All pics by Paul Jung
How and why do we fall in love?
After 15 years of xplore, after hundreds of workshops on unusual tendencies, exquisite perversities, brutal torture techniques and sensory ecstasies, it seems time to ask this simple question. (We don’t shy away from anything!)
What is behind this fetish, which was discovered not so long ago (Schlegel, Tieck, Novalis, check them out!!!), and which became so incredibly popular? What makes the object of our passion so sexy? How can we distinguish between love and our image of love? Is our love life just expression of a cultural conditioning? Do we experience the thing itself or its representation?
We approach the subject with experimental arrangements exploring the construction of emotions (Baby, I love you!), with investigations into relationships and passion (You break my heart!) and settings that play with clichés and fantasy (Save me!) We consider practicing BDSM as a genuine romantic act, so please don’t forget your whips and chains. It will be exciting, touching and very, very funny!
Be prepared to fall in love.
Enjoy the festival!
Wie und warum verlieben wir uns?
Nach 15 Jahren xplore, nach Hunderten Workshops zu ungewöhnlichen Neigungen, erlesenen Perversitäten, brutalen Foltertechniken und sensoriellen Ekstasen, scheint es an der Zeit mal diese einfache Frage zu stellen. (Wir schrecken vor nichts zurück!)
Was steckt hinter diesem Fetisch, der vor noch garnicht so langer Zeit entdeckt wurde (Schlegel, Tieck, Novalis, schaut mal rein!), und der so ungeheuer populär wurde? Was macht das Objekt unserer Leidenschaft so sexy? Wie unterscheiden wir zwischen Liebe und unserem Bild von Liebe? Ist unser Liebesleben lediglich Resultat kultureller Konditionierung? Erleben wir das Ding an sich oder nur eine Repräsentation?
Wir nähern uns dem Thema mit Versuchsanordnungen zur Konstruktion von Emotionen (Baby, Ich liebe Dich!), mit Untersuchungen zur Leidenschaft (Du brichst mir das Herz!) und dem Spiel mit Klischees und Fantasiewelten (Rette mich, mein Prinz!) Wir finden BDSM ist eine zutiefst romantische Praxis, also auf jeden Fall auch Peitschen und Ketten mitbringen! Es wird aufregend, berührend und sehr, sehr lustig!
Seid bereit euch zu verlieben.
Viel Vergnügen mit dem Festival!
Alessandro Pedori BERÜHRUNG UND POLITIK/ TOUCH AND POLITICS
Angela Brilliante RAW-MAN-TICK
BliXX TANTRISCHES SPEED DATING/ TANTRIC SPEED DATING
Sonia Reifenhäuser SOMATISCHE SELBSTLIEBE / SOMATIC SELF LOVE
Nehra Stella QUEER ROMANCE
Peter Banki GERMAN ROMANTIC – LIFE PERFORMANCE
Andy Buru and Saara Rei WEIL ICH DICH LIEBE/ BECAUSE I LOVE YOU
Annette Schindler ROMANTIK; VERTRAUEN UND HUNGER/ ROMANTIC; TRUST AND HUNGER
Paul Hasler VERFÜHRUNG UND VERWEIGERUNG/ TEASE AND DENIAL
Vesna LIEBES_SZENEN/ LOVE_SCENES
Line Bangsbo&Anna Natt TEENAGE DRY HUMPING ORGY/ TROCKENFICKEN FÜR TEENAGER
Seani Love BIS DASS DER TOD UNS SCHEIDET/ TIL DEATH DO US PART
Ceridwen Buckmaster TRAUER, LEIDENSCHAFT UND KLAGEN/ GRIEF, PASSION AND WAILING
Soptik EROTISCHE HYPNOSE/ EROTIC HYPNOSIS
Om Rupani ANNÄHERUNG HINGABE/ TOUCHING DEVOTION
Itay Ganot DER GARTEN DER INTIMITÄT/ THE GARDEN OF INTIMACY
Pawel Dudus&Laura Eva Meuris FLÜSSIGE KÖRPER/ LIQUID BODIES
Klara Lotte POESIE DER GENITALIEN/ POETRY OF THE GENITALS
Verena anereV MINNEGESANG/ TROUBADOUR SONGS & HEXEN&SCHLAMPEN/ WITCHES&BITCHES
Violetta Stahl MÄRCHENHAFTE FANTASIEN/ FAIRY TALE FANTASIES & ZWIEGESPRÄCH / DIALOGUE
Felix Ruckert MASSENHOCHZEIT/MASS MARRIAGE & ENTFÜHRUNG/ KIDNAPPING
First time at xplore…
by Vanina / this text also appears here https://www.sluttish.us/xplore-berlin-2019
I went to Xplore 3 weeks after my mother passed away. When deciding to go, and not bail on it, I was looking for a distraction. I needed something to replace the guilt, the pain, and the whole mix of emotions you experience when someone so important to you dies. I made the mistake of underestimating Xplore, giving it this label of sex festival, something that will keep my body occupied, provide an interesting experience, and maybe, hopefully, a little bit of emotional distraction. But stepping in Malzfabrik, feeling the energy, checking out the playspaces, and simply looking at the workshop topics I realized I was wrong.
With the abundance of sexual wellness and exploration festivals around Europe at the moment, it is very easy to put Xplore in that box, a place to explore yourself and others in a sexual context. But Xplore is different and involves so much more than sexual exploration. It is in a sense a social experiment, breaking the boundaries of vulnerability. It is the intersection between body interaction, such as dance or yoga, and human sexuality. It deals with emotional depth, and emotional acceptance the way I have never experienced before. It surprises you with the ease and confidence you feel about discovering your boundaries. It doesn’t shy from darkness and takes all emotions and feelings as something worth diving into. Eventually, it makes you question the way you, as an individual, but also, we as a society exist and interact with our feelings, bodies, spaces, and each other.
The festival is set in a conference-ish way – for the 3 days of it, you have rotating workshops, but also a lot of playspaces, installations and big areas where you can just chill, take a break, and chat. Workshops are held on a diversity of topics and happen around a different theme each year – this year the theme was “Romance – how and why we fall in love?”
I did what I now know to be a typical newbie mistake – I tried to squeeze in as many workshops as possible because A) I was alone B) I was nervous. This can be a great strategy if you are feeling a bit insecure, and would like to meet people – the workshops are experiences – you get to do certain exercises with a person(s) you select as a partner(s) at the start of the workshop. A lot of the people who go to Xplore regularly, go to a few workshops and spend most of their time at the playspaces.
One of the first workshops I went to was the kinky tantric speed dating, which was funny and daring. At the start of it, looking at the 2 huge circles of people, the inner one facing the outer one, all nervously giggling at each other, I would not have guessed that by the end of this I will be sitting naked, experiencing some sort of mutual genitalia staring with a random partner. Of course, it was funny, and we were all still giggling while looking at each other, but the dynamic and the energy was absolutely changed. I felt like the 2 circles of now naked people had the confidence of having learned a thing or two about their desires and boundaries.
I really enjoyed the fact that so much of this workshop, and in general the festival was about touch. In a society where penetration sex is somewhat considered to be the norm, we don’t talk about the power and beauty of touch at all. Way too often we make an assumption and jump in our heads (and not only) from touch to sex, and expect it to be or become something sexual, without giving it time and space to develop. The focus of this year’s festival was how we fall in love and I thought it was appropriate to include touch in it, as an important part of the process. The discovery touches, the first light touches, but also the more intense ones when you check and wait for a reaction, the last evening and the first morning touches – these are all elements of the process of falling in love.
Of course, being in love is not a prerequisite to enjoy touching someone and being touched, and so did I in multiple workshops. And I was reminded that touch can be tender and nurturing, painful and playful, intimate, emotional, smothering. And not necessarily lead to any sort of penetration sex or any sexual experience for that matter. Some of the workshops were about learning the way you like to be touched and showing it to others. Others were about consenting to a specific way of touch or asking for consent. A lot of them were playing with the action-reaction dynamic, where one partner would touch the other and start a playful exchange.
And at the “Silent space” – the biggest play space at the festival touch was something I utterly enjoyed watching. It is hard to describe something you experience for the first time in your life. You are trying to find common ground with something else, compare, so you can make sense of it, and compartmentalize it in your head. Or you recognize some familiar elements, but the way they are put and work together is new, so you try and base your perception of what’s happening on those elements. You are completely lost but also stimulated from the newness of everything. This is how I felt at the Silent space. People were doing things I’ve seen and experienced – dancing, tying, flogging, fucking, cuming. The fact that it was in public was also not new – sex parties are a wonderful and pleasant perk of living in sex-positive Berlin. But everything else was. I did take some notes on this experience later that night, and I think they describe it perfectly well:
You are not allowed to talk in the Silent Space. If you need to say something you can write it down on a piece of paper. Musicians are performing, a singer, a maracas musician, and a person playing on an instrument that visually reminds me of a cello. The music is very organic, weird, natural, mesmerizing. There are mats spread out around the space, and people on most of them, doing what they please. Just on the left of me, there are two guys and a lady fucking, behind them a person is getting suspended, in the center, there is this small crowd of people, all of them pleasing one. In front of them is my friend, who just tied a guy and is whipping him with a single tail whip, with an intensity I have never seen before. He is shouting, laughing, crying hysterically. And together with his laugh, I hear the music, slow and quiet at first, but picking up as I watch. This is when I realize the music and the people playing are one thing, it is a cycle. The musicians take what the people playing on the mats give them – the energy, the pace, the lust, the eroticism, the intimacy. They translate it and bounce it back to them. It is jamming with lust, dialogue with bodies, communication with emotions. I am drawn to this process, watching and listening to it is super hot, but also emotional and somehow heavy and thick. Time passes, and the guy is now free from the ropes, sitting by the mat, and I’m realizing the room is filling up, all of the mats are now full, and the music is getting louder. I am watching 4 naked people playfight, laughing loudly and pushing their bodies onto each other. Sweaty, smiley faces, hair everywhere, pink traces from pinching and slapping on their skin. The whole scene has this raw curiosity and very primal joy and I can’t look at anything else. The music is becoming faster and louder. I can register that people start dancing around and everything is becoming a unity, music and people, bodies, and energy in a room. It is a single thing, it is not people, and musicians anymore, it is an experience – and the experience is heating up, the intensity of it getting very high and very fast, it is like a high pitch, high to a level you almost cant tolerate. At this moment a woman’s approaching orgasm sounds blend in, and now they are leading the experience. People are dancing like crazy, I can hear flogging, and screams, and moans. And then the woman orgasms super loudly, the music drops on a high note and the experience is over. People calm down, sweaty faces smile and look at each other. A break! A much-needed break I think. After a few minutes the musicians start over and excited people start dancing and playing again. I am super thankful and exhausted from watching this so I go out for some fresh air.
After this, I felt super vulnerable and tender but decided to go to the workshop that I feared the most – “grief, passion, and wailing”. Just 3 weeks after the loss of my mother, grief was still absolutely not manageable, not something I can think of from the distance of time, and something that was completely consuming my days, nights, and existence. Grief is difficult to describe, and it is not something we talk about before we experience it. I did not know a thing about grief, even though I had lost exes to drugs and alcohol. I did not know what grief is before losing my mother. I did not know it will come in waves and leave me crying and absolutely destroyed in the middle of the street. I did not know everything will seem completely pointless, and small, and just really not worth living for. I did not know about the guilt. I did not know about the physical exhaustion and the fact that my body will ache constantly. And, like so many other emotions I did not know how to express it. I talked to my friends about it, even cried a few times in front of them. But this was the subtle cry, the “I am crying, just because I can’t hold it, but am still not letting go, I can’t do it in front of people”. I cried out loud on my own, in her empty apartment, and wailed, sitting on the floor. I haven’t, however, wailed or cried without trying to control it, in front of someone else. This workshop eased me into doing that, and I truly believe it helped me deal with my grief.
From around 50 people we were split into groups of 5, where everyone can share their grief with the circle. We were told that grief is not just the emotion that comes after losing someone. We could be grieving for a relationship that ended, for our loneliness or insecurities, for something in the outside world. After sharing with the circle what we grieve about, we picked a partner and were given 10 minutes each – one would express their grief by crying, and wailing and the other will comfort them. At first, I was shocked – 10 minutes seems like a very long time to be doing this. But then I listened to my body, let it make the sounds it needed to make, and I just let go. I have never really done this, wail and cry out loud, without controlling it in front of 50 strangers. My partner was crying with me, hugging me and comforting me, and then I did the same for him. I distinctly remember not being able to tell sweat from tears. We were both in this tense hug, locked facing each other and crying out loud while our sweaty bodies were giving space for the sounds they produce. In the end, we made a circle, and people would go in and grieve in it. We were recognizing their grief, and pain, and acknowledging the beauty of it. It was liberating, transforming, healing, vulnerable and raw. We were legitimizing grief, giving it a name and in a way celebrating it. We were taking an emotion we see as painful and dark and giving it space to develop and express itself.
After this workshop, I was done. I was so emotionally exhausted and unable to communicate with people, that I had to go home. The whole week after Xplore was a bit like this – there was a “coming down” process, a perception of reality as too dull and gray. I was regretting that we, as a society in our day to day, don’t communicate the same way people were at Xplore. But one could argue how realistic that might be, at least in the social, economic and political structures we have established in this point of time. And of course, there is always Xplore 2020, and in the meantime similar events, organized by the same team, which I highly recommend checking out.
Vanina // founder of sluttish.us