Need info about S&M clubs for novel


I thought about putting this in GQ but I’d like impressions and opinions as well as facts, so this seemed better. Please feel free to move it if I was wrong.

So for the novel I’m working on for NaNoWriMo (and beyond–it’s already 35,000 words past the requisite 50K and looking like it’ll go past 100 before it’s done) the big climax (heh) takes place in an S&M club in San Francisco that’s going to end up being the headquarters for the big baddie. I’ve never been to an S&M club, so I thought I’d turn to the Dope and see if anybody can give me some descriptions/impressions/interesting tidbits.

Here’s what I’d like to do with it:

  • I want it to be big and fancy.
  • Ideally it would ostensibly be a high-class nightclub/ultralounge with a dark/goth/industrial kind of theme to it, and you’d have to know the right people to be able to get downstairs to the “good stuff.”
  • I want it to be hardcore. This is a horror story, so any descriptions of the more out-there sorts of practices that my protagonists might see while making their way through a place like that would be appreciated.
  • What would it be like for a couple of folks who’ve never been to a place like that? They’re not innocents (one is a 24-year-old guy who grew up with a cop father, the other is a mid-30s British mage who moonlights as a college professor) but this would definitely be a new experience. Would they stand out like sore thumbs? Neither of them would know how to dress to “blend in,” but the younger guy would be in jeans/leather jacket and the mage in a long black overcoat and suit.

Thanks in advance for any info!

Hrm. Could have sworn we had some folks around here who were into that sort of thing, but maybe I was wrong or they’ve moved on.

I was reading some Yelp reviews of a place in San Francisco that used to advertise in one of the alternative weeklies, and now I feel like have to take a shower. :stuck_out_tongue: Very skeevy. Apparently the earlier version wasn’t quite as bad, but the new location is horrible.

Guess I’ll have to make up my own version and try to non-skeeve it as much as possible. I want horror, but not ick.

And no, I don’t think sex is icky. But I do think sticky surfaces and little guys in towels who follow you around the club and masturbate *en masse *are icky (these are both things that came up in the Yelp reviews multiple times. :eek:)

You’ll just have to go to one.

But in the movie Eurotrip, there is a funny scene in a bondage club in Amsterdam. (I think it’s Amsterdam)

Probably just tied up.

First of all I’m far from an expert, but nobody else is posting first hand experience so I’ll share my limited experience.

Frankly you’ll need to take a lot of artistic license if you want it to be horrific, so just do what you like. For instance, some of the activities would probably be pretty shocking to a very innocent person, but the people are likely to be extremely nice and open-minded and friendly. You might see lots of very normal middle aged people who aren’t classically attractive anymore, what with being real people who’re just trying to have fun. Also a lot of old gross hairy men who’re not the least bit intimidating or debonaire, and some very attractive young fetish models who’re remarkably fun and nice for how attractive they are.

I’ve never been anywhere particularly fancy but I guess that makes as much sense as anything. I would suggest you make it fancy relative to a real high-class nightclub and not fancy at a level only seen in fiction. That is, assuming you’re want to be somewhat plausible, based on looking for info here.

You have to “know the right people” at a lot of real fetish clubs but it’s not like a secret society, more about getting someone to vouch for you being a well behaved non-creepy non-violent person.

Welts and marks from being beaten form (and heal) a lot easier than you might expect so your characters could easily think the masochist attendees are being hurt much worse than they actually are. People might be not only tied up buy actually suspended in the air from ropes. Some people might be crawling around like animals. They might be licking other people’s boots, a pretty obvious symbolic act. Men might be dressed up in feminine women’s clothing. They might see a dominant attendee casually use a submissive attendee’s mouth as a toilet. Some submissive people might be bleeding from being cut in non-life threatening locations.

The above list is more common but potentially horrific things that people who’re into SM do, not necessarily common in a SM club. As I said, I think you’ll find it easier to take some liberties.

Well dress codes are typical, so they probably wouldn’t get in wearing street clothes. I can tell you from my limited experience that even though I was really interested in it all, I’d have felt completely uncomfortable if I wasn’t someone’s guest.

all of them can’t be.

You can invent one out of whole cloth, but you probably should go to one, just because you may pick up things you could use that you’ve otherwise never thought of.

In Philly, there is an annual kinky event called “Diabolique” at Shampoo, a dance club in Northern Liberties. So it’s not a huge, fancy fetish club. But it’s a huge fetish party at a large club with several levels/rooms.

They forbid fireplay, edgeplay/bloodplay for safety reasons. They confiscate cameras to protect everyone’s confidentiality.

You’ll see either formalwear or leather/latex/nylon, lots of black clothes. Spankings, floggings, shibari (Japanese art of tying up someone). You may meet someone who wants you to step on him or stand on him. I saw a man with numerous clothespins attached to his flesh, which a woman proceeded to swat off with either a wooden paddle or a leather flogger. I got a demo of a mini van der Graf device which a nice young woman applied to my skin.

What you won’t see is any actual sex.

Keep in mind that very generally speaking, submissives tend to be men in positions of power.

I haven’t found that to be true, even generally speaking. For one thing, people of either gender are more commonly submissive than women. I haven’t done any rigorous studies but it seems that a greater proportion of women are submissive than men.

2nd, even among men there doesn’t seem to be any correlation to their social status or typical attitude when not having sex.

Thanks, everyone! These are exactly the sorts of things I’m looking for. It is fiction and it’s not meant to be completely realistic (it’s set in a slightly alternative version of Earth where magic works and cell phones/the internet/that kind of mass communication isn’t around), so some of the more out-there/horrific stuff is fine. It’s entirely possible (actually quite probable) that some areas in the club will contain people who aren’t there by choice (torture chambers, basically).

Yes–the fancy part will be more the club upstairs, but I’m kind of looking for the sort of vibe that was on a couple of “CSI” episodes where this sort of thing came up–lots of black, flashing lights, disorienting, loud pounding music, etc. I want it to be a confusing assault on the senses for my protags.

Hmm…I’ll have to think about that, then, because I can’t see either of my guys wanting to dress up in skintight leather or other fetish wear. And since they’re going in there to hunt somebody down and kill them, they definitely want to be dressed in a way that facilitates that. Maybe they can bribe the doorman or something, or use magic to help them sneak in.

Thanks for the suggestions, everybody! Please keep 'em coming if anyone has others. :slight_smile:

Ah for a novel !

Like it, like it, it certainly beats the old “I have this friend who thinks that he might be …” :slight_smile:

I suppose I’ll pipe in with my own experiences =)

Most fetish clubs have a general rule against spectators, so if you’re not up to the dress code, you’re not getting in. This pretty much means no cotton or denim, no sneakers and nothing which doesn’t inspire some sort of fetish.
On the other hand, your characters can easily get ahold of patent leather clothes which aren’t too frightening (which is how I usually go). Some clubs I’ve been to also have occasional themes, such as hospital-fetish or cabaret, which bend the no-cotton rules. Your characters could easily adapt this as well.

Remember also that there is more fetish clothing than latex and leather. You’ll see uniforms of all types (nurse, police, military) as well as historical uniforms (SS without the nazi symbols are rather popular).

The people will (as mentioned) be rather ordinary, and from all walks of life. People will generally be very friendly and respectful, and fetishes will only be played out if there’s a clear understanding between all parties. Some people very much into dom/sub fantasies may be hard to approach, as the subs need permission to speak and strangers need permission to speak to them. I personally always found this habit rather annoying, as I have little interest in being part in somebody else’s power play without my foreknowledge.

The Debauchery:
Ah, the good stuff. You’ll see pretty much every weird act known to man. Rule #34 very much applies. Pony-play, glory holes, gyno chairs (I know?), as well as any weird acts that may be associated with the club’s/night’s theme (seeing people being set in casts for a whole evening and then doing stuff was…weird).

In my experience, exhibitionists/voyeurs/swingers usually have a designated area to do their deeds, but this doesn’t have to be the general rule.

Spanking and whipping is probably the most common fetish I’ve encountered, so your characters would probably see plenty of racks and different frames for tying people down. Implements are usually brought from home.

The weirdest thing I’ve ever seen? A huge guy gets tied to a rack (a St. Andrew’s cross) by his petite girlfriend, and his pants are then ripped off. The girl then proceeds to kick the man in the nads for the next ten minutes or so, while casually speaking to people passing by.

Other Stuff:
Cameras will be confiscated at the door, and anybody caught taking a picture with a phone camera will get kicked out in a millisecond. Patrons of these kinds of clubs are understandably careful about privacy, so this rule is rather well enforced.

I think a motorcycle jacket or leather blazer paired with black slacks would get them in the door. Or a security guard uniform in black might do the trick.

Lust4Life: Haha! No, it really is for a novel. It’s my NaNoWriMo project for this year. I’m far too prudish and chicken to ever be brave enough to go to a real S&M club!

kombatminipig: Thanks for the observations, especially the one about different sorts of fetish wear. I could definitely see my guys dressing in some things that would inspire fetishes without making them uncomfortable. The thought of my mage in Nazi-free SS wear makes me grin. And he’d look good in it, too. :slight_smile:

11811: Cool. My other protag (the younger one) would definitely go for black biker jacket, big black stompy combat boots, maybe BDUs, that kind of thing. Military fetish wear. :slight_smile:

I was gonna say that, but you beat me to it.

I’ve only been to one formal club, and one informal one (multiple times. Awesome people there).

Things that look bad, but aren’t:
Needleplay. There was one guy that a friend was playing with who got thirty or so needles various places around his cock. It would’ve been pretty if it wasn’t, you know, needles. He had previously pierced shut a women’s mouth. She was quite happy about, if quiet. :slight_smile:

Cupping. Cupping is awesome. It feels like just a suction cup stuck to you (unless the person puts it over a bone, then its uncomfortable). It stings if its ripped off. But it looks horrific. First of all, there’s these plastic cups stuck to you. Second, they’re pulling up your skin like an inch. It leaves pretty* marks though - it bruises a lot, but it’s just on the surface. You don’t feel anything the next day.

  • my idea of pretty might be warped.

I know NaNo is over, but if you’re still working, you can PM me. Like I said, I haven’t been to a formal club except once (no dress code required either), but I might be able to give you ideas, and help with the actual BDSM part.

Thanks, Silver Tyger. Yeah, I’m still definitely working on it–I just used NaNo as a kick-start to get me finally going on it. I will PM you if I have specific questions–though the nature of my writing is that I tend to be very PG sexwise, while being a lot more graphic with the gore and violence. What I’m really looking for is just some atmosphere that I can describe as they’re poking around looking for the big bad–there’s going to be some actual (real) torture going on down in an area of the dungeon that even most of the regulars can’t get to.

In NYC, Berlin and LA there were lots of S&M Gay clubs that I have been to and none of them were at all posh.
A few were more popular because they spent more for the “atmosphere”. They would have special rooms - perhaps a rack in the center of one room, or a maze of walls with glory holes, or a center stage with a pin light so those who were exhibitionists could perform in the light, while the others watched in the dark. Some had jail cells, or private rooms with no doors. Some would have a larger room showing porn movies.
Most of these places had a dress code - leather or jeans the usual requirements. Some of them had loud techno (no lyrics) music playing in the background, some had no music at all.
Many had lockers so you could take off all or part of your clothes and roam around.
One in LA had an outdoor area out back with lots of trees and bushes and no lights whatsoever.
All of these places usually opened at midnight or so, but hardly anyone showed up until about 2:00 AM. There was a cover charge - more for the weekend than mid-week.