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S+ Association launch party

Launch of the S+ Association

A Milestone for the Sex-Positive Community

One evening in June, a rather brisk evening since Summer has been playing hide and seek these past couple of months, the sex-positive community gathered under the Electrowerkz’s roof.

What for, you might ask? A fetish soiree? A swinger event? A fancy dress party for adults (not anymore unfortunately *sobs*)? None of these. It was for something rather unique.

It was the inaugural event of S+ Association. An association that represents and supports those working in sex positive events in the UK by improving standards, enhancing safety, providing training, encouraging research, and acting as a collective voice to influence local government policies.

The evening promised insightful speeches and networking opportunities, with a focus on consent and inclusivity. Here’s a rundown of the night’s highlights and what’s in store for this spanking brand new organisation.

Visit their website splusassociation.org.uk

Let's get started!

We all gathered on the ground floor at Electrowerkz and at 8:00 PM we settled in the Glass House ready for the talk. The opening speech was delivered by Foxy (Sinead), who was also MC and chair for the night. Do you remember her? I wrote a review back in 2021, SOCIAL REVIEW: THE FOX DEN SKULK, which was her very first event under the Fox Den brand.

Foxy started the evening by expressing heartfelt thanks to the venue, the speakers on stage – Lara, Alan, Emma, Scott, CK, and Logan –  and the other members of the Association’s working group, identifiable by their pink badges.

Appreciation was also given to the workers, monitors, performers, Police, Mayor’s Office, members of the press, and the entire sex-positive community present there.

Image source: Tony Mitchell, Photographer, TheFetishistas.com – 12 June 2024

Let's hear it from the speakers

Lara

Lara, the instigator of the idea, spoke passionately about her journey. An ex-lawyer with a focus on regulations and dispute resolution, whose kink, she joked, is policies and procedures

Lara emphasised the importance of guidelines in the sex-positive industry. Her experience in organising small events highlighted the need for a support system to navigate the complexities of the business because, like many others, she also has experienced the good and bad. And even though we get knocked back by institutions, financial entities, and whatnot, it’s important to support each other and that’s exactly why she started this.

The S+ Association aims to create industry standards, codes of conduct, and a library of knowledge to guide event organisers.

Image source: Tony Mitchell, Photographer, TheFetishistas.com – 12 June 2024

Allen

Allen comes with 33 years of experience in the kink industry and he co-founder of the renown Torture Garden (TG).

He reminisced about the early days of TG in the 90s, when the event brought the fetish scene outside of the dark. He recounted the challenges faced, including the police raids. For example how Club Whiplash was raided in 1994, by 60 policemen, and how the case was thrown out as the judge said they were all consenting adults. TG introduced Dungeon Monitors (DMs) in the late 1990s, reacting to issues and adapting as they moved on.

The scene has evolved with the internet making it more accessible, and against all the odds the community grew bigger and bigger. 

Alan stressed the importance of a collective voice for promoters and the need for training and health and safety standards to ensure a thriving community.

Heard of Torture Garden before?

Here are a couple of blog posts review on TG’s parties

Emma

Emma shared her journey of launching her events company in 2021. As a former sex worker and pro domme, she highlighted the financial challenges (did you know it’s really hard for a sex worker to open and keep a bank account?) and the emotional toll that it takes on kinky events organisers. 

And after Covid, there was an influx of people in the community that was simply incredible. That means that event organisers now have a bigger responsibility to their guests.

The S+ Association, she believes, can provide a much-needed starting point for new organisers, ensuring they have the resources and support to protect their guests.

Dominium Vita

Dominium Vita is an inclusive and luxurious private members club where you can truly release your sexual fantasies.

Scott

Scott’s first experience as an event organiser taught him the importance of meticulous planning and safety checks. Apparently it’s pretty tricky to buy buckets of condoms and litres of lubes. Yep, that’s right. 

He emphasised that Electrowerkz is a sex-positive party venue, not just a sex party venue, and underscored the necessity of thorough checks starting from the door.

The host: Electrowerks

CK

CK, with 17 years in the kink community, discussed the benefits of the Association, such as creating safe event guidelines and improving standards. 

This event is only the start, he believes that continuing this, running networking events like this will benefit the community as a whole. One of the things that are being spearheaded by S+ Association is creating a dispute resolution team that will help guide community members through resolving issues.

The next step is to picture a future where we can lobby Councils and drive change. Create a Purple Guide for the kink community that can support event organisers running kink events safely.

He envisioned a future where the association could lobby Councils and drive changes, ultimately fostering a supportive environment for organisers and participants alike.

Have you heard of LONDON DECOMPRESSION?

Decom is one of the world’s longest running Burning Man events.

Logan

Logan is another event organiser and co-founder of Quench. He highlighted the critical need for safeguarding and for wellbeing in the sex community. With numerous events and attendees, ensuring ethical, safe, and diverse environments is paramount. 

The person that plants the tree and will never feel the shade of. That’s what the community needs to look at, Looking after the DMs and the performers, paying them fairly, making sure they are skilled, and they are respected.

He highlighted the many events going on, and it’s crucial to work together, not against each other. Work together as a community.

He emphasised the importance of standardisation and working together as a community to foster positive change.

We need to believe in change otherwise we are doomed as a society

Logan

Have you heard of Quench?

I wrote a review a while ago, check it out

What's next?

The event concluded with some questions from the audience. Attendees raised in-depth questions about sex positivity in education, community improvement, conflict resolution, licensing laws, venue suitability, risk assessments, and media interactions.

Discussions also touched on supporting performers, creating clear standards for licensing, and fostering better relationships with the Police and Councils.

Something I believe is important is raising awareness and adding transparency to our community. In the eyes of much of the vanilla world, we are often portrayed by the media with salacious connotations. This portrayal lacks authenticity and paints the community in a ‘dirty’ light just to drive headlines.

This is why I blog. I believe we can write our own narrative and tell an authentic and real side of the story, rather than letting mainstream media outlets dictate what’s right and wrong and paint a misleading picture of depravity.

As the formal part of the event wrapped up after nine pm, and we started getting ready for drinks, it was clear that the S+ Association is set to make a significant impact on the sex-positive community.

Plans for training, ongoing collaboration, and regular feedback from members were discussed, promising a democratic and inclusive approach.

Now, shall we do a quick Q&A?

What is the S+ Association?

The S+ Association is a non-profit organisation that represents the interests of organisers of sex positive events in the UK and individuals working at those events as welfare monitors.

What does the S+ Association aim to achieve? And how will it help its members?

The Association aims to improve standards, raise safety, provide training, encourage research, and act as a collective voice to influence local government policies.The S+ Association helps its members by also providing guidelines, information notes, codes of practice, and educational resources. Membership signifies adherence to a managed standard, offering assurance to end-users.

How does the S+ Association ensure quality and safety?

The Association operates a set of standards that members sign up to annually. These standards help improve quality, health, and safety, and provide guidelines, information notes, codes of practice, and educational resources.

What is the role of the S+ Association in dispute resolution?

The Association provides a Dispute Resolution Scheme, acting as a mediator between a complainant and a S+ Association member to help them resolve problems effectively.

What kind of accessibility standards will they be offering?

S+ will comply with all aspects of The Equality Act 2010 and will encourage members to do the same.

What kind of financial or disability accessibility recommendation will they provide to members?

As already stated we encourage members to comply with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 which calls for “reasonable adjustments” to be made. It is not the place of a trade body to dictate pricing to their members. If accessibility to sex positive events is of interest to members, we will use our research and convening powers to start a conversation on this important topic.

Will there be guidelines around age and body type and gendered pricing? What is their stance on these issues?

It is not the place of a trade body to dictate to members how they run their business and each member will have different views on the above topics.

Image source: Tony Mitchell, Photographer, TheFetishistas.com – 12 June 2024

What are Membership fees etc?

In short, anyone working in the UK as an event organiser and individuals working at those events as welfare monitors are eligible for membership. They are currently focusing on these two categories first, but hope to include other organisers and workers in the industry in the future, such as coaches and performers. To find out more, reach out to membership@splusassociation.org.uk.

How will the collected member’s fees be used?

The member’s fees will be spent on accountancy and legal fees, domain and website costs, photography and event costs, and limited Director expenses e.g. train travel to speak at a conference. As a non-profit organisation, none of the working group or Directors are being paid for their time. Accounts will be submitted to Companies House each year and be available for viewing.

What are the benefits of membership outside of documentation/guidelines, and how much of a voice will members have around these guidelines?

S+ Plus Association offers various benefits to its members. Members become part of a unified voice for the industry, lobbying key stakeholders such as venues, councils, police, banks, and insurers. They help set standards that safeguard the workforce and guests. As mentioned earlier, they run a Dispute Resolution Scheme for mediation of guest complaints and offer 20+ peer-reviewed Guidance Notes on topics from event planning to incident management. Members have the opportunity to contribute to industry research and PR efforts, attend education and training events, receive up-to-date advice and support from peers, and (of course) showcase the S+ Association logo on their websites/materials.

Will there be monthly gatherings or surveys to gauge organisers’ sentiment and collate feedback?

We will run regular networking and training events for our members. All members can contribute to the direction and mission of the organisation.

Will there be training offered to members?

S+ Association is looking into developing a training offer, more coming soon.

How collaborative will this be? Will decisions be taken centrally with no consultation/democratic?

As a non-profit organisation, any member can participate in the direction and daily operations of the organisation. The Association encourages industry members to get involved. Their volunteer group has made significant progress, but more help will allow them to achieve even more. Kinksters can get involved by spreading the word about S+ Association, applying for membership, volunteering for a subcommittee, or offering support such as legal advice, training, website development, or social media assistance.

Follow them on Instagram to stay updated.

Special thanks to Tony, the photographer for the night

Tony Mitchell is a professional journalist, publisher and, latterly, photographer who has been covering the fetish scene since the launch of the original Skin Two club in London in 1983. 

A full-time music journalist at that time, he began contributing to Skin Two magazine after its launch in 1984, becoming first its art director and later its editor — a position he held until 2006. 

In 2007 he launched his own publication, The Fetishistas (thefetishistas.com), continuing online the same quality of professional scene coverage that he had earlier espoused in print.