We received 41 responses to the end-of-year survey. Thank you very much to everyone who took the time to respond! Below is an overview of the responses we received followed by our thoughts and plans for 2017 based on those responses.
Part 1: Summary of Responses
Who are you?
Here’s how you identified yourselves:
The regular attendees indicated that distance and scheduling were the primary things keeping them from being “more regular.” One person did request more guest presenters, which we’ll always try to make happen when possible (see below). Someone else wanted “more rope bottoms” … but we don’t have a factory for those yet, so all we can do for that is hope. 🙂
Occasional / New Attendees
Here are the reasons that occasional attendees gave for not coming out more often (notice that the first option is “I’m just new …”):
Most of the “other” reasons just reinforced one or more of the primary options, though a few did mention not having a partner, a ride, or some Xanax.
People seem mostly happy with things, and no one was really bummed out:
When we asked about what’s been working well, some of the responses included:
- Having time at the beginning to socialize and meet new people
- The variety and frequency of alternating topics and approaches
- Having open practice / skill-share time
- Focusing on one or two things (not trying to do too much on any given night)
- The focus on safety and education
- And what a great, helpful, and welcoming group of folks you all are!
We also asked specifically about the general structure for each meeting, and regular attendees seem to overwhelmingly like it:
We also asked how people felt about us moving away from trying to do any structured, progressive curriculum-style teaching at Rope Bites and instead focus on one-shot topics, fun events, and skill-share/open practice. Clearly, there are a few who don’t love that approach, but most regular attendees seem to like that, too:
Most regular attendees also think we’re doing a decent job balancing between tops, bottoms and those who self tie:
When we asked what people would like to see more of, the most frequent answers included:
- More sessions on specific ties or patterns (including mid-level ties)
- More sessions on decorative ties
- More sessions on rope and sensuality/sex
- More sessions on rope and sadistic play
- More sessions focused on different body types
And when asked what isn’t working so well, what we should work to improve, or other suggestions, the responses included:
- Making sure presenters stay focused and limit number of new ties, appropriately assess the skill level of the night’s attendees, provide sufficient time at the end for practice, and provide a 10-minute warning for end-of-tying and cleanup
- Finding ways to help with the social interaction at the start of the meeting, or ways to help single participants find a practice partner for the evening
- Warm-up rope handling drills before a specific tie or topic
- More of the “station rotation” approach (where different presenters each have a variation of a tie and participants rotate through based on the variations that interest them)
Extended Offerings and Opportunities
We also asked a few questions about things related to, but not directly about, Rope Bite, including guest presenters and intensives, the website, alternate rope-related offerings, and the function of Rope Study through group classes versus private lessons.
People generally like having guest presenters and would like to see more of them (both on Thursday nights and for weekend events). As for the amount that people would feel comfortable paying for either of those scenarios: most people seem comfortable paying $5-10 for Thursday evening presenters, but for weekend presenters, the amounts varied widely, so it’s hard to give a consensus amount on those.
People do seem to know that we have this website, and some even use it! Mainly for things like the resources, the online courses, and the newsletter.
A few people also do seem to like the idea of having specific offerings for bottoms and for rope combined with other activities, though people also say that scheduling prevents them from coming to those kinds of events when we offer them. We’ll have a few thoughts on that below.
Finally, about 80% of the respondents said they might be interested in working through the content of our Rope Study classes through private lessons if they were offered. Again, see below for our thoughts.
Part 2: Plans for 2017
Based on these responses, and tempered by our own experiences and the realities of our personal schedules, here are our thoughts about how we’ll be using this information to plan for 2017.
First Up: Things We Can’t Control
There are a few things we simply can’t do much about, unfortunately … like securing partners for people, getting rides for people, calming anxieties, arranging for babysitters, or convincing your boss to change your work schedule. Sorry! 🙂
- No Change: Location – Also, the location is not going to change anytime soon. Finding a place to let people gather and tie each other up, at no charge, is actually pretty difficult. Finding a place with strong, accessible anchor points, plenty of mats, available food and drink, and temperature control is even more difficult. Not only that, but Fallout has been extremely helpful and generous to the kink community in general and the rope community in particular, so we will definitely continue to happily take advantage of their generosity and continue to hold Rope Bite there.
- No Change: Time – Though it’s possible to consider holding Rope Bite meetings at a different time, we have to also work with Fallout’s schedule and the schedule of other events. This means our time and day of the week is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future.
ScheduleModification: Schedule – However, based on a few responses, we will make a concerted effort to stick to the schedule below and to help guest presenters do so, as well (though we try not to interfere too much with how guest presenters choose to use the time).
- 6:30 – 7:00 = social time
- 7:00 – 8:30 = instructional time (or open practice)
- 8:30 – 9:00 = open practice time
- 8:45 = 15 minute warning
Topics & Open Practice
- No Change: Open Practice Rotations – We will continue to hold regular open practice sessions (about one per month), as the majority of people seem to like having that option in the mix.
- Modification: “Station Rotation” – In addition, we’ll try to take the “station rotation” approach more often: where there’s a specific topic for the evening, but different people have stations that show variations or different levels of difficulty and people choose which stations to visit.
- Modification: More Explicit Focus on Different Body Types – We will also try to demonstrate rope on a wider range of different body types, including variations where necessary. However, we do need to have participants of various body types in order to do so. We have a range of female body types currently represented in the bottoms who regularly attend, but we don’t have many male-bodied bottoms represented. We will try to more-explicitly welcome diversity in our posts and advertisements. However, if you’re a regular and know people who don’t come out because they may not feel comfortable or welcome, please talk to them or talk to us. We welcome all experience levels, all types of rope bondage, and all body types!
- Modification: More Focus on Bottoms – Though we try to weave both the top and bottom perspective into everything we do, we plan to continue to offer bottom-focused sessions throughout the year as well.
- Modification: 2017 Topics – In addition to the above, we also plan to have topics related to:
- more specific ties and patterns
- rope and sadistic play
- rope and sensual/sexual play
- decorative ties
- creative combinations of ties
- negotiating for rope
- care and treatment of rope
A Word on SuspensionNo Change: Suspension Instruction – We had a couple of responses mention full suspension instruction. However, we purposefully do not hold full-suspension instructional sessions at Rope Bite. Suspension is an advanced skill, with serious safety risks, and we firmly believe people should learn suspension only after having obtained a solid foundation in floor work and only through working closely with experienced instructors. We believe the open, mixed-ability, large-group format of Rope Bite is not an appropriate setting for that type of instruction. (This is one of the reasons we created Rope Study, which progresses through foundations and partial suspension before full suspension.)
Of course, those who have already received training in suspension are welcome to practice suspension during open practice time (with DM supervision), but it will not be explicitly taught at our regular Rope Bite meetings.
Weekend intensives (see below) may include full-suspension instruction.
Social / Partner HelpChange: Social/Partner Help – There were a number of people who mentioned the difficulty of finding a partner and the uncertainty of that 6:30 – 7:00 social time. Some suggested coming up with some “speed dating” or other options to help people meet each other and find practice partners. In the past, we also held “munches” for this reason, but those were not well-attended. So, while we don’t have any definite ideas yet, and certainly not any “good” ideas, we will keep thinking about this and try a few things out. If you have some specific suggestions for helping with this issue, please let us know!
Guest PresentersModification: Guest Presenters – Many people mentioned that they enjoy when guest presenters visit, so we will continue to try to bring in guest presenters for Thursday evenings. This typically means the presenter needs to be local or happens to be passing through and free that Thursday evening.
This means we need your help! If you have something you’d like to share, or if you know of someone you think should share something they know, please get in touch. You don’t need to be an expert at rope to share something that you know or love, and we’d like to hear from bottoms and those who self-tie in addition to tops. And we would particularly like to hear from presenters who do decorative or Western-style bondage.
- Modification: Rope + More – We’ve run a few different “other” rope-related events, with varying levels of participation. For this year, we’re going to start running Rope + More on alternate Tuesdays. These events will be skill-share sessions specifically focused on acro-shibari and self-tying, though we are completely open to people coming to work on combining rope with other types of play, skill-sets or performances. Feel free to reach out to us if there is something you have been wanting to try and you are unsure if our space can accommodate it. We will announce these meetings in the RVA Rope Bite group as well as on this site.
- Modification: Intensives – We’ve had a few weekend intensives over the years, and we will continue to encourage those. However, we (Bound Light and Ma’iitsoh Yazhi) do not have the time to coordinate those events. So, if you would like to be involved in helping to plan these kinds of events, please get in touch! Without additional help on this, they likely won’t happen …
Private LessonsChange: Private Lessons – We’ve mentioned that we’re willing to provide private lessons in the past, but that’s never been a focus for us. However, many of you on this and other surveys have said that you would be interested in private lessons. In addition, as more people move through the RVA Rope Study: Foundations class and into partial and full suspension, we find that private lessons or small-group lessons work better in partial suspension and definitely better in full suspension.
We don’t have all the details worked out yet, but we plan to offer more regular private instruction for those who would be interested. As soon as we can figure out the best schedule and determine a pricing scale that would be fair to everyone, we will provide more information.
RVA Rope Website!
Many of you seem to know this site exists and use it for stuff, so we’ll keep updating it and adding to it! Also, if you haven’t already, consider subscribing to the newsletter to get updates by email.
Get in Touch!
As a final note, if you have strong opinions about any of this that you don’t feel was heard through the survey or this post, please feel free to send us a message. Also, if you would like to get involved in some way to help more rope-related things happen here in RVA, please get in touch! You can contact us either through this site, or through Fetlife. Thank you!