Sunday has historically (in much of the Western world) been a day for community. A day where we congregate with our local tribe, share good feeling and give them that most precious gift we have- some of our time. Whether or not you plan to spend your Sunday mornings in church, you can definitely feel the good vibes and community spirit on Sunday afternoons at LAM – the London Alternative Market.
LAM is such a legendary event that it almost defies description, and when you try to explain it, people still aren’t prepared. Firstly, it is huge.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people at LAM through the day and evening, the first Sunday of every month. It gets busier and busier as the afternoon draws on. It is a mecca for the kink community of London and beyond. There are floors and floors of stalls, selling every kind of high-quality fetishwear, kink toys, kink equipment, kink furniture, kink books, kink services and specialist niche items for sale. The prices are fantastic, and after on many occasions telling myself I could save money by going online, I’ve found it simply isn’t true. LAM is where to buy your kink kit. Nowhere else have I ever seen such diversity, all sold by people who truly love their craft, love their kink and love the kink community.
Secondly, it is mellow. Unlike the loud, club environments of many kink events, it is nicely lit, relaxing and has a farmer’s market kind of feel to attending. It is the kink community pottering around, looking at things, mingling, making new friends and meeting up with old ones. It’s the deviants of London in their Sunday best. Everything from jeans and a T shirt to rubber chaps, to Brony clothes to age-players can be found at LAM, dressed in their kinkwear or not, politely going about the market,chatting and having a good time. So what does one wear? Whatever you want. As for me, I always like to dress the part a little.
Thirdly, although it’s called an alternative market, it isn’t full of teenage goths buying hair dye and obscure records. It’s a strictly adult-only event. It is a kink and fetish market, with an after-party for those who want to scale-up the event a little and try out some of their new impact toys later, maybe flirt with some fellow kinksters, have a drink at the bar and delay the relentless march of Monday morning and vanilla life just a little bit longer.
Fourthly, it’s all indoors. You never need to put off a visit to LAM because it’s winter. The whole environment is warm and spacious with high ceilings to the main area, and sometimes in January, the feeling of space to move around without being frozen and rained-on is worth a visit alone.
Let’s take a look at my most recent jaunt to LAM, and the adventures that unfolded…
The hours before LAM are always a chat-group flurry of who is going and when. Whisked up by my lovely friend and delightful kinkster Spartan Warrior Sub, we set off for the afternoon of fun at LAM, spring in our step and child-like joviality in abundance. We even made a song.
At the door we paid entry and got wrist bands- we’d missed the workshops that are held hourly through the afternoon (I never seem to get there in time) and set about finding the other friends who were also coming. We had some street-food style snacks and drinks on the mezzanine, and I took a photo of it before I clocked all the many, many signs up saying no cameras allowed. So here is some surreptitious, forbidden burger porn.
Spartan Warrior Sub was on a mission to finally find her ‘Wonderful Steve’ (backstory for this oddly-named, hypothetical dildo here, at ‘My Fake Boyfriend’.)
She grabbed my hand, pulled me through the crowd, and loudly announced, “Come! We are going cock hunting!”
LAM has quite the array of stalls selling dildos. There are wooden ones. Wax ones. Ones made of soap. Glass ones. Vibrating ones. Strap-on ones. We made our way down through the floors of stalls and finally, in the lowest basement, found a stall that looked like a ‘Wonderful Steve’ might live there- a stall with an array of UV, glitter and multi-coloured silicone dildos in several shapes and sizes.
We were at the colourful stall Godemiche, one of the sex-toy exhibitors at LAM. The stallholders had a cheeky, charming way about them, laughed about the mission for ‘Wonderful Steve’. They clearly had a knowledge and love for their products, which they make themselves from moulds.
After much debate between pearlescent or glitter looks, size, shape and colour; speculation of which ones looked most like men we know, and re-naming of half of their inventory things like ‘Marriage-material Mike’, ‘Good-enough Gregory’ and ‘Nice-Guy Nigel’, Spartan Warrior Sub finally decided on her ultimate new fake boyfriend – a moderately sized blue-glitter silicone dildo with a G-spot happy curve and a little hole that fit a vibrating bullet inside.
Upstairs, right by the entrance at Spank, I found the rarest of things- an item of clothing I liked that fit perfectly and that was actually flattering – a pair of faux-leather chaps with no butt cheeks. It was like they were made for me, but alas! it was not payday, so they remain up for sale. The stallholder, a friendly woman who had an eye for choosing some really cool attire, told my friend she could do bespoke-fit items to work with her tiny ankles. Bespoke kink wear at less than £100?? Surely I’m dreaming.
A new invitee of mine turned up- let’s call him Innocent Ivan (and now he sounds like a dildo too). Innocent Ivan is a delightful, fun and rather tasty guy I’ve known for a few years, who is one of the kinkiest and most hilariously amusing switches I’ve ever met, yet one of the least experienced in the kink scene. He used to sub for me sometimes, and I’d been trying for literally years to get him to any event at all, without success. Finally, in the low-key mellow mix of LAM, he showed up. Success!
Spartan Warrior Sub also had an invitee show up, a rather dashing fellow she’d been chatting with, who I felt had a really good vibe about him and just the right amount of charm. He was talking about how he’d been practising shibari and rope-tying styles.
Oh yes, you can see where I’m going with this…
When it comes to my saintliness in the swing and kink scenes, as far as others are involved, I fall somewhere between fairy godmother and pushy stage-mum.
Innocent Ivan got his first experience being tied: two straight men together, a hard-backed wooden chair, and a tiny, red-lit room in what used to be a bank vault. We peered through the doorway as we watched one beautiful, athletic man submit to another, the rope sliding across skin, both shirtless, with masculine frames glistening in the light. I swear, I could smell the testosterone wafting out.
I’m not generally much of a voyeur, but all I could think was, ‘This must surely be the female equivalent of men watching lesbian porn’. I think the guys were enjoying being watched too, as well as the strange, powerful, sensual yet non-sexual dynamic between them as one submitted control to the other.
Very, very hot.
😊 GUESTS ARE APPROACHABLE. its a really mellow social vibe. everyone is there to shop for kink and mingle.
😊 ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE (it’s a total mix, but the focus on looks is less important here than some places)
😊 KINK FRIENDLY (Workshop sessions, DUNGEON look, ATTITUDES, ATTIRE, after-party). its an all-kink event
😊 TRANS-INCLUSIVE. All gender identities are welcome and there are lots of gender neutral bathrooms. Lots of people dressed.
😊 BODY SHAPE INCLUSIVE. there are lots of body types, rocking their stuff in everything from full kink wear to casual vanilla clothing.
😊 AGE INCLUSIVE (adults only, anything from people in their 20s to their 80s)
😊 COUPLES – there is a mix of couples, singles, poly groupings, kink d/s families and every other arrangement one might imagine. There is no couples-privilege pricing
😊 SINGLE WOMEN (plenty, often in friendship groups)
😊 single men (allowed, unrestricted, no gender pricing)
😊 AFFORDABLE AND VALUE FOR MONEY – ENTRY is inexpensive to the market, and to the after party (there is a discount if you buy both early on) however there is plenty of bar-style food and drinks to buy, including some very nice cocktails, which can easily add up through the day. the only trouble is that you’ll find a great array of high quality, hand made and bespoke professional kink toys and tools at a great price (better than online) and you’ll be tempted to spend a fortune there.
😊 SAFE (SECURITY volunteers, FRONT DESK, SECURE CLOAKROOM, NO PUBLIC ACCESS TO VENUE, large team of experienced volunteers. ‘troublemakers’ on a warning get a red wrist band. repeat offenders are banned. photography is forbidden.
😊 SPACIOUS (multiple floors descending underground (Its an old bank vault) plus mezzanine for food. 4 FLOORS, MULTIPLE ROOMS, NOT OVERCROWDED). the after party uses the lowest floor with bar area, converts to two play arenas (impact play and kink only, no sex) and the vault itself converts to a rope and shibari area with suspension points for at least 4 riggers. The mezzanine and bar area can get really busy in the late afternoon, so finding a table and getting rapid bar/waiting service can be tricky unless you come early.
😒 NOT SWINGING FRIENDLY (No sex, no nudity. this is a social and kink only event. If you want to play in that way you’ll have to go elsewhere)
😊 WELL EQUIPped (food, drink, social space, tables, many fascinating kink stalls with a wide array of products to buy. The after party has some spanking benches and st andrew’s crosses, but you’ll need to speak to the dungeon masters and wait for a turn)
😊 ROCK UP LAST MINUTE WITH A FRIEND? Absolutely. can pay for entry at the door.
😊 EASY TO GET A MEMBERSHIP? not required
😊 TRANSPORT (EASY BY TUBE to bank then a 10 minute walk to revolutions bar, FREE sunday PARKING IS ON SOME SIDE ROADS BUT YOU HAVE TO LOOK AROUND FOR SPACE)
😊 Accessibility – there are multiple floors with stairs, however there is a lift set aside for disabled users only
Written with thanks to Spartan Warrior Sub for her photo and the hunt for Wonderful Steve