I don’t think I’ve ever actually played the version of spin the bottle that most people are familiar with. I don’t particularly feel like I’ve missed out. The version I am familiar with, however, has a pretty good track record of being incredibly fun, both in that much more interesting things can happen and in that it is designed in such a way that consent is pretty effectively built-in. I have had a lot of fun playing it. I realized recently that most people have no idea that this version exists. I don’t want you lovely online folks to miss out, so I’ve decided to put the basic rules on the Internet. It’s sort of a hybrid of spin the bottle and truth or dare, with some other mutations introduced. Here’s how it works:
What you need: a group of people, a bottle (or, better yet, a Twister-style spinner), and, optionally, a bunch of “truth” questions to be drawn at random from a hat.
How you play: as in normal spin the bottle, everyone gets in a circle, and you go around the circle, one by one, letting each person in turn spin the bottle. There are three possibilities for what happens when the bottle stops:
If the bottle stops on another person in the circle, then that person gives the spinner a menu of activities they are comfortable engaging in with that person. Some of the most common are: kissing, biting, scratching, spanking, a massage, a compliment, stripping off a piece of clothing, seven minutes in heaven (if you have a room set aside), truth, and dare. The spinner then chooses an option from the given menu to do with the menu-giver.
In the event of a choice that can be given or received, who gives and who receives is negotiated or part of the listed options. In the event that “truth” is the option chosen, the spinner can either come up with something they would like to ask or pick something out of a hat full of truths if one has been prepared in advance. A player may pick options from the hat until they come upon one that they want to ask – it does not have to be the first thing they draw. Likewise, the menu-giver may ask for a different truth if they are uncomfortable answering the one that the spinner chooses.
Truth is both a fun option and often a good way to keep the game flow going if the person the spinner lands on isn’t up for anything physical (ditto on things like “compliment”). That said, all players are allowed to pass completely, to sit out their own turns if they would like, etc.
If the bottle stops between two people, then either the spinner may spin again, or if they’re comfortable with it, those two people can come up with a list of things they are both comfortable offering (either simultaneously or one after the other as per their comfort levels).
If the bottle stops on the spinner, then the spinner may either choose someone in the circle to be the menu-giver, or spin again.
Depending on the people and the space the game is happening in, players may agree on particular types of activities that are or are not on the table to be menu items beforehand. Things to clarify beforehand: are BDSM-type options like flogging allowed? If so, are there any toys available for common use, or is each person using their own? Are things that involve mucous membrane contact other than kissing allowed? If so, are they allowed in the game space, or are there specific spaces set aside for them? Do you want noise to be kept below a certain level? Is there any particular type of activity that may be triggering for anyone to watch that should be kept off the table? Is there a time limit on how long something can go on (a common way to do this for things like massages that generally last longer is to specify that they continue until either the giver or receiver’s turn comes up, or one of them is a menu-giver on a subsequent spin).
On an individual turn, a player may want to clarify things like: if they want to give or receive a particular thing or things on their menu, where it is okay or not okay to leave marks in the event of activities like biting, impact play, scratching, etc., and how intense or not intense they want a particular menu item to be.
Also, a few pointers: first, try not to make your menu too short or too long — average is around about 3 to 5 items. Second, be creative — kissing and hair pulling are popular options, and there is no reason you can’t have both at the same time, or specify where or how you want to be kissed, etc. etc. Third, take some time to consider what you’re comfortable doing with people you’re not sexually interested in. For example, given that I am predominantly heterosexual, I’m usually not interested in making out with guys, but I am enthusiastically interested in being bitten by pretty much anyone and everyone, so biting is on my menu almost all the time.
I think that’s all the basics. Now, go forth, play, and have fun!