Beyond Vanilla 23 Review by griffin’s girl

Author: griffin’s girl

This year I went to a place I’ve never been… in more ways than one. Beyond Vanilla (BV). Master and I have been out in the Dallas/Fort Worth community for almost two years now. Last year we were aware of BV, but had a scheduling conflict. This year, no scheduling conflict meant we could finally be BV virgins!

I’m not an event virgin by any stretch of the imagination, having attended many previous events… SPLF, SELF, local special events, and fresh from Master/slave Conference (MsC) in August. I plan domestic and international events as a part of my day job, and have been involved in putting together a few local events, including Bridging the Slash, subHaven’s annual educational relationship weekend. So I have some event experience attending, volunteering and planning, both vanilla and kink.

It took us a while to finally decide to register for BV. We waited patiently for the announcement of speakers and classes. While some definitely sounded interesting, we were still on the fence. Master finally decided we would go… mainly for the classes, and in support of our friends who would be competing in the Great Plains Olympus contest. We were too late to purchase dinner tickets, and did not plan to attend the play party, so we stuck with the basic weekend package with a discount thanks to our NLA Dallas membership. I signed up to volunteer as well.

I arrived on Friday around 1:30 PM (conveniently rode the DART rail into downtown to avoid State Fair parade traffic). Classes had already started, so I went to the registration room first to grab my wristband and run bag before heading to one of the classes I’d been looking forward to. Not sure if it was due to an onslaught of people earlier or what, but not a single person welcomed me to the event. Not a security person, not a staff member, not a volunteer. There were no signs indicating which line was for pre-registered attendees, on-site registration, etc. even though it was clear there were multiple lines. It was a little awkward, but after asking a couple of people I was able to grab my stuff, figure out where the room was and got ready to immerse myself in learning. (A side note here… I was very grateful for the large map at the entrance since the rooms had been renamed. While the room names added to the ambiance, the hotel’s maps and directional signs were useless as a result.)

The first class I attended was Master Todd & slave elizabeth’s class “A slave’s guide to screwing up with grace.” I LOVED this class! slave elizabeth is bubbly and entertaining, and Master Todd… well, when he pipes up, he has masterful insight to impart! I took away so much from this class that has helped me to grant myself the grace I need to accept that I don’t have to be the uber slave that I think I see in others, when the truth is, we all screw up… even the uber slaves!

Next on my agenda was the cigar play class with Master Konrad and slave jazz. This class was at the pool area, and apparently no one told the presenters, volunteers, or anyone else that there was a classroom area set up around the corner from the pool in a semi-private area. It actually worked out for the best, because we took over a couple of the cabanas and slave jazz was able to disrobe for part of the demo without being seen from the hotel windows. It was great to be able to have cigar smoking at a cigar class, and live, interactive demos instead of just a discussion when the class has to be indoors. Kudos to the organizers for having this available!

Due to other commitments we were unable to stay for the burlesque show on Friday night, but I heard it was fabulous! 🙂

Saturday morning started bright and early with Miss Amy’s erotic tea service class. After covering a brief overview of place settings and etiquette, Miss Amy used volunteers to demonstrate the use of human furniture for tea parties. My favorite was the lamp! Very creative! The remaining three quarters of the class time was used for question and answers, and general discussion with the class attendees.

I thoroughly enjoyed Master Jim and slave marsha’s class on “The Calling: Ritual, Ceremony and Spirituality in Master/slave Relationships.” They gave a unique perspective to the spiritual aspect of the M/s dynamic and how it has affected their journey that really resonated with me.

My first volunteer assignment was Sir Dart’s class about fucking up. It wasn’t my first choice (sorry, Sir!), but I’m glad I got “stuck” with it! I mean, face it, everybody fucks up… yes, everybody, even you. The important thing is admitting it and moving forward. After sharing lots, and lots, and lots of ways we all have fucked up, including his own stories, Sir Dart shared tools for overcoming your fuck ups. Not only was the class material top notch, I made a couple of new friends in Sir Dart and his boy.

I’m going to go ahead and address the volunteer experience here. It wasn’t great, for me. I’ll leave it at that. Despite it, I highly recommend that everyone take the opportunity to volunteer at least once at big events. You learn a lot and it’s a great opportunity to give back to the community. I’ll continue to volunteer at the events I attend because it’s a rewarding experience most of the time.

Rounding out the day was the Japanese Tea Ceremony with Tatu. All I have to say is, wow! This was an amazing experience and I appreciate the presenter and volunteers who made this possible. It was something that I won’t forget for many reasons.

We did not purchase tickets to the dinner and keynote speech. However one of the highlights of our weekend was the Great Plains Olympus Leather contest. While I was disappointed in the lack of attendance, the contestants did fantastic and were very entertaining. Lillith Grey was a fantastic hostess/MC. If you missed the contest fantasies and pop questions, don’t miss it next year. Good luck to TC and shy who were crowned Mr. and Ms. Great Plains Olympus Leather.

On Sunday, I was very much looking forward to “Danger, Keep Out” with Master Obsidian and slave namaste. I’ve loved every class that I’ve ever attended from them and this class was no different. Much of what they said really impacted me and where I am in my journey with my Master and our involvement in the community. I appreciate their openness, honesty and candor.

I loved the social lounge and puppy mosh pit. The pups were so much fun to watch and interact with during the weekend, and I know that has really fueled the dialogue about pet play in our community. That is very refreshing to see and hear! The vendor area had a wide variety of goods and services available. I took advantage and bought Master a last minute birthday gift while I was there!

Overall, the weekend was filled with great moments, great memories and great experiences. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who is interested in furthering their journey and expanding their horizons. Next year promises to be another full weekend of opportunities, and, with a few tweaks, can be even better than ever! As with everything else, this is a reflection of my experience. I encourage you to talk to others who attended and get their perspectives as well. However the only way you’ll know what it’s like for sure, is to make sure you attend in 2014! I hope to see you there!

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