Mr. Webster says the definition of Sensual is “relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite.” When it comes to a scene, Sensual play is all about the senses. More to the point, your bottoms (the receiver) senses of touch, sight, scent, and hearing. The Top (the giver) plays these senses like one would play a musical instrument.
So, in a way even hard play (like hard paddling) is sensual play because you are indulging your bottoms sense of touch (or physical feeling) by giving them the good pain of that paddle. It is with this belief that I view myself as a “Sensual Dominant”. I view all my bottoms senses as something to “play” with during a scene.
Now a days it is more commonly thought that sensual play is the “soft” side of BDSM play. This is partly true as most of the actions are softer then say, a hard paddling, but I know that a soft touch can draw forth reactions just as much as that hard paddling. It can be the same reactions, sometimes... But is not the reaction the reason for the play?
What kinds of toys are sensual? Any can be. You can caress with any toy you have in your bag. From canes, crops, paddles, rope, gags, anything. For me there is a few different reasons for caressing with a toy during a scene. One of which is, it gives the bottom a small amount of down time when switching toys. Another is, if the bottom can not see what the next toy is, you get to play a little “Guess the Toy” while you are caressing them with it.
Caressing is not just for toys. It can also be with your hands during spanking or scratching. Your whole body caressing the one side of your bottom while you caress the other with the toy. Or even just your breath as you whisper what you are going to do to them or that they are doing well. Think of all of this just like the different kinds of sex. You can make passionate, slow love making or hard, fast fucking!
That is not to say that “soft” is bad or good, it is all up to how you want to scene (although some might think that if its not hard, then its not BDSM). To those I say this, by being “soft” with a toy your “hard” play will feel all the harder. Think of it like this. Remember eating a Popsicle and how cold it was? Now think of drinking a very hot cup of coffee and then eat that same Popsicle... It feels colder, but is it really any colder then before? So by mixing in some “soft” play you can make you bottom feel like you are playing even harder.
Another use of sensual play is to do something sensual before you start a hard scene. Like, giving them a massage before the scene. Your bottom will be more relaxed and be clay in your hands for the scene (I know, be nice to your bottom, the horror!).
Now how much sensual you throw into a scene or into your dynamic is completely up to you. Sensual play is just another tool for you to use in your play, your scenes, and your life. So mix it up a little, have fun with it, and remember, its your kink!
Keep it kinky!
-Haven De Lancret