Kink Con 2023 was all about consent, communication, and control. Photo: J_Walker
Picture this: I’m with a group of over 80 kinksters from all over India. We’ve gathered together in the sunny state of Goa, India, for the country's first-ever kink convention. Little did I know that over the next three days, I was going to use somebody’s body as a human carpet and even put my toes in their mouth in full public view, pour hot wax on someone and watch their body respond in both pleasure and pain, flog somebody’s buttocks, and participate in a fashion show with a human pet accompanying me.
From bondage to discipline, dominance to submission, I’m here to join in the ultimate exploration of pleasure and pain at the invite-only event hosted by Kinky Collective, a group that over the past decade has been working towards raising awareness about kink, as well as strengthening the kink community in India.
As an individual, I have always identified as someone who enjoys rather “vanilla” sexual experiences, without any involvement in kink or alternative lifestyles. I have an OnlyFans platform to share my pictures and videos, and the content that I share there may be considered suggestive, but when it comes to kink, I'm a bit of a newbie.Like most people, my awareness of kink was shaped in the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey’s popularity. Now the book might have brought kink terms to the mainstream but honestly, it’s more like Fifty Shades of Fucked Up. I’m happy to report, though, that the kink convention I went to was far better education and initiation into the world of kink for me. “Our purpose is to demystify kink, break down taboos, and help others understand that the community holds consent and respect at its core,” Satish, one of the organisers and co-founders of Kinky Collective, told VICE. Like Satish, all names in this story have been changed on request to protect their identities. “Goa has always been synonymous with a sense of liberation and freedom – a happy life – and that's why we chose it as the location for people from all over to come together.”
Right. Though, making us, uhmm, come together wasn’t easy. As a non-profit, Kinky Collective faced several hurdles right from funding, including ensuring that attendees could afford their stay at the venue, to finding a hotel that would be willing to ensure the privacy and safety of attendees. The collective also had to rely on volunteers to help out, as their core team comprises just six members.So, how does one make it to the guest list, you might ask. Well, regulars at the collective’s “munches” – the term used to refer to casual social gatherings for people in the kink community – didn’t need to be separately vetted for the event, as they were known to the organisers. Others keen to attend but who hadn’t attended munches had to be vetted first by at least five people from the collective. The vetting process included a QnA to ensure that participants would be respectful of boundaries and mindful of consent. If red flags were raised during the process, the individual wouldn’t get invited.
The final list of attendees who cleared the stringent inspection included people in their 20s to those in their 60s, arriving from all over the country with diverse sexual orientations and identities. This diversity added to the event's inclusive atmosphere, providing a safe space for individuals to explore their kinks and fetishes without fear of judgement or marginalisation. This is a big deal in a country where even discussing sex between hetero couples is still taboo.
The three-day convention would start sharp at 10:30 AM everyday and would go on as late as 11 PM. The first day of the event started with a rope demo. It was a fun experience to witness individuals getting tied with different types of knots and ties. The afternoon session consisted of a kink and polyamory discussion to explore the ways in which these two non-traditional relationship structures can work together. Topics included communication, establishing boundaries, practising safe sex, and exploring kink activities within a polyamorous dynamic.
Who’s a good boy?
The panellists also shared their real-life experiences, including if they were in an open marriage and how having relationships outside of their marriage helped their relationship with their married partner. This was followed by an evening session that involved a skit and discussion on the topic of good dom bad dom/good sub bad sub with the intention of critically interrogating the dangers of kink norms; non-consensual behaviour, harm, or violence . The day ended with a “human library,” where individuals shared stories about their lives and how they discovered kink, BDSM, and the kink community. BDSM gear including floggers, hog-tie restraints, armbinders, different types of collars, leashes, corsets, and full-body harnesses for women by indie brand Tassma were on sale at the event. I chose a corset and a gunslinger myself.
The workshop hosted by a middle-aged Delhi-based man, Tom, about the difference between dom/sub and top/bottom dynamics, especially resonated with me. The presenter explained how dom/sub dynamics are about power exchange and control, while top/bottom dynamics are more focused on physical sensations and play. This workshop helped me understand that kink is not just about causing pain or harm, but about taking control of your body, your desires, healing from traumas, and unlearning all the ways patriarchy has taught us to be. The second day saw an auction of sorts that involved bidding for various kinky acts that were offered by volunteers. There were people offering their buttocks to be spanked or flogged, their penises to be beaten with impact toys, used panties being sold, auctions for trampling on a human carpet, and offers to pour hot candle wax followed by ice – these were just some of the acts that caught my attention. Soon after the auction ended, the acts would be done right then and there in full public view.As part of the auction, I agreed to walk a fashion show, provided I had someone to walk beside me as a human pet. Very soon, I had a person on a leash and a collar around their neck, who walked with me on all fours. It was like walking with a furry friend, but way more fun. I later got to flog somebody and won a “Fire and Ice” bid with someone else. For Rs 2,500 ($30), the bid entitled me to pour hot wax on a volunteer’s back, while the person who won with me got to run ice cubes down the same person’s back. There was another volunteer who allowed me to use him as a human carpet. The experience of walking all over him was interesting, to say the least. And the best part? It was all done in a consensual manner to ensure everyone’s safety and comfort levels. We were all using “safe words” or code words mutually agreed on beforehand to signal when they wanted the other person to stop, slow down or even to amp things up. The proceeds raised went to Kinky Collective and are to be used to host more such events in the future.
On the third day, there was a session that highlighted the importance of distinguishing between consent accidents and consent violation. The session featured a scenario between two individuals who did not communicate their needs very well, leading to a situation where consent was unclear. The crowd was encouraged to intervene and suggest changes where possible to ensure that both individuals clearly communicated their needs and boundaries. The session emphasised the importance of communication and consent in kink practices. This was followed by a panel on feminism and kink where I learnt that the integration of the two is a complex matter that requires careful consideration of the principles that underpin both ideologies. By prioritising key tenets such as consent, communication, and control, it is possible to explore BDSM practices in a way that empowers individuals and challenges traditional gender roles.
This is how we role play
The afternoon session consisted of a kink and mental health panel and demos on needle play, breath play, and trampling. The workshop on needle play turned out to be one of the most intense experiences for me. Initially, I was hesitant to participate, as I don’t have pleasant memories associated with needles, thanks to a bad reaction to getting my nipples pierced that involved a long and especially painful healing process.
However, the presenter was incredibly knowledgeable and made sure to emphasise the importance of safety and communication. I was able to watch him demonstrate the correct way to insert needles into a participant’s skin. Volunteers had needles pushed into their shoulders, nipples, and around the chest area. While it was not something that particularly appealed to me or turned me on, I gained a new appreciation for the artistry and skill involved in this particular kink. I spoke to one of the participants later, who described the experience as “calming.”
And that, I thought, was the very point of this convention. To discover kinks in a calm, controlled, and consensual environment, figure what gets you off, and take that knowledge with you into your lives with more awareness and safety checks. It’s kinda like sex education 2.0 – with an almost classroom-like setting but clothing optional.The breath play demo that followed involved the presenter placing plastic wrap over someone’s face. Asphyxiation or breath control play is a BDSM practice that involves intentionally restricting or depriving someone of oxygen for sexual pleasure. I have to admit that I felt a little sick watching the volunteer gasp for air for a few seconds, but the presenter made sure to take all the necessary precautions to ensure their safety. I later found out that they’d done this for over 10 years and knew each other’s cues well. The presenter also discussed the different types of breath play, such as choking and strangulation, and emphasised the need to not panic easily, making clear that safety was of the utmost importance.
One of my favourite takeaways from the convention was how it provided a safe space for healing from trauma. “A kink convention is much more than just an event; it's a feeling, a space where kinksters from all parts of the country can come together for three days and feel a sense of belonging,” Satish told me.
He added that it is a space where individuals can reclaim identities, overcome body image issues, pursue desires, and explore pleasure in a safe and inclusive environment. “This convention provides a home for individuals seeking to connect, learn, and grow within the kink community.”Commenting on the need to be inclusive, co-founder and organiser Jitender said, “It is important to provide space for people in marginalised communities who should not be looked down on for having different sexual orientations.”Attending the convention was transformative for me and helped me discover a community that embraces their true selves, which helped on my own journey of self-discovery. As someone who had never explored their kinks before, I gained a new understanding of what it means to be kinky. I learnt that kink is not just about physical sensations or causing harm to someone else, but about exploring your desires and boundaries in a consensual and safe way. Most importantly, I learnt that kink is not something to be ashamed of – it’s a normal and healthy expression of human sexuality. You can even be considered kinky if you’ve given a hickey to somebody. I went from being a self-proclaimed vanilla person to a proud kinkster in just three days. “Seeing the way that everyone supported and uplifted each other, regardless of their identity or experience, was truly inspiring. It’s events like these that remind us that our differences are what make us beautiful and that we’re all on this journey of self-discovery together,” said SS, a 36-year-old woman who attended the convention with me.For anyone who wants to explore their kinks, there’s a supportive, open-minded and accepting community out there that is like a big family. They're loving, kind, and non-judgmental. It's like finding a group of people who understand the feeling of always being an outsider. As NS, a 35-year-old male attendee, said, “From the creative and diverse activities to the open and inclusive atmosphere for a neurodivergent like myself, everything about it was amazing. I was reminded of the beauty and power of exploring and embracing our sexuality.”To attend future events organised by the collective, follow them on Instagram. You could express interest by emailing the organisation and attending their munches. You will be vetted by the organisation to ensure that you will be a respectful member of the community and help maintain a safe and inclusive environment for all attendees. And there you have it, folks. My journey from vanilla to not-so-vanilla and from normal to… well, still pretty normal. But kinky.Follow Yutheeka Borkar on Instagram.