You are here because you want to know more about BDSM. Sheer curiosity or burning desire...the reasons don't matter. What does matter is that without good knowledge about what BDSM is and a good understanding of some of the most used practices, you and your partner could get hurt or be turned off simply because you didn't have all of the information before trying.
This article aims to be a guide to help you get started on your journey to learn about a whole new kinky world that you might not have realized even existed since present.
SSC vs. RACK
Consent and communication are the two most important factors in BDSM. The reality is that some of the practices and play can be dangerous to a person's physical, mental, or emotional well-being. People in the BDSM lifestyle have different methods of classifying whether an activity is safe to be done. Some people use Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC) while others follow Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK). Both have a similar concept of consent and safety from harm. Deciding which principle to follow is a personal decision, as is everything in BDSM, but it helps to get understanding of each.
Safe, Sane, and Consensual
The three parts of this concept are self explanatory. Keep it safe. Don't try a new activity, as suspension bondage for example, without learning and practicing first. Do not use a flogger for the first time on a person; use a pillow until you get used to it and could appreciate the intensity of your blows and the feeling. Ask questions of fellow kinksters who know more about an activity than you do. Learn by reading, watching, and talking to people. And practice enough before trying it on your partner.
Keep it sane. Be sensible in the activities you choose. A sense of danger can be sexy and erotic, but real danger can land someone in the hospital. Don't do something that has a real risk of injury unless both of you are trained in how to do it and know how to handle emergencies. If you're going to try something dangerous anyway, make sure you're certified in first aid and CPR.
Keep it consensual. Whether it is by using a safe word or communicating hard limits and boundaries, do not do anything without the full consent of your partner. When in doubt, stop and ask, even in the middle of a scene. Asking, "Do you want me to continue?" can be erotic but even if it's not, ask the question anyway.
Risk Aware, Consensual Kink
RACK is used most often by those who worry that SSC is too vague and broad. One person's idea of sane might be different from someone else. Risk aware means making sure everyone involved is fully aware of the risks. Knife play holds the risk of blood being drawn. Fire play can result in burns. Breath control can lead to asphyxiation. Before you try it, you need to know the real risks.
Consensual. Always. Have you discussed what you want to do together? Do you know the safe word? Is it within your limits? If you can't answer these questions, it might not be consensual. Stop and talk about it first, then play and have kinky fun.
If it is out of the "mainstream," it's probably kinky. However, one person's kinky is another person's vanilla. Do you consider what you are about to do kinky? If the answer is yes, then you need RACK.
Neither SSC or RACK are perfect and include every single possible variation or situation. Some kinky play has a true element of danger to it (that's part of the appeal for some people). Don't try a new activity with your partner until you have researched it, learned about it, asked questions, and practiced on an object, if possible. Doing this can reduce the potential dangers. Whichever you pick, SSC or RACK, follow them, use them, and be smart about your kinky activities to be safe anytime.
Be aware, intelligent and act accordingly.
Wish you success and intense feelings with your BDSM lifestyle!