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Hosting a play party

31 October 1997

By Kirrily ("Skud") Robert.

Copyright © 1997 Kirrily Robert; not to be reproduced in any medium without permission.

This article is a collection of bits and pieces I've picked up over the last few years of attending play parties, Dungeon Monitoring them, and co-hosting them. It's by no means comprehensive, but perhaps it will provide a few hints and tips to prospective play party hosts.

Who to invite

The first challenge you will face is deciding whom to invite. You will need to ask yourself what you want the party to be like, and tailor your invitations or advertisements accordingly.

  • Will the party be pansexual or single sex?
  • Do you intend to maintain a gender balance or a balance of tops/bottoms or some other division?
  • Do you want to focus on a particular kink?
  • Do you want to invite serious players only?
  • Are you prepared to have spectators/voyeurs?
  • Are you willing to cater to beginners?
  • Is there a particular theme to the party?

Here are two examples of invitations/advertisements for play parties that are very clear about who they are targeting. The first is an invitation to an informal, pansexual Christmas gathering of SM enthusiasts; the second is an invitation to a heavy-duty men-only SM sex party.

'Tis the season to be kinky!

You are invited to dress up in your perviest leather/latex/PVC/fetish Santa suit and jingle on down to our Christmas party. It's a chance to catch up with friends, eat lots of food, then distribute the Christmas floggings.

Drinks, nibbles, and play space provided. BYO Christmas-themed toys.

Remember - he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!


require your attendance at their




Men Only - Hardcore SM/Leather - Serious Players Only

Five rooms of heavy duty play space for the experienced sadomasochist.

Attendance by invitation/booking only. Deposit required. Contact Smithers on 1900-LEATHER.

Your invitation should include extra information such as:

  • Contact phone number for more information
  • Whether toys will be available or whether people should bring their own
  • Rules regarding drugs/alcohol/smoking
  • Entry cost
  • Dungeon rules
  • Whether food and soft drink will be provided

Choosing a space and setting it up

A party can be made or ruined by the space in which it is held. Here are some suggestions for your party venue:

Ideally it will be centrally located and accessible by public transport

It is best if there is a well-lit entrance on a safe street. Back lanes and dark alleys are seldom reassuring to attendees

There will be an anteroom at the entrance to protect the party from passers by. If there is no anteroom available, make a temporary one with curtains, screens, or office partitioning. The anteroom should have a signin table if you require payment, invitation checks or filling in waiver forms

There should be a chillout space where play is discouraged. Often this will be the kitchen - as it is at most vanilla parties too!

If you have room for several play spaces, take advantage of the opportunity to provide varying ambiance. One room could be "industrial" while another has a gothic/romantic feel. If your party has a theme, decorate the spaces accordingly. Play appropriate music.

It is a good idea to restrict smoking to certain areas. Often this is outside or in the chillout space.

Ensure that the rooms are heated in cold weather, or that ventilation or fans are available in hot weather

A cloakroom or changing space is often a good idea. A large bathroom will suffice, or set aside a bedroom or other room for the purpose. There is usually no real need to gender-segregate the changing space.

Consider whether you want the venue to be accessible to disabled or wheelchair-bound people. Yes, there are disabled pervs out there.

Other things you need

Here are some other things I'd provide:

  • Drinks and nibbles (or get people to bring some along). I suggest "real" food as opposed to salty, fatty junk food. For instance, a fruit platter and some interesting bread with dips or cheese is often popular and provides people with more energy without dehydrating them.
  • Safer sex materials (your local AIDS council or sex industry group should provide these for free)
  • Jugs of water and glasses in each play room
  • A first aid kit and someone who knows how to use it
  • Pens and paper for phone numbers etc

When people arrive

If you are checking invitations or taking money at the door, make sure that you have people rostered on for the necessary period and that they know the procedures. Take money at the start of the party - you will forget to chase people down later! Also, make sure that you have some change in the cash box to begin with.

You may choose to allow people to show up at any time during your party, or you may want to close the doors at a certain time. The benefit of the doors closing at a set time is that people know that it's time to get down to business and are sure that they won't be interrupted by new arrivals with different energy levels. Also, it allows you to do a quick spiel once you're sure everyone is there.

I believe that unless people all know each other and have attended parties together before, it is a good idea to get the whole group together and cover a few basic issues such as:

  • Where the toilets are
  • Where smokers can do their thing
  • What the house safeword is
  • Who the hosts are and who the dungeon monitors are
  • How to use the equipment
  • Who to see in case of an emergency

This also provides an opportunity for the guests to introduce themselves briefly if you wish.

If you don't give this orientation talk, you should ensure that newcomers are either shown around and given the basic information, or that they're paired up with someone who's been to a previous party and knows the ropes (so to speak).

You may like to follow the orientation with a quick forum, demo, or performance to get the evening underway. This is often a useful tool for educational/social groups that also hold play parties.

Smooth running

The success of your party will depend largely on the degree to which the group gets along and the proportion of exhibitionists to voyeurs. It's always handy to invite a few exhibitionists or to line up a few demo/performance scenes so that you know someone will keep things moving along.

Dungeon monitors should be appointed to keep an eye on things. It's often a good idea to have as many DMs as there are play spaces so that you can have someone available for every scene if necessary. It is the hosts' and dungeon monitors' duty to ensure that everyone gets the best possible experience out of the party. They should be available at all times for introductions, information, facilitation of scenes and mediation in the case of problems. In my personal opinion, hosts and DMs should remain utterly sober and should not play when they are on duty unless they have appropriately delegated their responsibility. Of course, this is as fluid as anything else I say, and if you know that the whole group is responsible and experienced and don't need babysitting you may choose to totally do away with the DM thing.

No matter how well you police things, the only real thing that will make your party truly great is a good group of people who are comfortable together and who are comfortable in the party space. This should be your ultimate aim in any party you hold.

Happy Partying!

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