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Adult Content: Midnight Manor hosts Sudbury's first BDSM convention

Sudbury Events Centre hosts Midnight at Dawn - adult-only kink entertainment
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Midnight Manor, Sudbury's alternative lifestyle community, hosted Sudbury's first major BDSM convention Saturday, attracting crowds of kinksters from all walks of life to the Sudbury Events Centre. 

Midnight at Dawn was a three-part event that began with a vendor fair, followed by workshops, and ending with an after-party and VIP Dungeon. The structure of this convention was meant to reflect the transition of someone joining the BDSM community, said Mark 'Midnight' Nadeau, who introduced the Midnight Manor seven years ago. 

"We really wanted to have an all-inclusive experience (as) an introduction to the lifestyle for people," said Nadeau. "We really liked the idea of getting people what they need to be able to engage, get them the information that they need to be able to play safe ... and then take all that they got from the rest of the day and enjoy themselves."

BDSM is a triple acronym which stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism, in relation to sexual pleasure. This can be used to describe anything from spanking and tight hugs, to more extreme forms of control such as bondage and flogging. 

One of the afternoon's workshops, 'Seven Habits of Highly Satisfied Kinksters' was hosted by Headmistress Shahrazad, a professional dominant and owner of the Ritual Chamber dungeon in Toronto. 

"Education for me, is critical," said Shahrazad, who has made it her mission to share knowledge she has acquired from spending 20 years within the industry. 

"It's critical within the kink community because a lot of the things we do have within them the potential to be incredibly pleasurable -- to connect a person with aspects of themselves that they perhaps, weren't aware of before, (and) to help people feel that they can express more of themselves," she said. 

"But learning how to do those things in a way that gives pleasure but doesn't incur any lasting negative repercussions, is really, really important."

Over the years, Shahrazad said she has found the biggest misconception surrounding the practice of BDSM, to be that everyone within the community is either into hurting people or being hurt. On the contrary, she said the majority of those she has met or worked with prefer forms of sensual control - subjecting themselves or others to pleasurable experiences. 

"A lot of people get turned off because they think their kink is not extreme enough, when in fact, it's not a contest at all," she said. "If it makes you feel kinky and you enjoy it, then you are by all means, welcome in this community."

To ensure a pleasurable experience for all, Midnight Manor functions on the motto of safe, sane and consensual, Nadeau  said. 'Safe' is about risk mitigation and the education that comes along with that, he said, while sane ensures you are in the right state of mind to uphold those safety protocols. 

For example, Nadeau said participants are not allowed to use anger in a scene or be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. 

Consent, he said, "boils down to an extensive form of communication, where both parties understand what they're getting into, what they're allowed to do and what they're not allowed to do." 

The focus on communication, said Nadeau, is what separates BDSM from its stereotype as abuse. Everyone involved in a BDSM experience – whether personal or in a group 'scene' ---  are treated as equals, said Nadeau. They chose to come together and exchange what they want for what they are willing to give. This is referred to as a "power exchange relationship," said Nadeau, which is only achieved through extensive communication that develops trust and intimacy between partners. 

Not all of these partnerships necessarily lead to intercourse, he said, but can result in deeper connections than what would be considered an average relationship. This is especially true, he said, when compared to the whirlwind, star-crossed lover fantasies showcased in movies, which don't translate the importance of communication to the success of a relationship. 

Despite his confidence in the lifestyle and the community it benefits, Nadeau said it has taken him quite a few years to become comfortable expressing his sexual preferences publicly, for fear of what people may think. This changed recently, he said, thanks to the support of his family and the BDSM community Nadeau has helped establish in Sudbury.

Taking this leap, along with finding new ways to engage with the public online, has led to a surge of interest in Midnight Manor in the past few months, he said. 

"I imagine our community size is going to double over the next few months, even triple over the next year," said Nadeau. 

What is discouraging people -- particularly in Sudbury -- is a lack of understanding, rather than a lack of interest or respect for the activity, he said. This is where social media and larger events such as Midnight at Dawn come into play, spreading awareness and "emphasizing the idea that this is something that is normal."

"We all enjoy sensation, everyone likes to feel that pleasure – it's just a matter of how much you want," said Nadeau. "That's what communication is about - being able to express what you want because we all want to feel good."




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Keira Ferguson

About the Author: Keira Ferguson

A graduate of both Laurentian University and Cambrian College, Keira Ferguson is a New Media Reporter at Sudbury.com.
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