Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bound, 6th November

Bound is not for the faint-hearted if the one I attended is anything to go by.

It is a night for shibari enthusiasts and novices alike, shibari being the Japanese art of rope bondage. It was held at the Flying Dutchman which hosts many an alternative night, and is a cool, quirky little venue, though not the ideal set up for a performance space as we soon found out. If you didn’t nab your place, and were shorter than 6 foot, seeing any of the performances was out of the question. I realized this after the second act though and didn’t make the same mistake twice.

To start, there is some mingling, and then a demonstration of how to do some basic tying. There is plenty of rope around and people brought their own and there is time to practise and do some tying amongst yourselves before the performances start.

There were five scheduled for the night, due to end by 11:30. I ended up leaving at midnight (only just getting the last tube home) and had to miss the final act as they were so behind schedule.

I can only imagine what the last performance was about as the acts definitely increased in intensity as the night wore on.

Suspension featured in every act, but the level of ‘violence’ in each varied. The first act was quite gentle really – tender almost, with none of the tying looking too vicious. The second was the one I couldn’t really see but seemed to take this up a notch with a little more sadomasochism involved. The third show was thrilling and beautiful – a self-tying performance of twirls and sweeps as the girl expertly tied and untied herself to support her movements.

And finally (for me) an act fraught with tension and power that was almost difficult to watch. What made it bearable for me was knowing that the two involved likely had a deep connection and of course that everything that took place was consensual in some way. The previous pieces had been set to music but for this there was none. You could feel the puzzlement in the room as to why this was so (and a touch of boredom setting in) but as it went on, you realized how inappropriate music would have been and also how unnecessary. The girl of the pair, dressed in a sarong and flower pasties was trussed and bound until her knees were bent and she was hanging against a vertical pole. The rope around her looked menacing and cutting. Her pose was awkward and uncomfortable. She was expertly manoeuvred into several different positions – some better for the flogging she was subjected to. The tension built and built until it culminated in a final humiliation and her being untied, collapsing into her "tormentor"’s arms, her beautiful hair unpinned and falling over her face, where she quietly wept. (In relief? In pain? In ecstasy?). I couldn’t tell if I was turned on or horrified. That was almost a month ago and even now I can picture it all clearly, it was so striking and affecting.

I really wish I could have seen the final performance as well but Camberwell is hard enough to get back from when the tubes were running so off we dashed like Cinderella. 

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I work as an editor in educational publishing by day, and then spend most of my spare time discovering interesting things to do in London, and taking people there with my own Meetup.