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From July 23 to July 25, 2004 an extremely unusual event took place in Berlin, Germany.
Caprice Dilba and choreographer Felix Ruckert hosted xplore04, a pansexual workshop event, open to folks from all scenes and subcultures.
BDSM crowd, dance lovers, Yoga and Tantra aficionados, ZaZen practioners and other people whose sexual horizons are open for topics ranging from “Anal Sex for Beginners" to “Sensual Toys" - everyone was present.
Felix Ruckert, who directs a dance company that belongs to one of the most active ensembles in Berlin, explores body experiences, ritual and sexuality in his choreographic work and a few years ago also became interested in BDSM. 14 presenters from all over the planet, who work with, play with and research sexuality offered 45 workshops containing practical insights on techniques and rituals concerning spirituality, therapy, aesthetics or simply pure pleasure. Each one of these individuals presented three workshops, which I will try to summarize briefly:
Matthias T.J. Grimme from Germany introduced the art of “Japanese Bondage". Another of his topics was “Edge Play", presented in collaboration with Andrea of SCHLAGZEILEN. They discussed dangers and rewards of Total Power Exchange (TPE). Birgit S., known as organizer of the SchMacht festival, lead “Sensational Play" and “Negotiation of a Scene". The Berlin-based Diamond Lotus Institut facilitated experiences with the ancient Indian love practice known as “Tantra Yoga". In his workshop “Zen - Pain, Permeability, Devotion" Rudolf promoted a direct approach to S/M without any role play. Delta RA`i addressed lovers of “Flagellation and Spanking" teaching them the art of pleasurable pain. “Partner Yoga" and “The Lustful Pelvis" were represented by Ilka Stoedtner, “Sex Toys" and “Erotic Massage" by Sabine Hoffmann. In workshops such as “Play Piercing" by Paula L. Rosengarthen and “Breath Control" by Kathrin Passig, safety issues were a major concern. Felix Ruckert himself, presenting “Skin", “Touch" and “Contemporary Ritual" permitted a practical approach to his work on intimacy and performance and an access to Dom/sub situations. Hagen from Berlin worked with “Hot Wax" and “Sensory Deprivation". From Zurich, Switzerland came Maggie Tapert. Her work is about sacred sexuality and her workshops were entitled “The lucious Vulva", “The Holy Feast" and “Orgasmatron". Tristan Taormino, author from New York, explained “The G-spot and Female Ejaculation", Janet Hardy from San Francisco linked tantric breathing exercises with “Pain Processing". The focus of the three days was practical experience, nevertheless, there were lectures such as “Ethical Sluthood: discussing alternatives to monogamy" again by Janet Hardy. That gay, lesbian and S/M scene have the possibiity of overlapping was the issue in “Communication of the Subcultures" by Paula L. Rosengarthen, a fact that was impressively comfirmed by the audience of xplore.
One of the first highlights of the festival was a life performance of Felix Ruckert, delta, Zamil and Caprice Dilba on Saturday evening. Those who could not imagine S/M play in a dance performance were surprised.
Caprice Dilba, perfomer and producer of the festival, was blindfolded and “forced" to trust the direction of three male dancers. Classic dance elements such as running, lifts, catching and falling were intertwined with heavy whipping scenes and moments of great tenderness. In the following freestyle live bondage performance several models were tied up and suspended simultaneously. Each of the four masters, Osada Steve, Matthias T.J. Grimme, Hagen and Zamil had his own original style. Nicole, partner and bondage model of Matthias showed a Self- Bondage and even managed to suspend herself off the ground. The applause for her art was well-deserved, and there is no doubt about her being the fifth master of the evening. Sunday night finished with a big play party at the notorious Darkside Club, where some of the newly aquired skills inspired the ongoing sessions.
The uniqueness of this crossover event attracted participants from far away. There were people from Switzerland, Italy, Holland and Czech Republic. The atmosphere in the beautiful lofts and backyards of DOCK 11 was marked by tolerance and respectful curiosity. A cafe and a bar provided meeting points for exchange, and there were plenty of restaurants and accomodations in the surrounding area. My fear that the offer of so many workshops would be excessive was not confirmed. The classes ran in a relaxed and often cheerful way.
It was a bit of a pity that one had to decide between parallel workshops. Maybe it could be an option to run some of them them twice at different times. On the other hand, isn`t it good sometimes to set priorities, instead of always wanting it all??
Addressing sympathetically and individually the diverse non-commercial subcultures, there is no doubt that this event was a big gain for all those interested in synergy, impulses and progress.
It must have certainly been difficult to organize such a festival, choosing to do it without the sponsorship of the sex industry. For that reason and many others, we hope that xplore04 will be the first of a series of annual events.