Once in a while people will ask this question on online forums. Most of us I think would agree that being good at communicating, having decent body awareness, and possessing some degree of physical stamina or fitness are desirable characteristics in a rope bottoming partner.
But I’ve often wondered if these would be my answers were I asked this question directly today… And actually, no.
So what follows is my own very personal and very subjective take on this based on my journey so far.
You have to simply love rope. To be passionate about it. The smell, the sound, the touch of rope against your skin must evoke, awaken, inspire something inside you, draw you in, get you going, get you excited. Regardless of all the other (very important!) things, like communicating and taking care of your body, there needs to be a pure and basic love underlying it all. Love is the force that provides the impulse to do more, learn more, be more, seek more.
Dedication (or commitment).
But love is not enough. Love without focus is fun but is not very productive. For example, I love cooking, but I never put in the time to learn to be better at it, learn new techniques, improve the flavours, explore new ingredients. There needs to be a dedicated commitment accompanying all this love in order to move forward and grow within any chosen arena. Love is the driver, but dedication is the road that channels and directs the passion into a productive state. Together, love and dedication are essential for improving within any skill, activity or pursuit.
But not if one gets carried away by one’s own ego. There is always more to learn, there are always people who are better, with more experience and wisdom, and we should not forget this in any of life’s pursuits. Checking yourself at each stage and maintaining a healthy humble attitude is key to progressing in the right direction. Beware of those who proclaim to have mastered everything, the best and most inspiring people are often the ones who acknowledge their own ignorance, because it is the only way to learn.
In the end, I think the answer to “what makes a good rope bottom?” is no different from the answer to “what makes a good rigger?”, “what makes a good teacher?” “what makes a good dancer?” etc.
For me, Loving what you do, Dedicating yourself to it, and maintaining a Humble attitude are what make good rope bottoms, partner,… humans.
PS: For anyone looking for practical information on rope bottoming, Clover’s rope guide for bottoms here and Evie’s ‘Little Guide to Getting Tied up’ here are good places to start. There are also many experienced rope bottoms who keep excellent writings on their blogs and online forums about this topic. There are also a few workshops in London, Europe and outside dedicated to rope bottoming. For information, feel free to send an email.
*EDIT: Link to other excellent writings/resources on rope bottoming here.