Seattle Shibari as Art Form

Sensual, Stunning Rope Bondage

Rundown

  • Instagram: @ropecandy
  • Website: seattleshibari.com

Shibari is an ancient form of Japanese rope bonding that is fueled by a connection between the person doing the tying, the “rigger” and the individual being bound. Its origins are intricately tied to the Samurai tradition during the Edo period (the 1600s to the mid-1800s), which remained in use regularly until WWII. Samurai used a martial art called hojōjutsu to restrain prisoners with cord or rope. In the late 1800s, hojōjutsu began to take on erotic elements, and eventually transformed into an erotic art form called ‘kinbaku,’ meaning “the beauty of tight binding.” In the West this type of binding is often referred to as Shibari. Those involved in the Shibari community experience rope as a transcendental art form, an erotic liberation, an immersion into new and fresh spaces. It is a beautiful display of the human body, defying gravity and showing angles of the human form that we rarely see in our daily lives.

Before rope bondage ensues, the rigger establishes boundaries in an effort to keep the tying safe, consensual and a wholly positive experience for those involved. The waltz between pain and pleasure characteristic of the BDSM scene is not the primary objective of Shibari, though it does play its role. There is an evocative tenderness that permeates the atmosphere at tying events, and what emerges is sensational living, breathing human art.

Display of the Human Body

To learn more about the Shibari scene, DOPE sat down with Averie, an enigmatic rope enthusiast with three and a half years of tying under her belt. When asked what it was about rope bondage that connected with her, she responds, “Shibari is beautiful and serene. When I first saw it, I was amazed by the stunning display of the human body. The connection between the two people was powerful and beautiful, like a dance. There is beauty in the vulnerability of seeing people in their most pure form.” 

Seattle Shibari as Art Form


“The connection between the two people was powerful and beautiful, like a dance.”

Averie, Shibari rigger

As a rigger, Averie takes care to receive proper consent from those she is tying. Miscommunications do happen, but she emphasizes the importance of minimizing risk through effective communication early on in the process. Communicating risks, hard limits, soft limits, wants, relevant history with Shibari and medical history are essential  when being tied, and understanding that it is not a “one size fits all” experience is fundamental to the art form. Different dynamics exist between different sets of people, and partners must assess one another and set limitations. Consent flows both ways, and when utilized properly, can give birth to transcendental experiences and mind-blowing sensations.

Out of the Shadows

Averie, like most of the community, would like to see Shibari brought out of the proverbial shadows. Most people who are involved with the rope scene have to live “double lives,” using pseudonyms and keeping their social media accounts private. Many do not want to be subjected to judgement from those outside of the community who disapprove of the kink/BDSM lifestyle, so they remain hypervigilant in their lives to keep the areas separate. Maintaining this level of privacy can be exhausting, but the tides have been turning in favor of normalizing kink and, by extension, Shibari.

Today, more and more people are opening up to the possibilities of kink as a lifestyle. Popular media is normalizing kink though films, television and other mediums, and kink communities have been multiplying across the country. Averie has seen Shibari in the Pacific Northwest grow in the past several years, and she is excited to see it continue to grow. She feels that “something magical happens when somebody discovers kink” and it is as though they are “stepping into the world for the first time with avenues of open possibilities.”

Seattle Shibari as Art Form


“Something magical happens when somebody discovers kink, when you see someone new to the scene it is like they’re stepping into the world for the first time with avenues of open possibilities.”

– Averie

 

Shibari 101: Tips for Beginners

  • Start slow, determine what attracts you to the art form and your end goal for learning the craft.
  • Check your ego at the door. Accept that there is a strong learning curve.
  • If you are a rigger, frustration is inevitable. Patience is key.
  • When you learn a new tie, take pictures every step of the way so that it can be replicated.
  • If you are being tied, be sure to establish firm boundaries with your rigger beforehand.
  • Go with your instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, say something.
  • Learn about yourself: how to speak up for yourself, how to be in tune with your body.
  • Understand miscommunication and mistakes happen, and it is important to learn from them in order to get the most from the experience.

Gianna Spangler

Gianna Spangler is a cannabis activist, deadhead, and purveyor of good vibes. Her articles are focused upon permeating love, respect, and empathy with her fellow earthlings. She enthuses about every ounce of legalization effort - from India to New York - pushing content that echoes her rally cry of legalization. She would love to see cannabis de-scheduled in the United States within the next decade, and believes knowledge and research to be the key to achieving this victory. In addition to writing for DOPE Magazine, Gianna writes fiction and is currently working on a Novel that dives into the perspectives of five people who have all been touched by loss in unique ways. The purpose of the novel is to share a blueprint for dealing with disappointment, pain, regret, and death by utilizing gratitude for existence and for the people who remain in one’s life.

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