Bootblacking is in general care and polish for someone's boots or other leather goods. A bootblack is a person that performs such a service.
In some corners of the leather community, bootblacking is used as part of a ritual between a dominant and a submissive; the submissive partner would shine the dominant’s boots while the dominant sat above the submissive.
At some leather events professional bootblacking stations may be set up to consist of a highly raised chair or series of chairs.
Bootblacking may consist of polishing and/or spit-shining a pair of boots (or other leather goods), sometimes as:
- a form of professional service
- a gesture of submission
- part of military-style uniform play
- part of boot worship
- to mark the beginning of a scene.
- Do not interrupt a bootblacking scene by walking up and talking to someone in a bootblack's chair and beginning discussion.
- Do not sit in the bootblack's chair without asking and negotiating.
- Do not assume your boots will be licked by a bootblack, that you will have a scene (erotic or otherwise), or that the bootblack is submissive, or submissive to you should you sit in the chair.
- Always tip the bootblack generously.
Kits may vary widely between bootblacks, however what follows is a recommended starter kit that will work well for most.
- Saddle soap/pure glycerine soap/Hybrid Soap. Use the color of soap that is the color of the boot, default to yellow
- A small spray bottle for water misting.
- Polish; if you have a specific pair of shoes in mind, match the color to those. If you don’t know, pick up a tin of black and a tin of neutral polish. Specific brands will vary by preference. Lincoln Wax and Huberd's are often recommended.
- Horsehair Daubers. You’ll want one to use for cleaning, and you may want one for polish (if you want to keep your hands clean, that is). If you want to use Daubers to put on polish, be sure to get one for each colour of polish you have.
- Toothbrush for application to crevices.
- Horsehair Shine Brush
- A soft cotton towel – hand towel sized is fine
- A shine cloth. Pantyhose work well for this purpose.
Procedures will vary widely depending on the type of leather, the type of equipment used, the environment, and between individual bootblacks.
For general wisdom that will work in most cases, view the resources listed below.
Further Technique Resources
- Anyone Can Shine
- Bootblacking by Bella, KY state bootblack 2009
- How to do a spit shine by black, 2002 Toronto Bootblack