Absolutely. You are always welcome to watch and should feel free to participate as much or as little as you’d like … including not at all. In addition, we hold most of our events at Fallout, a goth/fetish club, and during our regular meetings, there are usually a few people hanging out at the bar who aren’t there for rope. You won’t be out of place at all.
You are welcome to just watch, to practice ties on yourself, or to try to find a partner, either at the meeting or using the online group.
However, the absolute best advice we can give to anyone: show up at events, be sociable (but not pushy) and get to know people as people (not potential play partners). It goes against common social sense to agree to be tied up by someone you don’t know in a strange place, so don’t expect that. As people get to know you and become comfortable with you, they may start to let you tie them / be willing to tie you at public events. Trust and comfort takes time. People will be watching to see if you’re willing to put in that time and can be trusted over time. That’s the best and truest answer we can give.
But here are some other things you can also do …
To look for partners online, find the post for that event (always linked through the FetLife event page) and add a comment indicating the type of partner you are seeking (someone to tie, someone to tie you, etc.). You may also find that others have posted in the thread seeking partners. In addition, we have a dedicated partners thread for seeking partners that aren’t specific to one event.
To look for partners at the meeting itself, try to arrive at the start time. We usually have about half an hour of socializing time before the actual practice begins. This is a good time to meet new people and find out if anyone is un-partnered and willing to work with you. However, please respect the wishes of anyone who does not wish to work with you. Everyone has different comfort levels.
Finally, you can ask any of the group leaders if they know of someone who is also looking for a partner. If they do, and the other person doesn’t mind, they will share that information with you.
First, you should know that we always have some practice rope available for new people, so if you don’t want to buy any rope, you can still come and have something to try out.
You can also buy some cheap rope just to start learning with. That way, you’re not spending much money before you decide whether or not rope is something you’ll want to invest in. Most hardware stores have a decent variety for not much money. Try to get something flexible and not too thick … 4-6mm (about 1/4″), nylon or natural fiber will do fine.
Another thing to consider before paying much for rope is the type of rope you want to pursue. Broadly speaking, there are three major types of rope play that you’re likely to encounter:
- Western – This is typically characterized by the “damsel in distress” concept. Western bondage typically features wide bands of rope for the purpose of capturing and immobilizing or restraining for other types of play. This type of rope work lends itself well to nylon, hemp, and other thicker, softer types of rope.
- Japanese – Often referred to as “shibari” or “kinbaku,” this is typically characterized by more intricate ties that contort the body and bind it using thinner, harder ropes than those used in Western bondage. This is also the style that typically features intricate suspension work (though Western bondage can also involve suspension). This type of rope work lends itself well to jute and hemp, and typically avoids synthetic rope altogether.
- Decorative – This type of rope takes cues from both Western and Japanese approaches to rope bondage, but focuses more on the look of the rope on the body than on the bondage or restriction. Decorative chest harnesses, corsets, rope dresses, and the like are good examples. A wide range of different rope types might be used for this approach, though colored rope that allows for more detailed, intricate knots and patterns are typically preferred.
Recommended Bondage Rope:
- Natural Fiber Rope (less durable, better grip, less likely to cause rope burn)
- Hemp (moderately strong – 400lb*): Soft, knots easily, stretches, machine-washable
- Linen (moderately strong): A little stiffer than hemp, knots fairly easily, machine-washable
- Jute (medium – 300lb*): Stiffer and lighter than hemp and linen, knots well, unties well, not washable
- Cotton (weaker): Soft, knots easily, stretches, difficult to untie, often not recommended for suspension, and cheaper cotton is very weak
- Synthetic Rope (more durable, less grip, more likely to cause rope burn)
- Nylon (very strong – 1200lb*): soft, stretches, litle grip, machine-washable
- MFP (very strong – 1100lb*): stiffer, some stretch, less grip, machine-washable
- Polyester (strong): stiffer, less grip, less stretch, machine-washable
- Synthetic Hemp (moderately strong – 750lb*): looks like natural fiber, stiffer, lighter, better grip than other synthetics, machine washable
* These are approximate ratings, given in pounds of force at 6mm.
Lengths and Numbers:
- The typical recommendation for rope length is “four arm-pulls” … in other words, if you spread your arms and measure fingertip to fingertip, then multiply that distance by 4, that’s a good “ideal” rope length. However, this isn’t always practical if you’re not making or cutting your own rope, as it often requires special orders (which can cost more). Given that, more common lengths include:
- For the “main” ropes: 7-8 meters / 25 to 30 feet (these aren’t strictly equivalent measurements, but are typical lengths)
- For smaller ropes (for finishing, extending, etc.): 3-4 meters / 10 to 15 feet
- Common rope kit compositions include:
- For beginners: 3 main ropes to start with
- For intermediate: 6 main ropes and at least 1 smaller rope
- For advanced: 8+ main ropes and 2-5 smaller ropes
Here are a few sources that some of our members use and recommend, though you should do your own research before purchasing. There are a wide variety of sources and suppliers available online.
We recommend you bring a yoga mat, pad, blanket, pillow or some other way to cushion your knees or keep you warm. We will have mats available at some events, but they do not belong to us and are in various states of repair.
We also recommend you bring safety shears or other safe methods for quick release. We will have safety shears on site for each meeting.
For Rope Bite and Rope + More, you may also want to bring some money for food or drinks … and for tipping our hard-working bartenders well! We also ask for donations when we have guest presenters.
For Rope Lab or Rope Study, you may want to bring some drink and snacks, as none will be available on site.
We recommend wearing clothes that are comfortable to tie and/or be tied in. Clothing that allows for free range of movement is best, and form-fitting clothing is typically advised for those who plan to be tied.
Fallout does have a dress code, but you are not required to adhere to it if you are attending the practices. However, Fallout does not allow nudity due to Virginia ABC laws.
To be a little more specific: you will typically see people wearing jeans and t-shirts, dresses and skirts, yoga pants and tank tops, or bras and panties (no thongs at Fallout).
We also recommend that you wear little or no jewelry. Earrings and necklaces should not be worn during bondage. Also, for your safety, we suggest you remove or tape any body jewelry that isn’t otherwise covered.
I see that most of your events happen at Fallout. What is it like? Do I have to be a member to attend?
Fallout is a private fetish club located in Shockoe Bottom. It has a full bar and kitchen, and therefore, no outside food or drinks are allowed. Nudity is not permitted at Fallout because of VA-ABC Laws; however, be warned that smoking is permitted (though it usually isn’t heavy during Rope Bite meetings). Photography is not allowed at Fallout to protect its members’ privacy. Because alcohol is served there, you do need to bring a valid photo ID and be 18 years old to enter, 21 years old to drink.
Even though Fallout is a private club, our rope events are open to the public, so you do not need to be a member of Fallout to attend practices. You also do not need to abide by the club’s “goth/punk/fetish” dress code during practices, and so you’re free to dress comfortably for tying or being tied.
We ask participants of our rope events to follow a few rules in order to keep everyone safe. The rules can be summed up in this: Be safe. Be polite. Share. But to spell them out a bit more …
- Our number one rule is consent. All participants in our events are expected to follow the consent guidelines listed on our Policies & Procedures page. Tops and bottoms are responsible for practicing negotiated consent at all times.
- We also take safety seriously at our events. We ascribe to the principles of RACK: risk-aware consensual kink. Risk-taking is part of what kink is about. However, we believe those risks should be informed … on both sides of the rope. Therefore, we encourage responsible progression in rope, meaning that tops and bottoms gain the understanding and skills that are relevant to the risks they choose to take. Rope can be dangerous. We don’t want anyone to get hurt, nor do we want to associate with anyone who is going to get people hurt by being irresponsible.
- Please leave your ego at the door. This is a rope practice group. People have different learning styles, and some people assimilate information faster than others. We accommodate all those eager to learn. We provide a safe and comfortable space for you to learn to tie and/or be tied.
- All body types, levels of physical ability, levels of experience, and types of rope are welcome to explore rope bondage here.
For Meetings at Fallout:
Many of our meetings and events happen at Fallout–a goth/fetish club in downtown Richmond, VA. Please follow the guidelines below for any event held there. See their website and Fetlife group page for more details.
- Fallout does not allow photography of any type or at any time, so we must adhere to that policy when meeting there.
- Anyone who wishes to practice suspension work at our meetings should be familiar with and abide by the Suspension Guidelines created in cooperation with Fallout.
- Fallout does not allow nudity at any time because of Virginia ABC Guidelines. Bottoms (front and back) must be covered (no thongs), and female nipples must not be exposed.
- Please don’t walk on the mats with anything but bare/socked feet or very soft-soled shoes.
Additional Strongly-Worded Suggestions:
- If you plan on tying, please be considerate of those being tied and cut or file your fingernails. As is always the case, attention to personal hygiene is appreciated.
- This is a rope bondage practice group. If you wish to discuss religion, debate politics, promote your business, or “hook-up,” this is not the place to do it.