We don’t need an excuse to celebrate our love of rope, but it feels like as good a time as any, since it’s Valentine’s month and all.
So we asked our community what they love about rope. Perhaps unsurprisingly what we found out was that rope means so many things to so many people.
For people who are just starting out with shibari (like me!), or those who look at pictures of people tied up and question why anyone would want to do that… here are seven reasons to take the plunge.
1. Challenge yourself & grow
Learning a new skill can be quite daunting, but there’s nothing quite like watching your confidence grow and your proficiency develop. At the start it’s definitely more about practising in order to get the different wraps and knots and frictions right. Making sure you’re paying attention to the parts of the body you’re restricting, and how well your tension is holding up. There are a lot of mistakes and backtracks, but it’s all a part of the learning process.
It gets easier and easier. And with growing confidence comes the ability to make a rope session into “play” (where the focus is more on the sensations of the rope) rather than “labbing” (when it’s more about the technical aspects of a tie.)
Mel, one of the House Cats at Anatomie, says: “The beauty of rope is that there’s always room to grow and shift. There’s so much to learn but you can do so much, and have so much impact with very little knowledge.”
2. Improve your communications skills
Alongside the rope skills themselves, learning a new hobby that is often so reliant on a partner or a friend means you have the chance to practise other things, like communication.
Being a rope bottom means you have to be keyed into the sensations in your body. You have to learn what feels ok and what doesn’t and communicate this to your Top. As a rope Top, you have to be keyed into your bottom’s energy, and make sure you check in on them, too.
Mel explains that rope has encouraged her to advocate for herself: “It pushed me in the direction of communicating my needs, both physically and emotionally.”
3. A chance for mindfulness and grounding in the present
One of the most common reasons given for enjoying rope was the way it frees the mind and lets you sink into your body – especially if you’re the one being tied. There is a sense of safety and the feeling of floating, which can be literal or metaphorical depending on whether you’re being suspended or not.
But rope can also bring about a sense of calm if you’re the one rigging, and can be especially helpful if your brain is busy. One of our followers celebrated rope for making their “otherwise noisy, ADHD brain quiet.”
Lee, another one of Anatomie’s House Cats, who has a vast experience of both rigging and bunnying, says: “I love the way rope brings you into the present moment. For me it removes worrying about the past or future, and grounds me in what is happening now.”
4. Connection and community
You can learn shibari by perusing online tutorials from the comfort of your home, or you can attend classes in person. Attending classes, and rope jams, in person means you get the added benefit of building a like-minded group of friends.
Mel says: “The community is a huge factor of why I love rope. Most of the closest friends I have, I met after moving to London and being in the rope scene.”
Pedro (also a House Cat!) says that one of the things they love most about rope is the intimacy they feel with their rigger. Rope isn’t always sexual, but it is usually intimate.
However, rope can also really help you connect with your own body. Pedro especially loves the way being tied allows them to learn their body’s potential as well as its limits, and adores the feeling of the restriction the rope provides. Many people echoed a feeling of safety when being tied.
Self-tying is another great way to practise your skills, while also spending time anchored in your body.
Learning to tie a partner or yourself is rarely boring. At the start, it’s definitely about repetition, but the real fun begins once you’ve got the basics down.
As mentioned earlier, rope sessions are often split along the lines of “labbing” and “play”, but there are so many reasons someone might choose to tie or be tied. It’s this variety of experience that is the main draw for Kaoru Neve, (House Cat).”From diving into the technical details of a tie, to taking a breath-taking aesthetic photoshoot, to entering an intimate connection, to sharing an intense erotic moment. Rope is so many things, and yet one thing.”
There is also the fact that rope is often entirely separate from sex. As Mel says: I love the diversity of experience you can have with it. It can be platonic, romantic, sexual, sensual, funny, educational etc.” It can also be pleasurable or painful.
Your experience with rope can literally be whatever you want it to be.
And not only is that variety with rope, but there is also versatility. You might think that a rope has one purpose and one purpose only, but this isn’t true.
If you’re kink-inclined, rope is your best friend. It’s the toy Fred (co-founder of Anatomie) would take to an event, if he was only allowed one. Surely not.
You can use rope to restrain someone, but it can also be used as a tool to caress, and an implement for impact play. Depending on your and your partner’s predilections, it can cause pleasure or pain in almost equal measure.
7. Free your inner child
A number of people mentioned the fun they have with rope: it offers an opportunity for creativity, playfulness and joy. In essence it’s a toy for adults.
It’s a bit like a jigsaw: your challenge (if you choose to accept it) is to put the pieces – the knots, frictions, wraps – together in different ways and see what happens. In time you will learn what works and what doesn’t, what feels good and what doesn’t. Of course, all within the bounds of safety and consent.
A member of our community described being in rope as: “A million tiny hugs all whilst pushing boundaries,” and we couldn’t agree more.
And if all that doesn’t convince you to give shibari a go, then perhaps this will. For Mel, an added bonus of learning rope skills has been a new-found confidence with tying and moving heavy furniture. Her list of achievements so far includes: a piano and a sofa.