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Slut Saga: When the Kink Expo Isn’t Kinky Enough

Not to kink shame but…

By Entertainment, Featured, Series

Illustration by Aditi Singh.

I went to Elgin Munchers Kink Expo 2.0, and I was…disappointed. Why was I disappointed? It wasn’t kinky enough.

I was expecting a full day of mingling with the kink community and conversing with kink educators. While I did get a version of that, I wish the event had been bolder, kinkier, and more unapologetically sexier. The classes offered were exclusively for beginners; few people dressed up for the occasion; and other than floggers and spanking-paddles, not a lot of sex-toys were being sold by the 40+ vendors.

The two main factors that contributed to the lack of kink at the event were location and demographics.

Elgin Munchers Kink Expo 2.0 was listed on Eventbrite as a Chicago-based event, yet it took me over an hour of driving to get to Gurnee, Illinois. For safety reasons, the location was hidden until the tickets were already purchased. Would I have still gone if I had known this? Probably … but it would have been good to know that in addition to the $30 ticket fee, I’d also be spending 40 miles worth of gas money.

Being so far away from Chicago meant that the kinkfest was only accessible to a specific demographic of people: adults with cars. Red flags, already. The decision to hold the event in Gurnee excluded Chicagoland youngsters who would’ve liked to attend but had no way to get to the convention site.

I did not see another person in their early twenties at the Kink Expo. Even people in their late 20s were rare. Most individuals there were 30 or above.

The second reason for this older demographic is the hotel was simultaneously running a Swingers convention by Lifestyle Playtime Chicago. For those that don’t know, to be a swinger is to participate in ethical non-monogamy in the form of partner-swapping. Who are the people using the term “swingers”? Typically, married or older people. The terminology is a blast from the past. Gen Z individuals tend to use words such as “polyamory” and “open relationship” when referring to sexual non-monogamy. Therefore, an event called HalloSwing Hotel Takeover was geared toward married people over a certain age. The effect: the Elgin Munchers Kink Expo 2.0 felt like a playground for these older adult swingers to learn about new kinks, rather than Chicago’s kink community coming together to play.

The classes offered were designed for beginners dipping their toes into kink. For example, there were lectures such as, “I Bought a Flogger, Now What?” or “More the Merrier: a Guide to Group Sex.” The title of these classes insinuates a certain naivete towards the topic. I attended “Pegging 101” and “Giving Great Head,” and both of these classes only offered baseline knowledge on either of the sexual acts — knowledge that the average curious, open-minded Gen Z individual would already know through the internet, talking to their friends, and personal experience. At one point, the instructor showed us anatomically correct images of genitalia and I thought to myself, do we really need a refresher on what a penis looks like?

There is nothing wrong with being a beginner at kink. I am glad there is a safe place for older people to ask questions about what type of dildos to begin with, how often to reapply lube, and how to find the clitoris. But I was expecting a more niche and extreme form of kink discussed at a kink expo. I wanted to learn about the types of kinks that aren’t discussed in general media. Like what? Surprise me!

Not everything was a misfire at the expo. I took a class on how to safely use rope on oneself and others. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about it. My favorite combination of knots was called an “arm ladder.” In it, the arm is encapsulated into a macrame-type knot that starts all the way at the shoulder and snakes down to the wrist (with the opportunity to tie the arm to furniture). The class had a hands-on approach to it (rather than being a lecture), and the instructor was willing to meet students at their expertise level.

I also had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful lady named Danielle who took me under her wing and talked to me about the joys of rope-play. She said she found the rope marks aesthetically pleasing, the physical pressure of the rope comforting, and that playing with rope gave her the opportunity to explore different power dynamics with her partners.

So to conclude…

The experience at Elgin Munchers Kink Expo 2.0 was not a failure, but it did not live up to the image I had in my head.

Regardless, if you are considering going to a kink expo, do it. Any expo — even with its mishaps — is a good opportunity to explore your interests and meet other members of the community. Even in a sea of swingers, I still learned a few things like “cotton bondage rope is the easiest to wash.”

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