A submissive girl I met at a munch invited me to my first play party. As my evening began, I was full of hopes and dreams and countless fantasies, but exceptionally short on experience.
Not only did I learn a lot on that evening, but I got to play for the first time too. And that experience created a lifelong love of impact play that I’ve carried with me ever since.
My favorite toy for impact play, and the toy that I have the most experience with, is a suede flogger. It was the first toy that really captured my attention and made me desperately want to become an expert.
I love the variety that flogging allows during scenes. You can use a flogger for sensory play, by dragging it across the skin, a heavy pop from a flogger can capture attention, or you can craft an entire scene that can be mesmerizing.
But it’s not what I like about flogging that matters… it’s the response of my partners that has made flogging my favorite.
When most people think about flogging, they imagine it’s for punishment scenes and it certainly works for that. But due to the nature of flogging, and its ability to build sensation over a long period of time, it’s unapparelled in the potential to help your bottom achieve subspace. Furthermore, because flogging is typically more “thuddy” than “stingy” it can feel like deep tissue massage.
I’ve had many submissives ask for flogging as a reward. It can be strangely relaxing and can foster a release of anxiety and emotions.
So, if you’re not familiar with flogging, put aside your notions of musty medieval dungeons, and let me introduce you to my favorite style of impact play.
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I’m mostly going to talk about suede floggers because that’s the style I love, but what constitutes a flogger and how they are made are almost as diverse as stars in the sky.
Most floggers consist of a handle, a neck, a bunch of tails, the butt, and a hanging loop. Those tails can be made of strands of leather, fur, exotic hides, plastic, metal, or just about anything else you can imagine. My suede floggers are tame compared to heavy leather floggers, or a cat o’ nine tails, with woven strands and tied knots on the ends that slashes at flesh.
Two other factors are going to determine the style of play you get out of a flogger.
The first factor is the length of the flogger. Most of the floggers I own are about the length of my arm. I can easily control them, and it keeps me much closer to my partner, which I like.
You can use a longer flogger, but it’s going to be harder to control and you might end up doing some damage to your rotator cuff if you’re not careful. A much shorter, or smaller, flogger is good for using in more intimate spaces and for more delicate targets.
The second factor is the number of falls on a flogger. As I mentioned earlier, a cat o’ nine tails–has nine tails. I like a medium number of tails, which again is for control, and because it makes the flogger lighter (you’re going to appreciate that with a lengthy scene).
Finally, there’s a “mop” flogger that’s thick with tails. Those mops tend to be exceptionally heavy and thuddy. Some people love the feeling of a mop flogger, but you better know what you’re doing, and you should hit the gym regularly because it’s going be like swinging Thor’s hammer after a few strikes.
The first flogger I bought was from someone who hand-crafted them and had high marks from the community. I still have that flogger today and it’s still my favorite.
I had him craft the flogger to my specifications, and in the colors that I still use today: black and purple. If you plan on building a toy bag, having branded colors sure does help when it’s time to clean up and find your stuff. And it looks cool too, okay?
I picked well from the beginning by finding someone with a great reputation, figuring out exactly what I wanted, and frankly, paying more upfront for a quality piece that has served me well for over 20 years. Good toys are a good investment.
If you can make it to a dungeon, or even better, a BDSM event that has a dealer’s room, you can sample a bunch of pieces and find the right one. Ask the dealer questions, grab the flogger near the neck and see if it balances in your hand, and give it a couple of quick pops to understand how it feels when it moves.
It should speak to you like Excalibur. If it’s doesn’t, then it’s probably not for you currently. You can always revisit different styles when you get more experienced. I can think of several floggers I’d love to try out now, that I had no interest in years ago. Once you get comfortable using one flogger, you’ll have a good idea of what you want in the next one.
In general, I would stay away from buying floggers at those cheesy sex shops, or through major online retailers (like Walmart or Amazon). At the very least find a reputable specialty store online that deals in BDSM equipment. But even better than that, find someone, either at an event or online, who is an artist, and who loves their work. The items you’ll get from them will be something to be treasured.
Back at my first play party, the submissive girl was waiting for me when I arrived at a beautiful house in a wealthy part of town. The place was large and soon to be packed with kinky people, but at the beginning of the night I found my way to the couch next to her and the other couple.
I was lucky to have my first experience with these people. I had someone to play with and a lot of knowledge available to me on my first night. I also had the fortune to be at a party where literally every room had another type of scene going on. It wasn’t quite Eyes Wide Shut, but it was damn close. I felt like I had found Elysium.
Later in the evening, the Dom of the couple pulled me aside and told me what I’m about to tell you.
He said to draw a line down the spine, then cross at the lower back. He told me not to hit those areas and to stay away from joints, and bony parts, and delicate parts. What does that leave? Mostly places with a lot of muscle or fat. Someone’s ass is a prime target because most people have some cushioning there.
Other places that are good targets are near the shoulder blades, the thighs, the calves, and maybe the chest. Keep in mind that everyone is built differently, and that everyone also has physical conditions that are unique. You should ask anyone you play with if they have anything that you should know about beforehand. I know plenty of people who are in top physical condition, but they still have nagging injuries, and it’s your responsibility to know about them and deal with them accordingly.
Be aware that even a light flogger is potentially dangerous. Even if you’re not cutting or bruising someone, you’re still exerting force on them. Finally, don’t forget that even small things can cause you to get injured.
Make sure you both are on the same page with safewords.
Also, I highly recommend trying out any toy on yourself first. I will use it against my arm, or do it old school and flagellate my own back. You need to know what you’re dealing with.
Make sure your partner is stable, safe, and immobilized. That doesn’t necessarily mean in bondage, but it might. Those St. Andrew’s crosses are popular for a reason. You don’t want your partner to be moving around while you’re trying to be accurate, and you don’t want to knock them over with a heavy blow. If your partner is wearing high heels and standing that’s a potential accident waiting to happen. You’ll both have more fun if you don’t have worry about the stability of the bottom.
While you’re at it, make sure you’re stable too. Spread out your feet like a boxer. Bend your knees. Relax.
Back on the night of my first play party, after the Dom had explained some basic safety to me, he had his wife and the submissive girl bend over a large divan bare-assed, handed me a riding crop, told me to have fun, and left the room.
My first night I had a scene with two women in front of a room full of people.
BDSM is pretty cool.
Now I didn’t set the BDSM world on fire, but both of my first playpartners said they had fun, and that was good enough for me. One thing they emphasized was that I created a lot of variety with that simple riding crop, going from pain to sensory play, and finding various targets, and that’s something I still try to do today.
Later that evening I saw the Dom and his wife play and they had an intense hour-plus flogging scene. Again, he put her over that pillowy but sturdy divan, and he went through a panoply of floggers. He started with something like my suede flogger, then moved up to a leather flogger, and ended with a monster leather mop that made the house shake as he wielded it.
He checked on her constantly during the process. One other thing he told me is that when she becomes non-responsive (due to being deeply in subspace) then the scene is over.
Afterward, they sat under a blanket on the couch for the rest of the evening doing aftercare for each other. It was a wonderful scene and informed a lot of what I do today.
As for my own technique, I start with sensory play by running those soft tails over the skin of my partner. I let her feel how warm and velvety they are. Then I begin by whishing those tails by her head to warm up and get my range. The sound of those tails are whispers of what is to come.
I start my throws very light, to make sure that I have my range, and to build up slowly. I have a natural pattern where I will do a series of low strikes, then one medium, and back to low strikes, followed by medium strikes, then one hard strike, back to medium, and so on. Whether it’s from the front or the back I work across the entire body, spreading the wealth.
I’ll do a complete series and then go check on my partner. I might grab her hair, and tease her, or whisper something to her, or just simply ask how she’s doing. I like to use my hands a lot and feel how hot her ass is. I’ll sooth her a bit and then go back to work.
That process of rising intensity, using that same pattern, will happen over and over again. As we near the end I’ll extend the check-ins so she can find subspace better, but I’m watching a lot of non-verbal clues to make sure she’s okay.
My swing is not fancy at all. I’m not doing Florentine flogging, or showy stuff. I’m just flicking my wrist to deliver those tails to a specific target. Sometimes I’ll rotate the falls like a windmill, or whisk them back and forth to get a different pattern. You can also gather the falls in your hand and deliver a precise sharp blow. What I try to do mostly is keep it unpredictable.
Most of my flogging scenes last from 20 minutes to an hour. If you watch too much porn or silly movies like 50 Shades of Gray, you might think they last much shorter. You can do shorter scenes, but if your goal is to get the bottom to subspace it will be more effective if you build slowly and take your time.
There’s nothing wrong with doing a shorter scene, or a punishment scene where you go directly to harder strikes to make a statement, but I’m talking about the scenes that I enjoy and how to replicate them.
You know what I love even more than a great flogging scene? When the scene is over and I can cuddle up with my partner.
If your partner has achieved subspace then you need to be watching over them until they are chatting, or cracking jokes, or ready for another scene.
Part of aftercare should be offering them something to drink (like water or juice). Blankets are often appreciated. So is a quiet and dark area that’s away from the action.
I think it’s important that you physically be there too. Even if you’re not romantic partners. You don’t have to cuddle, but you shouldn’t be running around and playing grab-ass while your playpartner is in aftercare.
When my partner is more aware, I like to do an inspection. If you’re going to play with this person again, knowing how your scene affects them immediately afterward, several hours later, and days later, is important to know.
Some people bruise almost immediately. Some people have an insane healing factor and recover like Wolverine with no marks the next day. That’s valuable information because it can inform what you do the next time around.
Even if you’re not in a relationship with a playpartner, you should check in with them later and make sure they are doing okay. Don’t ever forget that BDSM can, and does, largely affect the mental state of the people you play with, and sometimes in surprising ways. That can cut both good and bad, but if you’re having fun slinging floggers at someone it’s your responsibility to be there for them after the scene.
Not everyone is going to be as lucky as I was to have a submissive to play with and a generous mentor at their first play party.
I hope that by passing on my story and subsequent experience to you that whether you’re a complete novice, or you’re just interested in expanding your horizons, that you’ll have the information to get you started. Nothing replaces practice and your own study though.
And I also hope that if you’ve never tried flogging that you’re intrigued, because if you do it right it can bring a lot of joy to people who are special to you.
Dirk Hooper is a professional writer who has done work for many high-profile online magazines, has won the Top Writer Award at Quora for three years, and a Moore Award for copywriting in 2017. He published his first erotic BDSM book under a pen name in 2018. Hooper’s articles have been published at Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, HuffPost, Slate Magazine, The Sporting News, MSN Sport, and Quartz. He has also been published as a comic writer, a poet, and performed numerous copywriting assignments for professional and private clients. He is currently writing an erotic novel, a kinky comic book project, and a non-fiction book about social networking. Dirk Hooper has been a proud member of the BDSM community for over two decades and has been a BDSM mentor for over ten years.
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