Get Your Fetish On

RACHEL CUNLIFFE on what we can all learn from the freaky fabulousness of the fetish scene.

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You know that scene in a film where the handsome but naïve hero finds himself inexplicably at a fetish club, surrounded by women in corsets and people crawling around naked on leashes? Well, it’s all true. Like it or not, the UK fetish scene is thriving, and at a first glance, it can look very much like it’s straight out of an 18-rated movie.

Trust me, I’ve been there.

Dressed in the obligatory corset, stockings, and boots, I set off to Club Antichrist. Like many fetish clubs, they have a no-full-nudity rule, but people push the limits, with men in thongs and women wearing nothing but nipple-tassels. There was a professional dominatrix, complete with her leather corset and collection of whips, who would be willing to ‘punish’ you if you begged her nicely.

Feeling liberated? 

One man, leading his nearly-naked girlfriend around on a leash, asked me politely if I’d like to spank her for him. Another traced my corset laces with a riding crop, and invited me to ‘play’ with him. Porn films were being projected onto the walls, and what with the dim lighting and loud music, I felt lost, intoxicated, and utterly out of my depth.

I’m not a fetish scene regular. I quite like dressing up in corsets, and find Cambridge’s own Salon Rouge a lot of fun, but being in a room with people openly having sex in front of (and sometimes with) complete strangers takes some getting used to. I was shocked by how clichéd it all seemed, as though these people were deliberately trying to live up to the ‘alternative’ stereotype.

But what if they were? Everyone who approached me that evening spoke to me with politeness and dignity, respectfully accepting my answers before moving on to have fun. Some looked nervous, sure, but no one seemed freaked-out, and the overall mood of the room was relaxed and comfortable. The chance to strip away social conventions and just  ask outright for what they wanted (‘Please ma’am, will you spank me?’) was liberating, and I found myself feeling much more chilled-out than I ever have at any mainstream club.

The fetish scene is, in essence, about embracing your desires and forgetting the social codes that say you can’t. Even if you’re not into extreme masochism or sex in public, that’s still an admirable thing to aim for. At any rate, I won’t be giving up my riding crop and stockings anytime soon.

READ what happened when The Tab met Cambridge fetishist Mr Glove

Illustration by Claudia Stocker.