Over the last few years a great many clubs or more accurately the venues that hosted them, have closed down. This has left slim pickings for those that are still going and things have had to change... not always for the better.
The problems are all quite minor ones but they stack up. Lets outright say what they are and name names.
Drinks have always been an issue with BDSM clubs, whilst it's true that a Nightclub makes a lot of money from it's bars during the course of a night, the problem is what is served at a BDSM club is often inappropriate to the flavour of the club.
Take Pedestal as an example. It is, allegedly, a FemDomme club so you would expect there to be a lot of female dominants at that event (which is the case). This is the sort of environment where champaign and cocktails are going to be the order of the day more than beer. Black Russians, White Russians, Screwdrivers and some sparkling stuff on ice... all that jazz.
But beyond alcohol and the traditional soft drinks (coke, lemonade, etc.) things such as tea & coffee are going to be in high demand. At the first Transgression at Colosseum the maid team were handing out tea & coffee, except it was reported that the bar take was down for the night and blame was laid at the feet of the maids. So when the second Transgression took place the maids were told that the bar would be providing hot drinks.
They didn't or at least they made about 4 cups of coffee and then declared they were out of milk, out of sugar and the small white kettle they were using had broken. The maids spent the night being inundated with people wanting hot drinks and couldn't do a single thing to help beyond repeat verbatim "the bar said they'd provide them this time".
The hot drinks thing is a repeating pattern where ever you go. Even to the point where at a private party, where you'd think the alcohol would flow like water... it was me going crazy making coffee in the percolator that was the most popular.
Yet never once, beyond o&I have I seen anything more than a half assed attempt to provide these drinks to people. Yet in some clubs, with 400 odd people captive you'd think someone would of thought to negotiate a contract with Costa for a cart and Barista.
Sex and I will again use Pedestal as an example. In certain venues you expect to see some form of sex, Antichrist when it was at the Colosseum had an area curtained off as the "Orgy Room" so it was pretty obvious what was happening behind the curtain. At o&I, because the venue is basically a Swingers club you expect people to be having sex in the private rooms; usually not the BDSMers but it can and does happen.
Pedestal, as I've said, is a Femdomme club. Part of its protocol is that men are subservient to women. Whilst sex has always been a bit taboo there, in theory a women banging away with a strap-on somewhere quiet and dark would be fine. So it was something of a shock at the Fire venue to hear reports of women performing blow jobs on men. Not only that but full blown sexual intercourse happening on the mezzanine.
You are in the middle of a BDSM play club surrounded by some seriously hardcore 'spectacle' play and the best thing you can think of doing is fucking? Not only that but you go to a Female dominant club with the express purpose of fucking a woman? The hell is wrong with you if you think this is OK? More to the point, it being sanctioned by the person who runs Pedestal is quite... odd. Guess he wants a Brothel not a club.
Attitude & scheduling.
Cliques are human nature, the phrase "birds of a feather flock together" is an accurate summary of us as a species. So it's quite expected that certain venues will gain cliques of fans... in fact this can, from a business standpoint be seen as a good thing as they'll be your regulars.
However there is a darker side. Such cliques also form echo chambers and set out to drown out dissenting opinions. For example: Pedestal used to be on a Thursday night about 5 - 6 years ago. It moved to a Friday when it moved to Colleseum and had been on the final Friday of every other month for about 3 - 4 years. During that Friday slot the club saw it's turnout rise from a paltry 200 at most to, at one point, 750 - 900 people coming through the doors!
Yet when it moved to Fire it returned to a Thursday slot. Numbers fell quite dramatically back to about 200 (or less). This, if you are the person organising the event, is a problem! Less people means less ticket sales, it means less take on the bar, all of which translates to less profit for both the organiser and venue owner.
BUT when you go in to the Pedestal related FetLife group you will see the echo chamber in full force, people complaining about the change of day shouted down that "Pedestal has always used to be on a Thursday" and "Thursdays are fine for me, I just hop on the tube after work and sleep a few hours before going in again."
This is all well and good if you either don't work OR work in the city of London. Anyone else coming from further afield is royally screwed and simply skips the event or only goes to every other one (so once a quarter rather than twice). But the clique self reinforces that it's just teething trouble and new venue jitters... it's not.
Of course there is one group of people 'somewhat' involved in the scene who CAN do a Thursday night. ProDommes. Which is what has happened at Pedestal. Here's something to keep in mind: ProDommes and Lifestyle Dominants do not normally get along too well. A lifestyle Domme going full bore on a sub is a potential lost customer to the Pro; it is very hard to advertise your services to someone as a "CP specialist" when they've still got the welts from a session.
This translates in to scene crashing. We noticed it at Pedestal that the second our friend started playing with someone, she had a chain of Dommes strutting through the scene, complaining about being hit with her backswing and on several occasions they were walking in front of her and taking the full force of her strike.
Very professional behaviour but that aside it shows why scheduling is important. Certain days will attract and be largely available to certain groups of people but not others. So whilst Thursday, a day with little club activity is fine for the London based city workers and ProDommes it means that the regular punters (and indeed the customers for the Pro's) aren't going to be able to attend in their normal numbers.
o&I neatly works around this issue despite being on a Sunday, which should in theory be one of the worst days to have an event on (Monday is a work day after all) by running from 2pm to 10pm. This way people are around during the day time, have a few hours to work their way home, get some sleep and head off to work.
I will state this clearly. I am a Sissy Maid. I am absolutely, 100% proud of what I am. My hero(s) are Sissy Maids. So it's no great surprise that I will show up to an event in uniform and ready to serve with minimal prep time.
Yet and it is not a recent thing, an attitude has shown itself where my presence outside of a club, in uniform, apparently puts people off. Well, perhaps if they weren't so far in the closet they regularly visit Narnia they'd manage to take the stick out of their ass.
The problem is that I prefer to see people going in to a BDSM club already wearing their fetish attire because it enables me to get a feel for how the night is going to progress. It also enables me to quite easily spot the people who are going to be trouble! I'm sorry but the dude in his regular clubbing gear is probably going to end up drunk (or coke'd up) and get in my face; Sissy Maids seem to attract the worst aspects of the male psyche when these numpties get drugged up.
And I'm sorry I'm tired of hearing the excuses about why such people are in the closet. Tough shit, you want to live in a box that's fine. Fuck off and keep quiet, your opinion is null & void. Because you want to visit Narnia.
I smoke ganja occasionally. I've tried speed, coke and turned my nose up at an acid tab because I didm' want to taste the rainbow. I say that because I don't want people to think I'm talking about something I've never experienced.
Drugs never used to be an issue in BDSM clubs I visited, yet now, very recently cocaine has become FAR FAR more prevalent in such establishments. This causes a problem for me because a) people like to fuck with a maid and b) Coke makes you aggressive.
Aggression in a BDSM club on anyones part is, to my mind, a really bad thing as uncontrolled rages + toys = potential for serious harm.
Be it the 50 shades effect or something else it's shit that needs to stop right the hell now.
People don't realise this but the other maid? The blonde one? Yeah, that's Mistress Christina we've been together for over 15 years and both of us are female (according to any government issued documentation you'd care to look at) or Trans if you prefer. Yet their are munches neither of us can go to. Their are clubs which will not offer us a couples discount.
That, right there, is total bullshit.
This, I feel, is the single biggest problem facing clubs currently. o&I's number start increasing so Pedestal starts to go lax on the Swinging elements. The problem is that it means no club is unique and is presenting a watered down, generic, experience to punters. Generic is boring. It means that rather than looking at the calendar and going "This week I'll go to X, I'm looking forward to the atmosphere X has" it becomes just another BDSM club with the same atmosphere, the same people looking for the same thing as they always do.
This race to the bottom is something that the computer world fell in to during the 90's and now they are totally indistinguishable beyond the logo on the front. Not only that but nobody cares if you brought a Dell or a HP or a Lenovo because it's the same hardware running the same software. The only computer company anyone cares about is Apple as there is a love/hate split when it comes to that company.
But everyone knows an Apple computer by sight. They know that walking in to an Apple store will garner a certain experience. They know that it's a different beast to the machines on sale with the usual suspects of badges on them.
So BDSM clubs, in their race to be everything to everyone are actually making each event less of a draw for people, there is less of a talking point about which clubs you go to and nobody cares about the branding or merchandising of it. Hell, this also applies to BDSM kit itself really, everything is industrial in look. Stark lines and colour choices. Yet it means I've no idea if I'm being led to an Infernal Mechanix spanking bench or A. N. Other companies workmanship.
This is why clubs are in decline. It's not the lack of venues, it's not conflicts of scheduling (i.e. two clubs happen on the same day) it's that clubs are going out of their way to shoot themselves in the foot. People want a certain thing from certain events, when they don't get it they don't tend to come back very often if at all. We've groups of people who'd rather turn the BDSM scene in to just another facet of swinging, we've old stalwarts busy forming echo chambers so that venue organisers have zero idea where their customers have gone and to cap it all off we have clubs chasing each other in some twisted version of the race to the bottom and literally putting themselves out of business whilst having the gaul to turn around to the community and tell them that the market just isn't there for this sort of thing anymore.