A couple of days before I began my current day job, a Thursday evening, having done some fast coding, I decided to accompany Dasniya on bicycles north, across the railway bridges to Schwelle7 for an evening of her Yoga + Bondage class.
Six months on.
Yoga with her has become a regular fixed point in my week, Sundays now, and after having many teachers over years, to find a new one I can learn from is rather nice, the third, after David in Melbourne, and Simi in Adelaide, and all three so different. And then the Thursdays, yoga first, followed by bondage, Shibari, which I’ve had a fascination for since at last extermination.
In hell, and all the people i can remember sleeping with… I made another return to ropes and tying and this aesthetic of Shunga and Chungongtu, but as always, never the time nor skill, nor ideas to take it into something that made it into performance. So now I learn this with Dasniya. Six months of seile, fesseltechnik, Nawa Shibari, suspensions, play, ideas… thinking… emotions…
Some weeks ago she said her teacher was coming from Japan to hold some workshops here, and would I be interested in doing these with her, as the one who gets tied, the Bunny? A couple of weeks ago, I joined her on a Monday night to Studio Six for an evening with Hagen and others, something of a preparation for the coming workshop. And then Thursday morning last week…
Osada Steve is German, but has lived for a long time in Tokyo, and is one of the grand masters of Shibari. Somehow when he moves, he reminds me of a Butoh dancer, as though the years in Japan, in this particular performance culture, this training and study all have made him Japanese.
Much of the six hours a day is for me standing, torso and arms tugged at, pulled, shoved, bound, sometimes lifted, sometimes suspended with ankles, thighs, hips also similarly wrapped in dark green Jute. Fresh Jute, so it is scratchy, fibrous, tough. I am left with marks. One of the frequent occurrences in the past six months. Rows of rope imprints in four parallel lines on upper arms, sometimes rows of red flecks, where the skin has been pinched, or pushed between two strands, bright red on alabaster at first, then fading over the days through rust and brown tones.
I wonder about the immediate adoption by the other Bunnies of a passive, one leg bent, head drooped in resignation, almost pathetic… I was going to say stance, but that indicates more sense of self determination than this wilting holds. Later, Dasniya and I talked about this, and the performance or communication between us in this regard. The next day trying other things which seem to work. Or at least to say, Osada Steve noticed the difference.
Also noticed, was the queerness of the group, only one of four being a traditional pairing of male-female, the other three all queer, and thinking too on Osada Steve’s performance which has a pronounced hetero relationship between him and his partner Aiko.
Sometimes emotional also, at times from the physicality, as tough as a long day of rehearsals, or yoga, at times from being observed, my body displayed, at times from other things. Pain. My skin is, in its natural state, quite delicate and shows marks easily. By the end of two days my arms and torso were a maze of lines. It looks like I enjoy pain. So, things to be confronted about, personally.
Dasniya and I talk about this walking home on Friday night, that which I have read much on, how bondage, S&M, Shibari have within them these aspects of suffering, abuse, pain, and the presence in this world of people who have experienced this, and what is to be thought about this, considered, discussed, addressed.
Saturday night, we are lost in Spandau, along Zitadelenweg, close to the See, vast old factories unlit and looking for an address that seems to evade us. Then down some alleys, tighter now twisting at right angles and closing in. Under a light in silhouette is Enji from Studio Six, leading us into Avalon. A cathedral-like hall, there is Osada Steve and Aiko, suspended. They return three more times over the course of hours. There is a brilliance in the technique from both of them, him in the play of the rope, her also, taken by the rope, hung, spun and swung, makes me want to do this more, something yet to find in all this.
Some photos of me then, in Shibari, from Dasniya.