Bodies, Bondage, & Bonding in Hong Kong

When Toni and I found out that Kinky Hong Kong (KHK) was hosting their first ever Rope Retreat with Kristina Marlen—we leapt at the chance!

Here’s why:

Who is Kristina Marlen?

Those of you who’ve worked with me before know how incredibly fascinated I am by the connection people can share during rope bondage.

There’s something magical when normally independent things like being physically engaged, understanding each other without talking, and enjoying comfortable vulnerability come together harmoniously.

Marlen is someone who makes weaving those things together look effortless.

She’s a bodyworker, sexworker, Shibari and bondage performer, kink artist, sex educator, and activist from Berlin—whose background includes being a trained and certified physiotherapist, dancer, and yoga teacher.

Here’s what KHK has to say about her:

For the inaugural retreat, we’re thrilled to bring back international dominatrix Kristina Marlen. Well known for her connective and experimental rope style, she’s a popular presenter across Europe and was a hit at the 2016 Hong Kong Kink Con.

In her sessions and workshops, she creates an exploratory space by combining elements of Tantra and BDSM with dance and contact improvisation. This mix of approaches allows bodies to become sensual, receptive, and permeable enabling spontaneity and improvisation. Senses sharpen, curiosity awakens, and we are opened for impulses both strong and subtle, spanning pain, surrender, intensity, and lust.

KHK Rope Retreat with Kristina Marlen

Toni attended her workshop during said Hong Kong Kink Con and spoke very highly of the experience. I’ve been wanting to see Marlen’s style of Shibari live ever since for its fluid improvisation, creative bodywork, and “instant intimacy”.

Marlen tying with Borbala Szente

Marlen tying with various partners

Lasting Impressions

Toni and I had a great time listening to them share several important lessons.

She taught us to bring a heightened level of mindfulness to our bondage sessions, such as when it comes to how our partners’ bodies work, how much of ourselves we’re physically involving during a scene, how we move with our partners even before rope is involved, the clarity of our communication when we use rope as a way to tell stories, and more.

In a conversation I had with a friend, I described the experience as follows:

The Rope Retreat in HK was an awesome, unbelievably humbling, and inspiring ride—and I couldn’t be more happy that it was Kristina who guided us through it. Her understanding, command, and conscientiousness of both her body and her partners’ is incredible—which definitely sent the message home that there’s so much more about bondage to learn, explore, and enjoy beyond the patterns we’re usually concerned about. This is a perfect case of the iceberg metaphor.

When the workshops had finished and the gang was out grabbing drinks, I’d mentioned to Marlen that I’ve been a fan of her work long before the workshops—starting when I saw her performances online—and how they changed my approach to bondage.

Her reply was what left the biggest impression on me: rather than just accept the praise, this amazing person took that time to share her gratitude and admiration instead for the people who influenced her rope bondage style and philosophy (such as Yoroi Nicolas)!

All that accumulated skill, grace, and mastery over her body and her partners’, and they still find it in them to be humble.

I hope I can pursue classes with them again in the future. For now, Toni and I have an entire weekend’s worth of new lessons to pore over, practice, and enjoy. 🙂

You can catch more of Kristina Marlen on Fetlife, Facebook, and her website at Marlen.me.

If you’re interested in her workshops, classes, or performances you can get in touch with ItsPlay (Marlen’s publicist and promoter, who’s also a kickass Shibari artist themselves).

Cheers! 🙂

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