It started with Club Risque in the early 2000s. A group of edge dwelling artists, performers, etc., began creating bi-yearly parties for a couple hundred people to express their sexuality openly. They weren’t orgies like people often imagine. In fact, there was a 3 page rules-waiver that specifically spoke to the layers of consent and explicitly stated entrance to a party did not guarantee getting laid. They were themed costume parties with beds, baskets of clean sheets, safe sex supplies, and a dungeon available to those who wanted to play. There were trained crews of volunteers to provide music, food, education, support, and safety. There were also amateur performances that ranged from a gorgeous woman doing a burlesque dance while 8 months pregnant to a drummer doing a piece on three women’s asses to a dance that included intense knife play. People’s edges were pushed and support provided if it put someone in a challenging space.
I joined the volunteer staff when a friend, who was the original developer of the Vibes Crew, invited me to be on her crew due to my empathic nature. The first party I attended blew my mind and heart open. I was hooked.
When Club Risque ended after 7ish years, people still wanted parties. Eventually my partners and I (pictured) volunteered to be the lead producers and manage logistics. We named ourselves The Impropriety Society. We produced two large parties, several smaller socials, and a couple educational workshops a year. We put all the creativity we had into creating magical spaces like the fairytale inspired Enchanted Garden and the sci-fi inspired Space Odyssey.
My areas of leadership included art direction and the Vibes Crew. Vibes were separate from security and trained to promote a sense of welcome and belonging, as well as watch for issues that need to be addressed with care. Our vision was that you were a community member when you walked in the door and we wanted you to feel it. Based on what we were told, we succeeded with every event.
How do I put into words what it feels like to be in a space where everyone is included, safe, and free? It is different than any other communal space I’ve been in. We talked to and danced with strangers as openly as friends. People were transformed by the ability to be themselves, whether fat, old, genderqueer, or Furry. Every body and every kink was welcome and even celebrated (the Furries in particular were popular on the dance floor). For a few hours a month we knew freedom from cultural rules and oppression.
While I am for radical inclusion in our communal spaces, I am also an advocate for every marginalized community having their own safe spaces to taste freedom from those who judge and oppress. When we experience a taste of freedom it reminds us what we are fighting for and helps us imagine what is possible beyond our current culture of exclusion, oppression, and violence. Another world is possible. I’ve helped create one and hope to again someday.