The Happy Recap

For some reason, I’ve been quoting a Michael Jackson song the past few weeks. Although it is probably my favorite song from his career, my quoting of it started out as a joke about the “philosophy” of the song. The line goes:

If you want to make the world a better place/Take a look at yourself and make a change

OK, so it comes across as trite but, c’mon, tone down the cynicism for three seconds. Not only did the “town hall” meeting at Paddles go over well but the Jets won their football game so a good evening was had. The talk was everything I hoped it would be and more. About a hundred people showed up to have a lively, informative, honest and most of all, friendly discussion. A great deal got said not just about Paddles as a business or as a BDSM institution but about the overall scene itself.

Most of the discussion revolved around immediate and practical matters regarding the club itself. One was having visible dungeon monitors walking around to assist people or just to create a security presence that’s immediately apparent. A good deal of the problems that occur at the club probably could be averted by having someone nearby like the cop walking the beat. A person who would get too close to a scene or do something odd might be deterred by the fact that someone is watching.

I want to address the “creep” factor because that is something that comes up quite often when people criticize the club. The consensus among all those that attended was that there are no larger amount of creepy guys at Paddles than at any other party or gathering, it’s just that they stand out because of the low attendance. One of the TNG organizers pointed out the fact that there are probably wankers at other venues but that the press of people drown out that particular noise and it goes unnoticed. As a personal aside, I’ve been to Paddles more times than I can count and have only witnessed a couple of occasions when a guy had their dick out (outside of a scene, of course). I’ve seen penises. I know what they look like. Honestly, it doesn’t really bother me. If a guy was wanking off and shot a load somewhere near me, I might be a tad miffed but in that case, I’d say something to him and certainly point it out to Michael or someone else at the club. I wouldn’t doubt that that person would never be back again.

The other huge chunk of conversation regarded perception and marketing. I’ve already mentioned the “creeps” but the whole notion of the way the club is perceived has a lot to do with its struggles. I’m going to lay it on the line. There’s a lot of rumor and innuendo that is floated out there about the way things are at Paddles. It’s “dangerous” or “seedy” or “dirty” or unsafe in some other way. These remarks end up taking on a life of their own because the people who know something different don’t speak up to counteract the rumor. Therefore, the rumor becomes truth because the person who hears does not have a counterargument to weigh it against. Personally, I’ve made a decision to not only refute some of these rumors but to also question the motives of the people passing them along. Do they have a personal grudge or some other agenda? If you’re going to speak negatively about something then you should be ready to answer questions about why you’re doing it.

Marketing had its share of advocates and it seemed that Michael finally got that the new media has as much to do with word-of-mouth as it does with merely making announcements at a fixed site. I’m also in the camp of people who think that the Paddles website needs an overhaul to bring it up to modern standards. It’s not that it isn’t informative now but it looks dated — even to me, a person who is older than the Internet. I’m going to write more about this subject in coming days because I want to discuss certain things singularly rather than in an omnibus sort of post.

The one thing that I came away with and that has affected me most positively is my perception of the NYC-TNG group. Initially, I bristled at the idea of separation based upon age — certainly any separation which put me at the ass end of things. I thought that what this group was saying was that if you were older than a particular age then you should, for lack of a better term, get the fuck out or simply out of the way. I was wrong. After meeting some of the organizers and others from this group and listening to their points, I finally begin to understand what they are all about. I have to say that my perception of these folks now is quite positive and if nothing else, see that they are the ones bringing fresh ideas to the table — some of them quite excellent ideas. I came away from the meeting feeling very energized to do a lot more and I have their enthusiasm to thank for that.

Like I said, more in the upcoming days but I just want to add that Michael should think about running this forum again, perhaps in three months. I think it’s a very good way for the various groups to get together and hear what the others are saying.

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3 Responses to “The Happy Recap”

  1. Thanks for this quick report. I’m hoping to follow up this afternoon with my own impressions (most of which matched yours). I’m very grateful Michael ran this, and was happy to see the big turn-out. Yes, Paddles is a business, but it’s one that’s very vital to our lifestyle and i don’t want to see our play space go away.

  2. I was REALLY bummed that I couldn’t attend this “town hall meeting”…the scene is near and dear to my heart, and I really wanted to put my 2 cents in – Paddles is the first place that I “entered” the scene, and it’s been good to me. In the last year or two, I’ve felt that it’s gone downhill in terms of “comfortable” places to play (no cushions, rocking booths), so it’s great to hear that Michael has addressed some of these issues and made some needed changes/repairs.

    I’m hoping to attend the February OTK night, and come to the “hosted by Rad and Sandy munch”…it’s been way too long for me. I miss you guys.

  3. OH! I forgot to mention that Man in the Mirror is one of my favorite songs, and I quote it endlessly…if only to myself.

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