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Without Dutch courage as an option, I decide to ease myself in gently with Friday night’s Cuddle Party.It’s intended as a non-sexual experience, focusing on touch, intimacy and connection, and we begin by setting boundaries, asking for what we want and giving and refusing consent.The irony of the activity – which, when our instructor demonstrates it on his muse, is very hot indeed – being held in a Girl Guide hut, is not lost on any of us.I am terrible at the knots, but fare far better in the next class, Bondassage, a hybrid of bondage and massage.‘Celebrating Sexuality is our media-friendly title,’ laughs Vanessa Florence, who founded the festival three years ago. It’s about giving yourself permission to explore what you want and like.’ To that end, there are workshops (many of which are ‘clothing- optional’) on tantric techniques, polyamorous lifestyles, blow jobs and bondage, a juicy mix of the kinky (clingfilm class at 4pm, anyone?) and the spiritual, such as liberating your shadow and dancing Eros.Many of my classmates, however, have taken up our instructor’s invitation to disrobe and are semi-clad and mainly topless, men and women alike.
It’s still pouring when my alarm goes off at 6.30am on Saturday, and I have second thoughts about the wisdom of Kinky Yoga at 7am; I don’t even like yoga.Before lunch today, I will have been blindfolded, then flogged, and mastered the basics of Japanese rope tying.Sex Campers are also encouraged to push their own boundaries, so, by dinnertime, I will have got naked in a room full of strangers, a situation terrifyingly far outside my comfort zone.I’m not particularly crafty, and while I could have taken up the offer of a mirror to examine my own vagina for inspiration, I’m happy for it to remain more impressionistic.More rewarding for me than the art project itself, though, is the chat we have while crafting, about the pros and cons of foreskins.
Along with experimenting with floggers and furry mittens, my (female) partner in the class, Merisol, and I discover that the humble electric toothbrush can be an extremely erotic tool in sensory play.