Recently, I made friends with a traveling rope artist who was in town. They invited me to come out to a performance they were doing in a few days. As someone who loves to support the medium of public bondage performance and probably the biggest fans on the art form, I immediately agreed. I was also glad to support this new friend trying to catch a break in my city.
So I went to the show. And after a lengthy, yet enjoyable band, a different kind of music started to play and my friend walked on stage and tied their partner. Their form was beautiful. The artist’s control of the rope was skilled and full of intent. The bottom was amazing in their surrender and in how they portrayed that surrender to make the rope and the artist look even more amazing. Their connection was art in itself, and it allowed them to do forms and positions in the performance that I had not seen before. It was quite awesome.
As I was traveling home and thinking about what I’ve seen, I recognize that I had felt inspired by the performance. This happens to me often, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. You see something onstage, you think about how was done, and you wonder if you can emulate it enough to incorporate it into what you do. But this time, as with a few other times, the inspiration hit me differently. While they were things that were unique in that performance, and things that I have not done before, I felt no inclination to try to reverse engineer them so that I could add them to my repertoire. Sometimes the artistic or structural form of a tie does not mesh with what you desire on your rope path. And you are allowed to see something and understand how it innovates for one person, but not how it would innovate for you. That is a choice we all have on our paths. And one we should take carefully. To try to grab half of someone’s rope form without taking the time understand it because you only want a part of it for your personal style can be dangerous. But I feel that we can be inspired by how someone’s innovation affected them to innovate in a different way that affects us similarly.
They were small ways on how the artist tied in their performance that conveyed a level of intimacy without sexuality. It artistically showed a different kind of bond then what people at large sometimes perceive about bondage. And it made me wonder, “How can I show such a bond in the way I tie?” Immediately, a few answers came to mind. “There is this thing that I do that shows a less intimate bond”. “There’s that other thing I do that makes the entire scene seem more lighthearted”. “Oh yeah, there’s that thing I do to show a deep meaningful connection, but if I change it a little this way, I could remove the sexual implications from it”. My mind started racing with ways to use what I already knew and was competent in to emulate the feeling I was created when that rope artist used what they knew and we’re competent in. I saw that concept emphasized by looking at their TK. The artist had taken an intensive a few days before where they learned a new TK that arguably could have done a better job in their performance. But they chose to stick with what they knew and trusted and their performance shined because of it.
It is said, “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery”. I believe that innovation from inspiration can be as sincere a form of flattery, if not more so. To be inspired by someone’s art is not always to try to imitate how it looks, but is to sometimes imitate how it feels. And when you capture that feeling with your own tools, in your own way, you pay homage to the people who inspired you, while still moving the artform forward.