By Julian Wolf
Inns and monasteries started offering hospitality to travelers in the twelfth century, and shops specializing in coffee started opening their doors in western Europe in the seventeenth century, and by the nineteenth century casual eateries were starting to offer specialty beverages with their dining fare. By the 1950s, across the western world you could find establishments specifically designed not only to provide food and beverage, but also an atmosphere to enjoy them; the Café had been born.
Something many of us do from time to time is stop into cafés. Be it for a business meeting, a quiet moment, a quick lunch, to study amid the privacy of a crowd, or to get your caffeine fix, cafés are a part of many of our lives. San Francisco is uniquely blessed in that it has a boutique café that specifically caters to the BDSM community. Not only does it offer you upscale café fare, boutique coffee and specialty teas, it features a gallery of erotic art on the walls, a selection of lifestyle books and toys, information on events happening in the Bay Area and beyond and space for special events. At Wicked Grounds, you can wear fetish wear any time of the day, and they’ll even serve you your milk shake in a doggie bowl if you ask for it. In such an atmosphere all sorts of hedonism is not only welcome, but encouraged.
Not in the Bay Area? Well, with the right intentions, you can turn almost any café experience into one of great delight for all of your senses, and it can start before you even walk into the door.
Dear readers, let me propose that you allow yourself the time to truly experience one of your local cafés, wherever you might be. Let it start now. Which café are you thinking of? (Don’t know where one is? Check your local independent newspaper, they usually have advertisements for such businesses.) How will you get there? (Is it close enough for a stroll?) Let that anticipation resonate with you until you actually are able to go to the café you have in mind.
Once you arrive, if they have an a-frame sign on the sidewalk or an outside menu, take a moment to actually look at it. Is it decorated? Does it give you a hint of what is to come? While perusing the sign, let me encourage you to breath deeply take a moment to notice if the smell of their food and drink is already in the air. Once you’ve truly observed the outside of the café, go ahead and walk in.
Pause, if you can, and let your eyes feast upon your surroundings before finding a table or walking to the counter. Most cafés put quite a bit of time into their décor, how does the one you’re standing in rate? Notice if they’re trying to draw attention to anything in particular, and consider if you received whatever message they’re trying to send. Once you’ve taken a moment to take in the atmosphere, head to the counter (or table) and look over their promise of possibilities- the menu. Even if you know what you’re going to have, take a moment to see if you can notice something new or unexpected on the menu. You can allow yourself to be surprised by the new information, or comforted by the familiar. Once you place your order, let me encourage you to find a place to sit, and take the time to enjoy your chair and the table in front of you. Once you receive your items, remember to take the time to enjoy each sip, each bite, and the opportunity to do so. Now, since many of us seem to always have work to do, you can pull out your lap top, or grab those books to study, but try to remember, between turning the pages virtual or otherwise, that you are in a café, and that there are centuries of history behind making this experience a pleasant one for you.
While I must recommend going to Wicked Grounds for a delightful treat (may I recommend the lovely lemon bars?) and to take advantage of the uniquely fetishistic atmosphere and possibilities that do not present themselves in an all ages venue, I must also encourage you, even when away from San Francisco’s and the First and Only Kink Café and Boutique to let yourself open your senses to all that a café can offer.