For me an event like this accomplishes more than just shopping though. It's different from a party or going to a club, although those activities are definitely included in The Gathering, just on a grander scale. One of the things I love about this lifestyle is it's diversity. At a party or munch you get to meet members of the local community and there's a hint at everyone's differences and how they incorporate BDSM into their lives. When you go to a national event like The Gathering, how diverse the community really is hits home. I met some wonderful people. There were people from all persuasions and orientations, straight, gay, trans-gender, Dom/Dommes, subs, Master/Mistresses, slaves, young, old, fat, thin, different nationalities, you name it and there was probably someone that fell into that category wandering around. Which brings me to the second thing I love about the Aussie (and I suspect worldwide) community. Acceptance.
No-one batted an eyelid at people wearing collars or fetish gear, there was a general acceptance that anything was fine. And not everyone dressed in kinky gear, there was a variety of clothing styles from very casual to dressy. Latex, leather and rubber, whatever people felt comfortable in. The event was open to anyone and I did meet a few vanilla people wandering around. One lady even said to me "You guys really know how to throw a party." I didn't tell her it wasn't a party but I guess she knew that and just didn't have another word for what was happening. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, and for me it was a time where I could be myself in a large group of like minded people. It was an awesome evening and I suspect the rest of the weekend would be equally inspiring. Hopefully I'll get to the next one for the whole weekend.
Links to some of my favourite vendors.
Ms Bares Wares - One of the artisans that embroiders the best T-shirts for kinky folk. I replaced my old 'Ouch is not a safe' word Tee.
Gallery Serpentine - I've always loved this shop they sell the most beautiful clothing, everything from corsets to Steampunk, Edwardian and Kinky clothing.
Maxxx Black - Adult Store catering for everyone, there were lots of goodies at their stand.
Wishuz - Body Art Jewels that looked amazing on the models.
Of course there was a lot more vendors and artisans but these were my top four.