Andrew Humphrey > Culture and Reviews

Scene Queen: SM Discoveries

What is it?
The public monthly meeting of SM Gays, which doubles as a rolling programme of bright and breezy introductions to different aspects of consensual S&M. This month it is Corporal Punishment, with whips, paddles, straps and canes a-plenty. Coming up later this summer are Rubber, and Tits and Nips. You can take part in a safe demo, or just watch.

When and where is it?
The third Thursday of every month at the Hoist in Vauxhall. With its gritty railway arches location and strict SM leather dress code, the Hoist is off-limits to many of us most of the time, but SM Discoveries has no dress code. It is only �4 to get in.

Is it worth getting there early?
Doors open at 8:30, and it�s all over at midnight. It�s worth snagging an early place in the queues for the most popular demos. At last month�s Skin Sensations night, the Violet Wand was popular (something to do with static electricity), and the guy doing the Hot and Cold treatment never stopped all night. It involved a blindfold, an ice-cube, a paraffin-wax candle and no inhibitions.

What�s it like?
Much more informal and friendly than you might think, and although the atmosphere is sexually charged, it is not all about sex. As you go in, a chirpy greeter offers you a name sticker and almost asks �Have you ever been to a Hoist before?� There are half a dozen little stalls around the club, with SM Gays stalwarts pitching their wares. A coffee morning with cocks. I loved the �Organic S&M� stall last month, a twinkly chap tenderly sweeping a spiky holly leaf across your arms or your belly. On the other hand, it is the Hoist, and the streaming porn is heavy duty.

How busy is it?
It depends on the theme, and the place is quite small, but this week Corporal Punishment should bring them all out on a school night. There are the regulars in leather and rubber, office guys who have popped in straight from work, and student types mooching about in tracky bottoms. It�s a perverse and quite sexy combination.

Bad behaviour?
By some standards the whole thing is bad behaviour. But once the demos have closed down and the lightweights and newcomers have scattered for their last tube, a hard-core few can grab half an hour of mischief before the unforgiving overhead lights are snapped on at midnight.

Claim to fame?
When they are not spanking and tit-tweaking willing Londoners, SM Gays is also now undertaking a major research project on the UK�s leather SM community since 1945. You could go down in history.

SM Discoveries, third Thursday monthly at The Hoist, Arch 47c South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London SW8. Vauxhall tube/BR.