Intro to dungeons: the Berkley Horse, St Andrew’s Cross & other BDSM equipment

Picture of metal shackles bolted to wall

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ll know that we’re currently blogging on the theme of all things bondage and BDSM. From erotic spanking equipment to invest in through bondage safety tips, to a few ideas for interesting rope ties you can use in your sexy play. But what if you want to venture further than that? In today’s guide I’m going to give you a whistlestop tour of a BDSM dungeon, along with some info on a few key pieces of BDSM equipment that you might find when you step inside.

First thing’s first, though: where exactly would you go about finding a dungeon? I live in London, which has a huge population and a lot of kinksters. So with BDSM dungeons, like with vegan restaurants and Tinder matches, I am essentially spoiled for choice. Depending on where you’re coming from, your nearest dungeon may be a two-hour drive away, or it might be something which comes to a club near you only once a month or so. To find the best places to play, I thoroughly recommend signing up to a site like Fetlife, where you can also get to know kinksters in your local area and find out what venues/events they recommend.

Dungeon FAQs/top tips

When you’ve found a dungeon (or fet event) near to you, it’s always worth spending a bit of time on the ‘admin’ sections of the site: reading up on dress code (so you can pick your kinky outfit!) and behaviour rules.

Usually a dungeon will have a ‘House Master’ or ‘House Mistress’ (or maybe both) whose job it is to welcome new arrivals, show them around the equipment, and ensure that everyone is playing safely. If it’s your first time in the dungeon, it’s a good idea to introduce yourself to whoever is in charge, and go over the rules so you can be sure you fully understand your responsibilities when you’re playing.

Admin over, let’s take a look at three of the most common pieces of BDSM equipment that you’re likely to find in a dungeon: the spanking bench, the Berkley Horse, and the St Andrew’s Cross…

Spanking bench

Simple, classic, and in my opinion wildly underrated, a spanking bench is usually a waist-height piece of equipment made of heavy wood and covered with padding and leather. If you’re kinky and DIY-focused like I am [shameless plug alert!] you can even make your own spanking bench to use at home.

In a fetish club, you may see more than one example of a spanking bench: some are very simple and look not unlike the gym equipment you might have used at school, while others are more complex and may involve straps at different points on the spanking bench, so you can belt your submissive down to stop them squirming too much during playtime.

One of the more complex types of spanking bench, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Berkley Horse

This is an upgraded version of a spanking bench which allows you to adjust the angle of your restrained victim to get the best position in which to flog them.

The Berkley Horse, invented by brothel owner and kinky entrepreneur Mrs Berkley in the 19th Century, is an A-frame with one side covered in padding and leather. You strap your submissive to the padded side of the Berkley Horse, adjust the angle so they can be anything from almost-upright to practically lying on their front, then grab the spanking implement of your choice and whip away.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons

As the padded side of the A-frame is slatted, your submissive can be whipped (or teased, or stimulated in any way you like) from both sides. That means if you have extra volunteers willing to lend a whip hand, you could have someone beating you from behind while someone else uses nipple clamps on your front, or gently taps at your cock cage with a spare riding crop. The possibilities are endless.

St Andrew’s Cross

I want to declare the St Andrew’s Cross the most famous piece of BDSM equipment ever, but honestly all I have to go on is the fact that I have never been to a fetish club that didn’t have one. Maybe I’m just lucky, though.

The St Andrew’s Cross, named after the cross of St Andrew (naturally), is an X-shaped piece of equipment. You can see the parallels with the Scottish flag, which uses a St Andrew’s Saltire as its central design.

Flag of Scotland courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

On a St Andrew’s Cross you’d be restrained in a spreadeagled position: wrists at the top of the frame, ankles at the bottom, or upside down if you’re incredibly frisky and your dominant really knows what they’re doing in terms of knots.

Should you go to a dungeon?

If you’re curious about any of this stuff, I strongly recommend following the advice at the top of this blog post and having a look for dungeons in your area that you may be able to go and look around. A good dungeon will be happy to show you the ropes (sorry, couldn’t resist that joke) and let you take your time to become comfortable with the equipment and atmosphere, rather than feeling like you have to rush straight into kinky play.

Once you’ve built up your confidence, and you know your St Andrew’s Cross from your Berkley Horse, you can start to use this BDSM equipment to fulfill some of the fantasies that simply aren’t possible in your dungeonless home. Enjoy, and remember to play safe!

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