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Type of Plays in BDSM

Last time I wrote about The ABC of BDSM and covered some very basic terminology, including: vanilla vs kink/fetish, BDSM, some basic roles in BDSM, what’s a scene, safety protocols, and red flags. Before reading this post, make sure you read the first one.

In The ABC of BDSM I also mentioned in passing the word ‘play’. But what is play? Play means different things to different people. Today, I wanted to share my personal perspective on the different types of PLAY, and some of what I learned in my journey into BDSM.

Play is inherently kinky; although it can be interpreted differently from person to person one thing is for sure: it can varies a LOT on the kink spectrum. Today I wanted to highlight some of the main types of play, however, what I have listed below is in no way an exhaustive list. Also the way I have grouped the types of play is my own interpretation of course, and you might see it differently.

Another important thing to bear in mind is that not all plays involve sex or nudity, and that play and sex do not have to mix. Please have that conversation with your partner(s) and make sure that you are clear on that ahead of playing.

I hope it gives you an idea of how many types of play there are and how different they can be, and maybe inspire you to research more! 

Let’s start with my favourite! 🙂

TYPES OF SENSATION PLAY

SENSUAL SENSATION PLAY

Sensation play is a bunch of activities that impact physical sensation on your partner. These can be light and pleasant, like playing with feathers, and silk scarves, and massage oils – SO LOVELY! – or can be more focused on pain, think biting, spanking, and nipple clamps – ALSO GOOD FUN.

Note, this could mean sensory deprivation, think of deliberately reducing stimuli from one or more senses, like using a blindfold, or noise cancelling headphones.

As mentioned earlier, there are various degrees of kinkiness in these activities, and you can explore and find out what you and your partner(s) enjoy and are comfortable with, in your own time. It’s also fun to mix and match what you and your partner like, as part of your scene or your day to day sex life.

TEMPERATURE PLAY

In a way, this also falls into sensation play. This can involve playing with warm oil, ice, hot wax, cold metal things like jewellery, and more (think about playing with ice on your blind folded partner – SO FUN!).

Do remember to be careful when playing with you partner, and check in with them.

With hot wax for example, there are candle generally made of soy wax which melts at lower temperatures, you can buy these online and they are specifically used for wax play. Also bear in mind that the distance the hot wax travels to get to the skin can also affect its temperature.

IMPACT PLAY

I mentioned before about spanking, impact play is when you struck your partner (or you are struck by your partner) in a CONSENSUAL (and possibly erotic) way.

Mind you, this is not something new; this has been going on for thousand of years (that we have records of, I think one of the earliest depictions of erotic flagellation is from the 5th century BC).

When it comes to impact play, aside of having very strong communication with your partner and agreeing on a safe word or a safe gesture, you need to remember some safety measures and common sense.

Just to spell it out, it’s not advisable to hit anyone in the head, or the kidneys, or the neck, or any of the joints, tailbone, etc. Places you can get spanked are places where your body is protected by muscle or fat, like a nice bum, thighs, calves. My fav is the bum of course (what’s better than a lovely tushy???).

In terms of what to use, the options are endless, you can use your hand, a paddle, a whip, a crop, a brush, a cane, a flogger, or other things inside your house; and depending on what you use, you can have a thuddy or stingy sensation (based on how wide is the surface you are hitting). 

Love this short video on floggers from IG 🙂

EROTIC ELECTROSTIMULATION

VIOLET RAY

This is a curious one! In the early 1900s (over 100 years ago), ‘Violet Rays’ made history as medical devices (with over-exaggerated medical claims) used to discharge in electrotherapy. I feel like making air quote marks everywhere here, because we know that even back in the early 1900s we were all perverts.

The utensils in these machines are made of glass and conduct a very light (or strong, it’s adjustable) electrical currency. Since these are pretty fragile, they are not super common, and I have heard that in the UK there is only a couple of people who know how to restore vintage Violet Ray machines.

However, guess what? I was so lucky to try an original vintage Violet Ray machine for the first time at a Fox Den play party, where the dungeon master brought one for the occasion. Now, this can either be a very light and ticklish experience, but can also be quite intense (thou I luckily have only experienced the ticklish side).

VIOLET WAND

Anyway, in more recent times (like in the 90s) an upgraded version of this fancy tool was launched in the fetish market as Violet Wand, and it has become a lot more common since. It’s basically much closer to a vibrator nowadays, unlike the picture here.

yeah yeah, sure, that’s where you used it.

“Solidor” 1930s Vintage Violet Wand Set

ANIMAL PLAY

PUPPY, KITTEN, PONY PLAY

Animal roleplay or petplay is when one of the participants plays the animal as part of roleplay. It’s very method actor.

This has nothing to do with furries (see furry fandom for more info), but instead it focuses on the dominant/submissive dynamic.

Basically the dominant treats the other like a pet; whether it’s a kitten, a puppy, a pony, whatever floats you boat/pulls your leash.

Curiosity: a pet that is not owned, uncollared, and doesn’t belong to a Dom/Domme, is called a stray. I think it’s cute.

This kind of play often involve bondage, restriction with collars, leashes, kneepads, harnesses, rubber suits, masks, hoots, mitts, and more, and it can be both sexual or non-sexual. 

I have to admit, I always wanted a puppy, ideally trained to use the restroom, and who can cook/clean. Isn’t that the dream? 

TYPES OF EDGEPLAY

Edgeplay is not my fav, but thought I would cover it, as it comes up in BDSM quite a bit.

Edgeplay include all activities that challenge the usual SSC protocol and opt for RACK instead. I covered the most common protocols in my previous article – The ABC of BDSM, but basically SSC stands for safe, sane and consensual and RACK stands for risk-aware consensual kink.

This kind of play might lead to consequences either short-term (marks, bruises, etc) or long-term harm (broken something, death, etc). It can include breath control play (erotic asphyxiation), fire play, knife play, fear play, needle play, and extreme versions of temperature play.

I personally think this should only be done within established relationships, where both partners know very well each other’s limits, and are ‘comfortable’ pushing boundaries. Advanced negotiation and use of safewords are strongly recommended for this type of play.

BREATH CONTROL PLAY

Breath control play (aka Erotic asphyxiation) is the intentional restriction of oxygen to the brain for the purposes of sexual arousal. If you do that to yourself, then it’s called autoerotic asphyxiation.

Just so we are clear, both erotic and autoerotic asphyxiation can lead to accidental death due to asphyxia.

Like any other play, there are different types: choking – lack of oxygen in the blood due to restricted respiration, smothering – to suffocate or stifle by cutting off or being cut off from the air, and strangulation – constriction of a body part to cut off the flow of blood or other fluid.

The last one is also referred to as ‘blood chokes’ in Judo (you know, the ones in movies).

I do not in any way encourage any form of breath control play, however if you are curious and would like to read more, I found this to be a rather interesting and informative read.

FEAR PLAY

This uses fear to create sexual arousal. This happens because fear makes us produces adrenaline (you know, like when you watch an horror movie).

Some types of fear play focus on the psychological aspect such as abandonment, humiliation (see below) or even kidnapping; others are more physically based, like medical or knife play (see below), but the physical activity might cause the emotion.

KNIFE PLAY

This is another form of consensual play that focuses on physical and mental stimulation.

Knives, blades, swords, daggers, are used to cut and slice clothing, scratch the skin, remove wax, etc. Sometimes this is part of a fear play.

EROTIC HUMILIATION PLAY

This is self explanatory, however just to be clear, this is consensual psychological humiliation performed in order to produce erotic excitement and sexual arousal for either the top or the bottom or both.

I understand that knives, blades, and such sound like a real danger, but never underestimate the power of words. 

I think I have covered some of the key types of play. There are many more of course, some I even have already covered in the past like bondage play (Intro to Shibari), anal play (covered that twice! Pegging 101 and More about pegging). There are some other more niche plays that I haven’t covered, such as food play or scat play, but you get the gist.  

I hope to write another BDSM-related blog post in the future, probably around the different roles, so keep an eye out!

Take care and keep it kinky!