This weekend we were in London visiting some friends that we didn’t manage to see over Christmas. We realised that our visit would coincide with the first London Alternative Market of 2019. Enid found them online before Christmas, but we are rarely in central London, and usually have prior commitments. This was an opportunity not to be missed. Enid has a birthday coming up, so she was set on buying herself a couple of treats – reviews will follow when they have been thoroughly tested!
We had a great afternoon and will definitely be returning!
London Alternative Market bills itself as “London’s first community-supporting market project.” It’s held the first Sunday of every month in a large bar in central London, from 12pm until 6pm, with an after-party in the evening. The venue, Revolution on Leadenhall St, worked really well. The bar serves a varied and affordable food menu as well as cocktails and hot drinks. There was space to sit and socialise/people watch, and a pretty wide variety of vendors stalls. It was a little cramped at times, but the way the stalls were spread around the different floors kept people moving around. There was clear signage, both to help us find our way around, and advising us of their strict “no photos” policy.
The door staff were welcoming, though we didn’t arrive in time for the Newbie Meet and Greet. There were lots of LAM crew, wearing t-shirts and armbands, and I’m sure if we had needed help it would have been easy to find.
We were impressed by the variety and quality of the vendors. There were lots of beautiful and imaginative impact play toys, and some gorgeous corsets that I was very tempted by! The prices were reasonable too. All the vendors were happy to talk about their products and their processes, which was really interesting.
As a dominant woman who looks younger than I am, I am often wary of being patronised at events like these, but I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone we spoke to was friendly, happy to share their knowledge and really enthusiastic about their products.
There were three workshops during the afternoon, and we went to the second – Healthy Mental Practices, presented by The Kink Shrink – “a regular discussion-based workshop that is an open Q&A around the psychology of and around BDSM, relationships, mental health for BDSM practitioners and anything else that affects you.” There was lots of talk about consent and also ADHD/ADD in kink.
She was an excellent speaker and facilitator and funny too. As a monogamous couple who have been practising BDSM for a long time, it was really useful to hear consent being discussed as dynamic and evolving. We’ve got a blog brewing about safewords, and it seeded some more ideas for that. I particularly liked what she said about whether you could ever really give informed consent (the I in the FRIES acronym), because you never really know how something might affect you. I liked the idea of being mindful of consequences, rather than scared of them. As ever, communication is key, but it is mindful and continuing communication that gets us furthest.
The workshop was really well attended and there were lots of people who wanted to talk. If there had been more time, Enid would have liked to talk more about BDSM and mental health. We’d like to write more about this in the future as it is something close to both our hearts.
The only downside to the day was that, as we were staying with vanilla friends and we had an early start the next morning, we didn’t stay for the after-party. Hopefully next time we will be able to stay into the evening – everything from the friendly staff, atmospheric basement vaults and friendly yet assertive ground-rules, points to an excellent evening!
London Alternative Market’s website is super detailed and can be found here: londonalternativemarket.com