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Enter the garden of Eden

by Alexia Roussos (she/they) | Edited by Deshnee Subramany (she/her)

Image by Charles Deluvio

At the end of June, I had the pleasure of entering a Garden of Eden - right in the middle of Johannesburg. Hosted in a gallery-cum-bar in the Thrupps Centre in Illovo, Eden was a kink-themed party filled with earthly delights.

It was one of the coldest nights of the year and Eden promised a coat check. But by the time I arrived it was overflowing and my faux fur had to come with me into the party. And the party? Through the curtain marking the entrance was a scene from a dream I’ve definitely had before. Leather and fishnets, lingerie and lace, straps and ropes. And a lot of skin. Us exhibitionists were catered for with several heaters placed around the room. And what a delight, being seen in a place where we all agreed to show up as our sexiest selves. It was a group exercise in voyeurism, consent and kink.

Eden was part-party, part-show, and we were all on stage. It was open and overtly kinky.

People were dressed. But that wasn’t the hottest thing at the party. You could feel the

confidence in the room, everyone deep in the exploration of their personal fantasies.

To the left of me, the lovely Tshegofatso Senne dealt out spankings and up ahead, Astrid of Desire Lines shared the honour of a shibari tie with the onlooking crowd, bathed in the light of a projector. It was a visual feast. I’ve been in one of Astrid’s ties before, so I know exactly how much fun her rope bunny had in her hands.

I popped in my noise-cancelling earplugs and entered the bubble of silence it created for me. It felt like another universe, where you’re right inside the vibe and at once safe in your own little space. LOTION’s bass elevated the experience inside my cocoon of quiet, where I moved to the vibrations and watched and laughed, and danced some more. It was exhilarating.

A bit later I headed out to the balcony for a smoke and I was surprised with an unplanned DMC with someone I’ve known for years but never had the opportunity to connect with in person before that night. This wasn’t just another party and we both knew why we were there. The joint agenda made our first meeting a little easier, faster, softer and sweeter. There were many familiar faces and being there together gave us a sexier way to learn a little more about each other.

I asked Astrid to share what the space felt like as a tier, and our mommy dom said:

“Performing at Eden was a dream. The liberated sex positive queer vibe in the room was palpable and totally energised my performance. I felt like a conduit for all of our queer joy as my ropes were laid on the models. Ending the night dancing in nothing but a little white thong and feeling completely safe is a rare and special thing."

I was a bit concerned that a party like this could easily sway to straight side of things. But it didn’t feel like that – it felt very queer in a way I’ve always thought kink should. It's a queerness unlike that in the endless lines outside of Babylon or Beefcakes, which are also in the same building. It was more natural and easy, but simultaneously harder and more confident.

One partygoer, Simone, said: “I was lucky enough to be flogged twice by Tshego, first

with a gorgeous girlfriend of mine and then with my partner, and that just made me

squeal! The respect and care they demonstrate to each individual bent over before

them with a warm-up, a cool down and a hug afterwards was all so beautiful to

witness and to be a part of. Tshego’s flogging is an art!”

But there were some things that could have been different. According to Simone,

“Eden in general was a visual smorgasbord for me. Having a space that allows people

to express themselves by adorning their bodies in such a kinky way is an absolute

treat. My one wish would be to restrict the age limit to 25 and up, purely to reduce

the number of people who go out jolling with the intent to get shit-faced drunk.”

This writer does not disagree.

Lastly, it was a little white. I asked my friend, Nandi, what she thought about the party.

“Hella Caucasian.”

Disappointed but not surprised.

With whiteness comes a certain aesthetic. Nandi spoke about what it felt like to be a curvy Black woman in a room dominated by thinner, white people, especially as that was what she expected would happen. Even if it’s not intentional, places filled with people who look the same feel isolating to others.

“It's not easy. As a black woman - even when you’re let into these spaces - people will be

quick to turn on you. It’s okay until people decide it’s not okay anymore.”

This was Eden’s first event, which came together beautifully despite the setbacks above. It was a night of sex, sensuality, lust and loveliness and I cannot wait for the next one.

Hopefully, with a bit more time and the word getting around, we get to see a few more of

Joburg’s grown & kinky.


The next edition of EDEN is on 2 September 2023. You can purchase your ticket here.


Alexia Roussos (she/they) is an artist, photographer, designer and researcher interested in all things sex and sexuality.

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