Goodbye romance, hello kink


Goodbye romance, hello kink

CELESTE THERON decided to address her disillusionment and heartbreak by frolicking in a queer playground where the etiquette is strict and judgment is checked at the door.


“But tonight, good then, let us feast masked, play masked, without shame: Let us love, weep and be human, tomorrow a new millennium starts, tomorrow everything begins anew, but without you and me.”

— Andre P Brink, Orgie

AT one point I started rolling my eyes at every corset on the street and every party in the Cape. We get it, you're part of a sexy subculture, but the subtle undertones of bondage are lost to me in the mundanity of today's BDSM culture.

Kink is seen as a form of intimacy where heteronormative ideas about sexuality are challenged through imaginative power games to which the parties involved agree in advance — social cohesion and voluntariness are absolutely essential (according to a paper whose reference I can't now recall). This definition left me with some questions: does heteronormative sex mean I'm vanilla now — and what does it mean to be a “normie”, one who is expressly not allowed at kink parties, according to their Instagram pages? I refused to accept that I was vanilla, so I joined a kink party.

I wasn't just curious. Perhaps heartbreak played a small part in it: disillusioned by the fallibility of romantic relationships and a marriage that was bleeding to death, it was time to try something new in which I let go of some of my romantic tendencies. How does it feel to surrender yourself to the gods for a moment, without judgment or any expectations — like in the days of the ancient Roman fertility festivals in the name of Bacchus? Maybe I can shed my vulnerability on a dance floor and get rid of Cupid's merciless poison dart. I buy devil's horns in Bloed Street in Marabastad and make a headdress to go as the goat from Brink's novel Orgie (Orgy): “I wish I were a human but I can't because it's a masquerade ball tonight, I'm just a goat."

Lees hierdie artikel in Afrikaans:

“I’m saving my chakras for AfrikaBurn, so not doing anything too hectic this weekend,” a friend let me know when I invited him to Eden. Fine, I think, now is not the time for a deep dive into the grievances of my archives: I will go alone. Luckily I discover someone I know who has bought a ticket to Eden and decide to join her polygamous circle of friends for the evening.

The friends warmly welcome me to their home and explain to me in detail how their value system of trust works. They see polygamy as a sexual identity, orientation or ideology that forms part of the larger queer community whose mutual respect binds them together. I am offered a lift to the place in Houghton and a couch to sleep on. Dressed in a long coat and my mother's vintage satin suit, from her honeymoon days, I walk the red carpet into Villa Simone. Two people who did not dress according to the theme are turned away at the door. Our phones are taped up and someone escorts us to a room where our coats are stored.

There are three bracelets to choose from: red, orange or green. Red means the organisers may not take photos of you; orange indicates that no one is allowed to come and talk to you; and green shows you are open to chats and photos. Eden is strict on etiquette and no harassment or discrimination is tolerated. It is a queer playground and should not be confused with a sex party. Physical advances are allowed within limits, as long as they are voluntary.

There are rooms you can book ahead of time if you want something more intimate; anonymous Saints move around the party to make sure everyone is safe. The decor of Villa Simone is lovely and lavish: fountains, carpets, swimming pools, balconies, buttocks, statues, mirrors, trinkets and symbols with playful irony, and corridors leading to secret rooms. In the lush garden there is a big tent where the dance party takes place.


I am surprised as I run into so many people I know. Latex and leather are the go-to for the mythological nude figures who dance masked under the lights. Outside the amorous embrace of two lovers, I stand frozen on the dance floor — overwhelmed by the smorgasbord of options on offer. It's against Eden's policy to judge, but the man who's been trying to catch my eye all evening is barefoot and looks like he's just come from a bachelor's party.

I decide instead on a spanking or ten at the spanking station. “Bend down," I was ordered. “Is this your first time?" asks the masked cat positioning me on a chair in the middle of the dance floor. I must confess, it is. The security measures are communicated to me. With my knees on a pillow and my arms outstretched in front of me against the back of a chair, I close my eyes as I bite my lip.

“On a scale of one to 10, how much did it hurt?" the cat asks me after the first rap. “Four," I lie, but it was a 10, and I get six of the best. My bottom burns. I thank the cat and move on quickly. A shibari station catches my eye: a thick rope snaking over a body in sensual curls knotting over fleshy hips.

Farther down in the garden, under an archway draped with ivy, someone crouches in the twilight with their arms chained above their head, while someone else inflicts sensual blows on them with a whip. After each stroke there is communication with the person on the receiving end of the situation, to make sure the strokes fall under “pleasure". This is one of the multitude of activities included in the entry fee of R200 — if you buy your tickets in time.


Homemade ice cream is distributed along with condoms. The atmosphere is playful and positive, with four DJs taking turns on the dance floor. There is a variety of bodies in every shape and colour in delightful outfits. I feel safe. It's diverse. No one is trying to touch me. I close my eyes and dance at the front of the DJ booth. When I open my eyes, the barefoot man is still smiling at me and I decide to dance with the heterosexual man — who is among the minority. He didn't bother with a costume and probably just got rid of his shirt after work and twisted his tie to one side (but he's not ugly).

The minute I start to feel comfortable enough with a hand on my hip, the poly family I'm staying with let me know they're leaving. I slip out of the embrace and give the man with no name a quick wave.

“Up to this point, good, up to this point, God, and then, and then?" the words of Brink occur to me as I roll over in my sleep and wonder if I am heteronormative.


♦ VWB ♦

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