When people ask me how I first got into rope, I tell them it was because I knew how to use WordPress.
Here’s what happened.
It was early 2012, and I had recently moved to North Carolina, didn’t know many people down there, and was just starting to explore the kink community after a number of years of wondering. I was at a munch, talking with people about things, and somehow it came out that I knew how to make websites with software like Drupal and WordPress and Joomla! (remember that, nerds?).
One of the people there overheard and asked if I could make a website for rope, and I was like “Yeah, I could, but … why would anyone do that? Aren’t there, like, stores?”
And that was the first time I heard about rope as a thing that people spend a lot of time and money on in order to restrain people in very specific ways and hoist them up into the air.
The guy who was asking was Bodhi, and he’d been doing rope for about five years and making jute rope for about two years and was ready to start selling it. He wanted me to build a site for his new business, Rope Space Rope. He didn’t have a ton of money to pay me, but he offered to teach me and supply me with rope in exchange. I like making sites, I like learning things, and so I agreed.
My first experience with rope was a few weeks later at a party. Bodhi’s wife offered to tie me so I could experience it, and I hesitantly agreed. I stood while she tied my upper body in what I would later learn was takatekote. I’m sure she did a great job, but I had zero reference points.
After, they asked what I thought, and I said: “Please never do that to me again.”
I mean, I was probably more polite than that, but yeah—getting tied is not for me, and I kindly let them know. And her response turned out to be the gateway to my rope journey: “Well, maybe you would enjoy the other side of the rope.”
Bodhi had recently started teaching rope classes downtown and invited me to join the next one. One of the people I’d met at a munch and had gotten to know a bit through other munches and parties agreed to go with me and let me practice tying on her. I’ll call her Kitty for anonymity.
So, at the end of March 2012, I went to my first rope class and tied my first thing: a takatekote. The images below are indeed phone pics of my very first tie. (And yes, there’s plenty I could critique now, but I gotta say, for a first time touching rope, not too shabby.)
And I was instantly hooked.
I also didn’t have anyone at the beginning to regularly practice with, so I started doing two things …
The first was “tying in my head,” where I would imagine myself making the movements over and over, tracing the path of the rope, thinking about how my hands should move. And that was how I usually fell asleep most nights after that.
The second was “tying my chair.” Literally. I put a jacket on a chair in my room and started using that to practice my chest harnesses. Examples below.
Thankfully, Kitty had also agreed to let me continue to practice with her as often as we were able to work out our schedules. So, I kept going to Bodhi’s classes, usually with Kitty as a partner, and would also meet up with her when I could to practice between classes. And between classes and meetups, I was tying in my head and tying up my chair.
You can tell from the pictures below that a lot of my early tying was the same as anyone’s early tying: messy, somewhat functional with a willing and helpful participant, and about equal parts “tying to do a pattern” and “making stuff up because I forgot the pattern.”
But over time, I started to get a little better. (The placement of my upper bands in my takatekote are still too high, and my lower bands maybe a little too low, and my tensions aren’t properly distributed, and … well, you know, all the things. But this is still about 4 months into my tying.)
After the first month or so, as spring 2012 rolled around, I started visiting Bodhi at home as often as I could to study with him. Sometimes once a week, sometimes multiple times.
We tied whoever was willing to join us and let us practice, we tied each other, and we also got a bit desperate and built … Peggy.
Peggy Version 1 was made of wood, but she was rough on the rope. So, Peggy Version 2 was made of PVC pipe and eventually improved with padding and cloth coverings. We tied the shit out of Peggy. Speed drills. Blindfold ties. Patterns that shouldn’t have worked on a Peggy and so kinda didn’t.
And while Peggy was helpful for learning the patterns, she obviously couldn’t compete with real people, but we learned a lot with her anyway.
Thankfully, we also had some real people. For one, we continued to have each other. That’s Bodhi below showing off my hishi tie.
And I continued to find people willing to let me practice at classes and parties. (Ignore the boobs … look at those crappy munter hitches!)
And both Kitty and then, later, Anamae were gracious enough to let me continue to practice and improve.
But there is one thing that I would like to call serious attention to and get a little preachy about: all of that tying from March 2012 until January of 2013 was completely floor-based. Because rope—and especially rope suspension—can be extremely dangerous.
In the fall of 2012, I started learning suspension basics. I learned them by suspending things like rope bags and heavy buckets full of spackling. I practiced my upline techniques and my base ties until I finally got the OK to try it out on a person. And the first person I suspended was my teacher—Bodhi—so he could tell first-hand where I was messing up.
That picture is below. And you’ll notice it’s a face-up hip harness suspension with no upper-body rope (and definitely no rope over the arms). With his supervision, I slowly worked into more involved and higher-risk suspensions, but I still didn’t start doing regular, unsupervised suspension work until the summer of 2013.
So if you’re doing the math, that’s about: 8 months of tying before even looking at suspension techniques; 4 months of practicing suspension techniques and refining suspension-worthy ties before actually suspending a person; 4 months of supervised suspension before starting to suspend solo and moving into more complex/dangerous suspension work.
And the learning, of course, didn’t stop there … it was really just getting started.
I’m not saying that’s the only way to do it. But I will always be grateful that I found people who could show me that path and help me to start walking it.
So, that’s how I got started in rope. From there, I moved to Richmond, got involved in Richmond Rope Bite, met Bound Light, started attending workshops and intensives and taking private lessons, and continued to learn everything I could about rope. I also started combining my interest in photography with my interest in rope, and that led me to here.
I think it’s also important to point out that the most important things I’ve learned about rope since 2014 came from my partnership with Bound Light and her ability to help me understand “both sides of the rope.”
I’m still good friends with Bodhi and grateful for his continued help in my rope journey.