Party Preview: Empathy, Pity & the Greater Good

The Shadow Lane Labor Day party approaches. On Wednesday, Sandy and I will do the traveling thing out to Vegas to enjoy an extra day of fun before the party proper starts. I want to spend the next few days discussing some things regarding party-life. This first one will be a familiar yet oft repeated subject, namely, obligations of party goers towards each other.

Smiling Devil and I have been having a back and forth discussion about the needs of those party-goers who are not so socially comfortable vis-à-vis the needs of everyone else. I’m of the belief that one should reach out to help those who seem less than relaxed or perhaps a little shy but that there should be some sweat equity on the parts of these folks to fit-in. S.D. approaches it more forcefully and if I’m right about this, believes there should be more of an effort to help the “wallflowers” or other shy folks be part of the proceedings. I’m also of the belief that there are strict limits to how much of their own time a person is willing or required to expend to help someone who does not seem capable of helping themselves.

For the most part, everyone at the party is equal — they all paid their money to attend. People want their money’s worth and to get as much out of the party experience as possible. For me, the party is a chance to see friends and acquaintances that I don’t have a chance to see outside of a large party and perhaps to play with some of them. However, it is also a chance to meet new people and make new friends. I’ll help new folks as much as I can or try to bring the shy into the fold but not to the detriment of my own party experience. Everyone else’s mileage may vary on this but I’m sure that these people are not attending the Shadow Lane party to become social workers. I’m sorry if that seems a little harsh but I’m not saying I’ll shun people outright, just that after a respectable effort, I will expect them to help themselves a bit, too.

I also don’t like excuses. The truth is that often the fault lies not in our stars (or other people) but in ourselves. If a person attends parties and has a tough time of it each and every time, perhaps they need to stop and see what’s the same from party to party — often they are the one common denominator. Rather than create sinister and elaborate conspiracy theories about why success eludes certain people, a little self-examination might be helpful in the long run. Chances are that any adjustment they need to make in their approach might be slight.

The other thing that gets to me is the concept of “fairness” that I sometimes hear. It’s often defined as a perception that certain people play more than is some “fair share” (who determines this?) and that these individuals, usually Tops, should give someone else “a chance”. I just see this as simple but illogical whining. If a popular Top turns down chances at play because he’s had his allotment, does that automatically mean that the whining individual will get to play more? I don’t see the correlation. Perhaps these Tops would prefer to be stranded on an island as the only Top among a dozen bottoms or subs. However, being the only horse in a race does not make one a champion, only a winner by default.

In the end, everyone is responsible for their own success especially in the social world of the spanking scene. I’m not saying that some people don’t need more of a nudge than others but I find that the good hearted members of the scene get the help they need because people are willing to help those they like. That said, I don’t think you’ll find many people in any walk of life willing to carry someone who simply refuses to walk.

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16 Responses to “Party Preview: Empathy, Pity & the Greater Good”

  1. I agree-we can all smile and be friendly, but how much can one person do? I have seen many newbies latch on to someone-and miss opportunites to socialize with others because of this….Have a wonderful time at SL!

    • Right. I know it can be tough to be new and when you find a friend it can be only natural to latch-on. However, you’re correct that by doing that, many other chances at making friends my be lost.

  2. I agree with most, if not all, of this.

    There is only so much someone else can do to welcome you into a group, if you’re not going to do anything yourself to integrate. For example, if you’re going to show up to a spanking party and park yourself on a couch with headphones in, the chances of anyone even wanting to introduce you to others or come up to you, is slim.

    Not only do you have to make yourself approachable, but when/if someone does approach you, put forth at least a little bit of effort. Feed off their confidence even, and use it to help your own shyness/social inexperience.

    • Disengaging from the crowd may seem the more pleasant option but it certainly is not the best way to network.

  3. I don’t think you understood my post at all, Rad. I was talking about having a heart; having empathy for people who, for all you know, are trying but struggling to connect. I never wrote anything about providing social services for the needy. I don’t where you got that from, but that’s your framework for the discussion, not mine.

    • You’re correct. There was no mention of any social services in your post — I was exaggerating for effect outside of the context of your post.

  4. Interesting topic, Rad. Certainly think it’s a good idea to be friendly and approachable… and be willing to walk up to someone that seems shy and start a conversation. Being shy is completely understandable, most especially for a party newbie. Of course, once you take that first step… it’s up to the shy person to then step up and be friendly themselves. Talking about “shy” here too, not socially retarded or flat out creepy.

    If someone is acting strangely, common sense says to stay away… even at a spanking party.

    Will add this though, of all the parties we’ve been too… our observation has been that Shadow Lane is far and away the toughest on newbies. If you are shy and haven’t done a good amount of networking… and don’t look like a model… good luck. You had better bring your best social game and dive in. Not just talking tops here either. Couples and single girls strike out too.

    Recall two separate incidents at the most recent SL we attended in which we heard couples talking about “what a waste of time this was” (to attend Shadow Lane). Have to say though, we didn’t recall seeing them during the party.

    Shadow Lane is a large party, it’s at a busy public venue with hundreds and hundreds of non-party people mixing in (in the hotel)… it only offers ~two~ officially organized events… and things tend to be more focused on the spanking industry and models (especially at the Vendor Fair). It’s a tough mix for a newbie.

    ~Todd

    • Thank you for this informative comment and for the anecdote/observation.

      I have had a modicum of success at Shadow Lane for multiple reasons. Initially, my association with my wife (then girlfriend) helped a great deal. However, I do attribute some of it to my own networking and participation in the scene. I spent many a time in the Shadow Lane chat in the early days getting to know people — having a sense of humor and the will to use it helped as well.

      In the long run, I don’t think it’s just “who you know” but how you know them. I’ve found the most successful people and the ones held in highest regard are those that come across as regular people not people who think of nothing but spanking 24/7 and feel the need to pass some spanko comment with every breath. Just a thought.

    • I think in many ways, you’re correct.

      Shadow Lane offers the means and opportunity, but doesn’t hand you a perfectly organized weekend with a schedule for every moment of your time. It offers a venue, a convention, and a chance.

      However, I don’t think the focus is on the spanking industry and models. Yes, the vendor’s fair has a heavy leaning that way, but that’s what it’s for, and as far as I am aware every major weekend party has a similar vendor’s fair. Often the vending is of videos and merchandise which includes models, or spokespersons, and a chance to interact with them on an equal level.

      I think both party styles (the more structured Florida Moonshine which I’ve heard a great deal (all good!) about!) and Shadow Lane’s layout of opportunity without spoon feeding it to you.

      Bottom line: if you want to enjoy yourself at any gathering, and play (which is bare bones, the point of a spanking party), you have to be willing to put yourself out there and make an effort.

      You shouldn’t go into ANY party, structured like SL OR FMS and expect to get everything handed to you.

      (Note: I use FMS and SL here because those are the two I am familiar with. No one get your panties in a bunch over my observations/opinions 😛 )

  5. for me that is definitely true-there are those with whom I socialize at parties and not think of again…and then there are those I communicate with on a regular basis…Friends win out, hands down!

  6. As someone who’s quite introverted and partnered with someone who’s even moreso, I think I have a rather different POV.

    One of the reasons I prefer SL over some other parties is that it doesn’t provide organized games, icebreakers and other social breakouts. I get plenty of those and work. I don’t want people who aren’t very good friends to wonder where I’ve gone to or why I’m not doing this or that.

    • This puts me in mind of the one and only time I went to the Caribbean to one of those all-inclusive resorts. I was single and had just come off a pretty crazed period in my life so I decided to treat myself to a nice vacation. With the power of 20/20 hindsight, I should have toured Europe but I listened to some party-oriented friends of mine and was off. One might think I had the worst time ever but there was one consolation, the food was good. Everything else was a total nightmare. Between competing in the meat-market of the social scene with guys who looked like they did nothing but work-out to being forced to play idiotic games and sports, I went home with the knowledge that I’d never do that again.

      The worst was sitting poolside in the sun enjoying a book and having some overgrown camp counselor cajole me into a game of water volleyball because they needed an extra person. So, there I am in all my uncoordinated glory trying to keep up with people who are acting like it’s the Olympics. It lasted until one knucklehead dared to raise his voice to me because I did not do three backflips while spiking the ball with my spleen. I promptly got out of the pool and started walking away. Mr. Counselor runs up and asks what I’m doing and my response was, “No one, especially no muslclebound asswipe, yells at me over a stupid and useless game”. Of course and true to form, the asswipe runs up and challenges me that I’ve used fighting words. I tell the counselor, “Tell numbnuts to back off or I’ll make him suck my dick in front of his friends”. Then I walked to my chair, sat down, and watched the Counselor calm the situation down with a smile on my face.

      But I digress…

    • You make a good point! As fun as games and organized events are, I wouldn’t want people to expect me to attend them and also, I may not want to be social with every single stranger there.

      Shadow Lane allows people to host their own suite parties and events and people can pick and choose, where they’re comfortable.

  7. {That sent too soon}

    My sanity depends on being able to disappear and sometimes just be a wallflower without being urged or guilted into being more socially active.

    As to newbies — I try and and be nice, but to be totally honest I’ve been going to SL parties for 10 years now. I’m not into playing with many people — never have been. I go to the parties to connect with friends I only get to see once every year or two because we live such far-flung distances.

    FWIW, in the time I’ve gone to SL, I’ve never seen someone not connect to the scene who works at it over the course of a year or two. But they can’t expect, no one can no matter who they are or what they look like, to be totally wired in by the their first or second party. Shadow Lane has a history going back decades and it takes time to feel very comfortable. For me, it took about 5 years… but as I said, I’m introverted. YMMV and all that. Is it worth it? Hell yeah. I’ve never regretted going to any SL event and am always depressed and sorry when I’ve had to miss them.

  8. I hope I don’t embarrass Rad here. Last year was D’s and my first party. We were nervous, and unsure of what to expect. D wrote an email to Rad asking for advice and he couldn’t have been more gracious and accommodating. He gave us several suggestions, he reassured us, and he invited us to connect with he and Sandy when we arrived. Together, they made our experience MUCH better than it would have been.

    I was surprised and a little disappointed at the lack of structure at SL the first time around. I expected ice breakers and such, and there really aren’t any. But now I understand more and see why the lack of structure can actually make for a better experience for many. It’s up to US to create the experience we want to have.

    This is our second party coming up, and we feel quite confident, we know what to expect, and really, “it is what it is.” Something for everyone, and you can partake of whatever you like.

    So, Rad does actually help newbies from time to time. I think he probably gets tired of all the focus on helping newbies, after attending so many parties and being in the scene for a long time. And I can’t blame him for that. Both Rad and Sandy have long-established friendships and I’m sure they want to spend good quality time with these folks, without being “castigated” for not seeking out the shy folks and helping them out.

    Bottom line: if you’re shy — reach out! Take action. Take a risk. My experience last year was that no one — NO ONE — made me feel foolish for taking a risk. And I also want to thank Rad and Sandy once again for their support, not to mention the fantastic session the four of us shared. It was terrific!

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