Starting a new hobby can be as daunting as it is exciting. And like so many things, shibari comes with its own language as well as a set of unwritten rules. It can be tricky to navigate an unfamiliar environment without knowing what’s expected. So here we are: some common rope-related etiquette according to our community.
Can I interrupt?
Short answer: no. But, let’s dive in…
You’re at a beginner’s jam and you see some people tying, doing something that you’d really love to learn. The temptation is to go up to them and start a polite conversation. Don’t! This is rule 101: never interrupt people mid-tie (no, not even to say “thank you” or “goodbye”).
Even if they look like they’re having a casual chat that happens to involve rope, the reality is that you have no idea what is happening. And even if that it is that, it’s only polite to let them finish their tie.
Of course, this isn’t an exact science. It’s almost impossible to know what signals the start or end of a scene. If you aren’t sure you have two choices: leave them to it and do your research independently; or wait until it looks like they might be done and then approach them politely and ask explicitly if it’s ok to interrupt.
Although the space is often full of very knowledgeable people, please don’t assume that everyone is always willing to pass on their knowledge freely. We love, and encourage, peer learning, but please accept a “no” without question. Our teachers also use the space to tie and — while they are often happy to chat — if they are in “play” mode they may be more focused on other things.
Finally, never touch a rope bottom who is being tied by someone else (again, not even to get their attention to say “thank you” or “goodbye”).
Is there anything I need to know about the communal rope?
At the studio there are a couple of boxes of communal rope that are there to be used by anyone but a lot of people will bring their own rope with them.
Be mindful of where you put the ropes you are using, so you know where they are. Avoid just grabbing more from a pile nearby: it might belong to someone. Instead, make sure you get additional ropes from the communal boxes.
The communal rope is well-loved and It’s worth checking before tying. The more experienced you get, the more knowledgeable you will be about what you are looking for. Generally speaking you want the tension of the individual twists to be roughly the same along the entire length of the rope, and not overly loose in patches.
Once you’re done, please do put communal rope back tidily (but don’t worry too much about how it’s bundled: we prefer it to be unbundled rather than bundled in a way that takes forever to undo!)
Note: Communal rope is great for floor work, but please don’t use it for uplines.
What about personal rope?
As a rope top, it’s always a good idea to ensure your rope is clean enough for your bottom (this is very much a personal preference on both sides). See our blog post ‘Can you clean jute ropes?’ for more on rope-related cleanliness.
And, as a bottom, why not ask your rigger if they’d like help putting their rope away to avoid “rope spaghetti”, which happens often after a tie when energy is lower. That way their rope will be ready for the next tie.
Are there guidelines for use of the space itself?
We tend to treat the studio like it’s a friend’s living room: that means clearing up after ourselves by mopping up spills and putting rubbish in the bins; washing up anything we use; and just generally being respectful to one another.
Anatomie is predominantly a space for shibari, but it’s often used for a mix of tying and socialising.
Some tips for when tying:
- Be mindful of how much space there is and how busy the mats are. During busier sessions, you may find you have to modify your range of movement slightly so you don’t bump into other people or throw rope into people’s tying space.
- Only occupy a hard point for as long as you need it (again, mostly pertinent when the space is busier). There are much cosier places than the middle of the mats for aftercare!
- Always try to make space for others who want to use the space to tie.
Some tips for when socialising:
- Avoid socialising under suspension points
- If you are popping outside we ask you to make sure you’re fully clothed and keeping voices down so as not to disturb our neighbours (some of which are residential).
- We also appreciate it if you use your “inside voices” while at events. We love the space to be as calm and possible to give people the safety to explore in whichever ways they want.
Can I take photographs?
Short answer: yes. But please be mindful of people around you. As much as we would like it to be, kink is still not particularly well understood by the world, and we really don’t want people to be outed in someone else’s footage.
- Get the consent of anyone in your picture, if possible
- Blur out faces or people in the background if posting to social media
- Don’t video teachers while they are teaching. Some may say it’s ok to take photos but please check before taking any
Help us to keep everyone safe
We ask people to tie to their ability (specifically not suspend without explicit instruction) while in the studio, and trust that this happens.
However, if you see something that you think it unsafe for whatever reason you have two options:
- Approach the people themselves, if it feels appropriate to do so, and point out what you have seen with kindness
- Approach a member of the team (who wear pink armbands) who will have the necessary conversations