This weekend I attended a “rope intensive” run by -Succubus- and Dealande, her rope bottom, and it gave me some whole new insights into partial suspension, which is a topic I’ve been interested in for quite some time now.

First off, I have to say: That was a damn fine workshop. -Succubus- was a great instructor, with an emphasis on “do what you want, as long as you don’t do it wrong (unsafely)” .  I learned so many things, some of them seemingly really small, but also really, really useful. And Dealande helped a lot as well; she’s a massive rope treatment geek, and it was a pleasure to interact with someone who geeks out that hard over something they’re passionate about.

One of the things that I paid a lot of attention to, and which I had really wanted to explore, was the partial suspension aspect of things.

In the rope community, in places like Fetlife and elsewhere, there are tons and tons of pictures of people fully suspended up in the air by rope.

This makes sense, in some respects; people dangling in the air in graceful or challenging poses also make for fantastic, artistic pictures. It makes the rope bottom, or rope muse, if you will, incredibly helpless, dependent on the skill of the rigger. The amount of stress placed on the body also creates a really heavy endorphin load, so the person going up can get that rush pretty quickly.  And dammit, it looks so incredibly cool.

But you see far fewer pictures of people who have been partially suspended, so that there is still some of their weight being borne by their body on the ground, while other parts are made helpless by hanging in the air. It’s not a topic that seems to get explored as much.

Esinem takes a look at it in his DVD, Tying People Not Parcels. And he notes that it’s safer and more erotic than full rope suspension.

But this was the first time I’d had a chance to explore a workshop on the subject, and I’d really been looking forward to it.

One of the things the instructor said immediately struck a chord with me. She stated that she’s selfish; that she doesn’t like full suspension, because when she does that, she doesn’t feel as connected to the person that she’s playing with. She’s too busy stressing and worrying about the safety of the person, whether her lines are secure, and in general being tense as fuck until the person is down (paraphrased). So she prefers to use partial suspension, because she can have a lot more fun with it, and have a much better time with her rope bottom.

I immediately empathized with that. Because while I enjoy suspending people, I find it more fun for the skill of it, the aesthetics, and the fact that the person in the air gets to try something that’s both challenging and enjoyable.

I don’t find full suspension erotic, or particularly connective, because I’m too aware of the risk – and I don’t feel like I’m monitoring the person’s safety appropriately if I’m getting distracted by play and erotic connection. I’m not able to let go and enjoy the interaction as much. So it’s either artistic, skill satisfying, or almost service topping for me – doing something for someone else, rather than to explore erotic potential between myself and them.

What I found when exploring partial suspension this weekend, is that I felt far more comfortable letting go and playing with the person I was tying.

We learned a really fun hip harness, which  I couldn’t decide whether to call a “Buto” or “The Hot Cross Bum”, and then learned about how to use it to cause some interesting effects, pulling the person’s ass provocatively up in the air, linking their leg to an upline, transitioning them from facing downwards to facing upwards, creating awkward positions, all sorts of fun ideas. And I could immediately see how much use this had to accomplish the same fun effects as suspension – massively increasing helplessness – while keeping the risk much more manageable. Both myself and my partner had a whole lot of fun, and we’re going to do a lot more with it.

I’ve done partial suspension before: one of my favourite things is dangling someone’s torso from a chest harness so that they’re on their knees and their balance is maintained by rope from chest and ankles (this works better on a bed, by the way – you want a soft surface for the knees, and it makes for great bedroom bondage).  But this was the first time I’d explored the other fun aspects, and the first time I’d been able to learn it directly.

It’s something I think is definitely worth exploring more, and should really have a much greater emphasis in the rope community – because people who skip partial suspension to go to full suspension instead are missing out on some fantastic opportunities for hot times.