I Was Eaten by a GRUE – and Lived to Tell the Tale

-a first-person account of the L.A. GRUE by CruelTease, reprinted with permission

I just got back from my first GRUE which took place in Rosemead at Bordello of Decadence just this last Saturday, January 18th. Actually I got back yesterday at 4pm, and after drinking some Trader Joe’s Peppermint Hot Chocolate and trying to watch a movie, I sacked out until around 8:30 am the next day, which would be today. Lots of driving, togetherness and fun energy is exhausting for an introvert like me, so I expected to be totally depleted when I got home, and I was!

So what’s a GRUE?

If you’re a nerd like me, you probably fucked off at work at some point playing video game. If you are also old and nerdy, you probably worked on a UNIX platform (cuz, duh), so fucking off often meant playing Rogue, Hack, Hunt, or Zork, when when you weren’t perving alt.sex.bondage. Zork was a text based maze game, and often started with the line:

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

And of course you could ask what that meant:

Q: What is a grue?

A: The grue is a sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth. Its favorite diet is adventurers, but its insatiable appetite is tempered by its fear of light. No grue has ever been seen by the light of day, and few have survived its fearsome jaws to tell the tale.

Who knew, but apparently a lot of kinksters are nerds like me, and GRUE turns out to be a fairly apt name for what I got eaten by. Borrowed from the tech world, the unconference and open space technology concepts, the GRUE is the answer to a customized and energetic kink conference, with much more interaction and freedom to get your needs met within the format and space. There was even an “introvert’s corner” at the LA GRUE which meant that if you were over in that corner, nobody should be talking to you because you’re having a moment of “leave me the fuck alone.” Nerdlords and history aside, the acronym now stands for Graydancer’s Ropetastic Unconference Extravaganza, with “Unconference” being the key word. I expected a lot of focus on rope, but I actually only went to two sessions that had rope as a focus. You could go to a GRUE and avoid rope entirely if it’s not your thang. And I will say here, that having gone to many of our homegrown events, events at Threshold and The Lair, events scattered throughout Los Angeles, part of DomCon LA, and all of Dark Odyssey, all of which were amazing experiences, the GRUE was the most fucking awesome thing I’ve done to date.

Why was the GRUE so cool for me?

For me, except for showing up at the opening of the event and the closing circle, both of which were mandatory parts of the event, I could attend whatever I wanted, ask for what I wanted, present on something, if I wanted to, or, I could go outside and sit under a tree, or nap on a sofa, if that’s what I wanted to do. I could come into a session late if I wanted, or leave early if I wanted to. As much time as needed was devoted to any topic, so there was no fixed begin or end time to each session. My own timing–everyone’s timing was honored, and yet it was surprisingly orderly and not at all too chaotic.

It sounds like it could be a lot of structureless blah, but it wasn’t. Imagine going to a class, workshop, party or encounter group with lots and lots of things you could do or discuss, and being able to choose to do only the things you wanted to do or discuss the most, and none of the shit you didn’t care about. We started at 9, and ended at 6, a half hour past the projected ending time. There was a big gridded board at the front of the room with pieces of paper taped onto it. The topics were written onto the pieces of paper and were chosen by US–the participants. Where ran down the down the left side of the grid, and When ran along the top. Anyone wanting to learn or present a topic could designate where and when (approximately) they were meeting to do it. On the board, there was a big arrow pointing down to what was happening “nowish”and Graydancer moved around to let everyone know when sessions were beginning in a new space, so you could opt to stay where you were, or move on to the new session. 

You could ask every participant to make a list about what was cool for them at the GRUE, and I assure you that each person‘s list would be completely different, because that’s how a GRUE works.

Often there were about 8 – 10 different sessions going on at any given time, and because you didn’t really have to choose one–you could stop in for a bit on one session and check in on the other 3 that excited you, and then devote your entire focus to the one thing you wanted to learn, or segment your time between a couple of the sessions. Or if nothing moved you, you could sit for a while alone or chat with someone, or eat a donut or a combination of things. I believe that someone asked for help in losing her virginity at the GRUE and that it happened–I just didn’t opt to watch that particular session.

So, more specifically, what did I enjoy at the LA GRUE?

  • I came away learning more cool stuff in that 9 hours than I did in 4 days at (a large event), and feeling more energized, largely because the format met my individual needs.

  • And because all of the sessions were fairly small, I could ask a lot of questions, and learn what I wanted and needed to learn from the people who so generously gave their knowledge.

  • I could also offer whatever it was I knew or had experience with.

  • donuts (yes, there were donuts)
  • new sadistic needle tricks including:
    • a sadistically immobilizing needle bondage technique I learned from Chewie23 which is awesome!
    • needles + blowgun was hinted at, but I didn’t hear about anything illegal at the GRUE
  • sadistic contact high #1
  • a discussion about leather choices for flogger making
  • knives and knife play techniques, and knife safety and:
  • supervised practice with knife play, both giving and receiving
  • rope ties
  • rope safety
  • beautiful new Japanese rope that I bought discounted online through Zetsu
  • pizza
  • going outside to sit under a tree or jump up and down like a spaz when I needed to
  • petting Frank, this cool little mellow dog who looks like Stitch
  • learning massage techniques and sharing them with my friend Kat
  • lots of humor and nerdiness
  • being able to wander off from a discussion to something that looked like more fun without worrying about offending someone for leaving or that I should’ve showed up on time when I came in late, and not feeling like I should be anywhere else than I was because of it.
  • making very cool stingy silicone finger whips with WolfSir
  • making new friends
  • learning about and watching cell popping demos
  • sadistic contact high #2
  • talking about lifestyle parenting challenges
  • watching rope scenes with predominantly female riggers and rope tops!
  • talking about personal inhibitions and working past them or choosing to respect them
  • perving other people’s toy bags and needle kits
  • perving other people
  • perving scenes
  • perving, lots of perving, in general
  • an awesome space provided by Bordello of Decadence in which we were made to feel very much at home.
  • being able to share my gratitude at the closing circle.
  • watching Frank flip out over a squeaky toy that we later found out he stole from a puppy play scene during the after party.
  • watching GrayDancer make pancakes in a kilt while smoking a cigar and dancing all sexy like to his Leather Lounge mix with pankakke on his beard
  • pancakes!
  • the event cost $50 included the GRUE, donuts, coffee, pizza lunch, ice cream, pancakes & orange juice.