READ THE RULES!
Don't just browse them quickly and sign them at the registration desk. The rules are important, and the TES Fest staff enforces them very strictly for the protection of the event, the attendees, and the hotel. Look for the rules on the event website, study them, read them again at registration, and make sure you understand them. At Kink events, as in the legal system, ignorance of the law is no defense!
Don't Forget to Eat!
A minimum of 2 meals a day is highly recommended. It is easy to forget when there is so much going on. Food is important. Food is part of a balanced diet, and provides the energy necessary to socialize, play, and shop. Eating at kink events can be an adventure. The hotel restaurant can get quite busy. Staff can get overwhelmed, delays can be long, and people can get grouchy. Here are some possible solutions:
- Eat early if you can, and avoid the rush that happens when classes conclude for the day.
- Keep some food in the room; the host hotel has a mini-fridge and microwave in each one.
- Have a light snack after the seminars and eat later after the rush.
- Leave the hotel to eat occasionally. You can find some friends with cars and carpool to a restaurant.
Get Some Sleep!
You can expect not to get too much sleep. You’ll be up early for breakfast before the seminars and back to bed late after the parties. A minimum of 3 hours of sleep per day is highly recommended. Preferably sleep in a bed. It doesn't have to be yours (but you DO have to have permission if it's not). It's considered rude to sleep in panels, especially ones with a capacity crowd. Sleep somewhere. Note that caffeine is not an appropriate substitute for sleep, no matter how much you've had.
For the love of <insert Deity of choice here>, take a shower. A minimum of 1 shower per day is highly recommended. Con Funk is not pleasant for your fellow attendees around you. Showers are free to all hotel guests. If you don't have a room, ask a friend to use their shower. Make sure to use soap. Standing under a stream of warm water for 30 seconds is not showering. Patchouli oil, extra deodorant, FeBreeze, cologne, or a fresh change of clothes does not replace a shower 100%, or even 10%. Shower!
Who can I expect to find at TES Fest?
You’ll see lots of friendly perverts from around the country and around the world. Kink events such as TES Fest offer a great way to meet people, to visit and learn, and to obtain many new ideas. Seminars given by great presenters on a variety of topics. Sometimes it seems that all the best seminars are scheduled at the same, so be prepared for "seminar selection stress".
What else will I find there?
Play parties! The energy level at events is usually pretty high, and you get to see how different people play. (Maybe even with you!) People tend to "dress up" for the parties, and although a dress code is not enforced. Dark clothes, leather clothes, and black shoes or boots are usually are often seen. If you show up in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and white tennis shoes or sandals, you will stand out. That is your choice.
Dress comfortably during the day as you will be sitting in seminars and cruising the vendor area. You will also be walking a lot and maybe standing.
A great vendor area with lot of toys and affordable shopping! Bring credit cards and money! If you see something you like and are unable to purchase it immediately, be sure to ask the vendor how many they have in stock. And if there's only one, you should consider buying it now! If you decide to come back later to get it, it may not be there.
Especially if you're new to the lifestyle, it's important to know that you do not have to play at kink events (TES Fest or any other event). Everything that happens is to be consensual at the parties and anywhere else! You are free to just watch, and you are free to play if you want to. If someone asks you to play and you're not quite ready, just say something like, "No, thanks, I'm new to the scene and I'm just watching and learning." If you are interested, don't be afraid to ask for references, and be sure to negotiate the limits of the play session. (If you don't know how to do that, ask one of the event volunteers, they'll be able to find someone to help!)
Be respectful, courteous, and tolerant of others. Vanilla manners are never out of place. If you're new to the lifestyle, watch a lot and try to pick up on the dynamics of relationships or protocols.
If you don't know how to address someone, and you make a mistake or find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, tell the other person that you're new to the scene and you're not quite sure what's going on. They will very likely understand and explain things to you. We were all new at one time, and we remember what it was like. When in doubt, ask someone what their pronouns are. It’s better to risk looking silly by asking than to mis-gender someone.
Come with a very open mind
You will see lots of different kinds of people, hear lots of different viewpoints and opinions, and see lots of different kinds of relationships and different kinds of play. People tend to "pull out the stops" at these events, and some of the action can be very unusual. It's all good, and it's all a learning experience. (Even just thinking about *why* you reacted in a certain way to something can be a valuable learning process.) Be respectful, courteous, and tolerant of others.
Expect to be amazed
Expect to be amazed, surprised, delighted, shocked, startled, amused, and expect to experience a whole range of intense emotions. Sensory overload and unexpected emotional reactions are a common side effect of kink events. If it gets to be a bit too much, find a quiet corner to sit in and just watch for a while, or find someone to talk to about how you're feeling. You can also go back to your room to relax for a bit or watch mindless drivel on TV for a while. Take advantage of good weather to relax in the courtyard. Then go back to the event and jump back into the pool!
May I arrive at the hotel early?
If your schedule and finances permit, check into the hotel the day before the event and check out the morning after. This has a number of benefits. You can get in, get settled in the hotel, have dinner, and chill out before the event starts. Be aware that there might be vanilla guests still in the hotel until 12PM on Friday. The day of the event you can get up, have breakfast, sit in the lobby watching people check in, and look for your friends (or make some new ones). You can register early, check out the schedule, and hit the vendor area. (Get those neat shiny toys before anyone else has a chance!!)
May I stay late?
If your schedule and finances permit, check out of the hotel the day after. In doing so the last day of the event, you don't have to worry about checking out on time and figuring out what to do with your luggage before getting to those last seminars on in the afternoon. After the event closes, you can go back to the room and relax instead of rushing off to the airport/hitting the road. You can "decompress" before returning to reality. You can avoid the challenge of trying to find a luggage cart and waiting for an empty elevator when checking in and out! It's a lot easier than when hundreds of kinksters with lots of leather and toys are looking for carts and filling the elevators at the same time.
Be polite to the hotel staff. It's difficult to handle a weekend with a crowd the size of a typical kink event. You may run into delays getting room services or dealing with problems with your room. The hotel staff is doing the best they can, so please be patient. Be respectful of the housekeeping staff; don't leave toys and explicit materials lying around the room. It's not easy to find a hotel that will host this kind of event, so we need to make a good impression so that we will be invited back. Thank the hotel staff any time you talk to them, and tip well!
The TES Fest volunteers put in a lot of time and effort to help the event run smoothly. Show them that you appreciate it by saying "Thanks!" or "Good job!" And especially, be respectful of the Security staff. Yes, will ask to see your event badge and id every time you go into the the play space or event areas, even if you just left and turned around because you forgot something. And they will not let you in without it. They are doing their job, and the rules are there to protect you, the event and the hotel. It only takes a second to show your id, so just smile, show them your badge, and thank them!
Be prepared for an incredible high during the event, and for culture shock when you get back to the "real world" after the event. (We call this "event drop".)
And finally ... have Lots and Lots of FUN!!!
This writing was inspired by "What To Expect At Your First Leather Event", written by Master Grey for Thunder in the Mountains, Denver, CO Found here: http://www.