Crossroads?

As some of you have already seen by now, Michael, the owner of Paddles, put up an open letter in various places (the Paddles Yahoo group, Fetlife, etc.) regarding the NYC BDSM scene and the future of Paddles itself. Some thoughts on this after the flip.

If you did not or could not read the letter, it basically boils down to the fact that the BDSM community is not supporting the club the way that other communities are coming out in large numbers on non-Paddles nights. His reality as a businessman is that if he can make more money on other nights then it makes little sense to make less by opening it up to perhaps a few dozen people at best. I understand the sentiment and it’s not exactly the same sort of things corporations do to “maximize profits”. With any small business (and that’s what Paddles is), you make money when you can because one day times will be lean and you’ll need the buffer. This is the reality of business. You or I might think that since he’s admittedly making good money and that 2009 was a good year for him, that should be enough. Unfortunately, Paddles is not a charity to be supported by the profits he makes on other evenings, it is a product being sold to the public. If the product is not selling well, it will be taken off the market.

The New York scene has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. Privately run parties have sprung up all over the place that cater to the same audience that would frequent a BDSM club on any given night. The spanking community alone has more than a few events throughout the year that are specific to that kink and provide a place where spankos can not feel out of place. When I got into the scene, there were only a couple of things I knew of in New York that catered to me, Paddles OTK Night was one of them. Now there are other options that provide an atmosphere that is less dungeon-like for those folks who would rather be a bit more subdued in their pursuit of spanking. Truth be told, this is a very good thing.

However, there is an important reason for a club like Paddles to exist. I won’t mince words when I say that many if not most of the parties, whether BDSM or spanking alone, are not open to the general public. At Paddles, you pay your money and you enter — from then on you make your own fun or not. Most parties have not just a dress code but codes relating to behavior or to what one is allowed to do when inside. The most restrictive is the “vetting” process which may cause a person to be rejected based on no tangible criteria. I have to say that I understand these rules and know why they are in place. For no other reason, these are private affairs and are not required to let anyone in just because they want to attend. The number of people that can attend is limited by the space and thought also has to be given to the comfort level of the majority of attendees. For example, if I’m going to a rope bondage party, it would not make sense for me to suddenly break out into a disciplinary spanking scene — it just would not fit.

Here lies the rub. Let’s say that Mister Q wants to attend parties because he, like many of us, desires to scratch that itch and feels that a party is a good way to meet people. However, he gives off an odd vibe. He’s not cool. He’s too old. He dresses like a geek. He doesn’t have much of a personality and comes across as a “creep”. He has too much personality and comes across as an overbearing douchebag. Let’s face it, Mister Q is not getting in to a party if they can help it and I don’t blame them. If an uncool douchbag geek with creepy tendencies wanted to come to dinner at my house, I’d move. The fact is that a place like Paddles should exist for exactly the reason I mentioned. Perhaps the impression Mister Q gave off was not exactly the way he is, it’s just that he sucks at interviews. Maybe he’s shy and gets tongue-tied. Maybe he can’t afford leatherwear or a nice suit and comes dressed the way he dresses because it’s all he has. Whatever the reason, let’s say he’s not a bad guy at all, just a little misunderstood. At least he has Paddles, somewhere that doesn’t judge him by any criteria other than the money he can spend on any particular night. If nothing else, Mister Q can go to the club and enjoy watching a scene or two and scratch his itch that way or get up enough courage to eventually ask for play himself. Whatever the scenario, Paddles offers a person like this “something” that he can’t get anywhere else.

I admit to being one of the people who likes Paddles. My wife and I run the OTK Night Munch and are given a free pass because of that (full disclosure) but I enjoyed going there when I played the same as everyone else. I have the fortunate ability to tune people out when I want to. I can be in the middle of an intense scene and not be bothered by the person who is right up against what would be considered a reasonable distance. I’ve had to tell certain people to back off but have found that most do with no problem. The truth is that what I really get out of it is not only to scratch my spanko itch but to also scratch my exhibitionist itch. I like it when a crowd gathers to watch me spanking or strapping someone — it’s a huge ego boost. However, as a man, I don’t get the sort of unwanted attention that some women complain about — the “stalkers” or “lurkers” that seem to be hanging at the edge of vision. I’ve been approached by women I don’t know for play but those experiences have been good for the most part.

In the end, the decision about Paddles will be up to Michael and will be a business decision. I hope it stays open even if the number of Paddles nights is reduced to perhaps a few a month.

Note: Michael is hosting a discussion at Paddles on Saturday, January 9th at 8pm (perhaps 7pm if there is a lot of interest) to talk about issues relating to the New York BDSM scene. From what I understand, it will probably be an informal town hall style gathering with a lot of opportunity to speak. My wife and I are planning on being there (barring unforeseen circumstances). Hopefully it will be a lively and constructive discussion. If it erupts into arguments then I will sit back and secretly enjoy the show.

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One Response to “Crossroads?”

  1. Rad, Great Post!!!
    you have summed it up perfectly, We also hope that the club doesn’t close. This past otk night was dissapointing as far as the crowd goes. We had hoped that the ssny crowd would have been there, and perhaps some scony members, I wish everyone in the spanking community would patronize the club, like you we prefer the club atmosphere to any other. We enjoy the public play on both sides, “watching & playing” I don’t know what the problem is, although I can guess that the price of staying in the city is a big cause. We come from out of town, so we need to pick up two nights hotel, plus food, and club entry, it adds up. That being said, we cannot come for the town hall meeting this weekend either, I look forward to your posting of what tranpires.
    hugs, loretta

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