Answering Questions From Our Impact Play Workshop

Last week my partner, Elle, and I lead a workshop on spanking and flogging at Indulgence. We had a lovely time and greatly appreciated Indulgence hosting us, along with our lovely demo partner, and the dedicated leather workers from Pineapple JAM who provided a wide range of toys for people to try.

Of course we couldn't have held a workshop without the many guests who came and attended. Thank you for spending your Saturday evening with us! We had a sold-out venue and received several requests for future workshops which would explore spanking, flogging, and wax play. We hope to have workshops on these topics at Indulgence this summer and look forward to seeing you there! Please watch the Indulgence Facebook page as new workshops will be announced there.

Many people who came to the workshop raised interesting and important questions. Some of them were brought up during the less formal mingling portion of the workshop and we'd like to share as many as we could remember here, along with our answers, in the hope it'll help people interested in spanking, flogging, and other aspects of impact play. If you have a question which wasn't covered at the workshop, have comments, or want to get in touch with the presenters, you can reach us at jsmith@resonatngmedia.com.

Where are some good places to hit, or bad places to hit, during play?

Most impact play happens on a person's buttocks and upper thighs. These are areas where there is more padding (muscle and fat) and no vital organs. Many people also like having floggers used on their upper backs. While the upper back is not a "padded" area, there are muscles and bones there which protect the body and floggers are usually light and flexible, making them fairly safe to use on the upper-back. Don't use dense, heavy, or rigid toys on the upper back, or really anywhere other than your partner's backside.
Avoid bone and vital organs.

It's a bad idea to do impact play anywhere that is either boney or near a vital internal organ. For example, don't cane a person's hands or wrists. Don't paddle a person's neck or face as that can cause a lot of damage or result in a lost eye. Some of us have padded stomach areas, but don't do impact there because there are a lot of important vital organs just under the surface. Basically, I recommend only focusing on the buttocks with most toys and, with soft floggers, the upper back.

I know a few women who like getting flogged or paddled on their breasts. While this can be enjoyable, there are a few things to take into consideration with this sort of play. One is that it's a good idea to only use softer toys (like floggers) on the breasts. Another is that the breasts are near sensitive and important parts of the body, like the face, eyes, and stomach. Only play in this area if you're confident of the top's aim and you have some form of eye protection. A blindfold will usually do the trick and add a degree of mystique to the experience.

When in doubt, stick with the butt. Preferably the lower, centre section of the butt as it'll avoid hitting the person's tail bone and hips.

What about liability? Should you get a bottom to sign an agreement or is verbal consent enough?

With a few rare exceptions from people I know who have complex BDSM roles and requirements, I don't know of anyone who uses written agreements for play. It's unusual to require someone sign a formal agreement before BDSM play. Not that there is anything wrong with the idea, it's probably just more legal protection than you're going to need.

Most impact players will verbally agree to what will happen in a scene ahead of time. (You can check out our guide to negotiating kink scenes for some tips.) Usually clear, verbal consent is enough for most people.
Yes, there are three sets of hands in this photo. Draw your own conclusions.

If you're particularly concerned about someone crying foul after the fact, you could go the route of a written agreement. You could also engage in your impact play in semi-public spaces. A lot of people, especially those not in a committed relationship, will do most of their play at clubs and BDSM parties. This means there will be other people around who can watch your scene and either step in to help if something goes wrong or vouch for you if everything goes right. Not everyone likes playing with an audience, but if you want people around who can verify what happened, it's one way to go. Playing at kink parties is one of the easiest ways to do a scene with a built in support group who can help if the scene needs to be stopped or cheer you on when it's going well.

Another thing you could do is if, and only if, you have permission from everyone involved, you could take a video recording of your scene. That way if there is any disagreement later over protocol or what happened you have an objective record. Again, only do this if everyone has agreed to being recorded ahead of time and don't show the recording to anyone without permission. It's both bad form, and in many places, illegal to record or distribute recordings of private scenes.
Don't mind me, I'm just the record keeper.

Whatever method you come up with, makes sure it's one you both feel good about. A good agreement, record, or witnesses will be one that both people in a scene want and will feel comfortable with. If you don't want an audience and they do, or they don't want to sign a contract while you do, then it's better to walk away than try to force the issue and make one of you uncomfortable.

What are some tips for caring for and cleaning floggers and other toys?

With leather and suede toys you'll want a special leather cleaner. You can message Pineapple JAM to get details on the best types of cleaner and how to use them. Most other toys (wooden or plastic) you can clean with a damp cloth, followed by drying them with a cloth or paper towel.

I recommend cleaning your toys after each use. Especially if the person you are playing with had their skin break. Sometimes during intense scenes a bottom's skin will blister or bleed and it's important to clean the toys afterwards to avoid spreading infection.

My partner is interested in flogging, but I don't want to hurt her. Any tips to get started?

A lot of us grew up with the dogma that we were not to hurt people or not hit people smaller than us or never hit a lady. Which, in normal circumstances, is very good advice. I don't disagree with this philosophy as a general rule.

However, I think there are a few important things to note when it comes to impact play. For instance, any impact play should be mutually enjoyable - that is both people have given informed consent to participate. The difference between kink play and violence is the same as the difference between boxing and assault - informed consent on the situation and rules. If your partner has asked you to engage in spanking with them, you aren't doing something violent your parents warned you against, you're playing with your partner.

Something else to keep in mind is there are other activities you might engage in with your partner which would cause them some short-term pain, but that will be enjoyable or beneficial. Heavy massage, a shared bicycle trip, and removing a splinter all come to mind. If you'd be willing to work out a painful knot in your partner's back by giving a massage, why not release the tension in their back with a flogger?
Spanking is like a massage for your butt.

When in doubt, try starting off light, or mixing in elements of other activities to help you bridge the gap between where your mindset is now and kink scenes your partner has in mind. For example, put your partner over you lap, rub their back, give light little slaps on their bottom. Combine a massage with a playful spanking. It doesn't need to be hard, it doesn't need to hurt or bruise to be fun.

How can I tell if my partner is liking it or if I should stop?

Before a scene starts I recommend agreeing on some signals you can use during a scene. I particularly like asking a person to tell me occasionally how intense the scene is using a scale of 1-10. I suggest 1 is "I can barely feel that", 5 is "I could do this for an hour", and 10 is "we need to stop now".

Many people prefer the "traffic light" system. This is more simple and basically means when the bottom says "green" they mean keep going or you can hit harder. The term "yellow" means slow down and check in with me. The word "red" is used to stop the scene.
Oh, that is hot!

You can come up with your own approach, but these two are fairly common.

I also recommend watching your partner's breathing and posture. If they were breathing normally, but have started to hold their breath or tense up, then they probably need a break. If they were chatting or giggling, but stopped, pause to check in. A lot of people go quiet when they are near their limits so that's a good time to pause and see how they are feeling. If they ask to pause or if they don't respond to you when you talk to them, halt the scene.

With people I know better, I'll encourage them to talk back or act bratty when they want me to be more intense and get polite or quiet when they want me to back off. You might hear someone say, "Is that all you've got?" or "Did you start yet?" when they want me to pick up the pace. But then switch to, "Thank you, I've had enough," when they want a break.

Where do you get your toys?

I have three categories of toys. Almost all of my leather toys, especially floggers, come from Pineapple JAM. They make custom toys and leather items in Nova Scotia. I like that they're flexible in adjusting the colour, sizes, and handles of toys and they're great with putting together toys especially designed to work for me.

Other formal toys, like canes and paddles, I usually get from an American company called Cane-iac. They make a wide variety of toys, especially canes and whips, and I've had good luck with them.

My third group of toys is what I refer to as common household items. These are wooden spoons, belts, cutting boards, hair brushes, and bath brushes. These usually come from a local dollar store. These items are not as well suited for play, but they are inexpensive and can be hidden in plain sight without raising questions.
Despite the number of wooden spoons in my kitchen, I'm not much of a cook.

If my partner or I had a bad experience in the past, but we're interested in trying again, how do we make our next experience better?

I think in these situations the best you can do is talk about what happened. Specifically, tell your partner what you tried in the past, what when wrong, and how you wanted the scene to go. Basically, identify what you didn't like and what you want to replace that experience with next time.

For instance, if your past scene didn't go well because the top didn't stop when you wanted them to, explain that and then come up with cues and safe words to make sure your partner knows when to stop. Or, if you didn't like the toys that were used last time, shop for some toys you think you'd like better. Was something too light and stingy before? You can buy a heavier toy. Did your partner use a toy that was too hard and unyielding last time? They you can try something lighter this time. Maybe the last time you tried kink play it felt harsh and like a punishment when you wanted something light and fun? Next time try making the scene more casual.

Whatever went wrong last time, try to identify it and make a plan to replace that bad part with something you like better. Re-write the script of the scene, in essence, to get a better experience.

Tips on good toys for beginners or things to not get?

When you're just starting out, I recommend looking for two types of toys. The first type is relatively soft and flexible. Look for smaller, lighter floggers, light leather paddles, and consider using your cupped hand. Having a relatively light toy will help the bottom ease into the experience and the top won't need to worry as much about their aim because a soft flogger won't cause any damage if it hits the wrong spot. Heavier, harder items (like canes, whips, and wooden spoons) can hurt a lot if they hit the wrong place.

The other type of toy I suggest for beginners are small, stiff toys. Think short leather or rubber paddles, small stiff leather straps, and loops of leather with a firm handle. These are toys which are easy to aim. Longer, floppier toys can be difficult to aim at a target while smaller, firm toys are easier to aim at a specific spot.

Short, soft, easy to aim.


Basically, my recommendation is: find toys that are small and easy to aim and won't cause damage if you hit the wrong spot. Get used to swinging these and then branch out.

If we're both beginners how do we get started with spanking safely?

This was a great question to ask in a room full of beginners. For those of you who came to the workshop, I feel you already took a great first step. You came, you learned, some of you got to experience holding or feeling the toys. That's a good start.

For people who are just getting started in their impact play journey, I have two suggestions. One is to start simple and start small. Don't try to dive straight into marathon scenes in a dungeon if you're new. Pick out one toy you both want to try and use it for just a couple of minutes. See how it feels, talk about the experience. In fact, talk a lot - about what you want, about what you don't want, what you liked, what you want to try next, and why. Communicate what toys look appealing, how you want them to be used, what you want to do to (or have done by) your partner. Talk about all of it. And then do short, careful scenes. They won't be super exciting at first, but start small. As you two become more comfortable, then extend the scenes to be longer or include more toys.

Talk during scenes too. Ask your partner how something feels and if it is too intense. Ask if you can go harder. This is especially pleasant if the bottom lays over the top's lap and spanking is done with the hand. The top can feel the bottom breathing, see when they tense. The top can rub the bottom's back between smacks while they chat.
Keep it light and breezy.

Another approach, if you two feel comfortable with it, is find a more experienced person (or couple) to play with. This can be tricky because there needs to be trust and maybe some good chemistry involved. Find a more experienced person (or couple) you feel is trustworthy and makes you feel comfortable. An experienced bottom can help guide a top, explain how certain toys feel, and teach them about communication. An experienced top can gently guide a new bottom through a series of toys to help them find what sensations they like, ask important questions to lead by example, and gradually ramp up intensity of scenes.

What positions, furniture, or locations would you recommend for trying spanking?

I usually like finding soft furniture a person can be bent over. Often the bottom will stand beside a bed and bend over it, resting their torso on the mattress. The arm of a couch also works if it's high enough (or the bottom is short enough). You can put a pillow or towel on a kitchen table and bend over that too.

Some people prefer to bottom on their hands and knees rather than bent over. In these cases a large footstool will do, or kneeling on a bed. Some bottoms like kneeling on a couch, facing the back, and resting their arms and torso on the back of the couch.
She looks comfortable.

Avoid hard surfaces like wooden branches or stools. Those are hard on the hands and knees.

What do you do for skin care and emotional care after a scene is over?

On the physical side of things, long impact scenes can make the bottom's skin dry and firmer. This can be offset by using massage oils or moisturiser creams. Any moisturizer that works on your face or hands will be soothing on your bottom.

On the emotional side of things, many bottoms report having a brief mental high after an impact scene from the endorphins and adrenaline, especially if the scene is longer. Afterwards many bottoms feel a similar "drop" sensation where they may feel tired, moody, or sad. This feeling can last from a few hours or even as long as a day after the impact scene. This is okay and natural and it's important to remember it'll run its course as the body processes the endorphins and begins the healing process.

I recommend talking before a scene and discussing what things the bottom will enjoy and will make them feel better. Some common favourites are chocolate, lots of water, and warm foods like soup. Many bottoms report wanting to be cuddled or hugged after an intense scene.
This is good self-care after a scene.

Even if you're not in a relationship with the bottom, I suggest tops text or call the bottom they played with the next day to check in. See how they're feeling, if they need anything, let them know you're thinking about them. Knowing someone cares can go a long way toward offsetting the emotional "drop" sensation after a scene.

What is sub-space and what causes it?

Sub-space is a feeling a bottom gets, usually from longer and more intense BDSM scenes. Typically the sensation is described as "floaty" or "fuzzy", often with a pleasant feeling, similar to getting a buzz from alcohol. The experience is brought on by a combination of relaxed head space, endorphins the body releases during sensation play, and adrenaline. Sub-space feels good in the moment and a lot of heavier players report enjoying it.

When in sub-space a bottom will typically become quiet and may appear to be unsteady, content, or drunk. People experiencing sub-space will usually be agreeable.

When a person reaches this stage of play the scene should be stopped as the bottom may no longer be able to evaluate and communicate clearly what they want or if they need to stop. Someone experiencing sub-space cannot properly consent to activities as they are not thinking clearly.



I hope that answers all of your questions. Please let us know if you have additional questions about spanking or other sexy topics. You can reach out to the Indulgence team through Facebook and message Jay & Elle through jsmith@resonatingmedia.com.