The Stroke should always be performed before an audience. It's that dramatic. Last weekend I got to perform The Stroke twice - once Saturday night at The Leather Rose dungeon, and once Sunday in the party suite.
Back on Thursday, I had given LadieJJ a nice warmup caning. Warmup, meaning that she would be able to recover within a couple of days. I knew that she wanted another caning at The Leather Rose Dungeon on Saturday night. Why she wanted this is far more difficult to explain... in brief, a caning of this nature can send her floating in a headspace which can be reached no other way.
Saturday night, then, found us upstairs at The Leather Rose. (Jojasa was downstairs in the main room, playing with Davo and his bullwhip.) The playroom is scattered with the usual dungeon furniture... X platforms, various couches, chairs, and benches. The room is divided into two parts by an open doorway. At this point there were two scenes happening in my part of the room, plus 4-6 spectators. People come and go, so the exact composition changes over the time of a scene.
LadieJJ and I had spoken prior to the party, and we had done caning scenes together before. So, we had a good idea of what was expected. It's very hard to ask for something this intense. So, we set expectations long beforehand, and when it's time I say so, and conduct things from there. In this case, she asked me to be careful and work around the existing marks and bruising. I took a look and could tell she wasn't kidding. Yes, she'd clearly been having a great weekend!
We fussed around with the furniture, carving out enough space so I'd have room to swing. The other scene in that portion of the room was being conducted by one of my friends; there wouldn't be any problem of us colliding with each other. (In fact, this friend was she who years ago had taught me to use a cane well.) LadieJJ was standing bent over, her hands on the seat of a chair.
This scene is what I call "pure" S/M. That is, the focus is on the physical sensations. We are indulging in painplay, and we are indulging at a level rather more intense than "average" even for The Leather Rose Dungeon. Each caning scene, for me, is much the same. It's this lack of surprises which helps develop the trust. That is, the trust that she will be safe within the scene. This trust allows her to give up more of the control than she otherwise would, and that in turn allows her to travel further and deeper than she otherwise could.
The fact that I take things as a matter of course, helps her put her head in the right place to handle it. I was entirely focused within the scene, aware of what was needed... and this confidence was precisely what LadieJJ needed.
As I said, we had conducted caning scenes before. However, this was to be far more severe than any she had yet encountered. She had never before been caned on bare skin. But, how else could I work around the bruises, if I couldn't see them? She told me later that having an audience helped. There's a special thrill in being the center of attention. Was she nervous, perhaps a bit scared? Of course.
I chose the first cane, and began the scene. The first stroke confirmed that we were not here to play tippy-tap. LadieJJ held her position, and I knew we would be okay.
As I said before, my target is really her head, rather than her tail. I am there to push and push and push, to push her into a place she cannot otherwise go. Often as not, I'll push her further than she has ever been before. It's what I do.
I have a variety of canes, more than a dozen different varieties. I work through them all, watching, studying, learning what will work most effectively for this scene. I push, and push, until she's sure she cannot take more, and is scared to death of disappointing me. Then I pause to reassure her of how well she has done. I can now back off a bit so she can collect herself, before pushing her further.
About this time, another couple walked upstairs and arrived in the room. Not being stupid, they too stayed well out of reach of my backswing. They found a place against the wall near LadieJJ's head. Actually, it was a doorway there, leading to a separate room which was rented out for the evening.
It's important to be a responsible audience member. That is, stay out of the way; don't interfere with the scene being conducted; and don't get in the way of someone's swing. They were properly out of the way - or so they thought. Although focused entirely on LadieJJ, I had to remain aware of my surroundings, to prevent anything from interfering with the scene. A heavy caning is not something you can start over from the top, just because somebody goofed.
Standing behind LadieJJ, I was holding her favorite cane. It's three feet long, and a half-inch thick. Although flexible, it packs a substantial wallop. While standing there, I reached out with the cane, and pointed it right at the newly-positioned couple. I could just barely reach them that way, so I asked them to please move back a few more inches.
You'll have to picture the situation, to see how strange this seemed to them. My target is LadieJJ's hind end, and they're standing further away than LadieJJ's head. A swing would have to be very wild to hit them. However, they moved back into the doorway as requested.
I am right handed. At that point I was delivering stokes backhand, much like a backhand stroke in tennis. So, I was standing behind LadieJJ and to her right. The couple in question was standing ahead of her, and also to her right.
A short while later, it was time to deliver The Stroke. What is it? It must be seen to be appreciated... except that it can't be seen. The cane moves through the air literally faster than the eye can see. It's a full-force strike, landing flat on target... except that the target is only partway through the stroke; the cane is still picking up speed. It's a circular motion, starting behind my back, rotating around my body, intersecting the target after three quarters of a circle of rotation, and continuing to accelerate as it completes the circle.
That's what actually happens, but the effect is this: The audience is suddenly looking in stunned silence, as Something Happened. The three-foot-long cane is suddenly pointed directly at that couple, and it clearly must have passed through LadieJJ to get there. Such is The Stroke. As you can well imagine, the newly-arrived couple made sure they remained out of reach for the rest of the scene.
The Stroke must be delivered with whatever cane the recipient most enjoys. It's too powerful to be used otherwise. For most people who can even begin to handle The Stroke, it's at their very edge. Unless it's a particularly unusual scene, it can only happen once, about two-thirds of the way through the scene. Her head must already be in the right place for her to handle it.
As I said, The Stroke is for the audience. It comes with an absolute guarantee that LadieJJ has impressed the heck out of every person there, by merely waiting in position for the next stroke, and the next.
And what of LadieJJ? Her eyes were watering. We continued the scene, for we were only two-thirds done. She was holding, and she was ready... I continued to push, as the tears continued to slowly fall.
Finally, though, I let my sadistic side loose. I announced that there would be six more strokes, and then we would be done.
I laid on the first stroke with such enthusiasm as to leave no question in her mind... these last six would be memorable. LadieJJ was deep inside her headspace, so I counted each stroke loudly and firmly, taking plenty of time. The second stroke was worse, and the third worse yet. The fifth stroke left the worst bruise, as it turned out, of her entire weekend - including the caning she had just been through.
That fifth stroke was a killer. I called "Five" loudly and firmly exactly as before. She needed a bit more time to recover. She clearly knew what to expect with that sixth stroke... but she held, barely, waiting for it.
I gave her a firm tap - just barely enough to confirm it had happened - and announced "Six" in that same loud, firm voice. She fell apart in laughter at the psych-out joke played on her... and in the laughter, I knew she was okay. Her scene was complete.
I too was bouncing on an endorphin high, for the scene was a success, and I had delivered The Stroke.
*** *** ***
A day later, on Sunday evening, Nali was ready. She too had watched and played for several days. She knew what to expect from such a scene, and her head was in the right place.
By this time the party suite was crowded and boisterous. There were brats and paddles flying everywhere. Nearly everyone was high on endorphins. The various scenes and spankings were beyond counting by then; so, one more session with the cane should have been no big deal. Except... well, let's put things in proper order.
There was this bunny, you see.
It's a cute little bunny with sunglasses. Every time you bump it, or clap, it starts wiggling and singing an Elvis song. If it's a good cane stroke, Elvis Bunny sings. (By now people were very tired of Elvis Bunny.) The party suite is a fairly typical setup. As you walk in the door (beware the squirt guns), there's a table to your immediate left, and then the kitchenette area with dishwasher and stove. Directly ahead is the main room. Off to the center left is a short hallway leading to the bathroom, sink, and bedroom.
Nali, then, was standing, bent over a pillow placed on top of the table. I was standing behind her in the middle of the room. The kitchenette is ahead of her to the right, and the door ahead of her to the left. Elvis Bunny is on the table right in front of her, mixed in with the munchies and brat-toys.
Have you ever looked in the washing machine after the spin cycle? That's what the room looked like. Everyone's squished against the walls, pushed out into the hallways, etc. It seems nobody wants to get clipped by the cane as it passes by.
We conducted the usual scene. I worked through a variety of canes, showing her each one, so that there were no surprises. With each stroke, I tap her to indicate where it will fall. Again, there are no surprises... except in severity. I check her to ensure she's okay, and remembering to breathe. (Many people tense up and hold their breath, and hold it, and hold it.)
As the scene progresses, it becomes almost entirely nonverbal. Communication is by touch. That's because she's deep within herself, in what's called subspace. It's somewhat like floating in a dreamlike state. You know what's happening, but it's a different kind of awareness. Breathe.
Meanwhile, for the audience, my presence is disruptive. Not one brat in the room has the slightest interest in being next... and so I continue undisturbed. Nearly everyone is plastered against the walls anyway, out of the way, so they might as well watch.
Everyone can see that the scene is going well, even though it's severe. The scene is purely for our enjoyment. It's pure S/M (Sadism/Masochism). That is, there is no hint of coercion or punishment. We are indulging in painplay for the pure joy of doing so. There is a strong D/s (dominant/submissive) component to be sure, but she is submitting to the sensation rather than to me. The cane forces her to feel; to survive she must submit to the pain, and accept it. She has no other choice within the scene.
That, by the way, is the whole reason for the scene in the first place. The painplay forces her into a headspace which she cannot otherwise achieve.
We were now well into the scene. I was continuing to speak to Nali, but not expecting any verbal response. I gained what I needed to know by seeing if she was relaxed; did she breathe when I asked her to breathe. Yes she did; we could safely continue. By placing the cane near her shoulder, she knew a stroke was not imminent. I was switching sides, or choosing a different cane. When I tapped her bottom or legs, she knew where the next stroke would land. There were to be no surprises.
Then came The Stroke. With a thinner cane (a quarter inch thick or possibly three-eighths), I prefer to use a forehand strikethrough, standing to her left. With the thicker cane (half inch), I do it backhand, standing to her right, because I can generate more strength that way. Like LadieJJ, Nali's preference was for the thicker cane.
The stroke came, as before, quicker than the eye. Suddenly there was a double smack, with the two smacks nearly simultaneous. The first one was as the cane struck the target, and the second was as it whipped into the dishwasher ahead and to the side. Again, it happens too quickly to be seen; I'm standing there crouched with arms extended in followthrough, the cane parallel to Nali and pointing into the kitchen.
The room suddenly fell quiet... Nali knew this had been the heaviest stroke of the scene, but had no way of knowing what had actually happened. It's imperative that The Stroke be performed before an audience. It's that dramatic, to be sure... but they'll be remembering for a long time that it was Nali who took it, and stayed in position for more.