I don’t know if it is because I was born in an extremely conservative Catholic country, or that I was raised by a mother and an older sister, but I am a bit of a square. I am the kind of guy that when a girl says, “slap me” or “squeeze my neck” I answer, “no, because that might hurt you.”
It is in that state of innocence and squareness that yours truly found himself on the 15th anniversary of Tel Aviv’s S&M club Dungeon.
I showed up at said establishment around midnight coming straight from a Thanksgiving dinner with friends, where we indulged in the risqué activity of binge watching episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.
I was wearing a square patterned shirt and brown pants. Outside the club a security woman told me straight away “tonight you are not getting in dressed like that”. Fortunately I had been invited by a friend working in PR. She got me in the club as a journalist hopping I could write an article about my experience. I now believe, I am able to write a whole encyclopedia.
Almost everyone was dressed in black. On the small patio outside the club there were semi naked artists juggling balls and playing on a trapeze. In a white tent, a catering team served all types of food from salads to sushi. Attendance seemed hip and sophisticated and aside from the occasional dangerous cleavage or criminal thong not much different than any other crowd in a Tel Aviv bar.
My friend asked me if I wanted to go inside and I agreed. We walked down a steep flight of stairs, into the basement that justifies the name Dungeon. It was a dark room full of people, more women than men. Large plasma screens above the bars showed porn movies. There was a dominatrix chair in the center of the room and a muscled guy dancing on a strip poll. The sound was house music, and the random hit from the 80’s. However, disregarding the the stimulus from the surroundings attendees were not that wild. I only saw a guy grabbing his girlfriend’s boob. At the end of the room there was something called the maze. A dark labyrinth where you can only go with a partner to do whatever you want or just watch someone else. I must say I was curious, but I had no partner. Not that I would do anything in there per se, however any maze for me is a call to adventure.
In my opinion we have been so “pornified” –yes, I made that word up–that when we see these kind of games they don’t shock us as much make us wonder why an adult would share his intimacy with strangers in a public setting. My friend kept telling me “It’s OK everything is consensual”. And ironically that line started making me comfortable. Groucho Marx used to say about sex “If I am not doing it, I don’t care.” And it’s true. Once you realize people around you enjoy what they are doing, you become OK with it.
The muscled guy dancing on the poll grabbed a girl from the crowd and started fondling her. I thought, “now that is a team player”. As soon as he lifted her skirt and started poring wax in her butt cheeks it dawned on me that I was looking at paid performers.
We went back up for air. While smoking a cigarette my friend pointed out The Dungeon is the safest club for a female in Tel Aviv. Yes, you can ask anyone the most outrageous things like, “pee on me” or “let me sit on you”. Once you get a “no”, “no” is “no”. There is a community attached to the Dungeon and people know each other. If someone does something that someone else doesn’t consent to, flags are immediately raised and security is called in.
Behind us a guy was slapping a girl’s butt cheeks so hard I could barely hear my friend. Practically every couple was walking around with a leach. In front of us a guy grabbed his girlfriend’s genitalia while she looked bored. It became banal after a while, and because I wasn’t doing it, I didn’t really care.
“Look they are going to play limbo!” I said as they brought a bamboo trunk to the middle of the courtyard. My friend laughed, “No, they are going to do shibari.” I said “of course”, and thought to myself “what is shibari?”
When they began tying up the two blindfolded girls to the bamboo trunk it started to rain. The girls’ arms and legs seemed to be tied up everywhere, but I bet the water was not letting them feel the hot wax on their legs. I looked around. Everyone was watching the shibari show in the dry safety of the tent. I was like them, a dry voyeur. It was enough for me. Will I return to Dungeon? I don’t think so, but I felt comfortable and I strongly advise a visit to someone who has a kinky side or has a partner with a kinky side.
Rules, males without a partner will not get in, male groups are also not allowed, and pictures are forbidden.
As for me, I realized two things. One, I can feel comfortable in an environment of general debauchery, and two I will make it my new year’s resolution to stop saying “you go girl” to myself.