Ever tried to get into kink in London? It’s not for the faint-hearted but not for reasons that have anything to do with sex. Whilst cities like Berlin have relatively accessible routes into the fetish community via sex clubs and parties, the scene in the British capital is beset with elitism, discriminatory membership criteria and rip-off entry fees. Case-in-point being that Torture Garden, the long-running (read: stale) kink party institution, charges upwards of thirty-five quid for tickets…so not exactly accessible to most, particularly those only looking to make their first steps into BDSM.
That’s where Crossbreed comes in: a rave that creates a sex-positive atmosphere, without any obligation to join in with the kink, where the focus is on music and community. For those looking to make their first steps into fetish or BDSM it’s an opportunity to meet like-minded people and learn the ropes of safety and consent – without the exorbitant cover charge. For everyone else, whether they’re experienced in kink or just looking to dress up and enjoy the atmosphere, it’s a fun and versatile environment to be themselves.
To learn more about the party, which may well prove to be the saving grace of London’s kink scene, we sat down with its founder: DJ and producer Kiwi.
What is your own involvement with London’s kink community?
I’ve been on the ‘scene’ now for a couple of years. I’m lucky enough to have found a real home and made some really incredible friendships. More recently I’ve launched Crossbreed which you could argue is building a community of its own, which feels really nice and very special.
Crossbreed seems to occupy a particular niche because it’s a lot more accessible and affordable than other kink parties I’ve seen in London. Could you talk more about how you planned the event series with accessibility in mind?
The London kink scene is vast, it really is one of the biggest scenes in the world, but that goes largely unknown because it’s kept behind closed doors. It’s often very straight and white. People not in the know tend to associate it with older crowds. I really wanted to change that. The younger generation are starting to explore and find their sexuality at a much younger age and I really just wanted to create a music-focussed rave space that facilitates that exploration safely. A lot of the parties out there currently have strict membership criteria, gender-tiered pricing or exclusive (and often prejudiced) membership criteria. I decided London needed something affordable, queer, diverse and accessible.
How do you try to make party-goers feel safe?
We do several things; firstly we have a strict dresscode. That forces people to engage. Initially it may throw you out of your comfort zone, but you may be more inclined to read our rules thoroughly and to think about your actions and how your actions affect the people around you. Secondly we have a ban list of known offenders and we have a door picker and excellent security team. In the venue we have 30-40 trained armband wearers who are there to help you and keep you safe. But I think the most important thing we do is we engage and educate. We are running consent workshops, we communicate our core values all the time, we respond to questions and we are constantly adjusting and trying to do things better. Creating safer spaces is our primary goal, and we take that responsibility very seriously.
Has Crossbreed been impacted by issues like censorship?
Of course, we’ve been deleted from Instagram three times now. We’ve had a venue cancel on us two weeks before an event due to council pressure. But we were always aware we’d be fighting an uphill battle and we think it’s a battle worth fighting!
With the rise of kink-positive apps, why is it still so important to facilitate kink positive parties?
The wonderful thing about a party is there is no obligation to play! Some people just love the aesthetic, the hedonism, the nudity, the freedom; not everyone is kinky. In fact, we have many asexual attendees. We provide a hedonist’s playground for you to look and feel the way you want. We are not a hookup spot. We are a rave. First and foremost, most people come to dance.
Whilst the general public might “tolerate” kink, they can also be somewhat sceptical as to what the benefits of having kink-positive spaces can be. What would you see as the positive attributes of kink?
I think it’s an amazing learning space, it teaches people how to communicate and negotiate their desires effectively. I think it’s an great place to fully learn and understand what consent actually means. So many of the things I’ve learnt through BDSM and kink are completely transferable skills into everyday life. But, most importantly, I think the community harbours an acceptance, and a non-judgmental attitude that really allows people to find themselves and be who they really want to be.
Given that you yourself are a DJ, how does this impact the music at Crossbreed parties?
If you like my music, you’re probably going to enjoy the music at Crossbreed. I’m booking the DJs I love most in the world and I’m so excited to share the lineups we have coming for the rest of the year! I always book one guest and the idea is that we share the decks the whole night. We don’t do set times, we’re very free and we just play when we want to play.
What are your plans for the party going forward?
We have a party in London every month until the end of the year and we have something really big planned for September. We are talking about starting to branch out to other cities and maybe even a festival or two… Watch this space!
Crossbreed’s next party is on 7 February. Further information can be found here.