Playful Pleasure: In conversation with LUDUS

Shame free and invite only, LUDUS is all about putting pleasure (and safety) first. We speak with the founders about kink education, community building, and hedonism at its very finest

Feature by Josephine Jay | 12 Jun 2024
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Mia* and her partner have been deeply ingrained in the UK kink community for over 12 years. Together, they are LUDUS, a women-owned, queer business that runs hedonistic, invite-only events. They provide safe and inclusive spaces for people to explore connection and sexuality. Taking their name from the Latin word, meaning ‘to play,’ LUDUS emphasises the fun and community-based element of the kink community LUDUS and their members wish to explore. 

I speak with Mia after one of their socials to learn more about the roads which led them to creating LUDUS. "We both felt like something was missing," she says. "We both share a passion for crafting safe environments where individuals can foster intimate connections and friendships. It’s incredibly fulfilling to witness guests entering LUDUS, tentatively exploring the liberation of kink and hedonism. We take joy in supporting their growth and seeing them evolve in confidence, navigating our spaces without fear or shame."

Since debuting, LUDUS has hosted several social and play events across Edinburgh, drawing participants from far and wide. "The biggest myth surrounding spaces like LUDUS is that everyone goes there to have sex,’ she says. ‘People often imagine the atmosphere is going to be overtly sexual or deviant when the reality is quite different." In practice, LUDUS doesn’t allow intimate play during socials. "While sex might be a motivating factor for some, most of our guests come to explore their curiosity in a liberating, safe and non-judgemental atmosphere. If you just took out the dungeon furniture, you wouldn’t know it was anything other than a cocktail social!"

Individuals are invited to socials where they can meet like-minded individuals in a relaxed setting and begin to explore boundaries. Mia and her partner demonstrate the basics of play, inviting members to take turns if they feel comfortable. "Our signature events include socials of up to 25 guests and play events for up to 16 people," explains Mia. While some event organisers have opted for more guests, LUDUS has always been keen to keep things on the smaller side, allowing them to vet attendees for safety. "We implemented a thorough vetting process focusing on a person's vibe, effort, and energy rather than superficial aspects like body, gender, or sexuality. This was crucial in creating a welcoming environment. Additionally, we chose to avoid structured pricing and gender quotas favouring women, as we found these practices unethical, heteronormative, and objectifying." Despite this, their demographic hasn't changed a great deal, with 81% of attendees identifying as women.  

Mia and her partner explain some of the difficulties they’ve experienced in other kink communities. Through LUDUS they wanted to combat some of the elitism, body-shaming, and transphobia they have experienced in other event spaces. They explain how some parties will screen heavily on physical attractiveness and often run male-heavy events. Navigating these spaces as single women, they explain, can be intimidating. For these reasons before each social, members are reminded of the rules – to play nice and ask before touching.  

Shortly after creating LUDUS, LUDUS VENUS, the women-identifying offshoot was born. "I was previously an ambassador for a bisexual women-only event in Scotland," explains Mia. "However, I gave up the role after seeing how many women reached out with concerns about not ‘fitting in’. It was heartbreaking to see them doubt their worth and validity." Both Mia and her partner mention how femme-presenting bisexual women can feel ostracised from LGBTQ+ spaces and objectified or dismissed within heterosexual environments. "We wanted to create a space where women could socialise and relax away from the male gaze," they explain. 

LUDUS also aims to counter misconception and stigma shrouding kink communities. "The misconception is that kink spaces are inherently unsafe or chaotic," explains Mia, "when in fact, communities like ours prioritise communication and consent. Many of our female guests say they feel more comfortable at our events than in traditional nightclub settings."

Alongside her full-time day job and running LUDUS, Mia has an educational platform on Instagram called @Talkingaboutthat which explains some of the practices and terminology used within kink communities. LUDUS provide workshops on kink and on how to build healthier non-monogamous relationships to give members the tools to navigate these spaces independently as the kink community evolves with the times. "One notable aspect is the community’s adeptness at self-regulation," says Mia who explains there has been a notable shift towards emphasising consent, communication, and safety in the last few years. Additionally, there’s been a growing acceptance of diverse sexualities and body positivity, thanks to the trajectory of the sex and body-positivity movement. "More people are embracing kink and we’re seeing increased representation in mainstream media," she says.

"The biggest challenge," Mia admits, "is finding open-minded venues which fit with our brand. Our venues are secret and only disclosed [to attendees] a few days prior to help ensure safety and discretion." As LUDUS’ first birthday looms closer, exciting plans are on the horizon. They hope guests enjoy seeing how they unfold.

*Name has been changed for anonymity

Follow LUDUS on Instagram @Ludus_Scotland @Talkingaboutthat