“The time has come,” the Walrus said, / “To talk of many things: / Of shoes – and ships – and sealing-wax / Of cabbages – and kings / And why the sea is boiling hot / And whether pigs have wings.” (“The Walrus and the Carpenter,” Lewis Carroll)
The 21st century has also dawned for the so-called “polite society,” but it’s still (and in some cases increasingly) difficult to talk about one’s sexual preferences, let alone give them rein. Especially if they fall outside what’s deemed “normal.” Unless their city culture is particularly open-minded, people with kinks, or fetishes, often have to resort to going to seedy, unsafe places to find others with matching preferences.
So it was lucky that Florian, a filmmaker from Germany, and Nicola, a voiceover professional from South Africa, met during a job in Leipzig. Along with Florian’s wife, Theresa, they started to talk and found out they shared that interest, although they’d had different histories with it.
The other night, I sat down in a Leipzig bakery with Nicola and Florian to talk openly about their trajectory, as they tried to organize a fetish party in town.
Florian had lived in Vancouver, Canada, where he’d partaken in a thriving fetish scene during his early adulthood. He’d returned to his native Rostock and tried to replicate the experience in his apartment and then in a club, but the crowds and cleanup turned out to be too much to handle. Having to constantly go to Berlin clubs is also a bother.
Nicola had come of age in Johannesburg where, as a well-known actress, she’d wear masks to remain incognito while living out her kinks. She calls South Africa “a very Calvinistic country,” and says the “hairy experiences” she had in its underground fetish scene scared her off. It took her meeting Florian and Theresa to finally return to parties.
Of Leipzig, Florian says:
The scene is there but it’s still kind of underground. We’re trying to bring it into the realm of acceptability and normalcy.
So the three of them worked their way towards organizing a party for those with kinks, and also for anyone interested and willing to follow the rules. Thus was born Odi Et Amo – but finding a venue that would be both right for it and willing to host it was another story.
The obvious choice for them had been Neues Schauspiel in Lindenau. They started out with a private party in the theater’s cellar in 2016, also inviting people not necessarily connected to the fetish scene, who just wanted to dress up and try something new. It was a success, and they did it again in 2017.
“There were quite a few people who had never been to a fetish party,” Nicola tells me. “Ninety percent came back, and brought friends.”
The natural progression for them was to open it up to the public.
The venue agreed to host Odi Et Amo in February 2018. The co-organizers made posters and flyers, did a lot of footwork and got loads of positive feedback, says Nicola. But then, she adds, a member of the public complained about the party to Neues Schauspiel and the Ordnungsamt. The authority shut Odi Et Amo down, just days before it was supposed to happen.
Nicola said that, through it all, they remained “determined to bring this party to Leipzig. The city deserves it. We want to provide people a space where they can have their kink without fear of judgment, and where less experienced people can feel comfortable being introduced to the scene.”
Germany has a body-positive culture but not a sex-positive culture.
That may be gradually changing in Leipzig, and not just during the gothic fest. By mid-March, Odi Et Amo’s organizers had managed to talk to and secure another venue: New Palermo, which self-identifies as a “swinger club” and is located in the Lößnig-Dölitz area. They got to keep their flyer, which Nicola points out they’ve had some trouble distributing in town, even having been turned down by a sex shop. Odi Et Amo is now set to take place on 28 April.
There are two main keywords at Odi Et Amo: dressup and consent.
People cannot show up in plain jeans and a T-shirt and expect to get in, Florian said: “You need to put visible effort into wanting to be part of that scene. But people who don’t belong there do not adhere to the dress code anyway.” Two girls at the door will decide who gets in, because it’s mostly guys who tend to violate the dress code.
Lingerie, cross-dressing, cosplay, paint, leather, and latex are all encouraged, but you can let your creativity run. One of the most memorable outfits Florian has come across at a fetish party has been a woman in a garbage bag and corset.
One thing Nicola really likes about this sort of party is that people who frequent it usually understand the concept of consent – that NO means NO – and will not harass each other. She can’t say the same for many non-fetish parties she’s been to at clubs. In any case, the co-organizers emphasize that “dungeon monitors” will be on site at Odi Et Amo, and easily identifiable, to make sure everyone is safe and obeys the rules.
As long as consent is clear, almost anything goes at this party – except extreme play, like with needles, fire, or blood. There are, however, “BDSM play areas” and a “live suspension bondage show.” There is also music by Rascal & Friends, for those who want to dance (and maybe not do anything else). The organizers are trying to make the party open to as many tastes and levels of kinkiness as possible: “We just don’t want to be that hardcore, because it would be hard for us to control, and we want something suitable for beginners as well. The goal is to show people that there are more ways to be normal.”
Odi Et Amo
Saturday, 28 April, 10 PM-5 AM
Bornaische Straße 197
Cover: €10 with flyer / €12 without