whom and how. Or are we? There is actually no control. We can aim at that, but we never know where we are going to end up when we begin every play session. There are so many variables that it’s impossible to predict outcomes. We can only hope.
We fear and hope that our emotional receptors will be triggered. We fear and hope that we will be ripped away from our reality and thrown into another for a period of time. We hope and fear it, and sometimes this mix of hope and fear makes us dismiss the notion that it’s even happening; that this is what play is about. Sometimes we just refer to it as slap and tickle that means nothing more than means of arousal. It is easier that way than face the more serious implications.
When play is successful however, it is far more than we bargained for. It connects the participants in a way that nothing else does. And that connection can linger, sometimes for hours or for a lifetime. It is very much like falling in love. You are happy in yourself and your life. Suddenly you meet someone and after a few dates you don’t know how you lived without them. In play situations you don’t even need these few dates, it can happen instantaneously. One minute you are happy socializing in your amazing outfit, meeting new people, not planning to have another relationship in a long long time. The next you are gone. Just like in Matrix, having seen the other side, you cannot go back to not seeing it.
Sometimes you feel like you are drifting outside of your body. In rope suspensions people told me they felt like they were hanging over a few hundred meters drop, or have been gone for hours, when in fact they were about 3 feet from the ground for about 30 minutes. Sometimes people feel disoriented, as if they are floating in space, when in reality they are secured to st. Andrew’s cross and flogged. There are plenty more examples; what they all have in common is an altered state of consciousness.
On a chemical level, play, and especially good play, releases endorphins and induces a sense of euphoria. It isn’t all it does, of course, but this is what happens in the body. After the play is finished and up to a few days after, a drop will occur. On a chemical level a drop is reduction of endorphins, experienced by the body.
On an emotional level it triggers all sort of things: abandonment, insecurity, sadness, loneliness, depression, just to name a few. Every person, top and bottom, will experience, or explain drop to themselves in ways that their psyche is used to interpreting negative feelings. If the play is unsuccessful, the drop will be pretty much instantaneous, negative emotions will surface immediately. The bottom or the top or both would feel disillusioned, sad, lonely, frustrated, etc. If the play is successful, the drop will occur later.
Aftercare is designed to help the top and bottom to transition back into their normal life. But what does it mean, normal?
More about aftercare in the next installment :)