One thing I've always come to expect working for Recon is to be surprised.
There are always new embellishments to existing nights, different set ups and last year at the December event, there was an opportunity to push things even further with a sensory room.
I've only experienced a sensory room once, it was part of an art exhibition and was fun, but not really that kinky. Actually, it wasn't kinky in the slightest, so when I found out there was one planned for the Recon London party in December I was really intrigued.
Here's my experience of the room:
The night is fully underway when I decide to go and see how a friend is doing on the door of the sensory room and to check it out for myself. I make my way past the piss area and am surprised to see a queue for the room - obviously the word has spread, and people were eager to come have a look. I don't wait for long and before heading in I'm given standard issue Recon rubber gas mask – If I wasn't already sold on the idea, I was now.
As I go through the heavy plastic lining I'm instantly hit with a wall of white smoke. The thick smoke doesn't give me a second to adjust to the room and straight away am unable to see any key focal points. I am completely without the sense of sight or awareness that you take for granted when you walk into a room.
I immediately think about the room and my memory of it - the size, the layout, where the DJ booth is, how far the seating comes out. Trying to map out a room from memory while standing in it is harder than I thought. I quickly realise how unreliable my memory can be. I'm second guessing myself and with no cues to confirm it I only have a rough idea.
I walk arms in front (I know the only possible obstacle will be other geared up guys in gasmasks) and relax, I can feel the slight thud of techno a few rooms away but it's weirdly peaceful in the room. I can't really hear anything, knowing what the party is like outside of the room it's like being in the eye of the storm. The only thing I can see are strobe lights from a laser cutting through the white cloud of smoke.
I walk slowly through and out of the smoke, a gasmask is suddenly in front of me. I can't make out the details, but as I move closer and am inches away from the guy, I see it's a guy in rubber. We glide past each other and as I turn around he disappears as quickly as he appeared. I keep walking round and I have no idea how many guys are in here or where they are. It's exciting. I decide to walk around the room in a circle and see hints of guys as I make my way to what I'm guessing is the DJ booth. I come face to face with a guy who stops, slowly cops a feel and then moves on, then stumble across two guys playing.
I do what I think is a full loop of the room and then realise I have no idea where in the room I actually am. My arms become outstretched again and I walk, finally reaching the wall and seating area, I decide to navigate myself around the rest of the room with the knowledge that the wall is just under an arm's length away. I'm unsure how long I've even been in the room by this point, and my dulled senses are strangely comforting. I come across another couple fucking in gasmasks, I still have no idea who is in the room or how many people there are but It's nice to have the room to move about, and the gas masks that everyone is wearing gives the whole experience another layer of anonymity and kink.
I finally get to the plastic curtain that is the only way in and out and re-join the rest of the party. The first thing that hits me is the heat, it's a lot hotter outside of the room and as I take the mask off the techno gets harder and louder. I give back my gas mask and see the queue has got even bigger (my timing was perfect it would seem). Everything is so much louder and brighter (despite it being in a dark room!) and I re-join the main chaos that is the rest of the party.
My experience with sensory deprivation in a fetish context has been fairly limited and on a small scale over the years, so it was interesting to be able to experience something bigger. I'll know next time to bring my own gas mask and see how long I can last the second time around.
The sensory room will be back for Recon's unSensored event on Friday 4 May at FIRE, Vauxhall