One of the most surprising things I’ve experienced in the past few months is my capacity for absorbing new kinks. I never saw myself this way. Growing up, I had one all-encompassing fetish (for clowns), and that was that. Nothing else got me off, and I had no interest in exploring other kinks. I’d heard people talk about sexuality being “fluid”, but I didn’t see it that way. Mine certainly didn’t feel fluid; it felt rigid. Fluidity to me described an oscillating malleability; the potential for great change. If sexuality was fluid, why couldn’t I just be into “normal” sex?
It wasn’t until I accepted, honoured, expressed, and finally enjoyed my fetish that I started to gain more perspectives. My first foray into this new arena was ABDL. Having someone re-contextualize my feelings towards ageplay was a slow but eye-opening experience that snowballed into it eventually becoming one of my favourite kinks. The same eventually came true for pup play as well. I chalked this up to the similarities I’d found in these types of play and my comfortability with the people who had introduced me to them. I still had limits. Hard ones, even.
Sure, ABDL had at one point been a hard limit. Certainly, within ABDL there were limits: babyish clothing and wetting being among them - even the headspace was a limit for me for a long time, but eventually, they all became enjoyable parts of my fetish exploration. By the time I attended my first ever event, I had defined my limits as pain, scat and blood.
That was until I arrived at Quälgeist’s ABDL weekend in Berlin. Never before had impact play crossed my mind as something I would ever want to participate in. In fact, for someone so sensitive to pain in my day-to-day life, the concept made little sense to me. I’d go so far as to say it was frightening. I figured impact players must be getting off on the pain itself, that they must enjoy the sensation alone. It wasn’t until I saw it in person for the first time that my position on the matter shifted entirely.
The hitting wasn’t what drew me in, but the way it was being delivered. It was silly, intimate, and interactive. It was funny! There was laughter, showmanship, tenderness, and care, but also a sadistic brutality. It seemed… kind of fun? What was I thinking? What was happening to me? I watched the new friend I’d made that night get taken down off the St. Andrew’s Cross and give his spanker a big hug. The beaming smiles on both their faces were so warm, the friendliness with which they held each other and shared their mutual reassurances so comforting to watch. I was captivated.
Before long, I had expressed my confused interest and was immediately signed up for a spanking. My eyes widened. A bizarre grin shot across my face. My heart rate spiked. Feigned resistance was meant with playful insistence; though it was made clear, I could back out. I was even offered a brief spank over the table as opposed to the looming St. Andrew’s Cross, but there was no way I was backing down now. As my wrists and ankles were strapped onto the structure, I was certain I would last for five hand-spanks and call it done. So sure of this was I that I jokingly told them to go for it. Go for it; they did.
It should go without saying that, as with all types of play, safety is paramount to impact play. As I got strapped in, I was asked for my safeword and what my limits were, told how to communicate discomfort and received regular check-ins throughout the experience. Over the course of an hour, I took quite the beating. The hand was soon replaced with a paddle, then a flog, then a cane. In spite of my self-admittedly low pain tolerance, not once did I cry and never did I want it to end.
My butt had been warmed up. The spanking was bearable. With each consenting graduation to a new torturous item, I heard the sounds of my tormenters testing the tools on themselves. I was comforted, soothed. I became used to each kind of pain. I enjoyed teasing my bullies and consequently receiving their tyrannical retribution. They joked with the gathering crowd, even placing my clown nose against my bum to compare the redness. There was laughter, a back-and-forth rapport between my spankers and me, a call-and-response with the audience. My screams and swears filled the room, but my enjoyment was obvious.
The sensation is very difficult to describe. There is a moment of clarity, of going beyond the pain until the experience becomes pleasurable. With each cathartic howl, I felt waves of emotion crash over me and retreat again, unburdening me of any thought. The sting of the afterglow and the sick, twisted smile that spread across my face every time I sat down afterwards gave me such a rush. For days, I was fondly reminded of the experience through the pain’s associated memories. Knowing I was in good hands and could trust the person administering the beating seemed to have had a cushioning effect on the pain, reinforced by the positive association.
The second time I couldn’t stop laughing in between screams, something that has since become a regular feature of my spankings. The playful tit-for-tat element I enjoy seems to coincide with humour being a core component of play for me. The more I laugh, the more my spankers try to turn my laughter into screams until I exhaustedly start laughing again at the ridiculousness of the situation. I think this reaction is ultimately because I know I am safe. My mind and body know this is something I can enjoy. I can gain pleasure from the glee in my tormentors' eyes, from their own enjoyment as they test my mettle.
There is also something to be said of the personal attention that comes with being spanked. I definitely enjoyed the performative element of my public spanking. I enjoyed being watched, receiving praise, evoking a response from onlookers and those involved. On top of which, I was well looked after. Being intermittently fed water, checked in with and towelled down with alcohol were all little moments of care that reinforced the notion my physical state was being monitored. Likewise, my safeword was honoured when I needed it and I was never afraid it might not be.
Trust is fundamental to impact play. It is how we know we are not in real danger, how we discern the “good” pain from the “bad”. Trust is the foundation upon which safe exploration can occur, mortared together with a range of bodily sensations. One of my spankers likened it to playing an instrument. Every strike evokes a sensation, that in turn, invokes a reaction. As the rhythm builds, the body becomes used to it: the nerves yearn to be played. Like any piece of music, a sudden break in the rhythm can both be jarring and cause a rush of anticipation so exciting your breath stops; holding still to see where it will take you next.
Whether we trust using safe words, the traffic light system, or a deep and prior agreed-upon understanding of each others’ signals, the rapport is beyond psychological. There is a biological imperative to deeply trust in the person administering any kind of spanking, because our bodies are wired to alert us to danger through pain. For this reason, trust is more than a way to mentally trick the body into bearing pain; it is a reassurance that allows us to push through to experience pleasure by bypassing the response of our nervous system. With a commitment to regular training, one can gradually work up their body’s tolerance to the right kind of pain by the assurance of safety and comfort rather than danger.
Flying home after that first experience was brutal. I had been beaten raw. Yet what I had learnt about myself continued to astound me and still does with each impact play session I have. I would love to undergo more pain training - something so far from the kinky waters I’d ever thought I would delve into, I am almost afraid of what I might try next!
I feel as if I have peered behind a curtain; demystified something so shrouded in darkness and come to realize just how wonderfully bright, fun and silly it can be. All because I dared to explore, to test my limits, to give over wholeheartedly to those I trust.
Experiment fearlessly. You never know what hidden pleasures you may find in the oddest of places. Who knew getting flogged could be a good time with friends?
I, for one, have grown to absolutely love it.