When our city’s most beloved promoters let slip that they had something extra special planned, I instantly took notice. They’re known for throwing the best play-parties in the most unusual of spaces.
I was invested in the party weeks before the night itself. A slow and steady drip of tantalising details, starting with the name:
With a cupcake logo. In rainbow colours of course. It already sounded like fun.
In a world of events named for taboos and power dynamics this seemed like a carnival. A week or so later, a blurb about the party and the “Secret Venue” appeared.
I love secret venues. I love going to parties in places we’re not really allowed to be. Forbidden is fun. A week or so later, I get a link to the website to buy my ticket. There’s an extensive rules and etiquette section to read and accept before the location is disclosed. It’ll be fun keeping the secret!
A few days before the event, all ticket-holders received the same Guardian article. I have never before been sent a Guardian article as party hype. I can already feel the butterflies.
Pudding Palace is an afterparty for another unconnected event in town that night. Although he other event runs until 3am Pudding Palace opens its doors from 1am until 9am. The secret location is revealed on the morning of the event. Its in that most hallowed of modern men-only spaces: a gay sauna. For the first time ever, non-males are being allowed inside. This in itself is a coup. I get to go to a gay sauna!! What? I want to tell everyone I know. This is going to be the coolest party ever. Hyped is an understatement.
As we arrived, my ticket was scanned from my phone by the host. I was let in through the secure door, and shown to the lockers before being given a tour of the facilities. There was a steam room with towels, showers, many play spaces, a huge dark room maze, a lounge and a fucking machine. One of the hosts is an engineer, and has designed and built this incredible machine themselves. It’s here, bathed in neon lights flashing in sync with the carefully curated electronic soundtrack.
Everyone’s outfit is a riot of colour at Pudding Palace. In the lounge, a diverse collection of queer party types dance and chat to an Afrobeat soundtrack. The play cabins and darkrooms get plenty of use, though the venue is large enough that it was never difficult to find a space to play. There were impact and rope scenes in the lounge, which were a joy to watch, but full-on fucking was reserved for the designated play spaces.
This party is a safe, sex positive space for queer people, their friends and their lovers. I feel very at home already.
I definitely feel safer than many other events I’ve attended. The consent rules are visible on every wall and any violation of those rules means that the offender and everyone they came with has to leave. It’s a system that encourages everyone to keep an eye on their friends. In addition, everyone here (with the exception of a few guests) knows the hosts. I feel it’s much easier to be kinky when you feel safe.
Looking back, this has definitely been one of the hottest parties I’ve ever been too, in more ways that one.
Guests: Cool, fun, queer crowd, all happy to chat. Everyone was really lovely, and the crowd was notably diverse. Everyone’s party outfits were bright and colourful, and everyone was really hot. I did ask the hosts how everyone there was an 8 or above. They said, “everybody is sexy when they are having fun.” There were around 100 people there by my estimates around 4am.
Kink Friendly with multiple suspension points and some dungeon equipment. It’s very much a BDSM event with a really playful feel. Bring your own toys.
Trans inclusive: All bathrooms (4) are marked as gender neutral and the first line of the web page reads, “Pudding Palace is a space for LGBTQI* folx and their allies. If you’re not down with this, we’re not down with you.” Can’t be clearer than that.
Body shape inclusive: The guests at Pudding Palace were beautiful people of all shapes and sizes, looking amazing and having fun.
Couples: There were a handful of really cool couples, all of them dressed up and vibing with everyone. Lots of them also brought dates.
Single women: The party was mostly queer single women.
Single guys: There were a handful of single guys, all known by lots of people.
Barriers to entry: Pudding Palace is really affordable if you get early bird tickets (£10). It’s also BYOB to help keep your night cheap. Great value for an 8 hour party with soft drinks, team and coffee, locker and towels included.
Safe: Completely secure venue with video security on the door and a no photo policy. (Though there was a designated artist taking polaroids for guests; one-off reminders of an amazing night.) Consent rules are displayed throughout the venue and on the website. You can’t buy a ticket unless the hosts know you.
Spacious: The venue was huge, so many places to play, dance, swagger about and flirt. Four gender neutral toilets, large communal shower area and steam room, as well a lounge, private cabins for play, fucking machine and sex swing.
Swinging friendly: Although not specifically a swingers event, sex is permitted everywhere except the lounge and the chill space.
Well-equipped: BYOB but BYO toys. Free soft drinks, tea and coffee, condoms (including female condoms and latex-free) and lube.
Rock up last minute: Nae chance, Pal.
Even if there had been tickets left, there are multiple stages of vetting. It’s not elitist, or based on looks, but rather on your understanding of sex positivism, consent and negotiation. Its about what you’re bringing to the party and how you’re helping create that safe space.
Pricing policy: There is no icky gender pricing policy. There is no icky couples pricing policy. If you buy a ticket between them going on sale and two weeks before the party its at early bird prices. I love it when promoters put community above profit.
Transport: In the centre of town, but tucked away a bit.
Accessibility: The venue is on two levels with stair-only access.
All in all this was one of the best parties Ive ever been to. The hosts had thought of everything and this party passed in a blur of colour and adoration and some really hot sex. Everyone was lovely, the place was lovely, I felt safer than I have ever felt before at a party. I can’t wait for the next one. I’m still swooning.
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Photo Credit: LindaKimaZake.com